Got one Bring two

One of the easiest ways for any gigging guitarist to help prevent any gig from an un-necessary crash and burn is to have adequate backups for all their gear. The hardest person to be in a band with is the player with one guitar, one amp, and one cable because any technical difficulty requires them to stop the entire bands’ performance while they tend to their broken string, bad cable, or whatever is the issue at the moment. I personally have been on many a job that probably wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been the one with a couple extra cables, outlet strips, extension cords, and some duct tape. Now, some of these things might not be an issue if the only places you are playing are informal jams in the backyard, where stopping the music for a few minutes might not be a big deal. If, however, you are playing clubs, corporate gigs, weddings, and other more professional events, stopping the band can be a VERY big deal and could possibly result in you never getting that particular gig again. I am a total freak about backing up my gear and may very well carry too much, but no gig is ever going to go down in flames because I didn’t have a key piece of gear. Here is a breakdown of what I feel is needed to prevent that from happening:

Two guitars, minimum. More if you need electric and acoustic or non-standard tunings.

Two amps, two heads for one speaker cabinet

Three instrument cables

Basic tool kit, for small repairs.

Outlet strip/surge protector

50-100 feet of electrical extension cord.

Stage/duct tape

Extra strings, picks, batteries, capos, tuners, tubes, and other small items that might seem disposable until you need them and they aren’t there.

A good, organized gig bag to carry all the small stuff and keep it tidy so you can get to it quickly in an emergency.

A solid four-wheel dolly/cart to roll everything around (Less necessary for club gigs, vital for the jobbing/wedding circuit, where your load-in door may be hundreds of yards from where you actually play).

Players can, of course, add to or customize this list to suit their own requirements, but, to me, this is the minimum I can get by with and still travel pretty lightly. Giggers have to learn to think around corners and anticipate what might go wrong and plan for it.

Imagine having your big gig opening for a national or one of those high-paying corporate parties go south because your amp died at sound check and there was no spare. I don’t know about you, but that is the sort of thing that gives me nightmares. The best way to get through any gig (and get a good night’s sleep) is to make sure you have two of any gear item that, the lack of which, will prevent you from playing. Anyway, that’s all for this month. Watch this space for more tips, tricks, and info for the gigging guitarist.

– Mike O’Cull

MIKE O’CULL plays guitar, writes songs, produces tracks, teaches, preaches, writes poetry, makes art, and is in love with human creativity. He has the ability to put a song in your ear and make it stick. He writes songs that combine every cool thing he has ever heard into a new sound that is funky, rocking, literate, and conscious and contains elements of blues, hip hop, rock, funk, and skid row poetry. He has a new release slated for 2016 that will contain his new and topical track ‘Tough Times These Days,’ which is now being previewed on YouTube. In 2015, he released a single, ‘What’s Old Is What’s New,’ that was co-written with poet/activist Leroy Moore of Krip Hop Nation which mixes down and dirty blues with old school hip hop and an EP, ‘The Mike O’Cull Band,’ that features seven funky blues/rock original songs. Both are available on iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon. He is also the creator of Street Level Guitar, his own unique method for learning to play guitar. SLG involves a concentration on the practical aspects of music and guitar playing blended with a personal development angle that ensures his students build the confidence to perform, not merely play. is the place to hang out for more info.

Mike has also worked as a music journalist and PR writer since the mid 1990s, including 12 years with the Illinois Entertainer (, contributing to the start of the blogosphere with in the late 1990s, and has been a contributing writer for,, Gig Magazine, and scores of others, and has written bios, press releases, and liner notes for many different artists.

This year is a new beginning in his story and career and Mike is making his most fully-realized music to date that is equal parts current and classic, old school and new jack. He is a fearless creative with an expansive knowledge of American music mated with the touch and vision of a modern producer, songwriter, and instrumentalist.