LEDs not coming on, switches not working, the sound of silence… it’s the thing that gives all of us the cold sweats at night but is inevitable non the less:

Gear melt-down.

The worst part is that it happens to everyone and will occur at the least convenient timing possible. We have all been there… everything works flawlessly at practice the night before a big gig but as soon as the time comes to play your gear decides to check out. The feeling of dread and anxiety in a situation like this can be overwhelming and borderline panic inducing if you don’t have a back up plan.

Here are some key points to consider if you want to skip the silence and get back on track:

– Have a game plan before the meltdown occurs: Know what you would do in situations where you have to deal with malfunctioning gear and possibly play a set without a certain pedal or piece of gear. Knowing how to cover needed sound textures with other pedals before hand will go a long way
– Limit your noodling time: Although this may sound counter-inuitive, the more you try to fix things the more agitated your band may get and you run the risk of stomping out any excitement your crowd may have had in seeing you perform. My rule of thumb: If it can’t be fixed in 2 min then it probably won’t be fixed in that environment
– Know your environment: This sounds like a no brainer, but knowing where your power is coming from will go a long ways when trying to quickly troubleshoot a pedal board that won’t turn on or an amp that is giving a nasty 60 cycle hum. Granted you probably won’t have clean power where ever you go, but knowing if you are sharing power with 5 stage lights will help your situation any day
– Don’t get rattled: The last thing you need is for your gear struggles to affect your stage presence and how you play

And, if all else fails, there is always a stage door to the exit… but I would save that option till your amp catches fire or your guitar decides to spontaneously combust.

Adam Obrien

Professional nacho connoisseur and semi-pro cat wrangler, I fill my spare time playing electric guitar for my band (Captivated Nation) and my church (The Shore Church).


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