Do you have a PA?



I got together with 2 guitarists and a bass player through Craigslist last night. We met and played in my basement. They all thought that I would have had a PA, I had to tell them that I was not sure what it is. They told me I could plug drum mics and a microphone in it.

Since I started this a few years ago I have not really gotten into the technical side of things so I was wondering if this is something most drummers have, and do I need it to play with others? I could hear their guitars fine but maybe they could not hear my drums?(which I find hard to believe)

I thought mics were only used at gigs with big open area's, Does having your kit mic'd even while jamming in a small room have advantages? I will search through some threads but can anyone give advice at how much I am looking at here if I want to get a decent PA and maybe 3 or 4 mics for the kit? Any brands to stay away from? Minimum wattage needed, things like that.

Had a blast playing too, I was nervous because I have not played with many people and though I practiced a few of the songs they gave me it really was just a jam session which felt pretty cool. I hope we actually work on the full songs in the future though.



"Uncle Larry"
Basically, you never mic the drums for rehearsals. But someone has to have a PA with mixers, amps, speakers, mike, mike stands, and cables to be able to rehearse effectively and play out. A decent PA will run you about 2000.00 new....PA's are a whole discipline unto themselves, and not something to be taken lightly. You can mic drums in a small room but I'd say most don't. Outdoors and medium to large venues definitely mic. I think the Mackie SRM 450's are a great self powered speaker unit. Just add a mixer, cords, and microphones and stands, good to go. Oh and then there's monitors. And reverb units. And cases. And a truck to haul it all in. Oh and then you have to know how to patch it all together and make it sound good. Which means either someone in the band learns sound reinforcement engineering or hire a sound guy. In which case you'll probably want a snake. Oh did I mention lights?
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Platinum Member aren't SUPPOSED to have anything besides your instrument in good, working order. For them to expect you to have a PA is pretty ridiculous!

...however, it IS helpful, as a drummer, to have a PA. Usually, people jam at the drummer's house (since drummers have the biggest hassle moving their instruments). If you have a PA, it makes it easier on everyone involved to come, bringing as little as possible, but it sure isn't required! Vocalists can bring their mics/stands, keyboard players can just plug in to the system--it works out nicely. In the bands that I have been in, everyone brings their own instrument to rehearsals/gigs, and everybody who sings brings their own mic (for sanitary reasons, if not for mic preference reasons).

Drummers have to haul drums, guitars have to haul their guitars/amps, basses haul their bass/amp, keyboardists haul their keyboard/sometimes an amp...why aren't singers expected to haul their own mic and an amp/PA system? It's a mystery...


Platinum Member
I have often tried to run with the Idea that the singer should own the PA system. I figured that drummers and guitar players spend enough cash on equipment. It never works that way. I have chipped in for PA systems many times. If I leave the band I get them to buy me out at a fraction of what I chipped in with. I own a small mixer and a set of mics for my kit.

Monica McCoy

Senior Member
I don't think you are expected to have a PA. I'd probably assume you had one if you offered to host a rehearsal. I'm lucky to have one in my rehearsal space so I've never given it much consideration. I don't know how else I'd be able to hear the singer without a PA though. Also, we don't mic the drums for practice or jamming.


Platinum Member
yes. i have a PA.

it is not required of course. but helpful for the drummer to have one.

i have 2 JBL's.

and then 2 Peavey's.

and then a Soundcraft powered board.

but. i wouldnt go this route. i would get powered speakers. so much less hassle.



Platinum Member
I don't wee why anyone would expect anyone to have a PA, other than the club itself.

I've been in a variety of bands without owning a PA.

I now own a PA, but it's just because I wanted one for my personal studio, and had the money at the time, not because I needed to have one.


Gold Member
Someone in the band needs a PA if you are going to play out frequently, or even for practice if you want to hear vocals. It makes sense for it to be the drummer, because of reasons already mentioned. You don't mic the drums with it, but if you offer to have people over to jam, they may expect you to have a PA. I would be shocked if I went to a persons house to rehearse, and they didn't have one. Why would they offer to have the rehearsal there?

