Online Guitar Lessons

Home > Guitar Performance

Your first gig
Guest teacher series

Free Download - 17 Essential Strum Patterns PDF

Your first gig

All right! I know you're stoked and probably a little nervous. Not to worry, everyone who plays eventually goes through this. Actually, if your going to be in the music business you will go through this more than once. So, there are a few things you have to take care of so you can pull this off in style and calm your nerves a little.

When to show up?

First you need to know when to be there. Don't laugh, I don't know how many people have screwed this up, but it can make or break your gig. You need to be there as early as the venue will allow you to be. Since you have already been there, when you were asking to play, you should know what the set up is like and have a general idea of what equipment you need. Now is the time where you get to set up and prepare to play. The longer you put it off on this day, the tighter your schedule will get and the more stressed out you will be when you hit the stage to play.

Sometimes you will not be given a choice when to show up. There may be other bands on the bill and the venue will require a band meeting and mandatory sound checks at certain times. Don't be late. It is really easy to take you off the list. Remember this is a business and time is money. As well, getting a bad rep from the get go will not help you.

Remember this for later, if there are lots of bands playing and you have a given time slot, be there 10 or 15 minutes early for your time. You want to be waiting in the wings just incase the preceding band gets done early or experiences technical problems.

Your loyal following, the press and any A&R people you know will also want to know what time you are playing. Get the word out. For A&R people give them the "real" time you are to go on. They don't like to hang around, so give them a break. As for the rest of the people, fudge the numbers a little. Tell them you will be going on 30 minutes prior to your slot time. Fans are never on time; give them the chance to show up, especially if you have a short set time.

Gear, gear and more gear!

So you have handled one problem. You have got the word out about your gig and you know when to be there. Now, what do you bring with you. Does this sound stupid? It shouldn't. Every venue is different and will require different gear. Why do you think you favorite band brings a semi-truck anyway?

Here is the short list for the first time gig. Each guitarist should have his axe and a backup. This includes the bass guy. If you only have one guitar, now is the time to beg and borrow from your friends. You know, those guys you met when you were out networking. You drummer needs his set up and a few extra sticks. Your sound gear is usually a must too. Batteries are usually a pretty important item to have. All your effects and possibly your tuner need batteries. Do you need your own lighting gear? Don't forget extra mics and cables. It is always better to have too much than not enough. You never know what is going to break or decide half way through not to work. Extension cords and duct tape are necessities. That about covers it.

A good way to make sure you have all your gear is to have checklist for each person. Make these up during rehearsals and Xerox them. That way everyone is responsible for their own gear and it is on them to get it to the show.

A little more on marketing your first show

Another thing for you to worry about I am sure. Just because you have been given the opportunity to play doesn't mean the venue is promoting it. Ask the manager or who ever signed you up if they are actually promoting your gig. They may have an ad in the local paper or on the radio. Often, larger towns have a weekly flyer that advertises upcoming shows. If your venue hasn't put something out on you, it would be wise for you to make some calls, and get the word out. Call the local paper and ask if the press can come see you. You never know, your band could be critiqued in the Saturday edition. I would also recommend making some fliers and write an email for your fans. Start a grass roots campaign to get your fans to the show.

More on Gear!

It seems there are fewer and fewer guitar and bass players that don't have at least one effect that they are using. If you have a slew of effects that you are using during your show, get them set up before sound check. By set up I mean you need to have them set to how you like them to sound, and in the order you like to use them. As well you want to have all the levels set to a standard volume. This is hard to accomplish without much rehearsal time and real thought. But, if you can get the effect volumes to match up, meaning when you switch from effect to effect you don't start getting louder and louder, it makes the sound guys job that much easier. Of course if you are going to play a solo or have an effect that is intentionally set to boost your overall volume, let the sound guy now this too. That way he wont be scrambling for the gain controls when you kick it on.

This is also another reason you want to be at the sound check on time if not early. Most sound guys take notes and refer to those notes as you hit the stage to remind themselves about your sound. Get this through your head now. The sound guy could care less how you sound! They have nothing invested in your band, sound or career. Make friends with him and help him do his job.

Here is my last gear tip. If you just have to put new strings on your guitar or bass, do it the night before or earlier. Play the holly crap out of it for about a half hour, retune it a little hot and let it sit. This will stretch the strings and keep you from going out of tune during sound check and the show.

Well that's a lot of stuff for you. Hopefully you have more than a few days to take care of all that stuff. Being prepared will ease your nerves and will allow you to control the aspects of gig night that are controllable. Get out there and enjoy your first show. Until then, I'll see you on stage!


Check out other articles from Cj

Rehearsals and getting ready to gig
Get your first gig
Promote your gigs
Your first gig

17 Essential Strum Patterns PDF - Free Download

Guitar Courses

Rhythm Guitar Mastery
How to strum guitar like a pro, master rhythms, and build your vocabulary of essential chords

17 Essential Strum Patterns
Learn 17 Strums, 8 Bonus Songs + Chord Book

60s Rock Strumming Songs
Learn how to play 18 classic 60s rock tunes

70s Rock Strumming Songs
Learn how to play 20 classic 70s rock tunes

80s Rock Strumming Songs
Learn how to play 20 classic 80s rock tunes

90s Rock Strumming Songs
Learn how to play 20 classic 90s rock tunes

Modern Country Strumming Songs
Learn how to play 16 modern country songs

Guitar Lick Factory
A system for creating rock & blues guitar licks