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A Gig Check List For The Band

Updated on December 30, 2010

The Gig Check List

A brief check list to give you a direction in some things you should not forget about on the way to the gig.

Of course, there's much more, but this is the premiere of basics. It is meant to help to get started on building your own check list.

Please add your stories in the guest book! I'd love to hear them, even if they weren't band related!

Guitar/Bass Player

Don't forget your cord bag and pick up the laptop case by mistake when your playing 40 miles away. And it is advisable if you have to have many cords to make sure before the gig, that they are still good. Always have extra strings, picks, and probably an extra strap. A spare guitar comes in handy when a string breaks during a set.

Important! Do not, under any circumstances, stop the song, for any reason. If a string breaks, go to a chord form on a different string. If a strap comes loose (and you didn't already drop the guitar) prop your leg up on an amp or a monitor. Also, don't forget batteries for the stomp boxes or your own drop cord for your amp and processors. It also doesn't hurt to have extra processors or stomp boxes. Honestly, it doesn't hurt to have an extra guitar or two. Different tunings are cool to get different sounds so the songs don't sound the same.

The Bassist's Checklist

The bottom end

Typically for most genre's of music, the Bass is the loudest instrument on the stage. Not always, and it is pretty genre specific, but usually.

With that said, you should have at least two basses with you on a gig. You should have already teched your bass to make sure of pickup shorts, jack shorts, pot shorts, and switch shorts. But what if you drop your main ax during a show and bust the 1/4 inch jack of your cord inside it? Just shoving another cord in the jack isn't the answer.

Also, do you have an active pickup? What about extra batteries? And while we are on the batteries... Are you wireless yet?

Bass players usually don't break strings, but a bass is more likely to bust the head stock or even the heel off when dropped because of the extra tension on the neck. Are you prepared do grab a second rig? Is it tuned? Is it already jacked in, so that all you have to do is crank the volume pot and away you go again?

These are very important questions, because if something happens to the bass, the drummer and the bassist usually have a symbiont relationship. If the bassist, suddenly disappears in the mix, the drummer may loose count and stumble, making the whole band look bad in the process.

Are your connections good on your amp?

Are your cords and jumpers good?

Do you use effects? Are they wall-warted or do they need a stack of 9 volt batteries too?

If they are wall-warted do you have the surge strip and extra extension cords necessary to carry the show with your instrument?

Is your strap good? Do you need locks? Will it come loose on you?

Are you a picker, or a thumper? Do you have plenty of picks? Or do you have finger cots in your first aid kit for the blisters that you are ripping off with every song you play in the forth set?

A First Aid Kit?

Ever tried to pull a string splinter (a microscopic shard of metal usually from a raw cut on the string windings at the head stock) without tweezers?


The Drum Checklist

For the rhythm section

Always have extra sticks.

Make sure your kit doesn't do the kick-drum-scoot. A small carpet remnant under the whole kit does wonders.

Make sure not to hit microphones on your kit during the gig...sigh...

Make sure your heads are good and your lugs aren't stripped.

Check drum tuning frequently.

If your are going to be playing an outside venue, make sure you carry some (preferably white) towels to cover the heads, and hopefully enough to cover any skins exposed to sunlight. Your kit will be damaged by extreme temperatures and/or direct sunlight. The glue that holds the skins can start releasing causing bubbles.

Extra wingnuts, springs, duct tape (or hillbilly bandaid), snare strainer repair kit, bass pedal repair kit, hit hat repair kit, and don't forget a spare drum key or two!

Are you miking for a recording? Mics and cables are a must. Do you have a separate mixer to send the board a stereo signal? Got your send cables? Stands? Zip ties? Gaffers tape comes in handy too...

Photo Courtesy taliesin

Books on Drumming


The Singer's Checklist

For the peanut gallery

I can't stress enough about all of the tricks of keeping your voice for an entire 4 hour or longer gig. Especially if you do AC\DC covers or death metal.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Keep water in a cooler on stage with you! An extra microphone, and some extra cords and or batteries (for a wireless set) would be helpful. Make sure your stand's set screws aren't stripped out so it won't hold your microphone.

At an outdoor venue, make sure you have mic screens (you know, those nerf things that cover your mic) so the wind doesn't interrupt the sound. A quick fix is to tie a rag around it, and if you go decorative with it, it could possibly be a band branding.

The awesome shot provided by Flying Pete

Audio And Lighting

Sound Tech Check List

The monkey desk

Yeah, okay, usually someone in the band ends up taking the flak for this one. Make sure the band does some warm up songs. They need it and so do you, to set your levels. In a building; the less people, the less volume, the more people, the more volume.

