Part One: Spares.
We’ve all been there. You’re half way through a song, about to lift your foot to the monitor for your big solo, you tip your head back so the onstage fan blows your hair back like you’re in a wind tunnel, and all of a sudden – nothing. At all. Panic sets in – you fiddle with your volume controls, wiggle your cables, step on your stomp boxes and start thumping your amp with one hand and wildly turning knobs with the other, and nothing makes a difference! What do you do?
No matter how well you maintain your gear, the unfortunate truth is that sometimes, stuff just breaks. It also seems that it always chooses the worst possible time to do it, leading to cries of – “ARG! It was fine at rehearsal!”
For the purposes of this article, I’m assuming that you’re not in the position of having an entire backup rig to rely on, but if you are, then good on you! There are certain things that I’ve found are always good to have with you at a gig or session, and at rehearsals too for that matter, and for relatively little cost, you can get yourself out of all sorts of tight spots. For the first part of this topic, we’re looking at spares…
What You Should Probably Have…
1.Strings. Are a given, as are picks. You will break/lose them, so have some extra.
2.Cables. You’ve got a spare cable, right? A nice one? Not one of those crappy moulded ones that picks up taxi radios? If not, get one, as it only takes a misplaced flight case to chop one in half – also, your bass player will forget his at some point, so it’s good to have a extra one. And don’t forget a spare patch cable or two, and a spare power lead for your amp/pedal board.
3.Batteries. Even if you have top of the line power supply on your board and your pedals are used to super conditioned regulated voltage goodness, sometimes a fuse will blow, and if you’ve got batteries you can still stomp away! Most pedals can have a battery connected as well as a power supply – the power supply plug interrupts the battery connection so it’s power won’t drain – so if the power does go, just pull the DC plug out of your pedal, the battery will kick in and it should keep going until you get a chance to fix the power supply. You’ll need some for your flashlight too, but more on that next time.
4.Tubes/Valves. They do blow occasionally, especially on some older amps. If you can afford it/be bothered, take a full set of spares, but if you can’t, try and take at least one of each type in your amp.
5.Fuses. Again, they do blow occasionally, so check the type you need for your amp and all the other things you plug in to the mains, and sling s few in your bag. They’re very cheap, and you should get some. DO NOT use the wrong type of fuse – manufacturers know what they’re doing, and they rate the fuses in their gear so that they will blow and stop you getting zapped. You have been warned… (Oh, and never wrap a blown one in foil and put it back in the plug. I’ve seen it done once, and I NEVER want to see it again…)
6.Guitar. If you’ve got one and it’s practical, you may as well take it along, even if it sits in its case at the back of the stage all night. Just try and make sure the strings aren’t too old, and that it’s vaguely in tune…
Next time: Coping With Gear Related Gig Emergencies Part 2.- “Let’s Get Tooled Up!” – Tools You Should Have In Your Bag.
Shop for Stuff to bring along: