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July 2009
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Dealing With Unreliable Equipment

Leatherman New Wave Multi-Tool

Leatherman New Wave Multi-Tool

One thing you’ll have to deal with all the time in your live band is equipment breakdowns. You’ll have to deal with everything from shorted out cables to outright electrical failures in your amplifiers, keyboards, microphones and mixers. You can deal with them with a little bit of preventative maintenance and a handy toolkit to take to your gigs.

Dealing with problems on the fly is something that you will have to do at gigs and at practice. That’s why you want to have some basic tools in your equipment bag. The following list is a good list of basic items you should have at every gig:

  • Pocket Knife
  • Philips and Flat blade screwdrivers
  • Allen Wrenches
  • Electrical Tape
  • Duct Tape
  • Flashlight
  • Leatherman Multi-Tool with Pliers         

That is a good and very basic list of tools that will see you through almost every type of basic cable and connection failure you will encounter in your live band. These are the most common types of failures you will see at gigs. The knife and tape will help you temporarily fix a shorted out cable until you can get home and solder in a permanent fix.

Which brings me to another good point. You will want to make sure and do better, permanent fixes once you get home to your main workbench. Take those cables you taped together at the gig do a good solder connection at home. Pull your mixer apart at home and clean those noisy knobs and sliders. At home you can replace that guitar jack that you bent and taped together at the gig.

I’ve played with players who would patch their equipment together at gigs with tape and creative bends and never take the time to do a permanent fix once they got home. It’s essential that you take the time to do comprehensive maintenance at home so you can keep the taping and tweaking at gigs to a minimum. It’s not fun for anyone in the band to have to wait around for a member to fix their broken equipment. If it’s something that happens all the time then you’re not going to last very long in your band.

At some point we will all deal with equipment failures. By being prepared with some basic items at gigs you can keep the show going without much downtime. Also, making time between gigs to go through your equipment and do permanent fixes on problems will go a long way towards keeping your best show onstage.



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