In most bands I've been in, everyone has their own PA, at least a small one, and then hopefully at least one person has one that is big enough for gigging.


Platinum Member
Let's turn the question around. Do you sing? If the answer is yes, then I can see why you should own a PA. Some musicians love to make "other people" responsible to supply them with the essential equipment they should own themselves.


Platinum Member
For practice, you only really need a PA for the singer. Get the speakers, a mixer and a vocal mic or mics for now and if you get to a point where you start needing to mic up the drums and amps then you can get more mics. Make sure the other band members contribute to the PA system because after all it's not just your responsibillity to have a PA.


Senior Member
I got together with 2 guitarists and a bass player through Craigslist last night. We met and played in my basement. They all thought that I would have had a PA, I had to tell them that I was not sure what it is. They told me I could plug drum mics and a microphone in it.
They should have no expectation for you to have a PA. Some musicians are under the impression that drummers should own the PA because we use most of the channels. First off, I never mike my drums at any band practice. If they can't hear my drums at practice I'd tell them to turn down. Secondly, in small bars, I usually only miked my bass drum, sometimes close mic on my hi-hat and one overhead. ( 2-3 channels) I did use some electronics in one band and in that case I would mic the whole kit to balance things out. We also hired a sound guy for that band so none of us had to buy a full PA system. And lastly, when you start playing larger clubs they very likely will have a house PA. This is my favorite because you simply set up and a sound tech mics your kit for you. (Ahhh....nice) In the cases that they don't and you need to mic your whole kit you'll use at least 4-6 channels. This depends on the size of your kit and how you place the mics.

But I'm assuming that you guys are at an early stage based on your post. You may want to do as others have suggested and purchase a small PA. One like this should do fine for practice. There's many to choose from so shop around. You can also use this on your own to play some music through while you play along. And you'll have something to run mics through for vocals at practice. When you guys start playing out and need a larger PA, either hire a sound guy or everyone chip in and buy one. Do your homework on PA systems before doing this. If someone leaves the band, the band buys out that person.


Thanks guys,

I am totally clueless about this but I guess I need to learn it as I am starting to get to that level of playing with others and all the courtesies and expectations that come with it.

Hopefully they understand my situation and won't take anything I do wrong as intentional. I will reinforce this next week when we get together, which will be at one of the guitarists house who has an old beat up luddy he said I could play on.

I know nothing about micing and the talk about how many channels, mixing boards, and all that is really foreign to me, is there a good website or an article someone could suggest for someone like me to start getting his feet wet in this area?

Thanks again guys.


Silver Member
Drummers shouldn't worry about PA systems. We invest enough already in our gear. If any single person in the band should own one, it's the singer. That makes for an equitable responsibility for lugging gear to shows and often times, the bar or club has a "house" system. I'd say for rule of thumb, if you're going to be playing for under a hundred people, a PA system isn't even required except for vocals and maybe 1 kick mic. That being said, i own a 24 channel bi-amp PA system with stereo mains pushing 650 watts per side @8ohms and subs bridged mono pushing 1800 watts @4 ohms plus a seperate 800 watt monitor mix with an additional 400 watts for side-fills and drum monitor. My system is adequate to do smaller venues up to 300-400 people. I definitely do not take the system unless i'm the one providing sound, in which case i expect a MINIMUM of $200 from the gig for my effort. My advice for anyone who wants to "go in" with band mates to buy a PA, don't "split" the cost. Each member should pony up and buy a seperate component: Johnny should buy the mixer, Joey should buy the Speakers, Jimmy should buy the amp, Jamie should buy the cables and microphones and stands, etc. It always happens that when you "split" the cost, the band breaks up and then you sell the stuff cheaper than you should to recoup your investment.


Platinum Member
In any of the bands I've played in, someone else has brought a PA over. The couple times I have played out - someone else worried about a PA, so I assumed it wasn't my responsibility.

