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Top 10 Gig Essentials: The Covid Era

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Top 10 Gig Essentials: The Covid Era

2020, a year to remember in so many ways and a year to forget in so many others. And now that 2021 has rolled around and we’re cautiously beginning to see glimmers of hope, freedom, and hear the distant roar of thunderous amps, we can finally begin to envisage a world in which festivals are the only agenda in the calendar, late-night dancing to the band with your mates is a rite of passage to summertime glory, and divine sunsets over twinkling stages paint the most vivid memories in our hearts and minds.

With that in mind, we now find ourselves entering a brave new world! A world, in which we musicians conquer the threat of lockdown and thwart the angst of gig-less life under the rule of Covid, as the music scene slowly begins to regenerate and blossom and musicians across the nation pave the way toward a new era of music and rewrite the chapters of a lost year. So, without further ado, here’s our ultimate guide to gigging in a new world of Covid-compliance, safety and most importantly, respect for our fellow musicians and audiences alike. So, read carefully and don’t forget your top ten absolute must-have gig essentials for life in a Covid world, because it's not all doom and gloom, the future is bright!

1- Drum sticks & key.

Sometimes you just get lost in the moment, and in the heat of the music accidents can happen when you least expect it, and when you least need it! The mortal enemies of a drummer in the fiery depths of a solid groove are snapped sticks or a flat, lifeless snare. So, to save yourself from missing those epic cymbal crashes as you close your biggest tune in a whirling cascade of crashes and splashes, invest in some spare sticks for when the inevitable happens and never miss a beat again.

Our recommendation: Vic Firth American Classic 5A Drum Sticks - Wood Tip 

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Hint!

Don’t forget antibacterial surface wipes for cleaning down the backline & drum riser. Remember, nine times out of ten bands will be sharing backlines so a little courtesy by wiping down surfaces such as drum skins, stands, mixers and anything else you might have handled will really earn some kudos! A little consideration goes a long way in the music scene!

2- Plectrums

Even if you like to channel your inner Knopfler and go back to basics with just the fingers, it’s always best to prepare for every eventuality! And, playing with picks adds a great dynamic to your playing style as different plectrums offer various textures, grip and attack styles, all of which contribute to a rich variety of TONE. With that being said, never turn up to a gig without plenty of spares, because as we all well know, these little guys can and will inexplicably teleport themselves to the next postcode just when you need them for a mind-bending solo. Legend has it that some vanished plectrums have even turned up down the side of couches in alternative dimensions.

Our recommendation: Dunlop Guitar Pick Light-Medium Variety Pack

dunlop-medium-variety-plectrum-pack""

Featuring 12 of Dunlops most popular Nylon Standard, Max-Grip, Celluloid, Gator Grip, Tortex, Ultex light and medium gauge picks in one convenient pack.

Why not add? Dunlop 5200 Keyring Pick Pouch

3- Earplugs

We’ve all been there, when your jam sessions are vibing and the band is hauling pure groove, and you wish you could find just a couple more decibels to really kick things up a gear and take the fire to another level. But, be warned! Don’t make the mistake of damaging your hearing by pushing it too far! Take it from us, your ears are precious commodities and powerful tools that give us the ability to make sense of this wonderful, musical world. So why would we neglect them and not give them the protection they need?

Earplugs have come a long way from the basic orange foam monsters that you’d find in jars at venues, and now give artists the ability to hear every single nuance of their set in near-perfect clarity, often allowing you to hear hidden sounds that were once disguised by harmful frequencies in disposable volume, commonly found in guitar amps and overheads (we're looking at you, guitarists who secretly turn their amps up after soundcheck!).

Our recommendation: Blackstar ACS High Fidelity Hearing Protectors

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Available with a handy, gig-ready carry pouch, these personal, washable filters offer discreet security, comfort and up to 19db of protection!

Did you know?

The World Health Organisation recommends a safe volume level of below 85db for a maximum of eight hours, to ensure protection against hearing damage. The average volume of a rock concert is between 105-120db, and without hearing protection you'll have used up your daily recommended sound allowance within 30 seconds!

4- Tuner.

For obvious reasons, the last thing you want halfway through a song is to hear that awful dissonant spectre wailing away behind your anthems, unable to identify who the guilty suspect is! Tuners may not be the most exciting of guitar pedals, but they are definitely one of, if not the most important. And how well they do their job is what we’re looking out for, how close they come to the tuning you want to achieve, and how quickly they can do it.

Our recommendation: Korg Pitchblack Custom Pedal Tuner 

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Rugged, trustworthy construction. Tried and tested, these things can survive a nuclear blast and can still get you tuned up before the dust has settled. Super quick and reliable, the Pitchblack has a fantastically intuitive 3D visual and colourful backlit screen, with multiple tuning modes for ultimate control. A real favourite that has featured on our personal pedalboards over the years.

