Playing the guitar is all wonderful until something goes wrong. In fact, things can go south pretty fast due to some basic things you overlooked. But many of these issues can be dealt with if you take what you need with you. Your gig bag is more than just a thing to carry your guitar in and then toss it in the corner when the show starts. It can be sort of a pit stop for your guitar in case something unexpected happens.
But seriously now, there are plenty of useful things that you should always have in your gig bag. After all, if you're at least somewhat serious about your guitar playing and your music, you should know that having a great performance is your number one priority. So, in order to do that well, here are some of the essential items you need to have in your gig bag.
Your biggest concern here is what you would do if your string breaks. You may think that putting on an expensive set of strings is making you 100% safe from all breaks. But that's just not true. You should always, without any exceptions, have at least one set of spare strings close to you during a live performance or a studio session. It's a number 1 rookie mistake to go out there without any backup whatsoever. Even a cheaper set would do the trick, so you don't need to worry about getting something special for this.
And if your string does break, you don't really want to be sitting down on the stage and winding your string slowly up to full tension. You want to deal with this ASAP. Luckily for all of us, standard plastic string winders are pretty cheap and can do wonders.
And it's always a good idea to practice these quick restringing routines if you plan on doing live shows. This skill will definitely come in handy at least once.
And now that your string broke and that you've wound it, you have to find a way to stay in tune. But even if no strings break, it is extremely important to have a guitar tuner with you. Whether it's a clip-on or a standard one, it doesn't matter – you just have to have a tuner with you. Even if you do have a pedal tuner in your signal chain, it is advised to have a spare one in your gig bag.
Spare cables and patch cables
Aside from strings, what can also go bad on you are your cables. Even if go directly into the amp without any pedals, you need to have at least one spare instrument cable with you. Just like with strings, even a cheaper one will do the trick.
If you have some sort of a pedalboard on you, it's always a good idea to have a few patch cables in your gig bag. You never know when one of these is going to lose its signal.
Spare adapter or 9-volt batteries
If you're playing electric guitar these days, there's a high chance you use pedals. In case your power source fails, there should be an additional one in your gig bag. So it's not a bad idea to have a spare 9-volt battery or two, as well as an AC adapter.
Your guitar strap is another thing that might snap during live shows. And you can't really rock out sitting down, can you? In order not to make your performance into the lamest show ever, you can always have a spare strap with you.
All guitar players, without any exceptions, always lose their picks. (Unless you're strictly a finger-picker, but that's another story.) If you're planning on having regular gigs, you'll be losing them more often than you'd like. And at the end of the day, you should never allow yourself to run out on something that's so cheap.
Guitar tool kit
Wherever you take your guitar, you'll always want to make sure to be able to do quick repairs on the spot. Some stuff might happen along the way and you'll need to have your hex keys for the bridge saddles or the truss rod.
In addition, it's always good to have wire cutters as well in case you do some restringing and need to cut out all the dangling excess parts.
Other accessories depend on what kind of equipment you're using. For instance, if you have a tube amp, it's always a good idea to have one preamp and one power amp tube (depending on the type of amp you're using), as well as a spare fuse.
Generally, you should always take a closer look at your setup, think of things that could go wrong, and take spare parts or additional tool kits with you.