Renting Gear

stantonsound

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Feb 18, 2005
Location
Charlotte
To follow up on the thread about buying gear, what do you do when you need a piece of equipment that you don't have? Do you borrow it from another theatre or do you rent it? If so, where do you rent from?

I know that there are large lighting houses in NY and in CA that specialize in renting lights to theatres all over the country, but shipping usually makes it cheaper to rent locally.
 

icewolf08

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Jan 11, 2007
Location
Lititz, PA
Ultimately, I think it depends on what you need and how long you need it for. For us, we have two decent rental shops in town, but you still have to weigh the rental cost vs. purchase price. On many items we feel that if the rental is going to cost more than half the value of the item we will buy it because chances are we will use it again.

It really comes down to budget though. It is possible that you could need the same equipment once a year but never have enough money in the yearly budget to buy the item, but you do have enough to rent.

I don't know about everyone else, but generally it seems hard to borrow equipment from other theatres. This is often due to conflicting schedules, but also, most theatres are in need of money in some form, and want to get something in return. Here at Pioneer we rent out scenic drops and costumes. The only people we really let borrow anything is the University of Utah, then they let us borrow things that we need.
 

soundlight

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Oct 27, 2005
Location
NJ & NYC
Beg, borrow, or temporarily abscond with.

I had to get a mixer that had at least 6 channels and direct outs for a concert that I was recording tonight, so I went and borrowed one from my church, the old one that they aren't using (Soundcraft FX16). Always good to have a church that recently got a new sound system, because their old one is usually available (unless they sold it).

Otherwise, beg for it from Harrison Bros, Borrow it from a friend or another school, or temporarily abscond with it from any number of undisclosed locations.
 

JSFox

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Sep 23, 2006
Location
The Tundra
When doing rent/buy decisions don't forget to take in to account maintenance and replacement costs which can often make rental seem a real bargain. Should also think about obsolescence - buying something on a 4 year payback that will be useless in 2 years ain't so good.

For things we rent fairly often at one school we purchase 1 or 2 of the exact same units (Shure UHFR, VL1000's, ColorCommands, etc.). This way everyone gets to play with them and learn them on a regular basis so the rental stuff is all homey feeling. On large rental hangs this also allows us to push the hang date out a few more days since we can do a fair amount of programming with our own stuff.
 

TechiGoz

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Dec 6, 2006
Location
Adelaide, Australia & Singapore
All of the above comments are on the right track, if not spot on. It all depends on what you want to hire/use and where you can get it from. If you can borrow it locally from friends or other locations, do that cause it will save you a fair bit. Otherwise just hire it locally.
Remember to take into account and remember to check if anything needs to be fixed or repaired. For the most part though, the rental companies are pretty good.
Hope this helps.
 

stantonsound

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Feb 18, 2005
Location
Charlotte
Wow... I thought that this was an easy question, but I guess not. Let me rephrase. Say you really need 6 follow spots for a show next weekend, but you only have 2 (or need 45 lav mics, 200 Source Fours, 24 moving heads, etc...). How do you go about getting what you need? Do other theatres in town let you borrow these, is there a local company that rents them, or do you use the national rental companies that will ship them to you (if so, who do you use)?

I understand that cost and availability are factors, but if you were to need them right now, how do you get them?
 

avkid

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Lakewood, NJ
Options in order of my preference:
Borrow
rent from other companies
rent from rental houses
buy
 

BillESC

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Aug 29, 2005
Location
Kilmarnock, VA
If you're in Charlotte, VA Barbizon in Washington, DC would be your best bet.

Rent a truck and pick them up as that will certainly save on commercial shipping costs.

What size (model) followspots do you need?
 

Footer

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Nov 24, 2005
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Saratoga Springs, NY
Wow... I thought that this was an easy question, but I guess not. Let me rephrase. Say you really need 6 follow spots for a show next weekend, but you only have 2 (or need 45 lav mics, 200 Source Fours, 24 moving heads, etc...). How do you go about getting what you need? Do other theatres in town let you borrow these, is there a local company that rents them, or do you use the national rental companies that will ship them to you (if so, who do you use)?
I understand that cost and availability are factors, but if you were to need them right now, how do you get them?
For that large of an order, very few theatres have that in stock, you will have to go to a shop, and sometimes multiple shops. It is pretty common practice for one shop to rent units from each other then re-rent them to their costumer. I have picked things up from shops in chicago and get 3 companys road cases.
 

DarSax

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May 3, 2006
Location
Bethesda MD
That's reeeally common, what Footer said.

A piece of advice, if you're going to rent your own truck, make SURE you have ratcheting tiedowns that are strong enough AND that fit the truck you rent. I thought I was so prepared on my first rental truck trip, only to find upon reaching the rental house that the hooks on my tie downs wouldn't fit!

Also, the insurance for some rental companies say that employees can't load/secure your truck for you. Make sure you know adequate knots, etc. to make sure your gear isn't sliding around back there.
 

avkid

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Also, the insurance for some rental companies say that employees can't load/secure your truck for you. Make sure you know adequate knots, etc. to make sure your gear isn't sliding around back there.
If you ask nicely, they can probably give you some hints for particularly tricky pieces.
 