Don’t forget!

Spare batteries and/or power adaptors (check your pedals for their power requirements)!

5- Spare guitar strings

Nothing screams rookie more than the person who snaps strings during a show and has no spares. You’re out of the game! So before you shamefully evacuate to the side of the stage red-faced, or attempt to limp through the rest of your set with two strings missing, think ahead and ALWAYS remember your spare strings and you can avoid the sheer horror of time standing still, as an unimpressed audience witness the futility of your attempt to play the solo to Sweet Child O’ Mine with your G and B strings missing. Where do you go now?

Our recommendation: Ernie Ball Regular Slinky Guitar Strings

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Top tip!

A little care goes a long way, make sure your guitar is properly set up for your purposes. Not only does this maximise tonal and tuning potential, but it’s also set up to your personal specifications for ultimate comfort, sound and playability!

G strings are notorious for snapping if not correctly wound, so try and always keep a couple ready to go, even if you have your spare pack of strings. If you have the luxury of being able to take a spare guitar with you, we fully recommend it! Not sure how to do it yourself? No worries! Just take it to your local Dawsons store who will be happy to give you a full show-spec setup!

6- Pocket Guitar Maintenance Kit

If you’re going to take your gigs seriously, then you need to take your gear seriously. Now, if you ticked off spare strings on your essentials list then great work! Now, take it one step further and add one of these little goody bags to your inventory as they’ll prove invaluable in the most extreme and unexpected situations. Next time the input jack on your guitar starts crackling and distorting, there’ll be no need to freak out because you’ll have one of these chilling in your guitar case.

Our recommendation: Groovetech Compact Kit

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Don’t forget!

Mini Stage torch. Things can get pretty dark and confusing on stage, especially when stage effects such as light shows or smoke FX are involved, get a torch to help light your way when setting up and breaking down, stay on top of your gear and make sure everything goes home with you in one piece!

7- Personal microphone

In the era of Covid, safety is paramount, especially when it comes to ensuring the survival and evolution of our music scene! This is probably one of the most important items on our essentials list and is often one of the most overlooked! If you take your vocals seriously as well as your health, then why not invest in your own personal microphone? Not only will you be taking responsibility for your hygiene and also doing your part to combat the spread of party-pooping, vibe-killing germs, but you’ll also be able to own your tone!

There’s a whole world of microphones tailored to cater for each and every artist, across a whole spectrum of frequencies and sounds. So in order to get the best possible sound from your voice and instruments, we absolutely recommend you get your own microphones! Plus, having the same microphone for every gig and rehearsal promotes dedication to your craft, as the consistency of your sound will develop into improved vocal skill and technique, and better sound = better gigs. You’ll be screaming the house down in no time!

Our recommendation: Shure SM57

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The absolute gold standard of reliability, versatility and quality tone. They can do pretty much anything on stage and in the studio, and if you’ve never seen one of these at a gig you’ve been living under a rock.

8- Pedalboard.

Perfect for keeping your pedalboard organised amidst a sea of tangled cables, spilt drinks, blood, sweat and tears. We’ve seen so many pedals ruined and destroyed because bands just didn’t go the extra mile to take care of their gear! The great thing about these boards is that they’re super durable, portable and can take a real battering. You can even stick your FX to the board itself, neatly arrange and tuck away your cables and power supply underneath, and have your custom settings ready to go as soon as you take it out of your bag, ready to hit the stage in its own little X marks the spot. A real must-have for touring!

Our recommendation: Johnny Brook Guitar Pedalboard 

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Don’t forget!

Spare cables, as many as you can stuff in your bag!

9- Spare stands

The majority of the time, the stands provided by the venue will have been through their own personal hell and lived to tell the tale, right? Wrong! We can guarantee that as soon you walk onto that stage and whisper the first lyrics, the mic stand will snap in half and BOOM!

That’s the sound of your mic hitting the stage floor in a dull cacophony of angst, followed by the shrill din of feedback and the deafening silence of the crowd's gaze.  Seem like a good idea to rest your guitar on the amp? Wrong! Next thing you know, your overzealous bassist has knocked it over with his 70’s style headstock and yours can be found in bits wallowing in a pool of stale beer. You can also use your stands to attach set lists and awesome tips and cues for the band to follow! Do yourself a favour and get a few stands, you’ll thank us later.

Our recommendation: K&M Mic Stand Boom 

Why not go paperless? Hercules TabGrab Tablet Holder 

 

10- Plenty of water and good times! Stay hydrated, stay safe, stay on stage!

Don’t forget!

Your mask! The survival of our music scene depends on people like you staying safe and having fun, so before you leave the house and hit the stage, make sure you’ve got your mask! Taking butterflies to the stage optional.