Electronic musicians are dependent on more gear than many. From talking with my friend Bob Norton, we both believe in carrying duplicates of nearly piece of electronic gear so the gig can go on. After all, you can’t tell your client “my WX broke, so we can’t play the gig”. Hardware failure is not an excuse. Been to a large rock concert lately? You will see two lighting consoles, tracking each other. That’s typically an extra $30,000 piece of gear just for backup. Now this is for large arena venues with 10,000 in the audience, not a small gig.
Your wedding or jazz gig clients deserve the same. For those of us who play wind synth, we are dependent on a host of electronics, including the wind controller which is prone to moisture damage. Add to that your synth or laptop for sound generation, then your amp and speakers (or amp/speaker combo). Plenty of opportunities for failure.
You may be thinking, “really, you carry duplicates of everything?” Yes! As a wind synth player with a duet partner, that means a 2nd WX7 wind controller. I carry both in a custom made dual instrument case pictured above. There’s also a second synth module and a backup amp/speaker combo. For the amp, my partner and I each carry and play through our own small amps. Both of our keyboard amps are capable of accepting two inputs. I can plug into her 2nd channel, or she can plug into mine. And don’t forget cables to support this, as my amp has RCA for the 2nd input instead of 1/4″. The odds of two amps going down at the same time are small, so we seldom carry a 3rd amp since we can share. Between the two of us, we only bring one spare synth module. The spare is an old WT11 which includes a WX input jack. Sure, it’s old school and the sounds are not ideal, but since we play baroque flute duets, the FM flute sounds will be just fine in the event of needing a backup.
We don’t carry extra music stands or other non-electrical gear, but I always have a complete tool bag in my car which includes spare fuses, gaffers tape, electrical tape, 2-3 prong plug adapters, zip ties, and a complete tool set. Multi-tools are handy, but in event of things going wrong, having the proper sized screwdriver or pliers is more helpful to me.
And finally, I have an AC noise filter. A church I used to play in always gave me fits over odd noises coming into the audio chain. Adding the AC noise filter was always able to solve it.
So if you are an electronic musician and gig modestly often, make sure you bring spares. Even if they stay in the trunk of the car. And thanks to Bob Norton for the various discussions on this. In another blog post we will share how he updated his own gig rig to lighten the load yet still carry spares.