I'd like to have one but it wouldn't be for my use, it'd be used by whomever is singing.


Platinum Member
I have always wondered why a guitarist is expected to have guitars, amps, effects etc.. as is bass player and a drummer is supposed to have drums stick etc.. but the vocalist just has to own a mic?

I agree there is no reason to mic drums at a rehearsal unless you are going to record it. But if you are going to have vocals it is a must. I am sure at your age the cost is the issue. I remember that period all to well. I remember using a guitar amp many times, you do what you have to do.

There are some very inexpensive small systems on the market, I am talking $200.00 they are not great but for a simple small room band practice they will get you through.

I remember a few times when I was younger what we did was this, we pooled out money and got something to get us by. We had an agreement that is some one left the band the others would pool their money and buy out that person share. This way nobody ever had to come up with a huge amount of cash.

I have found as I got older and the players I play with are more mature with stable incomes the opposite to be true, if anything there is an excess of PA gear. I am on 3 bands right now. And along with myself at lease two other band member have full PA systems. w usually end up sharing the work and one person brings stage and another brigs the house. Usually this is based upon who has the best for what.


Platinum Member
I know nothing about micing and the talk about how many channels, mixing boards, and all that is really foreign to me, is there a good website or an article someone could suggest for someone like me to start getting his feet wet in this area? could keep talking with us! Some of us are knowledgeable about this type of thing. :)

Is the group looking for a PA to do gigs with or just to rehearse with? If they expected you to have a full-blown PA to do gigs with, then that's expecting too much. If it's just for rehearsal, then maybe you COULD invest a little for that--at least to save you the trouble of having to go to somebody else's house to rehearse.

There are tons of options. How many people sing in the group? You could get a used Roland KC350 (or something like that) and some cheap radio shack mics for up to 4 people. That would get the job done, for example. What are your needs at this point? I don't picture needing to amplify more than the vocals at rehearsals...


Senior Member
My buddy was singing with a group of guys, and he had an old fender amp running on a clean channel for his vocals. They played out once or twice at bars with a house P.A.

My bands P.A. is owned outright by the bass player/singer. When ever he starts to complain about the costs (Its a big set up that we use for indoor and small outdoor gigs) I always offer to buy in, but he wants it to be his alone. Keeps things simple if someone wants to "walk away".

Either way, if you are planning on doing this regularly, you (or your band mates) may want to hit some used sites like craigslist and kijiji for some used gear. No need to go crazy with cash you don't have (like credit at Guitar World or the like).

If its going to be a regular thing, talk to the group about it and come to a decision that you all can work with.

Mostly, PLAY! Its fun to jam...


"Uncle Larry"
In case you didn't already know...

Each microphone has to plug into a channel on the mixing board. So if you have an 8 channel board, you can plug up to 8 different microphones in it.

The signal chain goes like this:
A singer sings into a microphone
the microphone converts the physical sound waves to an electrical signal
the electrical signal then travels down the mic cable
the mic cable is plugged into a "channel" in the mixing board
the mixing board boosts the tiny microphone signal to a workable level
the mixing board then sends the signal to the power amp, which gives the signal real power
from the power amp the signal then passes to the speakers and is heard by you

I left out reverb units and EQ's and a whole host of other signal processing devices for simplicitys sake, but you can use all kinds of effects to tailor your sound. Welcome to the complex world of sound engineering.


Great info guys thanks,

One of the guitar players is going to sing as well and we are going over his house next week. I guess he was singing but I never heard him so guess I do need a PA or something, why not use a cheap 40w guitar amp or something? Does a PA sound that much better? Can you have a guitar and a singing microphone plugged into one amp or one PA?

By the way I know this is going to sound stupid but what does PA stand for?


Platinum Member
PA is an acronym for Public Address System. A guitar amp can be used both separately and simultaneously as a PA as long as it has two input channels. It will not sound as good as a dedicated PA system. The amplifier and the speakers in PA system are designed to reproduce a greater range of sound than a guitar amp. It will work in a pinch.