Stage Etiquette


"Uncle Larry"
Inspired by the "Lazy Guitarists" thread.

I thought it would be nice to have a thread that spells out proper stage etiquette. Not just etiquette for drummers, but observations about the other player's stage etiquette as well. Specifically I'm looking for a list of:



Anybody want to play?


Platinum Member
Don't play while someone is tuning or checking levels with the FOH guy.

Don't noodle in between songs at a gig.

Don't needlessly embarrass another person on the stage at a gig.

Don't just rehearse songs at rehearsals. Rehearse tuning, equipment changes, pedal changes, etc. so that it all looks tight at the gig.

Respect each other's gear.

Just my off-the-top-of-my-head contributions.


Platinum Member
Do - smile and have fun, or at least appear to be glad to be there

Don't - ask what key a song is in, or ask what song is next, over the mic so all can hear you


Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Look/ act professional. Dont smoke or drink on stage. Thats what breaks are for. Keep your shirt on. You really dont look that good without it.


Platinum Member
Not particularly stage etiquette, but general proper form.

1) If there is only one kit allowed by the establishment, thank the person offering the use of their kit, and bring your own cymbals unless that is part of the offer.

2) Maybe buy the person supplying the kit a beer because he had to hump the equipment you're using.

3) The band supplying the back line should be offered preference for set times if other bands have similar standings.

4) Be sociable with the other bands.

5) Set up fast and remove your stuff fast.

6) Never accidentally insult anyone.

7) Don't spill anything.


"Uncle Larry"
I set my stands and drums up offstage, and bring them up. So the guys can set up their amps and wire the PA without my being in the way. I leave them plenty of room, as a matter of common courtesy. I do try and get my rug down first, that's it.

I don't play between songs. I try not to make any loud sounds until we start. I won't go around my drums at full volume to check my tuning, I tune my toms quietly, with my finger place in the center of the head, and tapping near the lugs, listening to the harmonics.


Gold Member
A few things. Gripes sort of.

I wish when there were multiple bands during a show that the next band on would wait just a few minutes to allow the previous band to clear their stuff. The amount of times I've seen this. Next band immediately on stage sorting their stuff out. Everything gets confused. I'm trying to pull stuff down as quick as I can, and invariably stuffs goes astray or accidentally gets picked up.

I wish everyone in the band would pitch in post gig. Like could you other three band members stay on stage and help rather than go floating around out in the crowd whoring for compliments.

I wish my guitarist would not play the opening riff from Sweet Child of Mine every f'ing time he gets on stage and plugs in. As a compromise I would settle for it if the dickhead actually learnt to play it perfectly.

On songs with difficult endings I wish my band would occasionally turn around to look at my cues for ending rather than being so self-indulgent in their on-stage mutual wankfest. Then those really tricky endings would end correctly.

If the drummer from one of the bands playing, who have been taking drugs in the toilets, EVER step up on a stage again which is utilising my kit and grabs my bass pedal and physically tosses it across the room (the damn thing cost me on hundred and fifty quid) I'll take him out back and personally beat him into the next world with said bass pedal


Platinum Member
If you sing, always own/bring/use your own mic. You don't need to be kissing the spit of every previous user of a house mic. You'll get sick.... Very sick... All singers should own their own personal labeled SM57. If the sound guy complains, dare him to lick the house mics. Drinking from the toilet also works.

Next up: I always use my wooden nickel for an enthusiastic audience member. I have plenty of beer in my mini-fridge at home and prefer to stick with water when I play out.
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Platinum Member
Do: Appreciatively acknowledge compliments and kind words from audience members. I think lots of "thanks" and "thanks for coming out" during breaks help to extend the connection you're creating with people through the music.


Gold Member
Never, ever display any type of concern when somebody in the band makes a mistake during a performance. Ignore mistakes as if they never happened. If you must bring attention to a mishap, do it later, after the show. Acknowledging mistakes during a performance makes everybody - especially the audience - feel uneasy and self conscious.

Always smile and have fun.



Silver Member
DOn't even ask if you can play my kit.. or share my kit with other bands. I get tired of saying NO.. but I still get asked from time to time.. sometimes by sound guys looking for an easy way out, or a friend of a friend of the band, or the opening act who thru some calamity forgot their kit and brought a conga.. but could I just play your kit for 1 or 2.? Or my bosses boss would like to get up on stage and impress everyone with how truly great he is..

None of that even phases me... it always.. No, No and NO.

As I consider myself a pro.. I would never ask another drummer to get up and play 'a few tunes' with their band. It's their gig.. not mine! So anyone that asks me is either drunk or an amateur or both.. and yes in the past I've been Mr. Niceguy and said yes on occassion.. - and it always turned out horribly.. in one case the crowd was despearatley searching for me to get back onstage (i was off having a beer) as the supposed pro who sat in couldn't keep a beat to save his life! Nevermore...

