Gig bags—those bastions of convenience for the traveling or working musician—have undergone something of a renaissance in the past decade or so. They’re cooler looking, tougher and more utilitarian than ever before, as attested by all manner of water-resistant fabrics, comfortably padded shoulder straps and the part we love best: all those cool pockets.
Even a modest gig bag of today has room for several other accoutrements besides the instrument it was designed to transport, so we’ve compiled a list of 15 things you should fill out those pockets with.
Most important. Don’t be the guy who didn’t have a spare set of strings when one broke halfway through the first set.
And don’t be the guy who had a spare string but took half an hour to replace it.
3. A TUNER
A small digital one will suffice. There is absolutely no reason in this enlightened technological age to say things like, “Hey, would you give me an E?”
or head to the iOS or Android app store to download the Fender Tune App:
In case you forget your usual one for some strange reason. Or if it breaks. Or if another guy in your band forgot his. It’s inevitable.
The day will come when you hear the maddeningly annoying crackle of a bad cable. Be ready for it.
These are always disappearing; probably to the same mysterious void your other sock went.
7. PEN AND PAPER
Indispensable for everything from making set lists and labeling the soundboard to getting numbers, signing merch and emergency tracheotomies. They say Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg Address on the back of an envelope. On the way to the gig. A black marker, like a Sharpie, is perfect for the million-and-one things you'll need it for.
Duct tape or black gaffer tape is best, for which there are so many uses that we won’t even attempt to start listing them all.
9. POWER STRIP
When you show up at the gig, count on there not being enough outlets.
10. NINE-VOLT BATTERIES
Not every rehearsal or gig is near a convenience store. A must-have spare for effects pedals and active instruments.
11. GROUND LIFT
Spend the buck-fifty and get this little adaptor that will reduce hum, accommodate ancient two-prong outlets and occasionally save you from being zapped by your mic.
Yes, there's one in your phone, but get a little flashlight, small enough to hold between clenched teeth. It will be indispensable at bars, most of which are monuments to inadequate lighting. When setting up and adjusting your gear, it helps if you can actually see your gear.
13. BUSINESS CARDS
You really should have these anyway if you’re working consistently. But you still need the marker.
Be prepared. Aches and pains happen, especially when you are carting around heavy and unwieldy gear.
15. TOOL KIT
Bring along a tool kit so you are prepared to make minor adjustments as needed. This one features a five-in-one screwdriver with a special 4-mm hex adapter for truss rod adjustment, telescopic adjustment mirror, ruler, diagonal cutter, capo, feeler gauges, and string winder.
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