After many of my students started venturing off into the world of gigging, I wanted to help them be prepared for the unexpected. This list would have been a great asset in my first few years of gigging, which is why I put this together for my students to use and benefit from. This list has been in effect since Tom Hess enlightened me to the GIG BAG!!

The Gig Bag is your 911 when something goes wrong at a show such as forgetting your tuner, guitar strap, instrument cable and the list goes on and on. I have personally supplied other bands playing with HESS, SAGE4 or THE GUZAKS with items that were in my Gig Bag. So, here is what will make your life, and even your band member’s lives, less stressful when the unexpected happens at a show.

1) Gig Bag

It should have a large center area for storage along with a front and back pouch for smaller items. I have it on stage with me, but I hide it behind my rig or cabinet.

2) Extra Picks, Extra Strings, Instrument/Midi/Speaker Cables, Guitar Straps

3) Mini Screwdriver Set, Long Philips Head, Flat Head Screwdriver
These are great for those unexpected volume knob disappearing acts as soon as you take the guitar out of the case at the gig. Ask me how I knew to add this to the list?

4) Mini and/or Medium-sized Flashlight

Good luck trying to find a loose cable in your rig when its pitch black and you go on in 2 minutes.

5) Tuner

Please, tune that thing before you leave the house, and many times before you step on stage. It will make the performance more enjoyable for tuning freaks in the crowd like me.

6) Batteries

What ever your items use, carry plenty of extras with you. If you use pedals without ac adapters, bring a ton of these. I have seen some big time players have pedals die on them during the show. And if you use active pickups, make sure you change them out every season.

7) Wire Cutters, String Winder, Allen Wrenches
These are for those rapid and unexpected broken string changes. By the way, I have only broken one D’Addario string in the last 11 years of using them.

8) Pliers
This makes fixing that loose input jack a snap.

9) Guitar Polish, Rags, Lemon Oil
Use these to clean up the guitar’s body. You can use a clean rag to help dry off your hands if you get really sweaty while playing, just leave it on top of your amp. I try to match the amps color so that it does not stick out. I also carry some Lemon Oil to condition the fret board so all my string changing supplies are in one place when maintaining all of my guitars, both at home and on the road.

10) Mic Stand Pick Holder
This will be a God send for those of you who use those cheap slippery plastic picks.

11) Clear Tape
I use it to hold down set lists to the floor sometimes, but I am sure there are other uses I will find out about soon.

12) Surge Protectors
This will help out in those instances where you need some extra length in plugging in your amp or the club looks like it’s going to melt down from a power overload.

13) Shure SM 57 Microphone.
This is just in case the sound guy forgets or does not have enough dynamic mics.

14) Soldering Gun, Wire, Solder
Just in case a pickup, input jack or speaker has an issue you can fix it up.

Hopefully this list will save you from embarrassment or a stressful situation during any of your future shows. I know the Gig Bag has helped me out more than a few times, as well as helping out complete strangers playing along with me at shows. Make your gigging life easier and get a Gig Bag to take with you to all of your shows.

For more information on these and other topics, as well as guitar lessons in-person and online, please contact Mike Walsh
via e-mail at

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