Here’s a list of what’s inside my gig bag. There are also some items from other contributors (most of which I have added to my own gig bag!). The items are listed somewhat in order of importance (to me anyway).
- Extra Picks.
- Extra Strings. Several high E & B strings plus an extra full set.
- Extra batteries. Whatever sizes you use (usually 9 volt for guitar players), pack extra fresh batteries.
- Extra guitar strap
- Extra Tubes. If you are using a tube amp, then you should have AT LEAST one of each type of tube that your amp uses. If your amp uses matched power tubes, then you should have a known-good extra set with you.
- Extra Amp Fuses. If you amp has a fuse, you should have a couple spares handy.
- An extra Amp Fuse holder top. These things can sometimes twist loose and get lost during transport and then you’re hosed!
- Ear Plugs. I’m not too proud to wear them, that’s why I still have SOME hearing left after playing electric guitar for almost 30 years. I rarely need them now, since the band I’m in plays low volume.
- Extra power cord. If you have equipment that has detachable power cords.
- Extra cables. Plan out the cables that you need, pack them up and then pack up at least two or three extra cables.
- Power strip.
- Three-prong to two-prong adapters with ground wire.
- Plugin Power Outlet Tester. Tests whether the ground is working, the hot and neutral are wired right, or even if the outlet has power.
- A multitester or voltage meter to check the AC voltage at the outlet.
- 20 foot Extention cord.
- Duct Tape (need I say more?) Gaffer’s tape is actually a better alternative if you can find it.
- Tuner. I just added a tuner to my pedal board, but I’ve always had one in my bag.
- Extra Direct Box.
- Soft Flannel cloths. I always wipe down the strings and guitar after playing. This helps the strings and guitar finish last longer. Also wiping the strings between sets helps keep the guitar in tune (or so I think). These can also be used when changing hot tubes in your amp if you need to. You can buy bags of flannel cloths at hardware or automotive stores (where they sell bags of grease rags) or Bob Farace suggested buying flannel by the square yard at a fabric store and making your own.
- A ball-point pen and a pad of paper. A sharpie pen might also be handy.
- A flashlight.
- Jeweler’s screwdriver set.
- Small screwdrivers.
- Small side-cutters. Just big enough to cut guitar strings
- Small needle-nose plyers.
- Small adjustable wrench.
- Solder pencil and a short length of solder.
- Foil-packaged wet wipes, for emergency hand cleaning if restrooms are not available or usable.
- Some Band-aids.
- Graphite lubricant and plastic toothpicks. I use this on the nut and it works great for keeping the guitar in tune if you do a lot of string bending. I bought my graphite lubricant from Stewart MacDonald. Gordon Gunn suggested making your own from powdered graphite and teflon grease.
- Extra music stand light bulb. I use fake books quite a bit, so there are gigs where I need to provide my own light. I think from all the bumping around during travel, the bulbs don’t seem to last long.
- Extra capo.
- Bottle Neck Slide. Haven’t used it for years, I don’t know why I carry it around.
- EBow. Haven’t ever used it at a gig, but someday I might get weird.
- Baby powder for the back of your guitar neck.
- A drum key.
- A string winder.
- “Bounce” dryer sheets in a zip-lock baggie. If you have problems with static electricity being generated on a pick guard, or anything else, wipe it down with one of these and say goodbye to STATIC.
- Screwdriver with interchangeable tips that store in the handle.
- An extra set of clothes.
- A package of multi-color electrical tape (usually 5 rolls in a pack –1 white, 1 red, 1 green, 1 blue, etc) to mark “bad” spots on stage (feedback or lights) as well as good spots (sometimes you WANT feedback!) I read an article at some point where Ted Nugent described marking the best feedback spots during sound check, and ran with the idea. But, I recall using the tape to identify equipment (when sharing a stage in such a way that the other acts have their gear up there too) and for marking ends of LOOOOOOONG patch cords so you dont have to trace the sucker to figure out which is which. (from Eric Baron)
The word “extra” when used in the list above, means above and beyond what you would normally use. For example if you normally use one direct box, you would pack two in your bag. If you don’t normally use a direct box you would pack one in your bag. If there is no way you can use a direct box anywhere along your signal chain and retain “your sound” then you won’t need one at all!
If you are carrying spare tubes in your bag remember to treat the bag with special care. I use a little tackle box that I bought at K-Mart to hold all the little stuff.
In addition I always pack a bottle of water and a “high-energy” snack (OK…junk food!)
As you can see I am one prepared guy! If you have any “can’t-live-without-’em” items in your gig bag, contact us and let me know. I’d like to know what I’ve been missing.
The following folks have contributed to this list:
- Eric Baron
- Benoit Champagne
- Bob Farace
- Tate Ferguson
- Gordon Gunn
- Gary Mould