The Guitar Survival Kit
We all love to play hard.
It is an overwhelming drive that we the riff stick toting Rough Necks of the Guitarmy are compelled by the Rear Admirals of riffage to smash with reckless abandon to victory or death!
And there is a price to pay for such an honour…
Your guitar is (despite its glory) only wood and glue, with sparse plastics, metal, and bone. It is vulnerable and must be protected. Luckily, we live in a time where basic tools are cheap and readily available so, let’s take a quick look at the absolute essentials you should have in your gig bag.
1. Microfibre Cloth.
Cheap, soft, effective.
The mighty microfibre cloth is your all-purpose post riff rub down cleaning pal. It will extend the life of your strings, stave off corrosion, keep your finish shiny, teach you algebra, heal the rift between you and your estranged family member, start a cryptocurrency, and show you the answer was in your heart all along...... Well, some of those things. They good. Buy some.
2. Dunlop Platinum 65 Deep Clean.
Let’s not kid ourselves. We only have room and time in our lives for one all-purpose cleaning spray and this is it. It’s effective, ubiquitous, not too dear and leaves a nice Montan wax shine and smell. Make it happen.... but not on open pore woods.
3. Hex Keys and Screwdrivers.
Every riff stick has a specific set of hex keys (or truss nut wrenches) and screwdrivers appropriate to the adjustment of the instrument. A cheap metric and imperial hex and driver set should accommodate 80% of guitars out there. The ability to make adjustments on the fly is an absolute boon and it’s easy to forget to check basic stuff like string or pickup height, which if incorrect can have a negative effect on your sound. With these basics in your gig bag, you can relax in the knowledge you’re only a turn of a screw away from good action
4. Planet Waves Pro String Winder and Cutter.
It winds. It cuts. It’s cheap.
It passes through airport security without requiring you be strip searched by a guy named Bruce, who will go deep and hard because of the pliers in your pocket you had for string changes that never answer your calls... oh Bruce. You don’t need that, but you do need quick string replacement. You know what to do. And most importantly the final trio of gigging adequacy.
5. Strings, Picks, and Gaffer Tape.
You can never, NEVER have enough picks.
I have 7 million picks in my various environments, in many gauges depending on the guitar. My washing machine is so full of plastic it’s starting to resemble a real housewife of Melbourne.
Always stash a couple of spare packs of Ernie Ball strings, no strings = no gig (that’s quick math people).
And of course, gaffer tape. At one point I swear I became one with gaffer like a symbiotic knockoff, crappy roadie Venom (please don’t sue me Marvel). It will fix anything in your music world. Your strap, your car, your clothes, your overwhelming need for validation, your fear that your blog readers will realise you keep treading the same comedic tropes. Yes, you need this stuff more than anything. Believe!
I hope this has been a fun and informative romp through the mighty essentials of the basic guitar survival kit. Now go forth mighty riffer and crush your riders, see your audience driven before you, and hear the lamentations of your parents.
Stay safe and riff hard.