Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Essential Items Needed When Gigging

Here is a list of essential items you will need when traveling to a gig. Don't leave home without them!

1. Your instrument, of course. You should have a protective,waterproof case for it, either a soft gig bag or a hard shell case. Pack with your instrument,
all of the items that you directly use with your instrument (a full set of strings, drum sticks, bows, rosin, etc.).

2. Your favorite seat to sit upon. Your comfort is tantamount to having a good time
performing. Bring your favorite portable chair, bench, or stool. If you don’t, your client is apt to
offer you something that will be uncomfortable. A client once offered me a chaise lounge chair to sit upon while performing. Can you imagine playing harp while sitting on one of those things? I couldn’t either, and thankfully, I brought my own folding chair instead.

3. Strong, waterproof bags for your sheet music. In case you need to scribble a line or two of music at a gig, also keep some blank manuscript paper, a pencil, and an eraser handy at a gig. Post-it sticky notes are good, too, because you may need to write some last-minute cues on your sheet music. My favorites heet music gig bags are Tuxedo Bags, made by Humes & Berg.
These cordura bags are indestructible, and they’ll fit tons of sheet music. (Humes & Berg also makes a wide selection of cordura soft cases for instruments.)

4. A music stand. Invest in a solid metal music stand, and save the cheap wire stand as a spare. A solid stand is less likely to fall over in the wind or when someone backs up into it, and if you play a cello, double bass, or harp, you’ll avoid scratches on your instrument. You’ll also be able to place large books or heavy binders on a solid stand without their falling off . Manhasset has a solid, fold up stand called the Voyager. It’s more money than a wire stand, but it’s worth the added investment.

5. A soft case for your music stand. It’s a nuisance when a wire stand suddenly opens up while carrying it, and it is pretty painful to drop a Manhasset stand on tender feet. These are reasons enough to have a soft carrying case for your music stand.

6. A tough waterproof bag on wheels. Place all your small peripheral items in this bag. What works best for me is a 20''rolling carry-on flight bag that I purchased from a factory outlet store. Purchase it in person, not online, so that you can see the capacity, the design of the interior, the number and size of pockets, and the quality of the bag. Don’t purchase a bag that will fall apart in a few months. It needs to be rugged. Fill this bag with:

a) An electronic tuner and an optional alligator clip cord or another cord to connect it to your instrument pick-up. Itis easier to tune in noisy environments if you can plug yourtuner directly into your instrument pick-up.

b) Extra batteries for your electronic tuner.

c) A fix-it kit for your instrument: wrenches, pliers, wirecutters, you name it
. I place all this stuff in a Dobbs kit (a men’s travel toiletry kit) so that I can easily find it inside therolling gig bag.

d) Gaffer’s tape and masking tape. Don’t bring duct tape, because it will leave a sticky mess wherever you use it. Gaffer’s tape looks just like duct tape and is just as strong, but it can be easily removed without gummy residue. I have used gaffer’s tape for anything from sticking a loose pick up back inside my harp, to taping down cords on the floor to avoid accidents, to fixing the hem on a gown. It’s truly indispensable. Masking tape is also very useful to have handy, just in case you need to write on it. I also use masking tape to cover unused input or output holes on my amp when I’m performing outside (it keeps bugs and sand from ending upinside my amp).

e) Sheet music clips to hold down your music in breezy conditions or to keep your music books open. Don’t use clothespins; they look too tacky for a well-paid musician to use at weddings. You can purchase see through clips at standard music stores or any number of online retailers.

f) A doorstop. Keep doors open while you are loading and unloading musical equipment.

g) Instrument polishes and polish cloths. You’ll be amazed to see the gunk that can get on an instrument, especially when performing outside.

h) Personal emergency items. In the summer, I take mosquito repellent lotion with me, along with antihistamine, since I am allergic to mosquito bites. I also bring along sun block. In the winter, I take hand warmers with me, the ones that can be purchased in camping stores. I place them in my pockets so that when I have some downtime at a wedding, I can keep my hands warm. Aspirin and Band-Aids are year-round emergency items for me, along with a nail file, Kleenex, and cough drops. I usually keep them in my purse or car, but they can also be contained in the rolling gig bag. You might have others items necessary for your own personal comfort that you’ll want to drop into your bag, too.

i) Extra business cards and brochures. You may wish to keep business cards in your wallet or purse, but it’s good to know that you have more in your rolling gig bag if you run out. If you are using amplification, also store the following items inside the rolling gig bag.

j) Lots and lots of extra batteries for all of your electronic devices.

k) Power AC adapters to recharge your electronic devices. If you are using a battery-operated amplifier, these adapters will save you if your batteries run low.

l) Warranties and instruction booklets for your tuner and amplification devices. When your equipment malfunctions, you’ll be able to trouble-shoot on the spot.

m) A wide assortment of cords. Over the years, I have collected cords that I don’t presently use with my equipment. I still carry them with me to all my gigs. Why? I can plug into house sound or into onsite P.A. systems that will enable my harp to be heard well in that particular location. Some of these spare cords will just do the trick, fitting right into asound system built for the wedding or reception site.

n) Velcro straps for tying up your cords neatly.

So, now you are fully prepared to anything unexpected that may come along.

Copyright © 2008 by Anne Roos, excerpt from "The Musician's Guide to Brides: How to Make Money Playing Weddings", published by Hal Leonard Books. All rights reserved. No part of this may be reproduced in any form, without written permission, except by a reviewer who wishes to quote brief passages in connection with a review.

Hundreds of additional tips, are available for musicians (and all entrepreneurs) in my book, "The Musician's Guide to Brides" available wherever Hal Leonard Books are sold: music and bookstores, and through online retailers including,, Sylvia Woods Harp Center catalog, and of course, at my website at

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