Gear Tips for the Lazy Guitarist
A few people who know me well have occasionally used the L-word to describe me. That’s right — lazy. And while I generally prefer something more like efficient or resourceful, the line between those qualities may be a bit finer than I’m willing to admit. Either way, I think it’s safe to assume that many of us have found ourselves trudging back from the gear van for the third or fourth time, arms full and regretting phrases like, ‘Oh, yeah man, drum cases sound like a great idea!’
And if you’re like me, you’re always looking for new ways to make life easier — especially where hauling gear is concerned — so here are a few tips I’ve discovered to do exactly that.
Tip 1: Get a personal hand truck.
You can find a variety of these on eBay, Amazon or at your local home improvement store for as little as $30. The one I have collapses down almost completely flat and still somehow manages to haul up to 150 pounds, making it an ideal tool for getting my whole rig from the car to the stage in a single trip.
The one piece of advice here — as with most things — is to do your research. Make sure the cart you plan to purchase has a lot of positive reviews and is rated to handle the amount of weight you’re planning to move.
You’ll want to buy some bungee cords to go along with it, too. I’ve got a few in varying lengths and they go a long way in helping to secure gear to the cart and providing peace of mind on long, weaving runs through bumpy parking lots.
Tip 2: Consider downsizing.
I get it — half stacks look awesome on stage and big pedalboards and full guitar racks are as much fun to ogle as they are to play. But you might consider giving the ‘less is more’ approach a try.
I can tell you from experience that downsizing isn’t easy, but it will save your back — and might just make you appreciate your gear more, too. Earlier this year I forced myself down from a full Pedaltrain 2 to a Pedaltrain Jr. by keeping only what I needed to get my “core” sounds and selling everything else. It was a drastic move, but one that has had multiple benefits — not the least of which being increased portability.
So whether it’s the size of your size of your pedalboard, the number of guitars you bring to along or size of the speaker cab you’re using, downsizing can help save time and effort.
Tip 3: Rethink your guitar case(s).
In certain instances, I can definitely see where taking a guitar out in a hardshell case is smart — and I’ve done it with a few of the nicer guitars I’ve had — but for a lot of what I do now, I’ve found that a quality padded gig bag works just as well, if not better. Because when you think about it, a guitar often stands at least as much of a chase of getting dinged onstage as it does en route, so the thinking there might just be a little backward.
The larger point here though is that most gig bags offer straps that you can use to wear your guitar backpack-style, increasing portability and freeing up your hands to carry, move or drag other gear. (And if you’re someone who takes multiple guitars out when you play, double gig bags are available, too.)
Something to think about.
Tip 4: Pack Smarter.
I’m able to pack just about everything I need for a gig into the stuff I’m already taking with me. Mics, cables, extra strings, slides, picks, capos and other essentials easily fit into the variety of zippered pockets of my gig bag and the open space inside my pedalboard case. And yet, time and time again, I see guys hauling in extra bags or cases for that kind of stuff and it always seems like a wasted opportunity.
Now, sure, I’ll take an extra set of tubes along if I’m going to be gone for a weekend, but those kinds of extras are easily stored in the car and available if and when I need them — but for most everything I need for an average gig, I’m able to fit it inside what’s already going in the door. And with a little planning and effort, I bet you can, too.
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So there you are — a few real-world gigging tips from the ‘work smart, not hard’ playbook. I hope they serve you well.
Note: This article was originally featured in Tone Report Weekly