The number one rule for gigs and live shows is to always be prepared. Nothing has ever been truer for musicians than Murphy’s law and every time you leave open the opportunity for something to go wrong for you, it will. Over the years I’ve learned that having an inventory of nick nacks crammed into your guitar case will save your hide when you need it most. There’s lots of things that are handy to have but here are my top 5 that should be essential for all guitarists.
Aside from the well being of your hands, your hearing is the next most precious thing for you. You need to take care of your ears and wear earplugs whenever you’re in a loud environment. Tinnitus (that ringing in your ears you get after a concert) is a very real threat to the health of career musicians and can become permanent after too many repeated exposures to ear piercing volumes. I’d highly recommend all musicians to have a pair of moulded ear plugs for comfort however a pair or $2 foam ones or even some cotton wool should always be hidden away in your case for that time you leave yours at home.
Funny story about my first international tour. I cut my nails the morning of my flight from Australia to Tokyo and in the 2 days between arriving and the first show my nails magically grew to the point where they were digging into the fretboard. I don’t know if it’s something in the food or the amount of radiation that gave me Godzilla nails but I was running around Tokyo an hour before we were due onstage looking for somewhere to buy nail clippers. Hardly the best way to get prepared to play in front of over 1000 people. Since that night I’ve always had my Tokyo nail clippers living in my guitar case to avoid the problem happening in future
This one is an absolute no brainer but you’d be stunned by the amount of times I’ve been playing a gig and a guitarist from another band has come up asking for a pick because they left their’s in an old pair or jeans under the bed. Buy your picks in bulk and put 10 in every case that you own.
The chance of you breaking a string increases exponentially when you haven’t got any spares to put on. If you’re changing strings regularly breaking strings shouldn’t be a problem but it’s always handy to have spares on standby for when it does happen.
Wireless Packs, Foot Pedals & Active Pickups all use batteries and chances are if you’re running a big rig you’re going to run out of power to something during a show. There’s been a few times where I’ve had to do a mad dash to the supermarket pre show because the batteries in my wireless died at during soundcheck. Have a few spares in all the sizes that you use because you’re going to hit empty at some point.
No matter how prepared and organized you are, sooner or later something is going to go wrong and you (or another band member or gig buddy) will be caught out. By having these items in your guitar case you’ll be better prepared to deal with bad situations and hopefully be able to avoid them all together.
About The Author
Michael Gumley is a guitarist and teacher from Melbourne, Australia. He has toured both nationally and internationally and has had his fair share of gig catastrophes that could have been avoided with a little bit more preparation. If you’re tired of not getting guitar and want learning to be fun and easy, sign up for Essendon Guitar Lessons and experience guitar taught the right way!