Boys & Girls – if you jam with friends, and travel to and from the jam session – I’m sure there have always been things you’ve missed along the way. Hopefully this checklist will keep you prepared while on the go.
I personally like being able to travel in one fell swoop, meaning : Guitar in 1 hand, Amp in another hand and backpack on my back.
So, the question remains … what do I bring to the jam session?
If you play in alternate tuning, and only want to lug around one guitar – it’s best that you have an axe that tunes easily, and by that I mean a hard tail or fixed bridge. Changing alt tunings with a trem is not that easy. If you have a guitar with a trem – best that you include all of the tools to tune the guitar, especially the allen keys to open the locking nuts.
If you want your tone to be your own – it’s best that you travel with your signature sound. in this department – I like a 50W compact and road worthy amp head (see the Randall Diavlo RD50 in the picture) Sure, like many, I too love 100w heads, but in a studio (or even small venues), in many cases, 100w is simply overkill. Plus, having a 50W amp will let your amp breath! Nothing says loving like being able to get your amp past 5, and with a 50W head, you should be able to do that with ease. It’ll sound bigger and badder than a 100w amp that you can’t get past 2 !!
Here’s what I keep in my own backpack. And, I have yet to come to the jam unprepared!
Several Guitar Cables (15′ in length) At least 2.
Patch cables (12′ in length)
Wireless unit if you have one.
Tuner. (Bringing 2 is not a bad idea, especially if you have one of the smaller clip-on tuners)
Power Strip that has a long extension cord to it.
Batteries (for you tuner, wireless unit or active pickups)
A camera!! (Yes, if you’ve wanted to get your jam on cam – best that you have a cam with you)
Tripod (to mount the camera)
Money (to pay for the jam session)
Having an extra set of strings is not a bad idea (and should be kept in the guitar case)
String winder for easy string changes.
I know, I know – having 2 of everything is the best way to go. Heck, having a roadie is even better, but for those Friday night jam sessions … as noted above – I like to travel light, set up quick and jam. Of course – there are some other things you may want to consider, especially if the jam is in front of a crowd of people.
Tubes &/or a Back-Up Amp
Even though I have never had to change a tube during a performance – some will argue that having an extra few pre-amp tubes is not a bad thing to bring along. And, now with some of the amps that indicate power tube failure – it’s not a bad idea to have a few of those either. But, remember – I’d rather have a back up amp, than perform open heart surgery on my tube amp, mid set. So, before you stock up on tubes – perhaps having an extra amp on standby is not a bad idea. If you are practicing at a studio – you can skip the tubes and the back-up amp, as any studio should be able to provide you with a back-up amp as needed.
Same as noted above – it’s easier to swap out a guitar than it is to change a string mid-set. If you’re in the studio – a string change is a lot easier than in front of a live audience. So, for the studio – I don’t think you need to dual wield. For a live set – perhaps having a 2nd axe on hand isn’t a bad way to go.
If you haven’t already caught on to the theme of this post, it’s important that you plan before you go to the jam. I learned my lesson a long time ago. When I was about 15 years old – I showed up to jam with friends, with a trem unit that was out of tune. I didn’t have an allen key to open the locking nuts, since the tune was too far outside of the fine tuners range. Needless to say – it wasn’t a fun jam. But today, I always plan for the worst, all while being able to make it from the car to the jam in a single trip.
If you think there is something that should be included, that works for you … please share with the world by posting your ideas and comments below. Thanks for reading & Rock ON!
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