LXQ: Solo Concert Lighting Design Ideas – Learn Stage Lighting .com

LXQ: Solo Concert Lighting Design Ideas

By David / 5 years ago

Lighting Questions are sent in from readers of our FREE email newsletter, or via our contact page.  With the permission of the writers, we share the Q&A’s here so that we can help others who have the same questions!

 David wrote into me to discuss his lighting plan for solo acoustic concerts.  He’s starting from no lighting system, so we’ve got a clean slate gear-wise.

I’ve condensed our conversation into just 2 parts below, and I think you’ll really enjoy checking  out the lighting rig that David came up with for his shows.

Question & Answer

Acoustic Guitar Lighting

Photo Credit: Toni Blay via Compfight cc


I am a performing musician and I mostly do solo shows and want to add lighting to my setup. To control my lighting I know I won’t always have someone to run lights for me so I need a way to control it myself without being distracting to the audience.

I think I will eventually want the lights to also work for small combo groups, as well as my solo shows.

I want a pro quality look (even lighting with good color on faces).

I’m thinking it will be mostly just a set lighting for the concert. I think I may also get into using various colors for different moods.

I’ve looked through your blog a bit and got the idea that a 3 point system sounds best. Also LED lights seem to be the way to go for my setting (simple and versatile). The other thing is the controller. I will likely need to control the lights myself and was looking for a foot controller that might have scenes I could access.

I’m thinking that I’ll only want to put $1,000 at most into this. I’d rather keep it around $500 but I’m worried I won’t get the quality I want at $500.

I feel like it would be nice if I could get away with 2 back lights and maybe two towers with a couple lights on each for the front lighting.

I’m wondering if you could direct me in a good direction for a setup that would be simple, versatile, and meet my needs. (Lights, stands and controllers).

Thanks for your useful information on your blog. Very helpful.

All the best,




Thanks for reading – I greatly appreciate it!

About how large of a stage are you looking to light?  I understand that you will be traveling around, so it will vary from venue to venue.

As you noted, a 3 point lighting scheme would be best for your useage with LED lights.

The only concern I have right now is that getting frontlight that looks natural can be difficult with LED’s unless you buy fixtures that have the more expensive white and amber LED’s inside them.  RGB LED fixtures make a pretty poor looking white for lighting human flesh.  

The inexpensive shortcut that can save you money here is to use a couple of incandescent par cans and a dimmer for your white front lighting.  This will give you the nice, smooth & warm lighting on faces that you are looking for!

But anyways, get back to me with the size of stage you’re lighting, and I’ve got some suggestions on how to make it work and look great!

Anyways, thanks for your question David, I’m really glad you enjoy the website!


Thanks for getting back to me.

I’m thinking the areas will be about 12 – 15′ deep and about 20 – 25′ wide.

David's Lighting Setup

David’s Design

I’ve been talking with different people and have done more research on lighting since emailing you. I’ve changed my ideas a bit for the setup and have attached an image of my proposed design.

I’ve increased my budget a bit for this setup. I’ve got two columns in front, each with two lights. An LED for color and a regular incandescent for a spot on each column.

I also have the same setup in the back. LED on each column and an incandescent spot on each. So 4 total LEDs and 4 total regular PAR (not sure what size and wattage).

The other thing I’m doing is having a video projector that will project onto the backdrop and fill it as full as possible. The backdrop will be about 8′ tall and 12′ wide.

As far as controlling all this I’ve been looking at the Chauvet Obey 40 and running the system with a Behringer MIDI foot controller (FCB 1010).

The idea I have at this point is using the Obey 40 to program and using the Behringer FCB1010 MIDI foot controller to change scenes throughout the concert. If you have any thoughts or suggestions along these lines that would be very helpful. I want to keep things simple but flexible. In this case I wish there was a simpler foot controller.

The lights I’ve been looking at for the LED’s are the Chauvet Tri 7. The flicker free is important to me as I will be doing video work.

I suppose there are a lot of questions within this.

With your experience I’m sure you can identify what setup will work best for this. If you have anyway to bring costs down, any suggestions on projectors if you have experience there (will need a short throw), and any other overall suggestions I would really appreciate it.


I think you’re on a great path with your design!

Incandescent Glow

Photo Credit: justonlysteve via Compfight cc

One small thing I’d change is that you save the setup time and cost of the incandescent backlight.  It’s really not necessary unless you’re just glued to that tungsten glow, and you can make your LED’s look pretty good as a white back light, unlike front light.

If you’re looking for a simpler foot controller, there are options, but it’s a tough see-saw to play on!

What I mean is that you could go and buy really simple foot controller, but then you wouldn’t have much control over programming scenes, if any.  That’s why I call it a see-saw.  The combination of controller and pedal that you’ve highlighted is just what I think you need.  The controller is versatile enough to do what you need it to, but hopefully not too confusing!

As for the power consumption, you should have no problem keeping this setup on 1, 20amp circuit. Your LED cans will consume 42 watts each and a 20a circuit has 2400 watts total capacity.  Thankfully, LED fixtures use so little power that this is possible!

For your conventional par cans, I’d suggest you go with 200w Par 46 cans, which will give you the brightness you need for your setup without much power consumption. Add it all up and you’re still under 600w – that’s 5 amps, which is not much at all. This is why LED’s are so awesome!

The only piece of gear you’d need that you haven’t mentioned is a dimmer pack – I go over my top picks for dimmers over here.  The dimmer pack will control the intensity of the conventional par cans.

I also like your video background idea! I don’t really do a lot of work with video personally, so I don’t have specific gear suggestions, but obviously you are on the right track knowing you need a short throw.  There are some projectors that incorporate a mirror for an extra short throw, so you may want to look into that!

Thanks so much for writing in, and don’t hesitate to reply if you have any other questions or thoughts!,


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