What Guitar Accessories must you keep in your Gig Bag?
Whenever you are taking your guitar out anywhere, either just with some friends to a park, or to a gig then there are some basic necessary items that you should always take with you.
There are many things that can effect how a guitar plays and make it sound rubbish, most of these are really easy to fix with the right tools. This makes it all the more frustrating when you don't have these simple tools with you. Especially if you are a gigging musician having to ask other guitarists for these tools can make you look very unprofessional.
Always have a tuner on you. Even if you tune your guitar up before you leave the house a vigorous bend or accidentally twisting the tuning peg can put you completely out. Also if you are changing strings you will need to tune up your guitar. No matter how expensive your guitar is if it is out of tune it will sound bad, it is the single biggest turn off to the listener.
If you are just playing casually then you can tune by ear, or use an app on your phone (I use gStrings and highly recommend it) as these will get your reasonably close. However if you are playing a gig or with a band then you need to tune your guitar to be bang on, for this I would recommend a chromatic tuner, personally I don't have a dedicated one as I use the tuner built into my amp, however a chromatic tuner of some kind is definitely a worthy investment
Spare Pack of Strings (or two)
Guitar strings are really cheap, and its not like keeping spares is a waste because you will need them at some point anyway. Due to sods law a string (usually that pesky high E) will always break at the most inconvenient time. If you are at home practicing then they will never snap, however 5 minutes before going on stage or just as you start playing to some friends (or a hot girl) is the moment that one will chose to break.
My advice would to always have at least a couple of spare packs with you, that way a broken string will never be more than an inconvenience. It is important however that you actually know how to replace a string quickly, otherwise your preparation in having the spare will be next to useless.
Other tools that I would say whilst not crucial are useful to be able to change a string quickly is a string winder and a pair of wire cutters, these will allow you to do a good rather than a bodged job.
Lots of Spare Plectrums/Picks
Another item that is cheap as chips. Unless you play solely fingerpicking then there is no excuse not to have a good selection of these with you.
I personally play acoustic with worn picks (less harsh sound) and Electric with new picks, hence for me my old picks are still useful and thus stay in my gigbag. Also keeping different types/sizes and material of picks is useful.
The main reason however to always have lots of picks is because they have a tendency to go missing, you may find them later in the most of obscure places however that is no help when you can't find one to play with.
Screwdriver (normally Phillips type)
This may seem like a strange item to have, however if you look at your guitar there are lots of parts that are adjusted/tightened using a screwdriver. A few of these are:
- Tuners are held on with screws (if one comes loose and you need to tighten it).
- Pickup Height (Unlikely to need adjusting, however if something moves then you may need to try to adjust this to avoid a disaster.).
- Truss rod covers. (If you need to adjust your truss rod then you will need these off.)
- Strap Buttons. (I have had quite a few of these come loose and until you can get home and fix it properly then tightening it up with a screwdriver is the best you will be able to do.)
With so many reasons that you might need a screwdriver (and its sods law that one will come up) then considering they are so cheap then it would be silly not to include one in your gigbag.
Lastly but not least: The Gigbag/Hardcase itself
What your carry your instrument and all the other accessories in this article in is also important. You need something rugged, stuff gets beaten up when gigging (even if unintentionally) so your bag/case needs to keep itself and your instrument intact.
Gigbags don't tend to offer as good protection however are cheaper and often have larger pockets for holding other items. A good gigbag doesn't have to cost more than £40.
Hardcases offer the best protection for your instruments. If you play an instrument with an angled headstock (Gibson's for example, generally not fenders) it is best to have hardcase because if the headstock is knocked then the neck can crack and possibly break. Hardcases normally have a small amount of storage under the neck of the guitar, however not much. Branded hardcases are very expensive, often costing in excess of £100. Non branded music store cases however offer the same protection for only around £50.