There is more than one way to skin a cat and more than one way to set your gain structure. I tend to bring up gain structure probably more than I should; but it’s so important! When I saw the method Dave Rat uses for setting gain, I thought “that’s bloody brilliant!”
The method for setting gain structure most common is setting the fader at 0 and then adjusting the gain. When you’re done, all the faders are around the 0 point. The benefits of this are two-fold; optimal subsequent granular control of volume via faders and an easy reset point if you start moving faders and need to start from scratch.
Dave tosses out a different idea. Set the faders in the relative position to how they will be in the mix. Therefore, when looking at the faders, it’s obvious that the drums might be louder in the mix than the keyboards.
Once a gig starts, you’ll be making volume changes per song, even during a song, to match the style of the song and where the instruments fix into that particular song. That’s just part of mixing. However, you have several ways to start; faders in a row or faders relative to general mix setup.
Try changing your gain setup fader location for the next service. Does it make subsequent mixing easier? For some, that added visual re-enforcement of instrument mix location will help. For others, well…give it a try and find out for yourself. Just because you’ve been doing it the same way for years doesn’t mean it’s the best way…but for you, maybe it is.