Gig Bag Essentials for the Working Guitarist
Broke a string but no string winder? Lost your pick and don’t have a spare? Unless you have a guitar tech with you it’s worth taking the time to prepare your gig bag so you avoid any mishaps when you are on the road. I have been caught out before – once I forgot my slide and had to use someone’s lighter to get through the song (believe me, it didn’t sound great!).
So from experience I have made this list of essentials that should live in your guitar case wherever you go!
Spare Amp Valves & Fuses
Check what valves and fuses your amp takes and pack a spare set. Valves can play up or even fail all together so having some spares with you means you can swap out faulty ones and keep your amp running smoothly.
If you gig your acoustic guitar a lot then spare bridge pins will certainly help you out. You can easily lose one if you are changing strings mid-gig or even accidentally break one so having spares mean the show can go on!
These are super useful. If you are using 9v batteries for your pedals or your acoustic guitar then use these rechargeable 9v batteries so you never run out. The best thing is you can have some on charge while you are using the others – plus it saves you £’s on buying hoards of batteries!
Nothing more annoying than a finger nail that catches when you play so pack some nail clippers so you can manicure on the go. Also pack plasters, hand cream, Ibuprofen and a pair of gloves to keep your hands safe from any knocks when carrying gear – especially if it’s -5c outside!
A good screwdriver and socket set will help you out when you need to fix a pedal, change a valve on your amp or just tighten up a loose screw. It’s an ideal set for keeping in the car or if you want a smaller tool you can get a Multibit Ratchet Screw Driver that can live happily in your guitar case. For your guitar you can also get a Guitar Muiltitool so you can make easy, quick adjustments on the fly.
I have used quite a few capos and have found by a long way the Kyser Capo to be one of the best around. It’s quick to use, stays in tune well and you can use it for both electric and acoustic guitars – plus it comes in some cool colours too!
Having a tuner handy is great especially if you are playing acoustic guitar. The Korg GA-1 is ideal as you can plug in your electric or use the in built mic for tuning your acoustic.
I always make sure I wipe down my guitar after a gig which keeps the hardware, wood and strings in good shape. You can use some Fast Fret for the strings and a cleaning cloth and cleaner for the guitar.
The one time you don’t have spare strings you will always break one! So I always make sure I have at least 2 sets in the gig bag. I tend to go for the 3 pack Ernie Ball’s 9 – 46 for the Telecaster and Elixir’s 12 – 53 for the acoustic.
There isn’t much worse than changing a string without a string winder. It takes ages! So making sure you pack one of these means you can change a string in minutes.
I’m not a fan of having a headstock that has excess strings flapping about, so having a set of cutters handy means you can keep your headstock tidy and also not stab yourself in the eye.
Having a slide in your gig bag arsenal means you won’t be borrowing vaguely rounded objects to fumble through Free Bird. Not a bad idea to have a glass, steel and brass slide to give yourself a bit of choice tonally.
It’s no fun scrambling around the back of your amp in the dark to find where your leads plug in. Having a mini torch with you means you can inspect anything with ease and it also comes in handy when loading out gear after dark in the middle of nowhere!