You know the situation; the more that you’re in a hurry, the more those inanimate objects seem to conspire to slow your progress. Turning up late to a gig is always unsettling; having to forego a sound check, no time to get settled and set up the merchandise stand or find out the name of the sound engineer.
Imagine that just as you’re loading your gig bag or as you are setting up, you find that there is a fault with the one pedal that is integral to your unique sound. You then need to get out the toolbox to find the right screwdriver, or ring around your mates to find one you can borrow.
Checking the batteries in your stompboxes (delay pedals, tuners, tremeloes) should be part of your weekly maintenance routine. There is a temptation to leave batteries in pedals, even though most of the time we will opt for using a power supply. We all know that batteries left in this way can and will leak eventually. This can cause contacts to corrode making it impossible to install a fresh battery without recourse to pliers, screwdrivers and a spare pair of hands. You can guarantee that the one time this will happen is that occasion when you are forced to rely upon battery power; the fuse has blown in your extension lead and no-one is carrying a spare, or you are playing a festival with four other bands and, with only a ten minute set-up, you need to ditch the power supplies.
Batteries are by far and away the most expensive source of electricity. Choosing cheap batteries over named brands can be a false economy however. Battery terminals can fall off and become attached to the connectors, preventing that all important, mid-set change when the lights are down. Rogue terminals left rattling around inside any equipment can cause circuits to short leading to significant repair bills.
So maximise your chances of a stress-free gig by
- using good quality batteries,
- checking battery condition once a week (but not as you’re about to set off to the gig!)
- removing batteries if you plan to use power supplies for your next performance.
Another way of reducing the chance of equipment failure is to go back to basics, simplify your sound and limit the amount of gear that you carry.
Tell us your stories of equipment failure or your tips for ensuring that each gig goes without a hitch? We’d love to hear them.