When it comes to providing party entertainment, be it a wedding in the countryside or a house party in Manchester, music is only part of the equation. Many partygoers also want a good light show. The right lighting setup can put some impressive lighting effects at a DJ’s fingertips. A system that dazzles guests need not be complex or expensive. Many DJs find that a good setup is within their reach, both logistically and financially. It only requires they learn a few things. First, they need to know how to assemble and set up tree stands and trusses, using T-bar, triangle, or I-beam trusses. They need to know how to set up DJ lighting safely so that the equipment is not damaged and partygoers are not hurt. And they need to know how and where to buy high quality lighting equipment at prices that do not break the bank.
Stands and Trusses
The first step to setting up DJ lighting is to put the stands and trusses in place. Stands and trusses form the structure to which a DJ affixes the lights in the system. There are numerous options available, and certain guidelines that should be followed when setting them up.
DJs have a few different options when it comes to setting up a lighting support structure. The following sections describe several types: tree stands, I-beam trusses, triangle trusses, box trusses, and arches. The most important factors that determine which setup to use are 1) budget and 2) available space.
T-bars are perhaps the most common supports for lights. T-bars are tripods with a pole on top, which features two to four horizontal arms, to which lights are mounted. T-bars are ideal for mobile DJs who play smaller spaces. They are small and simple enough that one person can erect the structure, and T-bar supports take up little space. They are also relatively inexpensive.
An I-beam truss is another good option for a mobile DJ. This is a single pole that connects two tripod stands. It is usually hung above the DJ, to provide more space for mounting lights. This kind of truss is relatively lightweight, and the DJ may be able to set it up without assistance, though a ladder may be required to mount the lights. I-beam trusses tend to be affordable, as well.
A triangle truss is another type of beam that connects two tripod stands. It has three interconnected poles positioned triangularly in respect to one another, with one pole going horizontally across and two more horizontal poles beneath it. A series of diagonal bars connect the poles to one another. This type of truss creates a great deal of space to hang lights, but it often requires at least two people to set up.
A box truss is similar to a triangle truss, but it has four horizontal poles instead of three. Viewed from the end, the ends of the poles form the corners of a box. Box trusses also have a series of diagonal bars that join the four horizontal poles. Like triangle trusses, box trusses are a bit heavier and more expensive, and they can require a fair amount of labour to set up.
An arch system is comprised of multiple truss pieces that come together to form an arch above the DJ's head. It is possible to form an arch from I-beam trusses, so arch systems are becoming more common amongst mobile DJs. They are relatively expensive, but an I-beam arch is relatively easy to both transport and set up. It is a good way to vary the lighting and get more coverage out of the system.
Setting Up Tree Stands and Trusses
Once a DJ has decided what kind of tree stands and/or trusses to use, the next step is to configure a setup. Stands that support the tree "branches" at the top (or which have a truss running between two stands) should always go behind the speakers. Generally, DJs place the two main speakers on either side of the performance table. The tripod stands should go behind these speakers to prevent partygoers from tripping over the legs of the tripod and knocking over the lights. Falling lights can injure people, and broken lights are expensive to replace. A truss should go directly over the DJ’s head so that the lights can project out onto the dancefloor and illuminate the crowd. Lights should not be placed on the DJ table or on the floor in front of the table. This puts lights in harm’s way and creates a hazard for partygoers.
Crank Stands vs. Manual Stands
One thing users should consider is whether to use crank stands or manual ones. Crank stands have a handle on them that the DJ can turn to raise either the pole with tree branches attached or a truss running between the stands. These systems has enough torque to raise a bar bearing a heavy load of lights.
The other option is to manually set the tree or truss height and then use a ladder to fix the lights in place. This is a more labourious process, and requires extra equipment (i.e. a ladder). If using tree stands, a DJ should be sure not to mount one light on the very end of one "branch" without a counterweight on the opposite branch. If no counterweight is present, it is better to mount the light on the inside part of the branch, near the support pole.
