Top Tips for Performing Guitarists

Here’s my top 10 things to do, (or not do), for performing guitarists. A mix of avoiding embarrassments, how to not annoy the sound tech or, (most importantly), how to not annoy me.

  1. Check your tuning any time you are able to. Depending on the kind of guitar you own, the slightest knock can put it completely out of tune. You’re better off having an awkward moment of tuning between songs or at the start of a set then you are to start playing and risk it sounding like arse.
  2. Get spare picks and put them everywhere you can. Custom printed picks are even better, (Badges & Stickers website), because if you accidentally leave them behind it’s like you’ve left a pile of business cards, which is no bad thing, (call it “passive marketing”). You can get pick holders to stick on your guitar, mic stand pick holders, or even just double-sided tape if you’re on a budget.
  3. Thread your cable inside of your guitar strap, so when you tread on it it won’t fall out  and make a load of noise.
  4. Use the volume pot to avoid unwanted noise between songs or in sections you don’t play in. Particularly useful if you use any amount of gain or distortion FX.
  5. Turn off your amp before unplugging your guitar. Otherwise it makes noise and people will hate you.
  6. Line selector pedals! Use these to noiselessly switch between guitars or amps. You can also use them as a mute button if your guitar doesn’t have a volume pot. MXR, BOSS and Electro-Harmonix all make good line selectors.
  7. Have a spare guitar, just in case your main one breaks.
  8. Check your amp settings whenever you go into a new room. The acoustics of 2 rooms will never be the same, unless they’re completely empty, exactly the same dimensions, and made of the same materials. Therefore, your guitar will sound different. It’s fine to have an approximation of the kind of sound you want, (no treble, lots of mid, whatever), but don’t act as if the precise locations are sacred.
  9. The delay pedal thing. Stop it.
  10. Strap locks. Buy strap locks. You can spend a few quid and get something plastic which will do the job just fine, or you can spend up to £20 on something which is fancy-looking and detaches.

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