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48 Tips To Make Your Band Sound Better
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7 Items Your Band Should Take To Every Gig

3:03 pm Live Sound

As the sound man for Rusty Strings, I come to every show with a table and chair, microphone cables, an AC extension chords, and two duffel bags filled with stuff. What stuff, you ask? Lots of stuff, I say! In fact, I take with me everything I have ever needed at any of the gigs we have played. With time, I have developed a list of items that have proven vital at one time or another and are always on hand. Here are seven of the most important:

1. Flashlight

Sure, you know where to plug everything in on your own gear without even looking. But what about making connections to an unfamiliar house mixer with dark-gray-on-black labels for everything? Or what if you have to find something that rolled into a dark corner, or trace a cable under a restaurant table? You get the idea. I take a big bright one, but even a penlight will help.

2. Magnifying Glass

This is another item in the “I need to see better” category. Depending on your exact age (ahem), some of those connector labels on the house mixer may be just a little too small to make out. Or, your power amp might have a set of teeny-tiny DIP switches in the back, like ours does! I got a lighted unit, since these things seem to occur in dark corners for some reason.

3. Tool Kit

I picked up one of those all-in-one computer tool kits and now I always take it along to the gigs. This gives us various screwdrivers, tweezers, and other small tools that can come in handy, sometimes in uses they weren’t even intended for. Add a pair of slip-joint pliers and you’re ready for anything!

4. Gaffer’s Tape

This is a real no-brainer. Amost as sticky as duct tape, it leaves no residue and won’t pull the surface layer off whatever you taped your AC extension cord to! On uncarpeted flooring, it can be used to tape down that speaker cable that has to cross a traveled walkway. And, you can safely use it on those drunk guys that always want to sing along!

5. AC Line Checker

You can get this item at Lowe’s or any other hardware store or department. It’s a little hand-held thing (mine is yellow) that plugs into a 3-prong AC outlet and tests it for proper grounding, voltage, phase, all that technical stuff. A set of lights right on the unit tell you the status of the line. This can help with trouble-shooting (and later blame-shedding) regarding problems like hum, buzz, and accidental electrocution. (See my article Diagnose Power Line Problems With A Simple Device for more info on these handy units.)

6. Adapters Of All Kinds

I would include in this category such items as:

* AC adapters (2-prong to 3)
* XLR double female
* XLR double male
* XLR to TRS (with transformer)
* 1/4″ to RCA
* RCA to 1/4″
* 1/8″ stereo to (2) RCA (for playing CDs through the PA)

I try to keep a few of each of these adapters on hand. This is my working list; you can adapt it as needed for your own gear.

7. Pills and First Aid

The usual stuff here: Band-aids for cuts and blisters, Advil, Pepcid AC, Immodium. Like I said, everything I ever wished I had at an earlier gig now goes to every gig. I even take ChapStick!

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