Stage Lighting Equipment

Stage Lighting Stands – Easy Rigging Equipment

A commonly used method of rigging stage lighting, the lighting stand is safe, flexible and can be cheap. Perhaps you looking to buy your first set of lighting stands for your own mobile rig. If so, read on at the On Stage Lighting guide to using and abusing stage lighting stands…

Working with small lighting rigs in small venues is common ground for many bands and other acts. Simple touring theatre shows rig their lighting on the humble stand for versatility and speed while mobile DJ,s are never without a truss ‘n’ stands “goalpost” for their lighting effects.

Types of Stage Lighting Stand

Lighting stands come in all shapes and sizes, from small lightweight tripods that lift a few lights up 3m to large winch-up stands that can safely lift several hundred kilograms to a dizzy height of 6m.

Push Up Stands – Small telescopic tripods made from metal tube with a locking system that you can hang a few lights on, cable up, test and then push up by hand. These stands have a small weight capacity or Safe Working Loads (SWL) and usually lift to 3m or less.

Wind Up Stands – More advanced and with better SWL, Wind Ups use a mechanical system of winch/cog to lift more lights to 3m or more. They sometimes have adjustable feet to be able to cope with slightly uneven floor surfaces. A wind up lighting stand is often called Manfrotto, the brand name of the one most popular makes of stand.

Winch Up stands – These stands are cabable of lifting a few hundred kilograms up to around 6m. They have safe braking systems and a wide “footprint” (the size of the base) for good stability. Because they lift high, the stands have adjustable feet to enable them to be erected safely by ensuring that they are vertical.

Rigging Lights on the Stand

A lighting stand needs some form of rigging hardware to actually hold stage lights.


A single light can be attached to the top using a “spigot” that is bolted where the hook clamp normally fits. The spigot slots into the top of the stand and is clamped in position using a wingbolt. Standard stage lighting spigots are 15-20mm diameter and the popular “TV spigot” being 28mm diameter.

If the stage lighting stand is incompatible with the spigot, you can always use a “spigot adaptor”.

The spigot is usually part of any system that allows rigging of multiple lights on the lighting stand.

Rigging Multiple Lights

You probably want a bit from your stage lighting stand than to rig only light on it! So you need another piece of rigging kit.

The unimaginatively named T-bar is a cross piece that fits on top of the lighting stand using a spigot. T-bars can be square or round section metal with holes drilled to bolt stage lights onto, or made from 2″ scaffold pipe for lighting hook clamps to grip. Using a T-bar you can rig quite a few lights on each stand, making sure that you keep within the stands weight limits, often written on the stand.

A standard pipe (or barrel, bar) can be attached to the top of a lighting stand using a scaffold clamp welded to a TV spigot. In the UK, these are often known as a “Big Ben”.

On larger lighting rigs, truss can be attached to the top of lighting stands using “Truss Adaptors” which are fabricated comprising of a TV spigot, spreader bar and clamps that grip the truss. Using a few large winch-up stands and truss with adaptors can create a decent sized lighting rig without the need to hang the system from the roof. The only consideration might be winching four or more stands up, all at once, when it’s only you and your mate!

The great thing about stage lighting stands is, as well as being versatile and safe when used correctly, you can rig all your lights from the comfort and safety of the floor.

You might still have to get the ladder out to focus those PAR cans – unless you are pretty handy with a long stick!!!!

  1. Craig

    If I were to build a “minimal” lighting package for a small band, theater troop, or portable church, good lighting stands would be one of my my first purchases. I would also recommend staying away from any equipment marketed to mobile DJ’s–unless, of course you ARE a mobile DJ. Buy two pro-grade stands capable of holding a T bar with at least six, preferably twelve, par cans per stand. You don’t need to buy all the par cans right away. Get a stand with a hand crank that lets you get the lights well above the head of the crowd–8 feet minimum, 12 if you have the headroom. If money is tight, don’t buy a dimming system right away–you can just plug the par cans into wall outlets or a power strip, and use a switch to turn them on and off. Be careful not to exceed the current capacity of your extension cord, power strip, or wall outlet. Do not place lights close to automatic fire sprinkler heads. One disadvantage of stands is that they often have to be placed away from the stage, in the crowd, where the is a possibility that some drunk will mess with them. This could be an issue for bands playing in bars…hopefully not an issue in a church.

