Miscellaneous > Gigs - Live Talk

What's in your Gig Bag?

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There's a well-known saying that says "Be Prepared". 
That said, there's a few items you may want to have with you for your gigs that could very well "save the day".  It's fairly obvious that as much as we might want to have a spare everything, that might just be too much to have around all the time....but there are a few important things that should be on the list.

Extra set of strings.  You know it, gotta have that.   It might be inconvenient to have to change a string or two on the spot, and you may not absolutely have to change them in order to finish the gig.....but damn you know that if you don't have extra strings on hand you'll always wish you did.  Guitarists with the full floating bridges are going to be boned if you break a string mid-performance.  It's nearly impossible to continue playing while trying to compensate for the scattered tuning your bridge will give you after breaking the delicate balance of tremolo spring and string tensions.   A cool story about that; I once broke a string during a gig with a full floating setup and somehow I managed to at least finish the song by jamming a beer coaster under the bridge tail to hold it back where it needed to be. That was some quick thinking for sure, and took a few precious seconds to get jammed in there just right but I still had to switch guitars after the song was over anyway.  Which brings the next item....

Extra guitar.  A definite must-have if you play out with a full floating Floyd Rose type bridge.  If so, then "Weapon #2" should be ready to play without any fussing with it should that need arise.  Most people probably won't be able to carry-on more than one guitar for travel and touring purposes due to the increased cost of extra luggage on flights. (Unless you're lucky enough that someone else is paying those bills)  You may want to re-evaluate the idea of bring a full-floating-bridged axe out on tour with you and instead settle on a dependable setup...at least blocking the bridge so it only dives and doesn't pull up.  That way if you do break a string, the bridge will remain at it's "zero" plane and the rest of the strings should stay in tune.

Guitar specific tools.  This means a Phillips head screwdriver or two in the appropriate sizes for sure, and whatever hex head wrenches your guitar might need.  Wire cutter for the strings, bottle opener for the ale, etc.  A handheld tuner is also considered a tool, and it also is a must-have. 

Extra picks.  Picks!   :facepalm:   How $%@# embarrassing would it be if you show up at your gig and forgot your damn picks?  ARRGH!! 
They get lost so easily anyway, so always keep an extra couple of them in your pocket. Another 2 or 3 in your guitar case....and another couple in your gig bag.....you get the idea.

Extra guitar instrument cable.  Even if you use a wireless.....umm especially if you use a wireless, you need to have an extra guitar cable.  These things happen mysteriously.  The cable you used last night that worked flawlessly now has an intermittent connection tonight for no apparent reason.  Your wireless might prefer to channel some random church service being broadcast that night instead of your hellishly hellish riffs.  :lol: Or simply just not work for you that night for no apparent reason. Having an extra cable could mean the difference between a good show or a bad show.  If you have a rackcase full of stuff, it might be prudent to throw a few extra patch cables in there as well.  Having 2 or 3 extra patch cables in there at the ready won't make your rack any heavier to carry than it already is.

Duct tape  Or "Gaff Tape" as it might be called.  This stuff is usually silver in color, but it may as well be made of gold.  This stuff really can save your ass.  Cables all over the stage to trip over?  Tape em down where you're standing.  Setlist won't stay put? Tape that sucker down.
Drummer can't keep the sticks from flying out of his hands whenever he does a roll or a fill?  Yep.  You tape him up like a prize fighter.  If he complains, then there's another strip of tape for the mouth.  Duct tape truly is Miracle tape.

Extra 20 bucks.  What?  Oh yes, you find a good place to stash a $20 bill (or it's equivalent in your particular money denomination). It has to be hidden amongst your personal gear somehow and must never made known of it's existence or it will undoubtedly disappear.  It's up to you to figure out how to hide it, but rest assured if you ever get in some kind of a bind and for instance need emergency gas money or the like to make it home or to the next show.... Glenn Fricker (of Spectre Studios) mentioned this in one of his many YouTube vids, and I'll tell you right here that there was a few times that I wished I'd heard of that idea before.

So, here's a few things to think about having available to you should the ugly need arise while gigging out.  Be prepared.  I've been saying for years and years "It's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it".   You might have some more ideas of what to also have, and this list I've posted is by no means complete and comprehensive.  But it's a very good start, so feel free to add to this. 

GREAT post, Kim

You hit all of those on the head, with one addition: a flashlight. Dark bar, drop your pick somewhere on your pedal board, or worse yet...drop your alan wrench & need to find it to restring  :facepalm:

I bring 3 guitars to every gig. Only one has a trem. That leaves the other two to serve as backups or to tune differently (ie. slide guitar tuned in an open chord, drop D songs). I don't bring extra strings anymore because I'm not gonna change one at the gig. I have two other guitars for that. Likewise, I have been leaving the tool kit at home too.

Picks are in a pickholder attached to my rack. I will never be out of picks.

Now, the only things in my gig bag are: Extra instrument cable, extra extension cord, my guitar mic, extra mic cable, cup holder (attaches to the mic stand), duct tape, and wristbands (to keep my arm from getting all wet with sweat on the guitar). Oh yeah, and a flashlight ;)


--- Quote from: Dante on March 11, 2017, 09:07:26 AM ---You hit all of those on the head, with one addition: a flashlight.

--- End quote ---

I do keep a small flashlight with my stuff.  I'm actually quite ashamed I forgot to mention the flashlight!   :o
Eh, wine does that I guess.....

Both of you are spot on! However I take 3 to 4 guitars, 2 extra sets of strings. A nail file cause sometimes you need a little finger nail maintenance. The only other thing I can think of is a clean t-shirt cause after the first set its usually soaked. Other than that you guys named everything else already. Wait 1 more, a 50 ft. extension cord. :headbanger:

All good tips  :thumb-up: .
I take a spare guitar and as Kim said I have it ready to go on a stand (sometimes with a lead plugged in and the tail ready to go at the preamp for faster swap over).
I put 3 turns around the machine head so I can repair a busted string (generally I'll bust the D) on the FR, they bust at the bridge 99.99% of the time, so this works fine... thus I don't bother with spare strings.
I take a towel, wrist and headbands and some soap (I can't touch a guitar without clean hands and some venues don't have soap in the gents  :facepalm: ).
I have a spare lead or 2 and also a J > male and J > female XLRs and male male, fem fem XLR adapters (but generally/often I do the PA...).
Also spare speaker leads
I also have a long 20amp power cable which often comes in handy.

Now a nail file is a good idea and it doubles as a screwdriver  :thumb-up:


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