It’s happened to all of us. You’re going on stage in 15 minutes and scrambling to find something that seemed unnecessary when you were packing up, but now you realize you can’t perform without it. Something simple, like a missing guitar strap, can have you begging to borrow from a member of another band. We thought we’d make a quick checklist to help ensure this doesn’t happen to you.
Remember to bring extra:
- Set of Strings
- Guitar strap – Strap locks are always a good idea as well.
- Microphone – A Shure SM57 is a great backup to have – very versatile. You can mic a cab with it, or use it for vocals or a snare. You never know when the club is going to be one mic short. Mics seem to have legs of their own. Also, engrave your name on it so there is no confusion with the club staff as to who owns it.
- 2 – ¼” Instrument Cables
- 1 – ¼” Patch Cable
- 1 – ¼” Speaker Cable (Stereo)
- 1 – XLR Mic Cable – Mic cables go bad more often than any other type.
- 1 – XLR to ¼” – These are handy for connecting a mic to a soundboard that has run out of XLR inputs.
- 1 – ¼” to 1/8” – Great for connecting a device like an iPhone to a soundboard for pre-show music.
- 1 – 1/8” to ¼” – Again, great for connecting devices to a board.
Other accessory necessities:
- String Winder – Makes a string change in between songs much quicker.
- Duct Tape – A musician’s best friend. Countless gigs have been saved by some duct tape and a little on-the-spot engineering. Don’t buy the cheap stuff. It doesn’t hold up well if you’re sweating on it or someone throws a beer at you.
- Drum Key – You know drummers. They have a lot to pack and keep track of. You’ll be their hero if they lose theirs and you have a backup.
- A DI (Direct Input) – DI’s are notorious for going bad, and they typically don’t get treated too well in clubs. Again, engrave your name on it.
- Earplugs – No matter if you play with them in onstage or not, it’s good to have a pair handy in case there happens to be a screaming metal band that goes on before you.
- Mic Clips – They break often, so it’s great to have a backup of the real thing rather that using duct tape and fighting with it for the whole gig.
- 9-Volt power supply for effects pedals
- 9-Volt Batteries for effects pedals
Now, you don’t necessarily want to be lugging around a full tool box, but these are the most common tools that you’ll need to make a quick adjustment to your gear.
- Wire Cutters for strings
- Screwdrivers – Best to bring a small and a medium sized Phillips and flathead.
- Hex keys – For truss rods and saddles
- Wire Strippers
- Soldering Iron and solder – If you have a bad pickup connection and know what you’re doing, you can fix it in 10 minutes or so, but not without wire strippers and and soldering iron, and solder.
- “Jack the Gripper” – To quickly adjust your input jack. Google it. You need one!
- Sharpie – For setlists and signing body parts after the gig.
- Pencil and paper – Ultimately, a pencil and paper on which you can take notes about the set, arrangements and chord changes, may be the most important tool in your gig bag.
One last item to always keep on hand – extra tubes. If you’ve never had to get through a set what an amp that has failing tubes, you don’t want to. Tubes can sometimes be damaged when moving your gear to the gig, so this is an incredibly common occurrence. If you’re lucky enough to find another guitarist or bassist that’s willing to let you use their head, the odds that they have a head that you like and you can get dialed in to your tone are slim. Buy a backup set of tubes (from thetubestore.com) and keep them in a safe place.
Please download this PDF GigBag Checklist for your own use.