  2. Rob

    Hello again, Craig

    I agree with you about the professional grade lighting stands. In the UK, we usually use the standard Manfrotto wind-up stand. They are good quality , stable and lift about 30KG to 13 feet – but they aren’t cheap. I have seen some decent quality copies around though.

    The Strata from Doughty Engineering is a favourite for heavy duty lifts.

    Thanks and glad to see your blog back again.

    (p.s – Did you notice that I do that unique Brit thing and use metric measurements and feet in the same sentence – lol)

  3. Chris

    Hi, been trying to research stage lighting and your site seems to be the most useful I’ve found. I’m looking at taking over a pub (with my wife) which has a stage, the lighting set-up seems rather inadequate. 2 tripods with lights on at the BACK of the stage so the performers backs get lit up nicely… I’ve found some budget equipment to upgrade a couple of bits, but i am looking to have lights at the front of the stage, any ideas where i could find the required equipment for mounting the lights? it will be a permanent install so i don’t want any tripods taking up space and everyone seems to sell those or full on rigging which seems a little over the top, where could i find something that will fit my needs? a simple bar i can fix to a wall so i can mount lights on it… before i start thinking about raiding a scaffolders yard…

  4. Rob


    If you don’t have much room in the ceiling, I would look up hardware called Unistrut. It’s used in the building industry and is a discreet way of mounting lighting equipment in smaller venues.

  5. John Litchfield


    I am looking at setting up a ceiling mounted rig for the Primary school that I work at. We have a good sized hall and it has metal box section beams at about 10 to 15 meters above the hall floor. I am sure that we could attach a rig to these beams but am interested to have any advice. The system will be used by our older pupils to set up lighting for the various shows the school puts on over the year. I would like it ceiling mounted as i am having a light and sound desk fitted into the hall.

    would remote control lights work?

    LED’s or normal lights?

    where can i purchase the winching system for a rig to enable me to drop the lights so the children can position them?

    Any other help would be greatly appreciated.



  6. Dalya Bernstein

    Where can I buy new or second-hand black telescopic light stands?
    I already have 2 Cabaret Colour lights with 4 lights in each but the stands are not telescopic and weigh a ton!

  7. heather leigh

    Hi Rob,
    Wondering if you can help?
    I run a small touring company and we perform shows in care homes so the spaces we use are very small. I am wanting to purchase some lights so I can add to the effect of the shows but I have a few Questions as I know nothing about lights, rigs or the equiptment.
    What i’d like to know is if you can recommend what equiptment would be suitable. It would have to be free standing, not take up alot of space and a lighting change would need to be easily achieved (although they will be minimal). It kind of needs to be self sufficient as there is noo techy to operate?
    Can you help?

  8. Oxygen

    I’d recommend NOT mounting the lights to the sound system. I’m pretty sure that the speaker will cause the bulb to go out prematurely.


  9. Lazaro Coronel

    I am presently working for a company that works alot with shows that deal significantly with lights. I really want to know as much as I can about installing these fixtures. Any suggestions on how I can go about learning this trade will be deeply appreciated.

  10. Jesse Anderson

    I am looking for the type of lighting used in the video of “Nobody” by the Doobie Brothers. The units seem to be tripod mounted, vertical arrays. Please, if you have any information on them, could you please direct me to a source where I can learn more about them?

  11. Tim Bly

    There’s this large market for LED Stage Lighting for outdoor medium events and the lighting industry hasn’t seemed to address this. They offer the concert type led’s and indoor small band led’s but there’s a need for projection of 8′-20′ without spending a fortune. I’m looking at some of the major manufacturers and they don’t seem to offer affordable LED lighting that will cover these events. In Oregon there’s many events and many companies and that’s the battle we face.

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