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   We've all been there: that special gig you've been looking forward to for weeks. You've spent hours getting ready, taking special care setting up you kit so that nothing will go wrong. But, like a gremlin waiting in a dark corner, just as things are starting to cook, a vital piece of equipment breaks. It might be a minor thing like the spring on your footpedal becoming loose, or it might be something major: your snare string breaks, your blow a head, or your footpedal finally gives up the ghost. Some technical problems can be ignored, and you'll play on, hitting the crash a bit easier so that the cymbal stand threads won't catch on the bell and crack your cymbal because the little plastic tubing that slips over the threads finally fell off. Other problems are serious enough to demand immediate action before you can go on.

   You brought your drums, some spare sticks in your stick bag, and maybe even a spare head or two. But that's it. Never mind how shiny your kit is, you have to bum some tools off of the rest of the band (hopefully they've brought some!), or off the club. In either case, you were caught unprepared, and if this was a fill-in gig, the first gig with a new ensemble, or someone was in the audience "checking you out" for a major gig, it could be embarrassing and might even cost you future work.

The GigBox   The problem, however, is easily overcome by taking the Boy Scouts' motto to heart: Be Prepared. Not just in your body (your chops), or your mind, but with your instrument. One of the best tools to help you in the event of an emergency is a gigbox: a small toolkit. It needn't be an elaborate affair (although you can get elaborate if you wish). A simple tackle box from the local sportman's shop will get you started - one with plenty of little compartments (the more the better) and plenty of room in the bottom. A regular toolbox won't do: there aren't enough compartments for all the things you'll need.

Some of The GigBox contents.   What are those things? It depends on your kit, your tastes, and the extent of the repairs you'll encounter. However, there are some basics no drummer should be without (and keep in mind that your gigbox makes a handy central storage area for your stuff when you're making routine repairs at home). Here are some of the things I carry in my gigbox:

  • Drumkeys (obviously).
  • Any small tools that came with your kit for assembling your hardware and/or mounting your drums (my Ludwig Vistalites came with a small hex wrench for the toms: yours might have come with similar tools).
  • A couple of pens and pencils for taking notes or writing down names and phone numbers (a small pad will also help).
  • Some epoxy and toothpicks for any gluing you'll need to do.
  • Some personal items:
    • Throat lozenges.
    • Pain killer.
    • Lip balm.
    • Ear plugs (carry some spares: your bandmates my want to bum a pair from you!).
    • Visine (clubs can be very smoky, and this may bother your eyes).
    • Cotton balls.
    • Band-aids for blisters.
    • Tiger Balm or similar ointment for sore muscles.
    • Basically anything you can think of you might need in the course of a night.

GigBox tools.   In the tool category:

  • One of those guitarists' multi-tools comes in real handy: the kind with screwdrivers, hex wrenches and the like all bundled up like a jacknife: you can get these either at your local music store, or you can find something similar at your local hardware store.
  • Hex wrenches by themselves come in handy: some kits require standard American sizes, others use metric (you can usually find these in 'jacknife' sets - better than loose hex wrenches!).
  • A pair of pliers or two:
    • Needlenose.
    • Adjustable .
    • A pair of dykes also comes in handy.
  • A small utility knife and a pair of scissors will keep you from breaking your hands trying to tear something (snare strings are tough!).
  • A set of jewelers screwdrivers are just the thing for those tiny screws that manufacturers put on your equipment for no apparent reason other than to tick you off.
  • A small hammer helps if you need to do some gentle coaxing, particularly the kind that have small screwdrivers in their handles.
  • Some oil will take that annoying squeak out of your footpedals.
  • A Basic Soldering Kit:
    • Soldering iron.
    • Solder.
    • Desoldering tool (the small bulb fits best).
    • Small soldering vise.
    • Wire cutter and stripper.
    • A pair of latching pliers (for holding wires while you solder them).
      • This will not only help you out when one of your cables needs a quick fix, but I guarantee that this group of items will make you really popular with the rest of the band when they blow one of their cables! And that can't hurt.

GigBox hardware.   In the hardward department some items are universal:

  • Spare snare string or packing strap (the rough kind: grips the mounting bracket better than the smooth straps).
  • Lugs and lug washers (tooth washers are also nice to have, particularly if you have lugs that constantly come loose as you play).
  • Assorted screws.
  • Washers.
  • Nuts and bolts.
  • An extra footpedal beater can also come in handy.
  • If your throne cuts through the rubber foot under the post like mine does, you'll need a spare foot.

   For the cymbals:

  • Spare felts.
  • Washers.
  • Wing-nuts (you may not break them, but you just might lose one or two in your travels).
  • Tubing to protect your cymbal bell from the stand's threads.
  • If you have a sizzler, those little brass paper fasteners make nice replacements for lost rivets; these tend to break, so you'll need a steady supply.

Other GigBox items.   Other things that I carry in my gigbox for routine maintenance and emergency fixes:

  • Rolls of different types of tape:
    • Masking.
    • Electrical.
    • Gaffers.
      • These help with quick fixes that can't wait until the break, and will also help you in muffling your drums when you have to alter the sound of your kit to match different houses. Some kleenex (in the small travel packs) also helps here.
  • I carry some fine sandpaper and parrifin to work over my bearing edges in the event of a head change: jewelers sand paper to smooth the bearing, wax to lubricate it so the head can move freely when tightened (see tuning for more information on this process).
  • In the event an audio cable jack is not repairable in the field, I carry a couple spare jacks, both guitar and xlr, male and female.
  • If you have any electronics, some spare batteries might be nice.
  • And don't forget to throw in some business cards! You never know when opportunity will knock.

Some random goodies.   All this doesn't preclude the necessity of bringing along those things that won't fit in such a small space: spare heads, a spare footpedal, towels, water jug, muffling rings.

   Of course, I'm sure you can come up with other things for your gigbox. You're limited only by your imagination. You'll find that, while your gigbox might be small, it's very versatile. You'll wonder how you ever got along without it!

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