Hey guys! A few times lately I’ve had other local worship leaders asking me about pads and how to run them! So I thought I’d give an overview on how I do it. It’s easy! And adds so much to your live sound. There are multiple ways it can be done but I’m going to touch on the method I use and am familiar with.
So lets start out with a quick definition. Pads are a musical element you add to your sound that fills out the empty spaces and contributes a bit of texture and an ambient, spacious feel that undergirds the live instruments. Pads are great as a bridge between songs, and can even stand alone for part of a song. Listen to the opening passage of Hillsong’s live version of What A Beautiful Name. The only thing you’re hearing there in accompaniment to Brooke’s lovely voice is pad. For each song in your set you pick the sound you want, – some are warm and mellow, others more bright and sparkly, etc – and the key you’ll be in and you’re good to go!
Ok so how to do it? Like I said before there are different ways it can be done and different sources for the pad sounds. I’ve got friends who use their laptop and run pads through a program like Ableton or even iTunes. One of my friends has the skills and the tools to create his own. Whatever. haha! I use Coresound and run the pads on my iPhone or iPad using their app: Pads Live. The app is free but you purchase the pads. You don’t have to use the app. Their pad loops can be run using a variety of programs and devices if you prefer. Here’s a link to their website for all of the deets.
Now let’s look at the tools and how I set up on stage. It’s pretty simple. In addition to my iPhone I also have:
- a mic stand mount for my phone. Not necessary but preferable for me. I bought one on Amazon for like $15. Literally puts my phone at my fingertips.
- a direct box to plug into. In my case I use two direct boxes, one for my acoustic guitar and the other for my phone for running pads.
- a male-to-male cable with a 1/4in on one end for the direct box and an 1/8in on the other to plug into the headphone jack on your phone.
- I also generally like to plug my phone in to power, so always keep on hand a lightning cable, adapter and extension cord.
And that’s it! The pad should be mixed in the House in such a way that it accompanies and complements. You don’t want it so loud that it overpowers. As far as setting up and using the app, I found it to be pretty intuitive. You add songs, selecting the pad sound and the key you want for each, then create a playlist (setlist) and add your songs! Then from within the set you press play to start the first song. When you’re ready for the next song all it takes is a single touch. In settings you can turn on the crossfade feature if you want, so you don’t get dead space between songs. The Coresound website has FAQ’s and tutorials available if you want to check it out.
I hope that’s helpful! We use pads with full band and I’ve also used them on my own with my guitar, and everything in between. They really are a great tool and easy to incorporate into your sets, and add quite a bit of depth and polish to your overall sound.
~ Lord bless you as you seek to serve Him and His people with excellence! Michelle