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[editor’s note — this guest article is brought to us by our friends at MusicPro Insurance]
Ensuring success as a musician requires a whole host initiatives and precautions. You’ve got to protect your rights, make sure you’re working with honest and trustworthy people, and, oh yeah, create and/or perform music that lots of people want to hear. Right. Thanks, Captain Obvious. But sometimes, it’s not so obvious that a bunch of small moves can be important, too. A colleague of mine sells high quality (read: expensive) guitar stands, and says, “It’s crazy to hang a $4,000 guitar on a $20 stand!” and I thought, y’know? I’ve never thought about it that way. He’s right. It also makes no sense to put any guitar in a $30 canvas gig bag – padded or no.
Here it is, then. Make a list of these seven “to-do’s” and get ’em done. You’ve got enough trouble dealing with your drummer (unless you’re the drummer – in which case you know exactly what I’m talking about). You don’t need to worry about gear fails.▼ Article continues below ▼
I am convinced that my car drives better when it’s been cleaned. Stupid, right? Gotta be in my head. But that’s the point when it comes to keeping a fingerboard or a keyboard dust and dirt-free. We sweat on our gear, we hand it to questionable people (sometimes known as stagehands) at times, it sits out on stands, all the while accumulating the flotsam and jetsam of our musty, crusty world. Get a good quality cloth made for cleaning musical instruments. Do the research on sprays or creams or what have you. Use the stuff regularly. Keep your gear clean.
If your gigs are exclusively in temperature-controlled recording studios, God bless. You likely don’t have to worry about the elements. Those playing the festivals or poorly ventilated clubs, know that the sound of their gear – that’s horns, acoustic keys, accordions, guitars and certainly drums – will change in heat or in the cold. You’ve still got to do the gig, but keep your stuff cased or, if possible, indoors as long as possible. And, when your set is over, move your stuff out of the weather as fast as you can.
Even if you’re playing a solid-body bass, or electric keyboard, or carry your own mics, get a hygrometer. They’re cheap. They show the temperature, but more importantly, they display humidity levels. Humidity matters mostly when storing or traveling with gear, but the good acoustic piano sellers will always try to sell you a hygrometer to make sure your instrument isn’t sitting in a room that’s too dry or too humid. Most woodwind people know, and acoustic guitarists who invest in high end axes are aware as well: control the humidity and you’ll control how your instrument sounds, every time you take it out of the case.
I’ve already recounted the chestnut about the $20 guitar stand, but the same goes for a high-quality mic. Go for the good stand. A proper peddle board, a top percussion table, a quality throne; these are not extras. These are not “accessories.” It’s not an exaggeration to say that if your stand goes down, so could your gig. Get the good stuff.
When you leave your house for a gig, or a practice, or a recording or writing session, take two of everything: two amplifier cables, two sets of strings, an extra mic, extra pics, sticks, earplugs…double up on as much stuff as you can carry. The more spares you have, the less chance disaster will strike! (Kudos to me. It’s not easy coming up with a bowling metaphor in a music article, you know.)
You unbox your new DJ turntable, or your mic, and chances are there’s no case. Get one. Get a good one. If the manufacturer doesn’t make a specific case for your wireless unit, go to the after-market. Amazon has everything. For sure, someone has figured out how to provide you with a case for that theremin. Gear should sit securely in cases. Cases should close with good latches, and they should always have handles.
Also, know that no matter how well you protect your gear, tornados happen (Californians, that’s “fires,” New Orleans folk – “floods,” Floridians – “hurricanes” — you get the idea). Stuff gets stolen, beer finds its way to pedalboards, trees fall on cars. The ultimate protection against all of that is instrument and equipment insurance. Think your homeowners or renters’ policy covers your gear? Think again. If you use it to make money, it’s likely that your existing policy does not cover your sax. The good news is that instrument and equipment insurance is extremely inexpensive.
Check out musicproinsurance.com or call Laura at 1-800-MusicPro and tell her Michael Stewart sent you. She’ll even give you a nice lollypop for being smart 🙂