What can go wrong will go wrong. Any soundman and musician knows that this is the raincloud they live under any time the lights go up. There are a lot of little parts that can break during even the simplest show.
By being extra prepared you can hopefully avoid the fault being on you. You and you alone are in charge of making sure your gear is in properly functioning order (unless you have a uke tech, which is unheard of).
Always make sure you have:
Your ‘ukulele (with a tested or fresh battery in the pickup)
A cable (no crackles, please!)
A tuner (stages are loud and even the best ear-tuner might need a backup at times)
Whatever else you NEED to play – fingerpicks, straps, etc… (Always assume that no one else will have what you use.)
Things to put in your gig pack:
Extra Batteries – For your pickup, pedals, mic, etc… Just because you changed it recently doesn’t mean it will work – in fact, it probably won’t!
Extra Strings – For the freak time that you break a string. If you use metal wound strings have an additional spare! These tend to break more often than plain strings.
Extra Cables – Because the day you are least expecting it your cable will stop working.
Effects – If you’re picky about your sound, have everything you need in your signal before it goes into the board.
Duct Tape – For securing cables to the ground, taping down setlists on a windy day, attaching broken straps, etc, etc, etc…
Zip-Ties – Only slightly less useful than duct tape.
A Tuner – You need to be in tune – there is no compromising on that. So have a backup in your case and an app on your phone. Rule #1 of gigging is: someone always forgets a tuner.
A Pick – Breaking a nail happens in an instant and you’ll suffer all night. Have a plastic alternative unless you’re used to playing with the flesh of your fingers.
Bonus Points If You Bring:
DI Box – For the really rough gig when the board is far away and your friend’s DJ friend who offered to run sound didn’t realize that running a 50′ instrument cable doesn’t work very well.
Microphone – Some people are weird about having their own mic. If you’re not into sharing spit with the 1000s who have used the venue’s SM58 before you, bring your own.
Extra ‘Ukulele – It would be a shame to have to use it, but I’ve seen shows where somebody’s pickup went out and they couldn’t be heard during their set until the soundman figured out a work around.
A Setlist – For keeping the band on the same page. If you’re the type like me who can’t remember songs until you see them on a page, this should be at the top.
What have you been happy to have at a nightmare gig? Share in the comments.