Properly Prepared For The Stage

I’ve been playing live a lot more in the last couple years, and at the outset, it seemed I was ALWAYS missing something. Where’s that tuner? Oh man, no stands at this gig… grrr… guitar fell over again! Where’s the duct tape (gaffer’s tape) to fix this mic stand!? And so on.

With the Holidays right around the corner, you may want to *hint* your partner, parents, patrons, or just yourself into picking up a few of those handy little things things. The things that make the difference between a gig being a headache or smooth sailing.

Forst of all – thing of your audience. Stay in tune! There is no excuse nowadays not to have a quick check to be sure your axe is in tune. Whether you’re playing guitar, bass, mandolin, violin, bouzouki, or zither, turn your volume down and have a quick check.

Today, everyone’s running around with clip-on tuners, and they come in a few shapes and sizes. Personally I prefer the “Snark” tuner, but I don’t like the way it slips off some guitar head-stocks. If your instrument has anything other than a square profile on the head-stock, the Fender has the grip of doom. For electric players, the defacto standard is the Boss pedal tuner. Step on it and it mutes your signal while you quickly and silently get back in tune.

(Click on any image to find the best deal on Amazon)

Odds and Ends That Make Life Easier

Ah, right – the “grip of doom”. Gaffer’s Tape is the stuff that holds together all the things that fail during a gig; guitar straps, mic stands, and guitar stands. Lazy background singers who prefer to sit can be taped into upright position… lyric sheets taped to mic stands for easy reference, and so on.Duct tape can leave sticky residue, so go for a roll of gaffer’s tape, and it will serve you well.

A capo is another piece of kit you have to have ready to go at all times. You’re used to a song in G, and have some cool open-string sliding up-the-neck licks you like to play. But tonight’s singer wants to play it in A, and you’re up a creek. Or relegated to simple strum-a-dumb chords instead of the parts you have prepared. Capo to the rescue. Don’t skimp on capos – cheap capos fit wrong, put too much pressure on the strings, and will put you out of tune.

And when you set your guitar down, you don’t want it taking a dive and getting scratches or even worse, some sort of a break. I have found those tall stands that support the neck are often more unstable than the newer “A” shaped stands:

Try one of these out – inexpensive, sturdy, and they collapse into almost nothing. Easy to tote along to a gig to be sure your axe is not just leaning against a bar stool between sets.

Finally, for you acoustic players, a this clip can be a life saver. It allows you stand up and strum without having to drill a strap peg into the heel of your instrument. Just button through and you’re ready to go:

String Insurance!

Well, there’s no insurance, except having new strings handy. No matter what your axe, once in a while, you’re gonna break a string. I like Ernie Ball strings, others are GHS fans, or prefer D’Addarrio. No matter the flavor, make sure you have spares. I buy them in sets of 3 or 6, since the per-string cost drops a lot over single packs. Except for extreme guitar freaks, a six-pack of strings will last most guitarists quite a while. And get them a string winder/cutter, too. They make onstage changes a LOT faster!

Oh – that last one on the left? The best deal in a Tele-style guitar you can find… for those who have been really good this year. I review that guitar here on YouTube, and it kicks some F*nder Telecaster butt…

Oh yes, a set of those mini-screwdrivers that you see at every dollar store or Wallmart checkout is a must for a guitarists’s gig bag. grab a set as a stocking stuffer!

Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year!

I hope that gives you a few gift ideas for the Holidays! Have a Happy, Safe, and Healthy Season.

best wishes,