Ever forget to bring a cable or extra strings to practice? Batteries? Tubes? Well hopefully one of your bandmates has your back or practice is over. It’s an inconvenience when this happens at practice, but it’s a disaster if it happens at a gig. Some bar owners will rightfully dock you for time lost. And forget about getting asked back…
To save face (and gig money), be prepared. Have a “trick bag” ready. You can use an old gym bag or backpack to store gig essentials. Just keep it small. Here’s a checklist of things that you should have in it:
Duct tape– Jet tape, Quack tape, wonder tool, marital aid-whatever you call it; you gotta bring it. The silver stuff is great for holding down treacherous cables and wind-blown setlists as well as mending straps and broken mic clips. This silver is worth its weight in gold at a gig.
Instrument, speaker, and MIDI cables– Packing 2-3 extra instrument and/or MIDI cables is always a good idea. If you have a pedalboard, you might want to include a couple of patch cables.
Guitar Picks– If you use picks it’s reassuring to know that you have plenty on hand to flick at the bass player.
Extra strings– strings are like postal workers- they can snap at any time. So ALWAYS carry at least 2 complete sets of strings with you. Even if you have a backup guitar.
Miscellaneous– Do you use a music/guitar stand, capo, slide, Ebow, etc.? Also, remember to bring a few extra mic clips and a drum key.
Basic Tools– Screwdrivers, pliers, string winder, Allen wrenches, etc.
Power strips, power cables, and Extension cords– You can’t play power chords without power and…uh…cords. Ensure that your cords are long enough to draw power from all over the stage. A big orange extension cord with a power strip attached should get you through any gig.
Batteries and Adapters– Effects pedals, tuners, and wireless units are just some of the electronic toys we carry to shows. And they all need a power source. Bring spare power supplies when possible or at least bring appropriate-sized batteries for backups.
Electrical Parts– Don’t forget about your amps! Tubes and fuses can save the day. Be sure to carry components that match the manufacturer’s specifications.
a CLEAN change of clothes– be proactive in preventing “wardrobe malfunctions”.(It happens…). And changing out of sweaty stage clothes does wonders for your post-show social life.
Ideally, every band member should have their own “trick bag”.
“To put on new strings, we 1st have to remove the old ones.. Start by loosening each string gradually until there’s no tension left. Then simply cut the strings.”
clean and polish
“Remove the strings from the neck and body. You might have to remove the tremolo cover to do this. Keep it off for now. Clean up your instrument- you can reach all those hard to reach spots the strings were covering.”
lemon oil if necessary
If you have a rosewood fingerboard, you can also apply some “guitar-grade” lemon oil. Rosewood is a porous wood and it can start to dull and crack over time if left unchecked. A bit of Lemon oil will rehydrate it and help clean it. Just apply a generous amount on the fingerboard and let it seep in. Wipe off any excess.”
feed ALL strings thru BLOCK 1st
“After you’re through cleaning, we need to put on our new strings. Remember to put the string through their respective holes in the block before you do ANY cutting!!! Make sure the strings are in order before going on.”
“Start with your Low E/6th string. Pull it taut to its tuner. Now measure about 1 1/3 posts up. Make a right angle bend, aiming in towards the key. This helps us measure the correct string length. Feed the string through to your bend and start tightening the string. You can use your fingers to guide the string into a descending coil around the post. Stop when you feel tension. Check to make sure you’re in the nut slot (or under any relevant “string-trees”). Remember, you can always loosen and reposition a string…”
cut off strings
“If everything looks good, you can go ahead and cut the excess off. Cut close to the post but MAKE SURE YOU DON’T CUT THE STRING ITSELF!!!”
do another string
“Let’s try the A string. Pull it taut to its tuner. Now measure about 1 1/3 posts up. Make a right angle bend, aiming in towards the key. Feed the string through to the bend and start tightening. Guide the string into a descending coil around the post.”
measure the last string
“I’ve put on all the strings except the High E. We need to measure this one a little differently because we ran out of posts. Pull the string taut over its post. Now pinch it to mark its distance. Move your pinched “marker” to any other post and measure 1 1/3 posts and make your right angle bend. Now just feed the string through to the bend and start tightening. Guide the string into a descending coil around the post. Put your tremolo cover back on and your done.”
“Tune your guitar. It takes a little a little time for the strings to lose their elasticity, but we can help them along by stretching them. Simply fret notes from low to high on each string and give a tug every time you change position. If you do this after tuning a few times it will really help the strings break in faster. You can also barre up and down the fingerboard while working the vibrato bar. “
“Thanks for watching! Be sure to check out my other videos & website.”
Two thingsevery guitarist should know about are ACTION and INTONATION.
Action is the heighth of the string from the fingerboard.
If the strings are close, we say the guitar has low action. If the strings are farther away, we call this high action.
Most players agree that lower action is easy to play on. But there are plenty of players that prefer the strings a little higher. (*Heavier string gauges require a higher action to give the bigger strings more room to vibrate).
You can set your preferred action on most any guitar. But first we need to make sure the neck is straight.
All wood necks require periodic straightening due to climactic change. Ever notice how sometimes a wooden door or window frame gets stuck? It’s usually just the wood expanding or contracting. The same climactic changes also affect your neck.
You might notice your action getting slightly higher or lower over time. Strings exert a constant pressure on the neck, and any seasonal change can upset this equilibrium.
Most modern guitar necks contain a device to counteract this change called a truss rod. The truss rod is actually two metal rods connected together on the inside of the neck.
On Fender-style guitars you can usually see the truss rod above the nut:
Or at the body end of the neck:
On Gibson-style guitars (& countless others) the truss rod is concealed behind a piece of plastic called the truss rod cover located on the headstock right above the nut:
When your neck isn’t straight, it affects the guitar’s intonation. Intonation is an instrument’s ability to play in tune with itself. *On a correctly intonated guitar, you should be able to play any open chord-then play the same shape 12 frets higher without sounding out of tune. It should just sound an octave higher.
When our guitar is in TUNE and our neck is straight we should try the chord/octave chord test I just spoke about*. Is it better? Worse? Don’t worry- we still have options…
This where the guitar saddles come into play. Eventually everyone noodling around on a guitar asks “Are these all supposed to be straight?”. The answer is usually NO. You see the individual saddles are used to “intonate” each string. If a guitar’s intonation is set, an open string and it’s 12th fret harmonic should read in tune with each other. When all of the strings (and their octaves) agree, the guitar is tuned and correctly intonated.