Getting Along With Your Gear by Paul Kida

March 26, 2008 by Paul Kida

Treat your gear setup with kindness and it will be your friend for a long timeHow do you get along with your gear? Do you know its needs and what it takes to keep it in tip-top shape? Do you pamper your gear so that it will always provide you with the best possible service? Do you take your gear for granted, looking at it as just a bunch of circuits, wires, chips and casings that you load and unload every weekend? Do you think that your gear is the very foundation, or the life-blood of your DJ career?

Most of us have a viewpoint somewhere in the middle. We know that our equipment plays a critical role in the success of each event and we try, to a certain degree, to take care of the gear that we own. How about doing some things that will step it up a notch; things that will not only keep our gear looking great, but also functioning at peak levels, providing us with years of service?

Ask yourself a few questions, such as: When was the last time I thoroughly cleaned the outside of all my gear? Have I vacuumed and/or wiped down my speakers, utility poles and stands, cords, mixing boards, etc.? Does my equipment look as good as it should, or as it could? Regular cleaning of your gear will not only help keep it working great, but it will add years of life to various parts of your set-up. Regular does not mean that you have to wipe down every part and wire after every gig. Simply have a written schedule for yourself to clean it periodically, whether it be weekly, monthly or every other month. It also depends a lot on how often it is used, if it is in custom cases (which should keep it a lot cleaner) as well as where it is stored when not in use.

There is nothing wrong with taking extra care of your equipment by cleaning it after each event, but here is a word of caution for those who feel this is the best route for them: Clean it on your own time, NOT on the time of your event facility and their staff! More likely than not, these people have worked hard all day and want to get out of there and go home as quickly as possible. They should not have to wait for you to wipe down and clean every last piece of equipment that you pack up. So, if you must clean your gear after each gig, just load it up and clean it at home or the office before you store it. Trust me, you will definitely make more friends at your event center, which will lead to more referrals!

Now that you’ve got a handle on having your gear look good, let’s move on to keeping it in good working condition. Every three to six months, depending upon how often it is used, clean out your amplifiers, especially the older models that have cooling fans. Along with the air that cools the unit comes dust and small debris. While most of it passes through the system, a portion of it remains behind coating the inside of your amplifier with an ever-increasing fine film of dust. The more dust and dirt, the greater chance for unnecessary heat build-up that will eventually lead to equipment failure.

A quick removal of the outer casing, then blowing out the dust and debris with the exhaust end of your vacuum will keep your gear in top running condition. When you are using your home vacuum, make absolutely sure to put a new, clean filter in the vacuum, then blow the exhaust away from the amplifier unit for a few minutes to make sure it blows clean before you use it on the equipment. Otherwise, you could dump even more debris and dust into the amplifier. If there are some stubborn spots of dust and/or debris, you can use a soft detailing brush to remove them. ONE WORD OF CAUTION: If you are not sure how to go about the cleaning process, ask your fellow DJs or contact your local DJ servicing store for assistance. Don’t take a chance if you are not absolutely sure about what you are doing. It is better to ask an expert than to damage your equipment. By the way, as with anything involving screws, nuts and bolts, be sure to put all these in a safe place so they will not get lost in the cleaning process.

If you are using CDs, remember that they are also a part of your gear. Treat them gently; clean them if necessary and they will last for years to come. Regularly clean your CD/MP3 players, keeping the pick-up lens free and clear of any and all debris. The simple cleaning discs sold in most entertainment stores are suitable for this job.

Your speakers also may need special attention. Check to make sure all screws and connections are tight. Your speakers are pounding out sound at every gig and this continuous vibration can cause a loosening of the screws throughout the speaker(s). Check them all and tighten as necessary. Again, if you are uncertain about anything regarding your pieces of equipment, check with a professional dealer before taking them apart. It is better to have it done right than to do damage to your hard-working gear!

Aside from a regular cleaning inside and out of your gear, always, and I mean ALWAYS, use TLC when handling and storing all of your gear. Dropping, banging and otherwise rough treatment will only decrease the life and efficiency of the very things that help make you a living, so be kind to your equipment! Many times we are in a hurry to get things done and tend to cut corners. Don’t cut corners with your gear. Give yourself enough time to load and unload carefully, and do your set-up and take-down methodically instead of just throwing things wherever they may fall. Keep your microphones in good order and in a safe, secure, padded area so they do not end up on the floor. One of the things I keep always in my mind is, “The less abuse, the longer the use!”

Please send any comments on this article, suggestions for future articles or questions to djcoach@mobilebeat.com.

Paul Kida, The DJ Coach, is a founding member and the current president of the Colorado Disc Jockey Association. He owns JAMMCATTS DJ Entertainment (www.jammcattsdj.com), and is a regular speaker at the Mobile Beat DJ Show.

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