“Be Prepared”. From the time I broke 2 strings during a solo at
a gig, to our PA catching on fire,(and I can’t count how many
guitar strings I’ve popped during lessons over the years) I have
had it drilled into my head to always have a backup plan. Or a
couple of backup plans, depending on the situation and cash at
hand. Obviously, if you’re just playing at home and jamming with
a few friends, your backup plan is a lot easier and cheaper to
put together than a professionals’ plan. For that reason I’m
splitting this post into 2 parts. Today I’ll cover some ideas
for the home/jamming with friends player. Next time we’ll look
at the pro/weekend warrior.
amount of $ and effort for this plan can be minimal, since there
are few negative consequences for rig failure. Still, a screw-
up can mess with a practice routine, or stop a jam with your
friends that took 3 weeks to set up, so a little back-up is a
GUITAR: Since there is a low chance of your guitar failing, all
you need to do is monitor it regularly. Clean the controls when
they get noisy (with electronic control cleaner, not WD40!), and
make sure the input jack stays tight, so you don’t break a wire.
Otherwise, a set of strings (or 2 if you’re violent), a couple
of picks and you are OK. A tool to change strings is nice, I use
a Leatherman multi which I keep in my guitar case, but a spare
pair of pliers works fine.
AMP:It’s expensive to buy a good quality amp just for a spare,
the bass player I jam with uses a Tech21 Sans Amp pedal. These
are tiny, plug into the PA, and get several good sounds. If you
don’t have a PA, you have to work with what you have. Locate
your fuse and get a couple of spares. If you have a tube amp, a
spare pre-amp tube is cheap ($10), and easy to store. This will
only help if you’re willing to swap out tubes until you find the
bad one. The final option is to have a 2to1 cable adaptor that
would allow you to share an amp (this is truly last ditch).
FX:For most people, this doesn’t mean disaster, if it does for
you, you can get a cheap multi FX pedal (Zoom,Boss) for about
$75-90. If you still use batteries, a spare 9v is enough.
And last, but not least, a working spare cable!
– a couple of picks and fuses, maybe a 9v battery.
– a spare cable.
The bare minimum, $20-50+ depending. You could easily add
another $50-200+ with tubes, pre-amp pedals, etc., but even
the $20 minimum will take care of most common problems. It
will be the cheapest insurance you can buy!