Gigging Gear Tips!
I have been doing a lot of gigs lately and so it about time to talk about some general gigging gear tips. Hopefully it will all be common sense and it’s likely that you’ll have all of the stuff mentioned but it worth talking about, nonetheless. Don’t worry gear heads, I’ll be posting shortly a full rig run down with pictures and how tos.
Now, you know that one of my pet peeves – especially if you’ve been reading my blog over the last year or so – is musicians who turn up to gigs (rehearsals, session, jams etc.) without a instrument or guitar tuner. Yes, it’s crazy but people still do it and it does drive me nuts. It’s likely that you hate hearing out of tune musicians as much as I do. So you’ll understand when I say: Take a guitar tuner. No matter what gig it is, take a guitar, take a tuner. Even if you play bass, still take one!
Sorry to rant, but tuning is a must (especially silent tuning in between songs). If you’re stuck for one to buy, I recommend either a BOSS TU-3 (I love the BOSS TU-2 but you can’t get them any more – other than eBay) or a TC Electronics PolyTune – both are built to be used and abused. BOSS and KORG make great and cheap tuners for guitar/bass which have built-in microphone for ambient tuning. All are worth the investment.
Music and Guitar Stands
Along with guitar tuners, I’m a big fan of stands, especially if you’re in the house band or the head liner. If you have to read on the gig, take a music stand, make sure it’s sturdy and black.
I have a guitar rack which holds 5 guitars; it’s sturdy, reliable and folds down to a carry case, which looks like a small guitar case – neat!
With a guitar rack, there is no place for straps to get tangled or caught like they do on a single stand. I’ll seen people go to pick up their next guitar and accidentally take the stand with it! Makes for a funny start to any performance but not really what you want to happen! I’ve got nothing against single tripod stands, however they don’t work for me that well. Plus I’m usually using between 2 and 4 guitars – which wouldn’t look as neat on stage on separate stands.
Also as it’s next to me and I’m not likely to move far, I can hide my phone/wallet/keys (should I have them – I try where possible to not carry anything) behind the guitars, where I can see them but they aren’t visible. This stops me having too much in my pockets, which I don’t particularly like but means they’re not in a changing room where they can/could/do get nicked.
A handy little tip is to put the guitar in to the slot and then place the strap on the rail behind the guitar. When it comes to picking that guitar up, it’s clear where the strap is. This means I can safely lift the guitar out with one hand while using the other for the strap. Simple and time saving!
Taking spare is one of the best gigging gear tips I can give you. If you’re gigging a lot, then you’ve probably broken a string. It happens; the thing is that you should be prepared for it to happen. Not that it will happen that often (unless you’re really aggressive or don’t change strings until they break!), but you should carry a spare set of strings with you at all times.
Spare cables are a must too; I personally like a spare cable next to the pedal board. It’s likely you’ll never need it but you will have the odd occasion when you will. It’s more likely is that the keys player or bassist needs another cable to be plugged into the PA. Trust me, it’s always good to be able to save the day!
You might want to put a bundle of picks on top of the amp and also on the mic stand (should you sing as well) using one of those plastic clips. It helps to have a load of them, in case you drop one or want to throw them at the fans. Hey, when you get famous they’ll be worth something on eBay!! Or maybe not!!
Spare capo, slides, patch cables etc. should be carried. I recently realised that I only had one capo, so I purchased an inexpensive one purely for back-up.
Another recent additional to my spares (which must make me look like a walking music shop – well until something breaks or someone needs a cable or two!) is in-ear headphones and a spare set.
I’ve started doing some gigs with a singer who uses supporting tracks, so all band members wear in ears to hear the click track. I have to admit, I don’t wear them unless it’s a song with lots of different time changes. We recently did a medley with 4 songs each in their own key and tempo, back to back without any rest bars to hear the new tempo before playing! I wore the in-ears on that one!! If I’m starting the song, I usually wear one ear just for the count off and then remove it after the intro. I prefer to play off the drummer and feel like I’m playing in a band and not counting bars in a really sterile way.
If it sounds like I’m carry a lot, it probably is because I’m actually carrying around enough spares plus guitar gear to start a music store! For spares and general leads that I’ll end up using – I have a metal tool case. Nothing fancy and I’ve removed the compartments, so it’s just one big empty space. Keeping everything together is simple plus I’m less likely to lose items that way.