Expert Advice: Hard-Won Experience in Gear Rentals


Renting Gear? It can be a really daunting thing when you first face it. Particularly if you are, like I was initially, clueless. As a manager, it was one experience, but as creator and executive producer of Pensado’s Place, it’s a completely different thing entirely.

Thrown to the Lions
As an artist manager, it was balancing between what your client needed in order to record and mix, and approving and facilitating gear that your producer or artist needed. On tour, it is nothing but gear rental. Very quickly you are thrown into the lion’s den of keyboards, amps, drums, live consoles, mics, monitors, various PA’s and more.

Renting People
One of the weird things is that you have to learn how to rent people. You hire free agents to mix various parts of your live show. In the studios, you hire people, often different people to track, do vocals and mix on behalf of your artist. You learn the lingo, how equipment can work together and be customized, pricing, time schedules, good vendors (versus not so good) and on and on

Is it What the Artist Really Wants?
You even learn an artist’s envious tendencies. A lot of times your artist just wants the latest and greatest, or to have one more toy than his closest competition. In these cases, rentals can save you a lot of money and heartache. Usually it will be worth a couple of go-rounds, and the artist is off to the next thing.

Sink or Swim
Late in my career, when I dreamed up this digital TV thing called Pensado’s Place, my rental learning curve took another whole leap. Three years in, our producer started his own agency and left the day-to-day to me, and there I was, hat in hand, with the responsibility to try to learn as quickly as I can. I was scared to death, with everyone expecting leadership. So I dove in.

Gear (Rental) Head for Life
Today, I live in the world of speed rails, LED panels, TriCasters, Ki Pro’s, flypacks, glass, lav’s, sticks, makeup, staging, jib, boom, sliders, premier, Final Cut Pro, monitors, live stream software, cycs, greenscreen, sandbags, C-stands, cabling, connectors and on and on.

Self-Taught Expert
When I want to chill out, I go to places like EVS or Film Tools and ogle the latest floating head on a Kessler jib, or the half-size Apple box. Does anybody know that the Apple box position under your feet can be put in New York, Chicago or Los Angeles configurations just by which end is on the bottom? I never had to think of that sort of thing before, but now I have all these tools and bits of practical knowledge at my disposal.

Surviving & Thriving
I have learned a massive amount over the years, from brilliant and, fortunately, patient people. Rental gear. Bring it on, baby. I’m up for the challenge. I’ve been loosed!

HERB TRAWICK is the creator/producer of the popular audio-engineering web series, Pensado’s Place, hosted by acclaimed engineer Dave Pensado. For further information, check out pensadosplace.com.