Almost every person that has ever picked up a guitar has dreamt of standing on a stage, ripping through a set, and having thousands of adoring fans screaming and cheering. So while you need a guitar and some form of amplification to make this a reality, there is an entire universe of accessories available to you that can make your live performances—whether in your jam room, a local bar, or some other venue—a pleasant experience. In this blog entry I will discuss some of the accessories available to you, both those you really need to have and those that while not a “must have” will certainly makes things easier in the long run.
Restringing your guitar before a show is something that goes without saying. Whether you do this immediately before the show or a day or two earlier is a personal choice, but simply having new strings on your guitar is only part of the equation. You need to have backup strings on the ready in case you break one. You may be saying to yourself “but I never break a string” and that could be true, but I promise you that if one breaks mid-song and you don’t have extras, you will wish that you did. A couple of extra packs are a minimum requirement in your gig bag along with plenty of picks.
You also need a guitar tuner. Whether you have a stompbox model that is a part of your effects chain or a clip-on tuner doesn’t matter, but when you are restringing on the fly you need that tuner to have any chance of rejoining your bandmates anytime soon. Even if you have a backup guitar, or several backup guitars, you should still have strings on hand. Trust me on this one.
Speaking of extra guitars, you will need some way to store these on stage while you are playing and while you are talking a break between sets. You have several options here and they are dependent on factors such as how many guitars need to be accommodated, what the body style of your guitars are, how much room you have on stage. If you only have one guitar then you only need a single stand. You can get a guitar stand in “hanger” style, in A-Frame style, or a tripod style. If your guitar is a flying V or some other body shape that doesn’t have a uniform rounded bottom that would sit securely on a then you have no choice but to use a hanger stand. The guitar hangs from the headstock and the back rests against some form of padded support to hold it in place and protect the finish. These stands are tripod models as well but you can get hangers that secure to the wall as well. Not realistic for a one off live performance, these are ideal for at home or in the jam space as they keep the guitar securely above the fray and frankly, present your valued possession like the piece of art that it is.
The A-frame design uses the least amount of real estate, especially when collapsed for transportation, but other than supporting the bottom of your guitar offers no neck cradle for added stability and leaves your baby prone to the dreaded fall over. I’ve always noticed that when I watch one of my heroes playing a guitar that has seen better days, it has a certain cachet that looks appealing and vintage. I do not feel that way, however, when I get a chip in the finish of one of my guitars. Weird how that is. There are also walk up stands that cradle a guitar for you while you play it so in that respect it is more than a simple storage stand. If you have several guitars then most of these come in multi-guitar models, or you can go with a rack style stand that can hold between 3-10 guitars at once. Again, this is not an option for any guitar without a uniform bottom.
GUITAR STRAP & MIC STAND
You will also need a guitar strap. More than simply something to hold your guitar by dispersing the weight across your upper body, it comes in infinite styles and designs and has long been one of the ways that a guitarist gets to express their identity. Covered in mean looking studs? Modeled after a bandolier? Covered in pictures of a soloing Homer Simpson? Guitar straps are a great way to express yourself. If you sing or do any backup vocal then you need a microphone stand as well. As a guitar player you will want a boom style stand as that allows you to get close to the microphone without getting all up against the stand itself. If you are also going to mic your amp so that it comes through your P.A., you need a stand for that. You can go with a freestanding model designed for this or some manufacturers have models that will clip on your amp and hold the mic in front of the speaker grille. Also, if you use stompboxes or your guitar has active pickups, you will want some extra 9-volt batteries on hand. Better safe than sorry.
Live performances require a plethora of different items to pull of and there are things that you may not require that are still good to have in your gig bag. A flashlight for instance. Standing on a dark stage trying to find out why your amp suddenly stopped working mid song is significantly easier with light. Most of the time you need the extra light just to get your equipment set up. Depending on the venue, it is always a good idea to have your own power bars and extension cords in case you have a jaunt from amp to outlet. It’s never fun having to run to the store during set-up to grab another cord that you probably already own. Make sure it’s in your bag before you leave.
Strap locks are indispensable little units that ensure your guitar strap is not going to slip off the guitar during your performance and should be on every guitar you play. The very first time your strap pops off and your guitar crashes to the floor, you will invest in these. There are plenty of new accessories that you can attach to your mic stand that will hold an iPad, smartphone, or even a laptop. For those that play live by themselves with pre-recorded tracks will love the versatility that this offers. There are also accessories to protect your guitar’s finish from the inevitable sweat and grime that live playing produces or to clean strings between songs. Oh, and the most important accessory of all? Here you go. A perfect must have for on-stage and in the jam space. It simply affixes to your mic stand and then makes life better. You can thank me later.
There are still capos and slides and stools and footrests and pedal boards and … so check out the Best Buy website for more information and specifics on these and other accessories, or drop in to your closest store today and check them out in person.