No matter how well you take care of your gear, anything can happen at a gig. As any professional roadie will tell you, it’s a full time job making sure that every performance goes off without a hitch. But for those of us who haven’t hit the big time yet, dealing with an equipment malfunction or mishap can be a real showstopper. A great insurance policy for any gig is coming prepared with backup gear.
Whether it’s caused by a freak accident, faulty power at the venue, rowdy audience members, or just plain bad luck, gigging exposes your gear to countless things that can go wrong. Any problem that occurs is not necessarily a reflection on the quality of your gear, as a power surge will equally affect an inexpensive or expensive amplifier (it’s best to bring a surge protector or better yet, a power conditioner along just in case). The same goes for clumsy band members or club patrons running into your gear - accidents happen! Having backups readily available for essential parts of your rig can help relieve a lot of stress and help you play your best, since you won’t be as worried about an equipment mishap putting a premature end to your show. Here are four items you should always bring a backup for.
There’s an old saying from the Navy SEALS: two is one, one is none. Double up on your gear whenever you can, just like a professional repairman, technician, or any other tradesman would likely have more than one of each important tool of the trade. You might have a perfect gigging career and never need a backup, but the one time you do need one, you’ll be glad you lugged all that extra gear!
Do you bring any backup gear to gigs? If so, what? Let us know in the comments!
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Practice the Art of Being a Team Player
In the same way that learning the other players' parts will help you to fit in well, so too will learning to become a team player. Any guitarist can tell you that your amp sounds great when it's shaking the rafters. But if you crank up indiscriminately, it makes it hard for the other musicians to play at their best. Remember, they need to be able to hear as well. So, when they tell you they need you to adjust your volume, try to accommodate them to the extent possible. A good stage mix allows the whole band to hear not only themselves, but all the other parts as well. It does not require the ultimate guitar tone; that is essential out front, but it isn't always the top priority on stage.
In this article, you will learn how to focus your efforts on the areas you need to improve the most, and we will see how important it can be to see the 'big picture' when playing in a band. Last time, we learned some effective practice strategies, but how do you know which areas in which to invest your time? How can you improve your ability to "see" where you are taking your music?
If you are really serious about becoming the best musician that you can be, it makes good sense to cultivate habits that will help you achieve your goal, rather than hinder you. In this series, we will learn seven habits that will help you become a better musician. There is a lot to learn when mastering a musical instrument, but these basic principles will help you achieve success more easily, and they apply no matter which instrument you play.