A Guitarist’s Survival Manual For The Gig From Hell

In a band that performs covers and remakes, Joe plays lead guitar. He plays guitar well and remains composed under pressure. He performs with a group under the name of Psycho Nymphos. They have two guitarists, keys, bass, and drums, making up their five-piece ensemble. The singer is also one of the other guitarists. However, Joe’s nightmare is this. This situation ought to make you tremble uncontrollably throughout your entire body and make you dirty your panties if you’re a musician. The gig from hell is this one.

Joe arrives at the location with two hours to spare, thinking that he starts at 10:00. Well, Joe received the incorrect information, so there would only be two hours to spare. Joe hasn’t even started unpacking his gear yet, much less set up, and the Band is scheduled to begin at 8:30. When they attempted to call Joe on his phone, it was off. Joe, remaining composed, quickly unpacks his car and sets up everything with only ten minutes to spare. The bar manager is enraged as the crowd grows restless. Joe is remaining composed.

As soon as he completes his final tune-up, the Nymphos begin. The Nymphos begin their first song after another minute of deciding which music to play. Joe’s guitar is too quiet and the bass guitar is too loud, which makes a terrible sound. While adjusting levels and trying to get everything just right, the band plays the song halfheartedly. The bar manager is wondering who the hell he hired and why while the crowd wonders what the hell is going on. Joe is feeling a bit irritated.

Following some idle contemplation of what to play next, the band starts the second song at the drummer’s suggestion. Up until the first chorus, this one sounds better. TWANG at the midpoint of the first chorus. Joe rips a string off. When Joe discovers that the guitar solo will be challenging because there are just 5 strings, he makes do for the time being. Joe stumbles along till the song’s conclusion. Joe feels terrible shame.

Joe fixes the damaged string while the band waits for a few seconds. They begin the next song after that is finished. This one goes well, and the audience appears to be getting a little more into it. Joe is beginning to enjoy himself while the bar manager unwinds.

In actuality, everyone is having a good time. plus their brews. a bit excessive. The Nymphos are beginning to act a little clumsily and are missing cues. in particular, the singer. He is beginning to slur his sentences and forget when he is meant to be entering. The band members find it amusing, but the audience does not. Joe is becoming a little tipsy.

The sound begins to cut out and Joe’s guitar starts producing odd noises during the following song. Joe’s guitar finally vanishes. He accidentally steps on a few pedals before realising there is no power. Those 9-volt batteries were quite OK in his opinion. Joe connects his guitar lead directly into his amplifier after unplugging it from the pedal board. Joe, the crowd, and the bar manager are all becoming irate.

The stage goes dark two songs from the conclusion. The drummer’s banging is all that is audible when all the amps are turned off. All of the Nymphos are standing around after a short while, looking foolish and unsure of what is happening. The electricity comes back on after around 30 seconds. After a brief conversation, the band decides to restart the song. They succeed the entire process this time. They perform their final song for the few remaining customers before packing up, collecting their check, and leaving the bar—never to return.

For Joe and his band, the Psycho Nymphos, could things possibly get worse? I have my doubts. But if they had been ready, they could have overcome all of these obstacles. Although it would sound impossible, I have done a show when almost everything happened in one night, and we made it out alive. Preparation is everything. You must do these steps in order to get through this nightmare.


Being late to a performance is never acceptable. With the advancement of communications technology, everyone can potentially be reached at any time. Even if Joe miscalculated the time, all the issues might have been resolved with a quick phone call. However, it is always a good idea for a band to get together before a show at a central location and, if at all possible, travel in a “convoy.” This is a tried-and-true method to guarantee that everyone shows up on time, doesn’t get lost, and can obtain help if something goes wrong.

When you arrive on time, you may take your time to set up correctly, conduct a sound check, inspect your equipment for issues, and generally unwind before the show begins.


You need to know what you’re going to play, unless you’re some kind of freeform jam rock improv jazz thing. Each band member should be aware of the music that will be performed next so they can get ready without first having to decide which tune to play. Make sure each band member has a copy of the set list. To avoid starting the song before everyone is ready, be aware of the songs that might need tuning or guitar changes in advance. These are the kinds of moments that can easily be filled with a little banter, usually between the singer and the audience.


Although it won’t always be practical, try to always have a backup guitar on hand. This is especially true for a group like the Nymphos that has two guitars. It is more than possible to switch guitars in the middle of a song while the second guitarist is still performing and your backup guitar is ready to go. It looks quite professional and only takes a few seconds. Depending on the music, you might even get away with it if you’re the only guitarist. But sometimes all you can do is grit your teeth and get by. The rest of the set can be played without having to keep everyone waiting while you change a string once the song is complete by picking up your backup guitar. If you only have one set, don’t bother changing it between sets.

Have some backup materials on available in case you forget to keep a spare guitar nearby and you need to change strings. This holds true for every band member. You ought to have a tune that can be played if any band member becomes unable to perform. The remainder of the band can then play while any necessary running repairs are completed.


No matter what you might believe, getting drunk does not make you sound better. To your ears, perhaps, but not to mine or to anyone else’s. I recall performing at a sizable New Year’s Eve concert with two bands a few years ago. We were the inside band, while the main band was on the outside stage. The second band was fantastic, and I had seen them a lot before. They were indeed one of the most well-known bands to perform at this particular location. They would go up to their rooms between performances to get high and drunk before returning down to play their set in a semi-conscious state. We were inside, keeping it together while having a few drinks in between sets. By the end of the night, while both bands were performing, the inside was crowded and the other band was disregarded outside. Our sets slightly overlapped. We were requested to perform New Years’ Eve as the lone band again the following year. Consider for a moment that we were booked for 25% of that venue’s available performances following that New Years gig; we were actually booked regularly to play both nights of the weekend every month. Playing while tanked may be entertaining, but it won’t advance your cause.


I still find it hard to imagine that people still use batteries for their effects nowadays. It’s merely a catastrophe waiting to happen. Yes, I do change the batteries on my pedals every few months. They are, however, the BACKUP in case a stoned fan falls to the stage and pulls out a power lead or anything similar. Or perhaps you unintentionally plug in a cable between sets, causing the battery to drain. If you must operate on batteries, determine how long they last and replace them in half that time. Make sure you have extra batteries and that you avoid unplanned failures at crucial moments.

Have you ever heard the sound a Tube Screamer makes while it’s malfunctioning, by the way? It’s terrible.


You can just wait it out; there isn’t much you can do about it. Nevertheless, it’s not as horrible as it seems. If something MAJOR has gone wrong, in which case the venue would often close if there is a building-wide outage, you can be guaranteed that a venue will be back online in less than a minute when it loses power. What do you do for the next 60 seconds? It’s simple. Nobody breaks. The full band continues to perform. The performer moves to the stage’s front and begins shouting the words to the audience. I have yet to witness this fail. The crowd will begin responding with song. The band won’t skip a beat when the electricity comes back on, and the audience will go wild. It is polished and expertly done, and it will get the crowd going for the remainder of the evening.

Just let the song finish and wait if it goes past the 60-second mark. You can’t really do much more, but at least you tried.


You can survive any disaster if you are organised and sensible. Apart from the drunken foolishness, I’ve personally experienced all of these problems in one night, and we managed to escape by according to our escape plan. Creating your own emergency escape plan is not difficult, and I hope that these ideas will motivate you to improve your gig-readyness.