Of course if Bernard Purdie walked into the club.. I'd gladly give him my sticks.. but that's about it!


Senior Member
Guitar players tuning at full volume on stage. People practicing the opening lick of a song at full volume before we start the song. As far as setting up, I'm the opposite of Larry. I always try to set up first. No one ever leaves enough room for the drums. If you let the rest of the band set up first you have to have them move their stuff when you start setting up. Trying to get your drums and stands between mic stands and monitors is really annoying. One guy I play with always puts his amp right in front of my bass drum. He doesn't get that my bass mic will pick up his amp even though it's pointed away from it.

Anon La Ply

Don't be judgemental if somebody in the band makes a breach of stage etiquette. They are human. Smile, play on, and if the music is good then most people won't care (usually most in the audience won't even notice, let alone care about such things).


Senior Member
More of "venue etiquette" but I ran into this issue the other week.

If your band draws a good crowd, and one of the other bands draws a good crowd, don't spend their entire set hoarding your people on the other side of the venue. You share gigs in hopes of playing for new people. It's just common courtesy to herd your peeps over to the stage when the other band plays.

It bothers me when singers are bantering between songs and point out that the crowd "could get closer to the stage" or say something like "cmon guys we dont bite" If you aren't putting out enough energy no amount of begging will get people to start moving.


Senior Member
if at all possible, try to ask for adjustments to your monitor mix with non verbal cues....out of the spotlight and away from the mic. Nothing breaks the audiences vibe like someone booming out "uhhhh hey.... sound guy, can I get more of me in my things down here?"

Les Ismore

Platinum Member
Never, ever display any type of concern when somebody in the band makes a mistake during a performance. Ignore mistakes as if they never happened. If you must bring attention to a mishap, do it later, after the show. Acknowledging mistakes during a performance makes everybody - especially the audience - feel uneasy and self conscious.

Always smile and have fun.


Agree, acknowledging mistakes, or clams onstage is a big no no.

Also apologizing to the audience over the mic is lame, its another form of acknowledging a mistake, no one wants to hear it, they don't care, don't want to be reminded something (in your mind) went wrong and it'll get you nothing other than making ppl aware there was an incident in the first place, when they probably didn't even notice.


Senior Member
Guitarists/Bassists should tune their guitars up at the end of the set before walking off the stage to take your break. Nothing says unprofessional more than taking the stage after a break and taking 5-10 additional minutes to tune up - especially if you took a long break to begin with. It's always better to take the stage, put on your guitar, and play without making the audience wait while you tune up. Tuning during a set is a different situation.


Senior Member
The Number 1 for me is stage noise. Set your equipment up, get tuned and then get off the stage until showtime or soundcheck (hanging on stage to warm up with no noise is acceptable). A guitar player once told me he was warming up when I confronted him about the fact that everyone in the place can hear him jamming away over the house music. I don't know about anyone else but warming up your fingers, your arms, your voice etc has nothing to do with the volume your amp is set to. Just plain unprofessional in my opinion.

This obviously goes for actual sound check. Pay attention and only play when asked to play.

Number 2 would be mistakes. A pro is not impervious to mistakes. Even if you hear a band member make a mistake you should ignore it and press forward. Drawing any attention to it makes it noticeable when it might not have been otherwise.

This brings me to Number 3. Respecting equipment. I have played with a singer who is very very good. A little too much of a perfectionist however. Imagine playing for 3-4 hours in a night and forgetting a lyric. It happens. This guy would get so mad that not only could the whole audience tell because of how raging mad he would get but on multiple occasions he would turn around and smash one of my cymbals as hard as he could to relieve the frustration. Trust me, this happened a handful of times before threats were made and it stopped lol. (Threatening to wipe your a$$ with his Shure Wireless microphone when he wasn't looking was good enough to get it through his head I guess)


Pioneer Member
If you're kind of a noob when it comes to playing live, talk to your other mates about how sound check normally goes. Some people expect miracles when it comes to monitor mixing and quality and will take up too much time. Like someone said earlier, rehearse those parts of the show too.
Then some like to argue with the sound tech on how things should go. A lot of us don't have the luxury of sweet gear, venues, personnel, and pay so barking at them for an hour is getting you nowhere. You get it sounded best you can and get on with the gig, Madonna.


Gold Member
When we do multiple band shows, I make sure I help the drummer before and after my set with their gear. Usually they catch on to the good sportsmanship and will offer to help me with mine.

If you're playing on a bill with multiple bands then I recommend carrying your stuff off the stage before breaking it down. If your kit is the "Backline" kit then I recommend you understand what "Backline" means; it means other people are going to use your drums, adjust them, tweak them, etc.

Had a guy try to fight me once when he saw me taking down his cymbals, because he thought his kit was just supposed to sit up there and look pretty while everyone else set up in front of it.