Fly-Date Must Haves

August 1, 2012
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THE CALL COMES IN AT the last minute—they need you to cover a weekend fly-date out of town. You’re available, and you have the music already learned, but are you ready? Where you’re going there are no guitar techs, or music stores to pick up last-minute forgotten items. Do I really need to remind you to bring extra strings? I hope not. But beyond the obvious, there are several small items that will come in handy, and quite possibly save your bacon.

You may need to make climate related adjustments to your axe, so bring the proper Allen wrenches, screwdrivers, etc., that you’ll need to work with the bridge saddles, trussrod, intonation screws, pickups, and other moving parts. A handy multi-tool like the Cruz Tools GTMLT1 or Farley’s Deluxe Guitar tool will handle a lot of situations—just make sure the wrenches are the right size for your instrument.

Sure, you’ve got extra strings, but what if you actually have to change one on the gig? If you need to clip the length of a string, you may find wire cutters helpful. Ever try getting past a TSA goon with wire cutters? The Planet Waves Bass Pro-Winder String Winder incorporates a non-threatening cutter into its handle.

Don’t forget your tuner! Whether you use a dedicated pedal like the TC Polytune, a portable model like the Korg CA1, or a clip-on like the Snark SN-8, make sure you bring extra batteries—9-volt for a pedal, AAA for the Korg, or a flat CR2032 for the Snark. If you have an active bass, carrying extra batteries is crucial; for top performance and longer life, check out the Duracell ProCell.

Even if you run a wireless, having an extra cable handy makes sense—check out the excellent yet affordable Planet Waves American Stage cable, available in lengths from 10 to 30 feet. Whether you’re trying to find the on/off switch around the back of an unfamiliar amp, or sight-reading charts on a dark stage, light helps. The compact and powerful Mighty Bright Triple LED Music Light can be clipped onto things like music stands, or it can stand alone on its base.

A traveling player using rented backline should have a “tone insurance policy” just in case the provided gear doesn’t meet your expectations. A bass-specific preamp/ DI pedal such as the MXR M-80 or Tech 21 Sans Amp Bass Driver DI will give you familiar tone out of any rig (connect to the effect-return jack to bypass the amp’s EQ) and give you a degree of control over what you send to the house system. Something more elaborate like the EBS Micro Bass II also gives you an effect loop and speaker simulation, and it can also act as a headphone amp for ’shedding in your hotel room.

Of course, if you’re flying with your axe, you will have to decide if it goes as luggage, or as a carry-on. Trying to get your bass onboard puts you at the mercy of the flight staff, but it helps to present as small a profile as possible at the gate. The iGig G315 gig bag looks fairly svelte and non imposing, has enough room for your stuff, and is well padded in the event of having to gate-check. If you’re sending the bass into the belly of the beast, something like SKB’s waterproof 3i-5014 series cases will keep your baby floating in the event of an unscheduled water landing.

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