The sections below discuss different available light options, such as PAR cans, pinspot lights, lasers, and several other types. They also explain how to place the lights and connect them together for use.
The table below lists several of the most common types of lighting used in DJ performances, and provides a brief description of each.
Stands for "parabolic aluminised reflector"; use halogen or LED bulbs; shine an oval-shaped light with fuzzy edges; different coloured lenses create different atmospheres; bulbs can often change positions in their fixtures to move the light around the room
Produces a smaller, but more intense beam of light than a PAR can; good for mood lighting or creating effects using other lighting materials, such as mirror balls
A thin, intense beam of light; produces a series of laser beams projecting at wide angles from a narrow source; some form geometric designs or patterns
Flashes a pool of intense white light; can be set to flash at certain intervals or in time with music; relatively inexpensive
Shines coloured light in various designs, such as flowers, stars, and written messages; more expensive, but add some memorable effects to a light show
Other specialised lights a DJ may wish to include in a setup include black lights and follow spots, but the lights listed in the table above are a good start, especially PAR cans and pinspots. Another accessory every DJ should strongly consider adding to a lighting setup is at least one mirror ball. Shining a pinspot light onto a mirror ball creates an excellent effect that covers a large area. Select a mirror ball with a motor that enables it to rotate.
Placing the Lights
Whichever lights are chosen, users need to affix them to either the tree stand branches or the truss. This is generally done with clamps. There are a variety of clamps available, but the most important feature of a clamp is the maximum amount of weight that it can support. Before choosing a clamp to go with a certain type of light, users should be sure that the clamp can support that light’s weight.
DJs can opt to set up their tree stands and trusses first, and then clamp the lights to them. Or else they can clamp the lights on before setting the tree stands and trusses to the desired height. The former option may require a ladder, whilst the latter option may require an assistant, since tree stands and trusses can become quite heavy when bearing lights.
Connecting the Lights
The lights should have their own power source, independent of the power source for the music-playing equipment. Both the lights and the music equipment require a good deal of power, and they can short a circuit if they share the same one. Start by fixing a power strip to one of the tripod’s legs. Next run the power cables around poles and down to the power strip. Doing this keeps the power cables from hanging down loosely, which is both unsightly and potentially hazardous. After plugging the lights into the power strip, connect them to the lighting control system, which should also plug into the same power strip. These connection cables should also wind around the lighting structure’s poles. Some DJs prefer to control the lights during their performances, whilst others synchronise them beforehand. Either way, the most important thing is that there be no cables hanging freely or lying on the floor in the paths of the DJ or partygoers.
How to Buy DJ Lighting on eBay
DJ lighting is sold at both local and online DJ equipment supply shops. Those looking for used lighting components may want to check classified ads. eBay is a good source for any type of lighting a equipment a DJ may need, in either new or used condition. You can go to any eBay page and perform a search for the equipment you need by entering a specific search term such as "PAR can light" into the search bar and clicking Enter. You can also see what is available by using a general term such as "DJ lighting".
eBay also enables you to buy from local sellers if you wish. Once you have your search results, you can specify the distance from your postcode within which sellers should be located. The closer the seller is to you, the less time and money is likely to be required for shipping. You may even be able to arrange a local pickup if the seller agrees to it.
DJs are no longer just responsible for the music; guests also expect a DJ to wow them with an impressive lights display. Many mobile DJs therefore must know which components they need to create a good light show and how to set up their own lighting. This guide discussed the different types of lighting setups and how DJ should go about erecting the stands and mounting the lights. Stands and trusses form the backbone of the setup, with the lights affixed to these components. It is important to set up stands and trusses so that lights do not get damaged and party guests are not harmed by falling equipment. Once the structure is in place, the DJ can go about affixing the lights using clamps, making sure to wrap the wiring around the structure. There are many sources that sell DJ lighting equipment, and eBay is one of the most convenient. It also features a huge selection of lighting equipment at prices to meet any budget.