Some of the greatest guitar lessons are learned on the road when your string snaps in the middle of Kansas. At that point, you’ll either wish you had a spare or a portal to the nearest guitar shop. Here’s a quick gear checklist of basic guitarist necessities.
1. Chromatic Guitar Tuner
Get one. Do not use the app on your phone. Get a chromatic tuner so you can rock on after your phone gets dropped in a lake, left at the hotel or run over by the tour van. If you can tune by ear, skip this step and give yourself a high five.
2. A Range of Guitar Picks
If you’re worried about pick slip, try picks with grip. For a DIY fix, take a scissor or box cutter and carefully carve a few grooves in one of your picks where your thumb sits. You can also completely punch a hole in the pick for even better grip. Bring a lot of picks because you’ll drop, lose and break quite a few.
You might want to bring two or three depending on how many guitars you’re taking. Bring at least one for easy transposition and to help somewhat with hand fatigue.
4. Extra Guitar Strings (and Wire Cutters)
Bring a few extra packs of strings just in case of breakage. If you’ll play every day or so, you’ll also need to change your strings a few times. The wire cutters are for cutting away excess string, but you can live without them.
5. Extra Long Guitar Cables
Give yourself the freedom to jump around with extra long cables. If you are playing small dive bars, definitely bring your own amp just in case the venue either doesn’t have one or there’s a malfunction. Consider wireless ‘cables’ if you (or your bandmates) are prone to tripping.
6. Guitar Strap
If your trapezius is out of shape, try out a guitar strap with some extra padding. Give yourself plenty of cushioning if you’re going to be standing and playing a lot. If you like to jump around, look for something sturdy.
7. Soft Guitar Travel Bag
For those days when your home base is a hotel room, a soft travel bag is perfect for going between interviews and showcases. The pockets tend to be pretty spacious too.
8. Hard Guitar Case
If you are traveling on planes, a hard case is non-negotiable. Opt for one with a lock and plenty of padding. Hard cases are also great for when your guitars have to go into a trailer.
9. Pen and Paper
Mark your music and write down your random song ideas with your trusty pen and paper. Look for notebooks with tablature and staff lines.
10. Guitar Mutli-Tool
On the road, you’ll become a low-key guitar technician, and mini screwdrivers along with an Allen wrench are your base tools.
Bonus: TrueFire Mobile App (Free)
Learn a few licks on the go or dig into your favorite guitar lessons for some added insight and inspiration. The TrueFire guitar lessons app is available for iOS and Android and contains over 30,000 video guitar lessons across all styles and skill levels!
Finally, don’t forget rest! When you play guitar, you give your hand muscles a workout. Like any other muscle, adequate rest is as important as training if you want optimum performance.
Every guitarist has her or his own survival kit for tour life, and you’ll develop your own must-haves over time. Until then, this list will get you started.