Just picture this. You’re onstage with a guitar on and a pick in hand. You can feel the heat of the lights and the club is packed with fans. The drummer is ready to give the four count to start the song. You look out to the crowd and hit that first huge power cord and… NO SOUND!!!!
It happens. The only question is when will it happen to you. And how are you going to handle it? Try to fix it now or wait until the next song? Lots of questions, but not a lot of time. Something is bound to happen, it’s just the way it is. Whether it be a guitar cable, drum stick, amplifier or as simple as forgetting a table or an extension cord. You need to be ready for anything and to make it easy for you, we put together this handy list.
5 Things You Need at Every Gig
1) Gaffers Tape
This is the best way to keep your cables safe and your stage clean. Having cords all over the place looks messy and reflects poorly on the band. You always want to look your best because appearance means everything these days. Also having cables not tapped down can cause a tripping hazard and create more problems. Gaffers tape will give your stage a professional appearance. After all, it’s the little things that make the biggest impact!
So what’s the big deal with gaffers tape, can’t I just use duct tape? No and here’s why. Gaffers tape is meant to be removed at the end of the night. If you’re at a show and they have tile floor, using duct tape will leave a sticky residue on the floor were as gaffers tape will not. It will also leave you cables a sticky mess and every time you pick them up, your hands will get sticky as well. If you’re putting tape on any of your equipment, gaffers tape is the way to go.
Tip -> It’s always a good idea to hook all your cables up and make sure everything is working before you tape down the cords. You don’t want to have a bad cable and have to rip up and waste gaffers tape. Unless of course you’re rich, then go for it.
2) Backup Amplifiers
Whether you have a brand new amp or a priceless vintage gem, it’s always a good idea to have a backup. So what amp should I have as a backup? You are going to want something easy to use in case you need to set it up quick in an emergency. You also want something versatile so you’re ready for any situation.
A great backup amp would be one of the the Peavey Vypyr series; reliable solid state amps that can be used with either electric, acoustic guitar or bass guitar. The great thing is the amp provides many different amps in one. They are available in a range of wattage (20-100) and speaker size(10-12). But the best thing is good thing is the prices are easy on the wallet for us.
Tip -> A power conditioner can help when dealing with brown power or bad power that can hurt amps and can take a power spike hit instead of your prized amp. A small investment that can save you a lot in the long run.
3) Misc adapters
This one can be tricky cause there are so many different adapters, but there are a bunch that are used a lot and come in handy. I recommend the Hosa brand products.
These cables and adapters hold up very well and are very reliable. The most important adapters, in no particular order, are: 1/8 (female) to 1/4 (male), xlr (female) to 1/4” (male) and 1/4” (female) to Speakon. Like I said there are a lot out there and these are just a few that I use a lot. It’s not a bad idea to have a bunch of different adapters because you never know what you’re going to need.
Tip -> Keep all your adapters together. A plastic fishing or craft divider box. They are inexpensive and small enough to put anywhere. You can find them in most retail stores.
4) P.A. System
We get a lot of questions about this. Some places you play will have a sound system and but others will not. So it’s good to have something on hand. But what kind of system is best? That depends what kind of band you are and where you want to play. If you only need vocals and a little guitar, then an all-in-one system is a good choice. The Yamaha StagePas 400i and 600i systems are light weight, super easy to use and can cover a lot. A great little portable system that you can get up and going in under ten minutes and is great for small and medium size events.
On the other hand if you’re a full rock band (vocals, guitars, keyboards and drums) then you will probably need something more. And the Peavey Dark Matter powered series would be a great fit! The Dark Matter series is a beast of a system with over 600 watts, has 12’ or 15’ speakers and can be used with a 1000 watt powered subwoofer for those chest pounding lows. Pair these with the new Peavey PV 14AT mixer and now you have the powerful Kosmos-C enhancement, Antares Auto Tune (we can all use this sometime), Bluetooth wireless input and much more.
Tip -> It’s good idea to have a friend available to run sound for you. I’ve seen a lot of shows that would have been great if only they had someone to run the sound board.
This one should be a no-brainer but from time to time I see bands without a spare instrument. You should always have a backup instrument ready. For example: imagine you have an important show in front of a record label, playing your hit song and the record label guy is digging it. Here comes the big chorus and you break your high E string! If you have no guitar to switch to and you can’t play your part then you blow the show and the band is mad. Ok, maybe that’s not the best example but you get the idea.
With guitars, basses and drums being more affordable then ever, you should always have a backup with you. With Schecter guitars starting at $249.99, Yamaha Basses starting at $199.99 and Yamaha drums starting at only $399.99, you really have no reason not to.
Tip -> Clip on tuners are great to have at a gig. The Snark tuners are accurate, bright, cheap and you can leave them on the headstock. The key point is staying in tune! Because no one wants to listen to an out of tune mess… at least I don’t. ????
Having these 5 things can’t guarantee a perfect gig but they can make the night less stressful. The most important thing to keep in mind is try be prepared for any situation. Putting what little cash you have into backup equipment isn’t always exciting but you’ll be glad you did when the time comes.
Thanks for reading, hopefully this list helps, happy gigging!
We would love to hear from some musicians. What do YOU always bring to a gig?