I've got a setup with a guitar synth, looper, pedalboard and assorted flavors. Inputs are keyboard, sequencer, wind instrument, laptop and guitar. Setup isn't so bad except for the phono, MIDI and power cables which either become tangled into an impossible knot or I spend ages coiling and uncoiling them. On festival stages you're lucky if you get 15 minutes between acts.

How do I organize cords for complicated setups for fast setup and teardown?

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    I would try to build the whole setup in a suitcase or flight case or something, everything pre-wired as much as possible. – piiperi Reinstate Monica May 3 at 8:04

Use spiral wrap to keep all cables that go to and from the same places. That way, since you probably set up the same each time, there will only be 3 or 4 'separate' cable runs. You can also use spiral wrap to allow a cable to poke out at any convenient point.

A Snake may do the job with a bit of adaptation - change some of the plugs. Often the wires themselves, used for signals, are heavy enough to use for 9v or 12v DC.

You may find (I never did) that mains leads and signal leads don't like being alongside each other, and certain noises can be produced - one way to find out !

Any pedals etc., that always go together need to be permanently wired, in a flightcase , but I find suitcases or briefcases work well - they also can be used to store the leads, as a bag often helps them to entangle themselves.


A system I used for years had my tech building hookup cables to length, allowing for a little slack at the ends and then bundling them together to make a home-made snake. This works for a stage set-up that is the same each night, even if the venue changes. It helps to keep the stage floor cleaner, less cluttered, and reduces the chances of tripping over loose cables. Instead of unwinding and winding individual cables which can be time consuming, there is only the one or two bundles to coil and put away. This works well in most set-ups but I found I still needed to carry extra spare cables to use when the stage set-up had to be altered to make everything fit. Still, it saves a lot of time, when we can leave the individual cables stored safely in the trunk. I guess I should mention that the pig tails at each end of the bundles get labeled to indicate where they should be connected.


Learn how to wrap cables. You will find many instructional videos, e.g.:

Use Velcro cable ties to keep the coiled cables in place.

  • This isn't my first rodeo. Organizing disparate cables is more complicated than knowing how to wind over-and-under. – pro May 3 at 19:48
  • @pro Could you then be more specific about what is your problem, and how my anwer doesn't help with it? – user1079505 May 3 at 20:24
  • I need to get a complex setup onto the stage within 10 minutes and off the stage within 10 minutes. – pro May 4 at 1:11

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