Guitarists Survival Kit

Guitar Player's Survival Kit

survival 10If you drive a car, you probably have a little emergency road kit in the trunk. Maybe a set of jumper cables, some road flares, flashlight, a few tools and a first aid kit. If you don't it might be a good idea to put one together!

As a guitarist you obviously have a guitar. If you play electric guitar, then hopefully you have an amp as well!

But beyond the essentials here are some things you may consider putting into a guitar players "Survival Kit". These are things that will come in handy if you are out playing gigs, going to a band rehearsal, or just popping over to a friends house to jam a little.

strings 4Spare Strings

The only thing worse than breaking a string on the gig or at rehearsal is realizing you don't have a replacement. I always carry a complete set of new strings and also a couple of spare 1st and 2nd strings. That way I don't have to split up the pack just for an E or B string.

survival 1Wire Cutters

Obviously wire cutters come in handy for trimming the excess off a new string. But they also are useful for those little pieces of broken strings that always get hung up in the bridge or wrapped around a tuner. I like a small pair of wire cutters that can get into tight places.

survival 3String Winder

If you have ever broken a string on stage in the middle of a set and didn't have a backup guitar, you know how fast you need to do a string change. Having a string winder handy will speed up this job considerably.

picks clusterPicks

If you play guitar, you gotta have picks. Don't rely on your band mate having a spare that you can borrow. Have plenty of extras in various sizes so you will be ready for anything. Picks are cheap so stock up!

survival 4Spare Cables

If you play electric guitar, or an acoustic electric, you are probably using guitar cables. Always try to have a spare or two with you. Not only for when one of yours breaks, but also if one of your band mates needs one and wasn't as smart as you to bring a spare! It's also not a bad idea to have a spare low impedance mic cable. There are many times you may need one.

survival 5Screwdriver(s)

You just never know when a screwdriver will come in handy. From making bridge adjustments, tightening a tuner on the headstock, removing a back plate, opening a pedal....there are a million things that you may need a screwdriver for. You can't, of course, carry a big tool box full - but a small "jewelers" screwdriver set will take you a long way. And they're cheap.

survival 6Spare Tubes

If you play electric guitar through a tube amp, you have probably experienced that scratchy sounding loss of power that indicates a tube going out on you. If you're like me, this only happens in the middle of an important gig. Never at home, never at rehearsal! Carry one or two spare pre-amp tubes, if nothing else. Those are usually the ones to go first.

survival 7Cloth

A guitar polish cloth or small towel is great to have to clean your guitar. But it also is good to have to wipe the gunk and build-up off the guitar neck while playing a gig. Especially outdoor gigs in the hot summer when you're pouring sweat. It's also good to have an emergency cloth or towel when someone spills a drink on your amp!

tuner 3Tuner

Always have your tuner handy. Don't rely on the other guy or girl to have one, his (or hers) may not even work! Tuners are small and inexpensive so have one in your kit at all times.

survival 8Batteries

Guitar tuners and effects pedals tend to chew up batteries pretty quickly. Always have a couple of  9 volt and AA batteries close by. You never know when you or a band mate will need one in a pinch.

survival 9Direct Box

A direct box is used to convert a high impedance signal to a low impedance signal that can then be fed into the PA system. If you play an acoustic electric this is a must have item. Even if you play an electric you may need one to feed a signal to the PA if a mic is not available or if your amp goes down and you have to plug straight into the board to get through a gig. They can be purchased for $20 to $30 and you should always have one nearby.


This short list of items to keep in your "Survival Kit" should get you through most gig or rehearsal emergencies. Of course your particular situation may require the addition of other "must have" items. The point is, to be well prepared for anything that may arise, so that you can keep your focus on the important stuff - playing music!

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions!

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Keith Dean

keith01 lowKeith Dean is founder of and a 30 year veteran of stage and studio. He toured extensively as a road musician throughout the US and Europe, was a former lead guitarist for Jason Aldean, and has shared stages with Little Big Town, Wild Rose, Winger, Confederate Railroad and more. He is a published songwriter, owned and operated a successful music store, and has instructed numerous students in guitar.

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