The Twelfth Fret ~ Since 1977 ~

Seven Things Likely To Go Wrong At Your Gig And How To Prepare For Them

Seven Things Likely To Go Wrong At Your Gig - The Twelfth Fret

Seven Things Likely To Go Wrong At Your Gig And How To Prepare For Them

A few weeks ago on a Saturday night, I played a show for my band’s CD release party. As you might imagine, I’ve played quite a number of shows in my time – and no matter how much you prepare, they never seem to go as well as you’d expect. Though often they’re amazing – all the way through – with everything going right. But on other nights, it’s like living through a nightmare!  

To help you along, or learn from my mistakes so to speak – here are what I’ve found to be the seven most common things that can go wrong at your gig – and likely will!

  1. Your Guitar Will Be Out of Tune.

    Hard to imagine as you stand in front of your audience ready to play, that your guitar will be out of tune – but it will. So, always check your tuning whenever you get a chance. Double and triple check if you must. And of course, silently if possible, with either the volume rolled off and headstock tuner or a pedal tuner that’ll mute your signal while you tune.  No one in the audience likes to hear you tune up. Make sure the rest of your bandmates tune up too. Nothing’s worse than everybody being out of tune all at the same time.


  2. One Or More Of your Cables Will Give Up On You.

    Always bring spare cables, whether it’s for your pedals or for your guitar to the amp. Many cable manufacturers now offer lifetime warranties. This means you can exchange them anytime they go and get a new one, which is great! But that won’t save you in the middle of a song – so bring spares.


  3. One Of Your Effects Pedals Will Flank Out On You.  

    This is more common than it should be. Guitarists, generally, aren’t the best with upkeep. We forget to change the batteries on our pedal, etc. And even if we have been diligent and replaced the batteries, one of the effects usually get stuck or we miss our “cue” to turn them on or off. You’ve probably been witness to a show or two where the guitarist forgets to turn off their super loud overdrive or crazy delay sounds – annoying!


  4. When You Least Expect It, Your Guitar Pick Will Disappear.

    Yes, they will. Your pick will disappear at the most crucial moment. Always have a few spare picks within close reach so you don’t miss a note.


  5. You Will Break A String.

    Always bring a backup guitar, so when a string breaks you’ve got an easy and fast solution. If you don’t have a backup, get one. And if this is still a challenge for you, try making friends with the other bands on the play bill so if the time comes, you’ve at least arranged to borrow one.


  6. Your Amp Could Blow Up.

    Same advice goes for amps as in point five above. Blowing an amp is less likely to happen, but tube amps do go off on a gig especially when you’re in a hurry to setup. You might plug the wrong speaker cable into the wrong OHM cab setting or the power supply in the venue you’re playing could go. Whatever witchcraft may occur to toast your amp – be prepared with a backup solution – and befriend your fellow band(s).


  7. You Won’t Hear Yourself Well At All.

    In most situations, the sound person will not give you the proper mix. So for the entire show, you’ll hear nothing but cymbals or a distorted vocal monitor feed – or then – the monitors just won’t work. You will be surprised how often this happens. So what can you do? Learn your songs inside and out. Learn them so well to the point you barely have to think about what chord progression or what verse etc. is next – and you’ll get by just fine.


Prepare as best you can, and even if it’s one of the worst nights ever, have fun and keep your “poker face”. The crowds are usually more focused on the good vibes and vocalist – anyway.


By Max Moy – The Twelfth Fret