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Producing a DIY House Show – How To Work With Cords On Hard Floors

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An awesome band and good friends, Fairlane, are throwing an epic house show this weekend. This is as indie and low-budget as you get. I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all learned some pretty useful DIY tips in rigging and hooking up everything in Dan’s living room.

Of course, even with low-key shows you do at home, you still want to approach it with a great amount of professionalism. Keep safety in mind, predict any kind of accident, think of traffic ways, and make sure you won’t blow out your breaker. Rooms in houses won’t have the kind of amperage and easy hookups as music venues would have.

One thing I’ll share in this post is how to work safely with cables running amok on wooden floors. Because this show is designed to not only put on a full performance for friends and family but also for our cameras for DVD recordings, we’ve got cables from lights as well as from the instruments and gears.

The room has a lot of white walls, so light easily bounces off. Luckily this enables us to work with just three lights in the front and one in the back, and Christmas lights around.

You’ve gotta always be careful with working on wood/wood-like floors. I’ve worked on many productions where the floors are too easily disregarded and end up getting ripped from the surface because of gaff tape.

Another important thing to worry about is amperage. In a house, you normally have about 1500 to 2000 amps. Check your breaker to see what your room can handle. I believe even with all our amps, monitors, lights, etc., we are under 1K amps.

The electrical items on the stage right run across the room to plug into outlets toward stage left. These items are a flood lamp, monitor, and a speaker. The photos below show the process of how to tape them down.


You definitely won’t want to put gaff tape over the cords right on the hard floors. That kind of tape is still strong enough to rip up the surface or cause splinters. To avoid this, place paper tape on the ground, underneath where the cords will be (and if needed, be sure to sweep up underneath before, since paper tape isn’t that sticky). Paper tape is very thin, thinner than masking tape, and can come in various colors. We had blue painter’s tape on hand, so I placed three long stripes of it straight across the room underneath where the cords would be lying.


I know this sounds anal, but you’ve gotta be OCD about these things, whether it’s a house show or a big theatre, to save you time later from worrying or having to re-tape things. You want to lay out your cords side-by-side, like in the photo, and make sure they’re not running on top of each other. Remember we’re just using tape here, so if it’s stepped on, you won’t want one cord being pressed onto another. Unless you have cable protectors, you’ll want to keep these side-by-side. MAKE SURE that you give enough slack at the ends. If someone steps on a cable at the end of your wonderful taped work, you want to make sure it won’t knock something over or unplug anything. Giving it slack for the cable to be rested on the floor up until it reaches the wall or electrical object will ensure even more safety.


Now I can lay down the gaffer’s tape over the paper tape and cables. Chose a 2-inch black, of course, to hide the blue and make it not so noticeable during the show. Before you lay down long strips of the black gaff, place short strips across the cables (leaving slack at the ends) first. This not only makes it easier to place down long horizontal strips, but this is also commonly done to avoid messy clean-up. If you only place horizontal long strips on the cables, imagine pulling up the cable during wrap-up and the tape getting wrapped around the cable, stuck to itself. It SUCKS to try to pull off. So this is a very necessary step especially for taping down just one cable (see below).



Now tape away with your long horizontal strips of black gaff! Not that important, but I just placed one long strip to cover the first half of cables, and then another long strip for the other half, and then did a couple more to cover the blue edges. See the end results below!






Cables safely taped down on hard floors


Cords are now safe and act as a divider between the stage and crowd
Cords are now safe and act as a divider between the “stage” and crowd



You would treat this the same as with doing multiple cords. One useful thing I’ve learned is to make an X with two short strips for a single cord, and then place the long horizontal strip over. Remember that ugly annoying thing I mentioned that happens when you have a long horizontal strip get stuck to itself around a cord? Making X’s will help avoid that and easier to clean up.





Now just tape down as usual!










Check out a couple more pics from our setup! The show will take place end of this week, so I will be sure to post up more pics and share some video from our awesome DIY house show!


You dont have to be a big signed touring band to have a lighting tech! Lights are hooked to household dimmers that someone will be dimming/switching on and off to synch lights with the music.

You don't have to be a big signed touring band to have a lighting tech! Lights are hooked to household dimmers that someone will be dimming/switching on and off to synch lights with the music.

Velcro is your best friend (along with gaff tape, rope, and clamps). If other things won't work, velcro can help rig or attach something, like this lamp to a small light stand. With a little screwing of a bolt to keep the lamp angle in place and some tight velcro wrapping, the lamp is now steady and ready.






Written by jennykwoo

July 14, 2009 at 7:19 am

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