By: Josh Lucas
Here’s a list of essential items for every gig! Stay tuned to our social media for a downloadable checklist.
⦁ String cleaner & cloth
⦁ Full set of extra strings
⦁ Backup Instrument
⦁ Strap, maybe an extra one
⦁ All your cables, plus at least one extra of each type
⦁ Change of clothes, including shoes
⦁ P.A. System
It seems simple enough, but you never know what a venue’s hydration situation is going to be like–and too much beer might result in some negative side-effects.
Not only should you have a full set of extra strings, but having some string cleaner and a microfiber cloth can go a long way towards preserving your string life. More importantly, new strings are nice and slick, but that doesn’t last long. As soon as you make contact with the string, your hands’ oils will create a residue that will result in a good bit more friction between your fingers and the strings, which can make many techniques more difficult. String cleaner will help make your strings feel like new again.
If you leave without your instrument, God help you. But always take a backup–yes, you’ve brought a set of extra strings, but what if one breaks while you’re putting it on? Additionally, it’s much faster to switch out to your backup instrument than to change a string (the Slowhand legend, anyone?).
Do you need one? Is there a backline at the venue? It’s always good to take your amp (should you use one) just in case–not all amplifiers are created equal, and you may not like the results you get from the venue’s amp.
Unless you’ll be sitting for the evening, you’re going to need this for obvious reasons.
Even the highest quality instrument cables get stepped on. Make sure you have every cable needed to connect your rig together, and at least one spare of each type. Hopefully your speaker cables won’t be getting stepped on, but you’d be surprised how much gets lost in transit. You can go 98 gigs with no hiccups, but on the 99th you’ll discover that your cables are mysteriously missing.
Weeks later, maybe you’ll find them in the van. But the worst time to discover you have no cables is the moment you’re setting up. So, I’d recommend having a backup of every single cable that you have. Maybe it seems like I’m going a little overboard, but problems always seem to happen at the least convenient times.
Change of Clothes
It makes sense that you might want to wear different clothes to perform than the clothes you wore to work, or throughout the day–but why shoes? Well, this is more for the player who has some pedals to step on–do you really want to step on a piece of your musical gear with the same shoes you just wore to the bathroom?
Hey, people want it–you should have it ready to provide to them. Most folks like to take a little memento with them to remember a good night, and what better feeling than to have helped contribute to that memory? So be stocked up and ready to give the people what they want! Otherwise it will just have been a lovely night with–oh, who was that guitarist?
Maybe you don’t use a pedalboard, but if you do–you’re going to want to bring that, and make sure your pedals are powered and hooked up, and ready to go well before you start loading onstage for your set.
Bigger venues usually have you covered here, but maybe not a coffee shop. If you’re doing an instrumental gig, your amps may be plenty. If you’re adding vocals into the mix, it’s almost a no-brainer that you’re going to need a P.A. System to get an ideal mix.
I hope this checklist helps you get through all your future gigs without any problems, and if you do have problems, hopefully now you’ve got a backup plan in place.