I like jazz guitar for its versatility. As a guitarist, I have to be able to play in a variety of situations. Tonight I'm playing a big band gig, which means that I'm playing strictly rhythm guitar…quarter notes all night, a la Freddie Green. A couple nights ago I performed in a combo setting with On the Cool Side, playing rhythm guitar, improvising, and singing. Tomorrow morning I'm playing for a church service, where I'll be accompanying hymns and playing solo guitar arrangements. It's hard to get bored when you have so many bases to cover.
Although I'm having more fun now as a jazz guitarist, I look back with fondness at my trombone days when I have to pack up for a gig. Before I began playing, guitar equipment looked so simple. It looked like it was just a player and his guitar. It wasn't until I started gigging that I learned all the equipment you need to haul to a gig. As a trombone player I was spoiled. For the most part, I played in situations where just about everything but my instrument was provided. As a guitar player at the start of a new playing career, I usually have to bring everything but the kitchen sink. From what I've read, Joe Pass only carried his guitar from job to job, expecting that everything else would be provided. I'm not even close to Joe Pass' level of fame or musicianship, so it's up to me to provide the necessary gear.
Here's a list of equipment I typically take to a gig. I don't always have to take everything on the list. For example, if I'm doing a solo guitar gig with no vocals, I don't have to take a microphone and speakers, but still, there's quite a list of stuff to bring even for a simple solo gig.
- Guitar Stand(s)
- Instrument Cables
- DI Box (Direct Input, sometimes needed to get hooked into a sound system)
- Microphone Cables
- Microphone Stand(s)
- Music Stand
- Mixing Board (for Allen, Vinton, and Godfrey gigs)
- Cough Drops (if I'm singing)
- Guitar Pedals
- Extension Cable
- Power Strip
- Multi-Tool (For emergency repairs. I haven't needed it yet, but the day I forget to bring it is the day I'll have an emergency)
- Extra Strings (I haven't broken a string in public yet, but again, the day I forget my extra strings is the day I break one.)
- Peg Winder (Helps change strings faster)
- Set List
- Business Cards
- Stool (Most places will have something to sit on, but I keep a folding stool in my trunk, just in case.)
- Calendar (In case I'm lucky enough that someone wants to book me for another gig.)
- Duct Tape (The Universal Tool)
- Wind Clips (If I'm playing outside and using music, I need wind clips to keep the music from blowing away.)
- Stand Lights (if I'm playing outside at night, or inside with bad lighting.)
- Extra Batteries (For my stand lights, tuner, and pedals.)
- Tip Jar (Always the tip jar! Well, not always. It's not really appropriate for weddings and funerals.)
- Recording device…a video camera and tripod if the lighting is decent, or an audio recorder. It's important at this stage of the game to document everything, and since I sometimes have trouble with rent, hiring my own videographer is out of the question!
- Rock-n-Roller Cart: I love this thing! With this cart, I can usually haul my equipment in one or two trips, and it folds up and fits neatly in my trunk.
By contrast, here's what I typically needed to bring to a gig when I was a classical trombone player: