There is nothing worse that that “uh-oh” moment at the gig when something goes wrong with your gear. When that moment happens, its great to be able to reach into your gear bag and pull out a fix for the problem. While you can’t carry everything with you, these are my top ten items that any guitarist should have in their gig bag (or in the trunk of their car) to get them through the night.
I know what you’re thinking — what guitar player wouldn’t have an extra set of strings on him at the gig? Let me answer that — almost every one that I’ve worked with. Either they didn’t get to the store, or they forgot that they pulled the B string out of the pack last week and now they are bumming one from me. Do yourself a favor and stock up — throw three or four sets in the gig bag and you’ll never have to figure out how to get through the night with 5 strings.
2. String Winder
If you have a guitar tech working for you, you can skip this one. However, chances are you are changing your own strings and you have about a minute to change that broken string before you start getting the stink-eye from the club owner who’s wondering why the band ain’t playing. Besides saving you time, a string winder might just save your gig.
3. All-Purpose Tool
You don’t want to be lugging a ton of stuff around, so one of these little wonders can do the work of a dozen tools. If you need to clip a string or do a quick adjustment, you’ll be glad you have one of these on hand. A couple favorites are the JP Guitar Tool and GrooveTech 10-in-1 from CruzTools.
4. Power Strip/Extension Cords
You know the drill: You show up at a new club and the only power outlet is on the other side of the room. Don’t get caught short. A heavy-duty extension cord and a high-quality power strip will solve most of your power issues. The Triplite TLP604 Surge Suppressor has a 4ft cord and 6 outlets so you can even share it with the bass player if need be.
Same as the extra strings, you would think that every guitar player brings along an extra cable. You would think. But they probably don’t. Stick a few extras in your bag.
6. Guitar Stand
Sure, you can lean your guitar up against the wall during your break, but chances are that somebody is going to knock it over. A good guitar stand is a solid investment; it will protect your guitar and give you a little piece of mind as well. There are many to choose from, including the best selling On Stage Classic.
Effect pedal: battery. Acoustic-electric guitar: battery. Wireless system: battery. Tuner: battery. You get the picture. Sadly, batteries die. Keeping extras on hand is a good thing.
“You guys can set up over there — in that dark corner. And, no, I can’t turn up the lights, people are still eating dinner.” Ah, the trials and tribulations of the working musician. Don’t get kept in the dark — throw a flashlight in your bag or attach a small one to your keychain, which is also great for getting back into the house at the end of the night.
9. Gaffers Tape
Gaffers tape has so many practical uses at the gig, from securing cables to the stage floor to sticking the set list up on the back of the PA speakers. It’s also handy for quick repair jobs as well as for restraining the drummer when necessary. Don’t confuse gaffers tape with duct tape — gaffers tape doesn’t leave that sticky residue behind. We suggest the Hosa GFT447 to get the job done.
We all like to play in tune, right? Unless you are blessed with perfect pitch, a tuner is pretty much the most essential accessory you can have. Whether you prefer a stomp box style or the extremely popular clip on tuners, don’t leave home without one. Some of our favorites are the TC Electronic PolyTune 2, the Boss TU-10 and the Samson CT20.
Photo: The Bluebeats by Ester Segretto