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10 Tech Tips from Touring Pros

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10 Tech Tips from Touring Pros


Photo: Mastodon tech Warren Termini's bench with Bill Kelliher's First Act Custom Shop prototype.

Farmer: A big help to my setups on guitars and being prepared is using Big Bends Nut Sauce or the Planet Waves Lubrikit that I religiously use on saddles and nuts of the Les Pauls for Warren. It’s a lot better than using KY, petroleum jelly, pencil lead, or graphite. [Laughs] Those two items save my ass all the time with ornery guitars.

I always have a Gerber or Leatherman multi-tool and a flashlight on me at all times. Those are probably two of the most important and most-used things while on tour. I have all the necessary tools and bright lights around my station, but so many times the problems you have on the road aren’t something that can be diagnosed or fixed at a station so I always tell guys to bring two of both those items.

Appleton: The usual collection of screwdrivers, string cutters, string winder, fret files, multimeter and Allen wrenches should all be within close reach. If you’re a serious road-warrior or aspiring tech, a soldering station is something to look into. I also have a drawer full of more eclectic tools such as a coping saw and some dental tools for fine handwork.

Buffa: An electrical tester is an underrated tool to have around the stand or with a band. There’ve been so many times I’ve seen things blow up or go wrong, whether it’s in the US with 110V or overseas, so testing power sources and continuity between cables and ohms in a speaker cab—the tester is a pretty basic tool that works wonders in safety. I’ve become the designated tester for the stage because I’ll run around and test each spot and give thumbs up before we turn anything on.

Never overlook the importance of a reliable, solid tuner [laughs], it’s a pretty important thing to have as a tech.

Francis: Strobe tuner, files, every possible truss rod wrench, clean polish clothes, and baby powder because it helps your hands stay dry in the summer heat, keeping sweaty handprints to a minimum. A note pad is important on this gig as Billy is always having me take notes during the show. Usually is about the show itself, or a guitar design he thought of, or sometimes it’s about hot sauce or a joke [laughs].

Trejo: I always carry a socket set, portable butane-powered soldering iron for quick fixes, a cable tester for quick reference, and I have a Black and Decker 7.2V drill that I attach a Dean Markley Turbo Tune string winder head to. Makes changing strings so much faster because it’s slotted for guitar and bass machine heads—it’s a must-have!

Dickson: When in doubt or think you might need it… take it! Two things to keep close by in a secure spot are spare amp fuses and a decent set of handtools. Pretty much order anything and everything out of the Stu Mac catalog and you’ll be set [laughs]. One of the best things I took for fly-date gigs or when we didn’t have much cargo space was an Ultrastand folding bench that would go into a briefcase—best unit ever.

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