Playing an outdoor gig with generators for power: have a few questions.

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by rgsss14, May 3, 2016.

  1. rgsss14

    rgsss14 Gold Supporting Member

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    We are playing a "smallish" outdoor gig in a tent (50-100 people), 3-piece, no PA, basically the power needed will be for my amp, the bass player's amp, and a vocal amp.

    I can't believe in all these years I've never played out using solely generator power, but any experiences?

    I would hate to get to the gig and have technical problems...... will probably try out one of the generators the day before.

    Any advice would be appreciated.
     
  2. GuitarGuy66

    GuitarGuy66 Member

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    See if they can rent a Honda EU generator.
     
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  3. tiktok

    tiktok Supporting Member

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    Can be brown, electrically noisy.
    Don't be surprised if you find a bunch of other stuff plugged into the generator too that no-one mentioned. Is there a DJ or anything?
    Generator itself needs to be a ways off so you don't hear/smell it.
    I'd bring a Furman and plug everything into that.
     
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  4. rgsss14

    rgsss14 Gold Supporting Member

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    I guess I should find out what kind of generators they have. Thanks for the Furman idea, I have one. No DJ, I was told that 3 generators will be available, probably overkill.
     
  5. swiveltung

    swiveltung Member

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    Surprisingly we played outside with a whole band with just a little Honda 2000 generator. PA, Guitar, Bass. 800 watt PA amp.
     
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  6. Chrome Dinette

    Chrome Dinette Member

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    Generators run the gamut.

    Huge professional ones with mains breakers in the hundreds of amps range are quite stable and not very loud.


    Construction generators can be nasty loud and not as stable.

    Anything goes at the "I bought it at the big hardware store" level.
     
  7. tonewoody

    tonewoody Member

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    It's not a bad idea to carry an outlet tester in your gig bag.

    Don't be surprised when the stage manager gives you a dumb look when you ask about the lack of grounding....
     
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  8. Chrome Dinette

    Chrome Dinette Member

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    The generator MUST be grounded. This is typically done with a ground rod.
     
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  9. bob-i

    bob-i Member

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    I've done a number of gigs with venue supplied generators. As long as they're grounded I'm good and I've never had a problem.

    Last Sunday I showed up at an outdoor gig in the rain (freebie). The stage, even though it was covered was covered in puddles. I looked at the generator, no ground. I did not setup, the bass player walked in and said he wasn't plugging his amp in period. We bailed. The promoter (who had already hired us for another well paid gig) was appreciative that we showed at all.
     
  10. rgsss14

    rgsss14 Gold Supporting Member

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    This is good to know, thx.
     
  11. rgsss14

    rgsss14 Gold Supporting Member

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    Chrome, I claim naivete.... what the hell is a ground rod.....
     
  12. DGTCrazy

    DGTCrazy Moderator de Emporio Staff Member

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    Couple of thoughts;

    1) Ask if the Generator will be the sole source of power for "everything" at the event, or if it will just be for the band. If they need it to power everything, ask what that is so it's clear just how much power is needed. (Especially if they need any night power, power for cooking sources or a bouncy house power source). Something like a Honda 6500 would be perfect.

    2) Find out the peak & running wattage, as well as the number of 110 outlets, (and if they are circuit protected), and if someone competent will be available to oversee it's operation and monitor it during the gig.

    2) Ask what the Full Tank running time is for the Generator. You may need to have an extra 5 Gallon tank to insure run time.

    3) Use only Serge Protected Power Protected strips, (like Furman).

    4) Insure the generator is grounded, especially if fog, mist or rain could be a factor.

    5) Ask if the Generator has a Louder or Quieter exhaust. If it's louder, (generally attributed to cheaper Generators), make sure there's a 100' length of Heavy Gauge, (12 gauge minimum), electrical cords available so you can keep the exhaust noise down to a minimum. The downside to longer cord runs is more drain on power. An alternative would be being able to mask the exhaust by having it in a small vented trailer or tent, as it's best to keep the cord runs shorter.

    6) If you are playing into the night, you've gotta think about lights.


    Anyway...that's my $0.2 after playing a ton of outdoor gigs that relied on a Generator. Good luck!
     
  13. rgsss14

    rgsss14 Gold Supporting Member

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    Sound advice, thank you so much!
     
  14. Chrome Dinette

    Chrome Dinette Member

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    A ground rod is a long metal rod, I think copper skinned, driven into the ground and connected with the appropriately sized cable to the ground terminal of the generator.

    There are other ways, also. I have run systems at parade stands where the generator sat on pavement and the city electrician connected to a ground on a light pole.
     
  15. mannish

    mannish Member

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    I have done it once and had no problems - I have heard horror stories of voltage surge..etc but I personally had no problem....It was no at a pro providing the power or sound - I think it was some kind of basic Honda generator but three amps, PA..etc plugged in - a non issue but still wary of doing that with someone not really having a clue
     
  16. johnkoz

    johnkoz Supporting Member

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    use a battery/inverter and charge w/generator
     
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  17. cram

    cram Member

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    I've done this a bunch of times. We have a generac 7800 which has the frame grounded. If you wish to connect to the ground, simply pound a metal stake into the ground (deeper the better) with a contact wire. We do this as a precaution. We have this bank of outlets for surge protection which is a big unit we borrow. I can't think of the name, but it's supposed to be really good.. I dunno.
    We have also used strapping to build pallets that made a dog-house for the generator. This helped with the noise. We affixed plywood to the sides and had the open end pointed away from us and the crowd. It had a lot of air flow and we paid mind to where the exhaust was pointing because this is the hot spot.
     
  18. swiveltung

    swiveltung Member

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    The Honda 2000 is an invertor generator. So it only runs at the RPM it needs rather than a constant 1800 or 3600 rpm. Ours was not grounded. Not sure, but maybe being an invertor generator doesn't require it...? They are sold for all kinds of use and I've seen anyone use a ground rod. I bet the op manual is on line and says....
    Interesting thing was, we showed up and I asked where the generator was? (the previous year they had a big commercial one) The guy said "you're standing right next to it... and it's running.." I couldn't even hear it.

    later:I just perused the Op manual... no mention of grounding it for use. There is a grounding pole though. The Op manual states "consult an electrician" before using the ground pole.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2016
  19. Lucidology

    Lucidology Member

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    HATE generators for my outdoor gigs ... despise the noise... the toxic fumes ... the smelly gas that's needed... Pulling the chain in hopes that it will start ... ugh!!

    So it's either noiseless Inverters with AC inputs run by Car batteries (they don't need to be in a car. Work quite well on their own. Though the battery will die over time ...)
    Or huge watts rechargeable batteries such as they have on boats or for household power backup ...
     
  20. johnh

    johnh Silver Supporting Member

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    I've gigs on small generators a few times, and never had a problem. Having said that, I always used an earth trip circuit breaker to make sure I was safe. To be honest, I use an RCD circuit breaker most places I play just to be safe.
     

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