Gig Bag Essentials: The Art of Packing the Necessities

I am back again to write about my Gig Bag. If you know me pretty well it is rare to see me anywhere without my gig bag. Especially when I am working a show. My bag is practically my life.

First off I carry around a small tool box. It is slim enough to fit in my backpack. Please notice the plurals when I list my items below. I try to bring nearly 2 of everything (especially the small stuff). It contains the following:

Tool Box

  • Flash Drives. Console backups and transferring files.
  • Extra Multitools and Pocket Knives. I always buy the cheapest one I can find because there is a good chance that I will leave it somewhere.
  • Extra Flashlight. Depending on the show I may have one already in my pocket or strapped to my waist.
  • E-Tape All Colors. Buy a decent brand or it will leave residue. I recommend 3M.
  • Medical Tape. Great for theater or for securing a loose Countryman.
  • Headlamp Flashlight. Great for darker shows.
  • Sharpies. Labeling and doodling.
  • Tie Line and Velcro. Cable Management 101
  • Disposable Ear Plugs. Perfect for snoozing under deck.
  • My Custom Fitted Earplugs. I use these for mixing louder shows (i.e: Brass, Metal, Rap, etc..). Pretty much anything over 95db/a.
  • Extra Pair of Universal In Ear Monitors (I’m due for a pair of Westone Customs). These are a spare in case I forget my normal Sony cans.
  • Charging Cables (iPhone, GoPro, Micro USB and Power Bricks. “You don’t know what you had until it’s gone.” Extras are always appreciated even by your fellow crewmen.
  • Adapters. USB to Ethernet, Thunderbolt to VGA, Etc..

Holy cow. I didn’t realize how much I packed in there until I opened it up.

Main Gig Bag

Electronics is as good of place as any to begin.

Electronics:

  • MacBook Pro
  • Phone
  • Focusrite 6i6. This one is optional depending on the gig. It is nice for RTA stuff but not necessary for outdoor.
  • USB Battery Pack.

Sound Gear:

  • Sony 7506.
  • Assortment of Microphones. If I am indoors for the show I have a separate briefcase filled with Microphones otherwise I will pack a talkback mic (E835) and use whatever the event provides.
  • Assorted Cabling and Adapters. 1/8th to 1/4th, gender swappers and more.

Other Odds and Ends:

  • Gaff Tape. Black and white. Usually I bringing 1″ and a larger roll.
  • Board Tape. Sharpies come in hand right about now… Especially if you are rocking an analog console for the show.
  • Screwdriver Set
  • Extra shirt
  • Deodorant
  • Extra Pair of Socks
  • Rain Gear
  • Another Layer of Clothing
  • Hammock. Rig it up below deck and snooze during down time.

Safety and Security Notes

  • Never leave your backpack unattended. For obvious reasons this is a bad idea.
  • Allow your backpack to be searched by security. They have a job to do and so do you.
  • Never bring anything that you can’t live without. I risk it way too much anyways by bringing all the tech that I do.
  • Know your where you will be. If you are going to be outside you should minimize the amount of tech you bring.

In Conclusion

There is a lot of information here and honestly my backpack is pretty heavy but I would rather have everything I need than to be scrambling around searching for a screwdriver or extra board tape.

Post your gig bag must-haves below!

Author: Cody Sweeny

Cody Sweeny is a freelance sound engineer based in Des Moines, Iowa. He writes about life experiences, new gear and anything else. He enjoys tinkering with technology, drinking coffee, and reading books.

Cody Sweeny

Cody Sweeny is a freelance sound engineer based in Des Moines, Iowa. He writes about life experiences, new gear and anything else. He enjoys tinkering with technology, drinking coffee, and reading books.

2 thoughts on “Gig Bag Essentials: The Art of Packing the Necessities

  1. Gig Bags

    Notice I started with the plurals here. Over time, (don’t feel you need to rush), different types of
    shows come with their own unique, misfortunate, “oops” moments. So a few different sets is not out of
    the question. When time restraints leave ya with a choice between regearing a bag, or, sleeping and
    grabbing a different bag. 😉

    The standards, these are items that live in each set.

    – Switched 58 ( basic, inexpensive, industry standard )
    – Sony MDR750x headphones (make sure to retain possession of the 1/8->1/4 adaptor)
    – passive DI with parallel input/output. (allows a stereo music source to be monofied to a single xlr input)
    – various 1/8 cables ( 1/8-> 2x xlr, 1/8-> 2x 1/4, 1/8 -> 1/8)
    – short extension cord with tri-tap. ( in this mobile device age, just best to be covered)
    – chargers, cables, etc
    – a couple short rj45 network cables
    – sharpies
    – board tape
    – paint brush
    – biz cards
    – assorted batteries
    – set of plastic cutlery ( really sucks on a festival to finally have a meal dropped off… and they forgot cutlery)
    – flash drives ( keep all sets synced regularly)
    – small tool kit
    – ear plugs ( I actually end up giving a lot to little kids whose parents are too busy partying, to care that
    they are destroying the still forming ears of their youngster)

    My newest addition is made by AV LIFESAVERS. A Mini XLR Mixer. link -> http://avlifesavers.com/xlrmix.htm

    From here, my bags are built for Corporate/event, Concert, and Festival.

    Since everyone’s flavor pallet is different I won’t bore with too much info, aside from accounting for weather conditions,
    and scope of show. Corp bag will have some extra video type adaptors, and a nicer computer to save the day. The concert bag
    will have more testing equipment. While the Fest bag will include more audio adaptors, and cheaper (disposable) tablets.
    Don’t forget to have a few “show off” items to mix in. Rare things, that may not be overly useful, but offer a cool factor
    during the occasional “what’s in your bag” gab sessions.

    I also run often with a Pelican 1510, That is loaded with many tools for on the fly gig repairs.
    – Hammer
    – pliers
    – dykes
    – needle nose
    – phillips drivers
    – straight drivers
    – Allen kits
    – feeder tie in kits
    – large adaptor kit
    – soldering kit
    – wiring kit
    – rain gear
    – etc.

    Since this is a water tight case, plan ahead and know what stuff can get wet, in an emergency that stuff can be set
    aside, to make room for your more expensive electronics. 🙂

    Some stuff my seem extreme, and I will even admit to it. BUT!!! Sometimes, human error rears it’s ugly head.
    The shop guy may have forgotten to pack something, The allen got left at the last gig… any number of things.
    The better prepared YOU are, the better the gig will go for YOU!

    1. Holy cow! You are so much more prepared than I am.
      “When time restraints leave ya with a choice between regearing a bag, or, sleeping and
      grabbing a different bag. 😉”

      So true!!!! A pelican case is also on my purchase list.

Leave a Reply

Advertisment ad adsense adlogger