Don't forget your extra cables. Jumpers, D-I boxes, extra microphones, mic cords, power extension cords, surge protectors, and every thing else you can think of. Don't forget that cord that goes from the headphone jack on your laptop to the RCA jacks on your board, either.

Worst-case scenario? Make sure to bring a soldering iron or some wire nuts for emergency amp or cable repairs.

If you are FOH (front of house) make sure all of your snake sends and returns are in perfect running order. If any channel is reading a resistance, for goodness sake, find out why before the gig!

If you are like me and run the sound from the stage, be sure to have tested the gain ranges for these guys you call band mates. You don't want to spend the first set trying to figure out why the lead player is red lighting and trashing up the mix. Of course there are whole books on this subject, I'm only touching some stuff that has been a problem regularly for us.

If you are lucky enough to be able to run a monitor mixer and a FOH desk, make sure that your stage guy and your floor desk guy are communicating!

Also don't have everything plugged into one outlet for somebody to trip over and unplug you while in the middle of your second set. Yes it has happened to us, at a battle-of-the-bands...

One key rule to remember for all amps too. If it is over half volume (amp gains, crossover or equalizer levels, or soundboard sliders at unity) you need a bigger amp. But the gig isn't the time to start finding this out.

Also, don't forget the rule of thumb: No speaker wires in the loop before the amps. Nobody likes that 60 Hz buzz. Shielded cables only, before the amps. After the amps, it doesn't matter too much, I use regular cable because our speakers are jumpered to 2 ohm and we need LONG cables, and shielded ones would be out of our price range.

Also, however, it is possible to sound loud with small equipment if you match everything together. So shop smart when picking the equipment. Again you should have done that research before your first gig.

Photo courtesy of rollingroscoe

Lighting Check List

More flash, man!



Get it? Got it? Good!

It is also good if you want a combo color like purple or orange, buy the color, don't color mix at the gels. Gels that are sandwiched will build up heat in between the gels and cause at least premature failure. And though they are as heat resistant as possible, they will melt as they are plastic.

Make sure the place's electrical can handle your system. There are some good lighting systems out there for not too bad of money but even the cheap ones can use up the kilowatts. Nothing is more embarrassing to a band than to blow a breaker in the middle of a show. So a little math might be a necessary evil here. Make sure the plug ins you are hooking to are rated for the wattage of lights you are pulling juice to.

Also, don't forget to top up the smoke juice. While not as easy to notice when something goes wrong with the smoke, it does add a lot to the effects of the lights, so I would suggest making sure a preventive maintenance schedule be run before you load up the equipment, to make sure your stuff works.

Make sure your racks and trees are adjustable, because the place you play this weekend may not have as high of a ceiling as the place last weekend, and you don't want to get there and need a pair of pliers that you left at the storage/garage. Bring your toolbox!

And if you are going to use flash pots of any type, make sure you have notified the proper governing agency for your area. Typically the guy to talk to if the Fire Marshall.

This Isn't All of It

There is much more, but these are the basics.

Get plenty of rest before the gig. It's usually not a good idea to eat too soon before but make sure your not hungry during the gig. Again, and not just for vocals either, hydrate. Most places will supply water or let you bring your own. We usually go out for a big breakfast after a gig. Well, if we made any money that is...

Be sure you know the gig area before you load up to go. An outdoor gig? Need a tent? Plenty of electric, will you need more audio support, need to even bother loading the lights? Will they let you even use those six smoke machines you just loaded? Some places won't allow the smoke because if they aren't used to seeing it, they will automatically think Fire! Nothing screws up a gig worse than the fire department shutting down the show...

Sound ordinances? The only thing worse than the Fire Department shutting down the show, The Police shutting it down.

How about an acoustic gig? Got somebody to snap your pics? Grab some video footage for youtube?

A full stage? Are you going to be as loud as the DJ/MC for the night? Are you supplying the between set audio? CDs? iPod playlists?

Don't forget the song list. Don't forget a sound check. Don't forget to bring the guitars... um yeah, that one... or the cymbal bag... (cough cough) or the cord bag.... (okay you can shut up now)

Anyway, have fun with this. It can make you money. It can be a pain, but don't forget, no matter what you are doing this gig for, the music is what it is about. When it stops being fun, then quit. Nobody wants to have a band that hates what they are doing.

Or give me some of your own stories

Just a shout here if you please

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    • dedolex profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice lens! There's always one more thing, isn't there?


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