Sound Gremlins

The 80s were a decade providing hilarious music and movies and one of my favorites is Gremlins. Inspired from a post of a new blogger, TeleDan, I have a new word for all those unexplainable mishaps we run into with sound problems at a church.


Let’s go back: Thursday night practice before Easter Sunday. We’ve got a Maundy Thursday service happening with rehearsal afterwards. Time is short and expectations are high but things go off without a hitch. Unplug my Avalon U5 like every other end of practice, place her gently back in her box and set her aside like normal. Sunday morning comes. It’s EASTER! WOOHOO! I’m there SUPER-DUPER early because that’s just how I roll to make sure everything is checked and double checked. I turn on my amp to let the tubes warm up and get glowing! Since I’m playing electric for the 1st two and acoustic for the next 2 practice starts off great AT 8:00. 3rd song in, I pick up the acoustic, sound tech unmutes my channel and this awful, ungodly buzz reverberates throughout the sanctuary non-stop!

No biggie. We check the board, things are set correctly. I’m in the right channel. I begin the walk down checking and replacing 1/4″ cables, DI box, channels on the snake, channels on the board, grab a new mic cable from the DI to the snake, NOTHING! Still awful buzz. Trying to compose myself, I finish practice with the electric and then start all over. I thought I had it nailed down to the mic cable from the DI to the snake so I grab another mic cable and still nothing. I am beside myself! Frustrated and pissed off. It’s now like 60 seconds before the service is to begin and I don’t have an acoustic. It’s EASTER! I mean come on! I play electric for the 1st service and ask my wife to bring my spare acoustic for the 2nd. Still no solution. Gremlins in the sound system are a musicians worst nightmare.

So Thursday night my drummer gets there about an hour early and we start checking things out. I have 2 mic cables, 2 1/4″ cables, 2 guitars, 3 DI boxes, 4 extra channels on the board, and still no solution by the time rehearsal starts. After rehearsal my sound tech and other guitarist stick around and we figure out the gremlin: not 1 but 2 BAD MIC CABLES!

Apparently my mic cable from my DI to the snake was bad AND the other mic cable out of the dozen spare mic cables we have was bad! WHAT?!?! I mean what are the odds? Oh but this story isn’t over boys and girls! Thursday ends and our solution is solved with everything working fine. Sunday morning comes and what happens unmuting my acoustic??? AWFUL, UNGODLY, BUZZ REVERBERATING THROUGHOUT THE SANCTUARY. At first glance, I’m not in the right channel. So I set everything back up again correctly and no change. What’s the first thing I replace? Mic cable. Problem solved!

So I’m not 100% sure what’s happening. I do know that the odds of having 3 mic cables go bad AND the odds that I choose the 2 other mic cables from our extras AND that I’m the lead rhythm instrument AND that it goes down on Easter are just too incredible. Some call it spiritual warfare, some call it coincidence, some call him El Diablo, but from here on out it’ll be referred to Gremlins. I learned something very valuable though throughout that ordeal: I’m part perfectionist. But I’m supremely blessed with an incredible worship team. And even on our ‘off’ Sundays where I’m forced to play electric instead of acoustic, a large majority of the congregation isn’t thrown off by that, truthfully they may not even notice, but my demeanor and presence is MUCH more noticeable and effects everyone I come in contact with much more distinctly. I can’t forget that and I can’t let the Gremlins distract me from my ultimate goal on Sunday mornings: praising my King, my Savior, and my Creator!

Gear heads and techs feel my pain. Critics you didn’t even get past the 2nd paragraph 🙂


8 Responses to “Sound Gremlins”

  1. April 18, 2007 at 6:41 am

    SOUND GREMLINS SUCK. I bought a wire tester from behringer for i think $40. well worth the money man…saves a ton of headaches

  2. April 18, 2007 at 8:04 am

    I blame El Niño!

  3. April 18, 2007 at 8:08 am


  4. April 18, 2007 at 11:17 am

    HAHAHA! El Diablo’s diabolical brother, El Nino! Yes he is a trouble-maker!

  5. 5 Ali
    April 18, 2007 at 1:16 pm

    Since my other option was an 80-page Louisiana Civil Procedure outline I actually read the whole thing this time…and didn’t understand a word of it! Back to the outline…

  6. April 18, 2007 at 1:22 pm

    Wow Ali, I wouldn’t have thought you would have made it past the Gremlin’s movie poster 🙂

  7. April 24, 2007 at 9:16 am

    Sorry for my lateness. Awesome piece, man! I completely identify. I bet you had an awesome worship that day. I notice that when we are off, due to gremlins or just plain old being out of sync, God gets even more glory and so many are blessed by His presence despite what the band feels.

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