how long is a set? weirdish question

Nick G.

Senior Member
heres a question ive been thinking about whilst reading some threads in this forum.

basically, ive never played more than a hour long set which was super fun (not a headline slot either) but from what i see here people playing 4 hour long sets?

what does this actually consist of? 4 hours solid playing, 30 min short sets with breaks etc?

my band is just getting into the situation where people are getting in touch with us in order to headline at there venue which is fun and were given 45minute sets usually, is this normal? not that my band could play for much longer as weve only got 12ish songs and no 'real' covers.

this may come off as a rant (possibly?) its not ment to, just interested on how a band goes about playing a 4 hour stint.



Platinum Member
That just depends on so many things. Some places have contracts that specify exactly how long sets and breaks should be, others don't really spell it out. 45/15 is very common, but we play one venue where we play for 5 hours and there 3 breaks, spaced as we want them. I can't say I'd want to do more than two hours in one set, though. I'm getting too old for that!


Platinum Member
Sometimes we do 45 min sets and break for 15.
Sometimes we play long sets about 1 1/2 hour with a 1/2 hour break.
It depends on the gig.
Most venues don't time your sets and breaks.
As long as the beer is pouring they don't care what you do.


Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Yeah, 45-60 minutes with a 15-20 break is typical. I did a gig last week where the first set was about 80 min with a 20 min break. Definitely seemed long after the 60 minute mark.


Nick G.

Senior Member
cool, how many songs do you guys usually get through?
are a lot of them covers?
and how do you learn so many!! :p


Senior Member
90% of the time our sets are 50 minutes with 10 to 15 minute breaks. Much more than that seems to be hard on vocalists especially.

About then I'm ready to stretch my legs as well.


Platinum Member
Most clubs require that you play covers. Very few venues want only original material.
A 45 min set will have about 10 tunes + or -

Start with 10 tunes. Practice them at home and Play them at practice with the band each week.
When the whole band learns them that will be one set.
Pick 10 more tunes and do it again.


Gold Member
our gigs are usually as follows:

75 min set - 20 min break
60 min set - 20 min break
45 min set - done.


last man to bat

Senior Member
If you are playing originals then the set is as long as the songs you have written. I would imagine in Brighton there are venues that are happy to have original bands and as such probably realise that their sets won't be too long. A lot of the gigs you might get, playing originals (outdoor stages etc), will be expecting 30 mins for support and up to 1 hour for a headline I guess. If we are the only act on then we play for up to 2 hours but generally if we have a support it will be from 1 to 1 and a half hours, if we are the support 30 - 45 mins, usually. We don't usually take a break as the type of music we play works better all the way through.

If however you are expected to play 2 hours with a break in a pub then it is recognised that there will be covers in the set. The venue will let you know what they want; originals or covers.


Platinum Member
With a cover band I've pretty much always done 3 sets of 45 to 50 mins (10 to 12 songs depending on length) with 20 mins break in between.....give or take.

My original bands were anywhere from half an hour through to one and a half to two hours, depending on the gig or whether we were headlining or supporting. The longer we were at it and the more of a vibe we built up, the longer the sets got.


Silver Member
my band usually does 45 min sets, but there have been a few times we did 2hour shows no breaks, not fun when you get past 1 1/2 hours.


Platinum Member
Depends on your crowd. I say if they're into it, dancing about, etc., having fun, then keep it going. Make it a longer set. Often the club owner has a say in it as well.


Silver Member
Depends on the man with the money.

If he wants 1x45 minutes, or 2x45 minutes or 1x2.5 hour, then that's what I'll play. As long as I am happy with the pay for a gig, it's anything goes.

As a rule of thumb for a pub band, I'd say 1st set of 45-1 hour, second set 1 hour- 1.5 hours, depending on the venue licensing laws. When in doubt a landlord/promoter/stage manager will tell you.


Senior Member
We play 4 hour gigs regularly, all covers. Typically, we'll play ~1 hour, then a 15 minute break. Then we finish out the night with 1 long set of around 2 1/2 - 3 hours. Usually, most of the crowd doesn't show up till after the first set, once the 2nd set starts and people are dancing, we just keep chugging away. We'll play about 50-60 songs per night, out of maybe 250 on our list. We also play any request, wanna hear what? OK!


Silver Member
3 hour set

  • all originals (2 songwriters) save for two covers merely for reference
  • includes 5 minutes break to change a string (it wasn't me)


Platinum Member
The typical set for jazz gigs I've done has been about 45 minutes.

My current rock band plays a lot of outdoor summer concerts, and these are a different animal. We often play 2 hours without a break. It's a different scene for the "concert in the park" type gig because people come and go as they please and many just pull up a lawn chair and want to hear music the whole time. It's not like at a bar where people will use the break to buy a drink or something. If it's going to go longer than a couple hours then, yeah, we'll fit a break in there at the 90 minute mark or something.


Platinum Member
In a 4-hour span we'll usually play 3 sets of about 50-60 minutes with about 20 minute breaks in between. One time we just extended the second set and didn't take a break, so there was no 3rd set.