DarSax

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May 3, 2006
Location
Bethesda MD
Oh, everyone I've worked with has been very, very helpful--I just want to let him know, in case he comes in contact with a paticularly anal company :eek:
 

stantonsound

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Feb 18, 2005
Location
Charlotte
I started this thread to see where people are renting gear, and if they had any good or bad experiences. Maybe there is a great company that I have not used, or one to avoid at all costs. These are lessons often hard learned with the show not going as planned (poorly maintained or damaged rental equipment, outrageous or unexpected costs, lack of knowledge and no customer support, etc...)

I found out recently that having an account with these rental houses can be a very good thing. I was in Las Vegas for a trade show. I had shipped two trucks with lighting, trussing, motors, etc... for three booths. Only one of the booths had truss flying, and when it got there and I had the union guys putting everything up (you are not allowed to work yourself, as it is a strictly union venue), the motor controller for the chain motors became "misplaced". It was found 2 days later in the back of someone else's tractor trailer.

Long story short, I called 4Wall in Las Vegas (a great company, lots of good people and I would recommend them) after business hours on a weekend. I told the tech on call that I really needed a controller for these standard 1 ton hoists. The problem, I did not have a rental account with them, as I had not rented them before. They could not help me until Monday morning because I did not have an account. I was thousands of miles from home and was in trouble, as union labor was sitting around and running up the bill. Fortunately, and with a nice bribe, I was able to "borrow" a controller from another booth on the trade show floor. When I asked the guy who let me "rent" it from him who he worked for, he told me he was from 4Wall.

I learned my lesson and have accounts with all of the major companies, and make sure that I have the number of them in my phone before I go on the road.
 

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SHARYNF

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Sep 3, 2006
Having accounts helps a lot, but as you found out in Vegas, in that sort of situation, find out who from the rental company is on site at the venue, and as you found out "renting" becomes an option. the old saying money talks, nobody walks.
Also and you found out, the amount of gear that goes "missing" during setup and ESPECIALLY take down is amazing.


Sharyn
 

stantonsound

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Feb 18, 2005
Location
Charlotte
I have been doing shows like this for several years now, and have only had a few things truly stolen.

I always add in a few hundred dollars to the budget and carry a pocket full of $20's and $50's to get things done correctly and quickly. That particular show was the Nightclub and Bar expo, and all of my customers were liquor companies, so I was able to score a few cases from each to "tip" the union guys. It is amazing how quickly things get done when they will be going home with a trunk full of liquid "SWAG". I was told that it would take at least 12 hours after the show to get out empty cases from the dead case storage area. A case of bottles that come in pretty little purple bags (I will not mention any names), and the cases were at out booths in less than 45 minutes!

Anyway, back on topic, anyone have a rental company that they really like?
 

icewolf08

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Lititz, PA
I have done a lot of work with PRG. I think that may have to do with the fact that I have many friends working there and also Alumni of my school, Ithaca College. So I have a connection. But, they will do anything. They might be the biggest rental house in the country, but if I needed 1 TwinSpin for a show, they would do it.

Before I was out here in Utah, I was in the North East, used people like Barbizon, High Output, and ALPS. I have another connection at High Output so I used them a lot, but it depended.
 

Jezza

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Jul 18, 2005
Location
Poughkeepsie, NY
Personally, I've had bad luck with PRG--they usually haven't even returned my calls or emails given that I am typically representing a high school. Guess they think our busness isn't worthwhile.

However, I have had great luck with Scharff-Weisberg out of NYC. My rep there has been exceptional on pricing, timing, and overall help. Everyone at the shop has been great to me. So far I've only delt with the lighting shop, but they do video and sound as well. Give Terry a call over there if you ever need to rent in the NYC area.
 

Kelite

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Sep 23, 2005
Location
Fort Wayne IN, USA
Not to resurrect a dead horse, but in regards to the main thread asking about borrowing gear-
Be sure to allow the responsible loaners to borrow your bit o' kit also. I know I'm not big on loaning my gear to every Tom, Dick or Harry- but those that scratch my back....

(Of course you all know this already, but I wanted to briefly mention what tidbit I learned in kindergarten...)
 

stantonsound

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Feb 18, 2005
Location
Charlotte
I don't know if many people will do this, but I often greatly reduce the cost of my rentals, and possibly rent for free, for advertising. I would imagine that companies such as florists, caterers, equipment rental (fork lift/genie lift/etc...), decorating/interior designers, etc... Think about it, if I owned a small but growing interior design, or painting, or wall papering, etc.... what great advertising it would be to wall paper the set, or decorate it, or paint it, and have thousands of people see it. Place a nice ad in the playbill, or at least an insert, and everyone will know it is your work.

I am hoping that people that own businesses, or have parties, will see the lighting and sound work that I do and call me for their lighting needs. I have had a few customers that I found that way.
 

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