When buying a gig bag or case, it is imperative to look out for certain qualities and features in the bag. Most people first put into consideration the beauty and overall appealingness of the bag (even though this should be one of the least considered factor). I’m not saying get yourself an ugly bag, I have nothing against a bag that looks really good, but be very careful not to cloud your eyes with it’s beauty that you forget to check and ask certain questions like:
* Is it durable? How long can it last for? A few weeks or months? If I buy this now, would I buy another one in the next couple of months?
* What is the size and shape of the bag? (check if it’s shape is compatible enough to match the shape of your guitar)
* Would it protect my guitar if I accidentally bump into things? (check the inner padding and quality of materials used for the interiors, check the neck support to make sure it’s sturdy and check that the zippers are strong and firm)
* Is it spacious enough? Does it have extra outer and inner compartments to accommodate other materials that are important to me for gigging?
* Can I afford it?
As a guitarist who travels around for shows and gigs, there are some important items that should have a permanent home in your guitar bag.
Your Guitar – Of course! Or isn’t that obvious?? It’s the most important reason for getting a bag or case in the first place.
Pick/Plectrum – You wouldn’t want to go through the rigors of using a random piece of wood or a coin to play in place of your pick, would you? It can be very inconveniencing especially if you’re used to playing with a pick. Get as many picks as possible and keep some of them in a permanent place inside your bag, you’ll be glad you did.
Guitar Strap – If you would be standing to play, your guitar strap is going to be your best and most supportive friend. A good leather guitar strap would do, make sure its comfortable and adjustable so you would not get any back cramps after playing.
Capo – You don’t get to use this all the time, but at the same time, you may not get to determine when to use it. Make sure it’s in the bag just incase you have need/use for it.
Extra Strings – This cannot even be overemphasized. I’ve fallen a victim of this quite a number of times ?and it has taught me a very big lesson which is NEVER to go out for a gig without a complete set of strings. You’re not in the strings’ hearts, you never know which one of them just wanna give up on you and snap?. Be prepared, face them like the warrior you are?, go with an extra set of complete guitar strings.
Tuner – Inasmuch as your fans want to hear you play, they do not want to hear you play off or distuned, make sure a tuner is constantly in your bag. Yes, you can tune your guitar by ear but it’s not as 100% as reliable as a tuner and it takes quite sometime to get perfection. Save yourself that load of stress.
Mini tool kit containing screw drivers and wrenches at least – You never can tell what might loosen or cut off and need replacement like strings or a screw on your guitar. Ensure a small tool kit is handy in your guitar bag, just incase you need to be the repairman for a couple of minutes. It might not even be for your cause, it might be for the cause of a fellow musician. Save the day!
Soft Cotton Cloth – This is for wiping off your strings as soon as you’ve finished playing. Your strings would have accumulated moisture and dirt from your hands while playing, so its best to wipe them off after playing to help preserve the life of the strings.
Your Business Cards – After every gig, you could get other invitations that would also like you to play in their event, ensure you do not miss the opportunity. Yeah, I know you can call out your phone number and have them punch it into their smartphones, but wouldn’t it be more cool and professional too if you just handed out a business card??
Recording Device – I always emphasize that every time you practice or play, you should ensure that you record yourself and listen back for loopholes and errors. Get a small recording device and turn it on from the moment you start tuning your guitar to the moment you’re done playing. Your smartphone would work just fine for this too, whatever you’ll be using, make sure it’s something you take with you every time you go for a gig.
Ear Plugs – You’ll need this every once in a while, especially when you’re playing with other musicians, either to help you hear yourself better or to reduce some of the feedback sound.
Pen And Paper – If you’ll be performing a long list of songs and cannot remember them all on your own, this would come in handy. Just write out your songs and place them somewhere not too conspicuous, but also somewhere you can easily turn and see it, maybe on top of your amp??♀️
Cables – All of them! The ones for your guitar, for your pedals, for your amp…the whole lot!
It’s disappointing and heart breaking? not to give your best shot at a performance simply because you’re weighed down by something you forgot to bring. If you would remember to properly pack everything you need for a gig every single time, that’s fine; but if you may forget some of them, like me, it’s best to have an ‘extra’ of everything you use in practicing, especially little things that can fit into your bag/case.
What other questions would you ask yourself when considering to buy a gig bag or case?
What are some other important items that can easily fit into your guitar bag or case and are not mentioned here? Comment below.