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10 Tech Tips from Touring Pros

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10 Tech Tips from Touring Pros


Photo: Billy Gibbons' duplicate rigs ensure a consistency if something goes wrong in the main one.

Dickson: Provided that you have and are using a spare amp, a simple A/B box is a quick way to switch amps and keep your effects in the chain. When we toured I would always have two spare Twins on stage and a cord ready should we encounter any RF problems with the wireless packs or receiver.

Francis: If you use a pedalboard, you should have a “snake” with all the cables wrapped together running from pedals to amps. That should include an additional cable cut to the length of your longest cable, if you have a problem with any cable in the snake, your spare is right there. Also female-to-female 1/4" barrel connectors to bypass a pedal and spare male-to-male 1/4" jumpers because they can go bad without notice. Bring batteries in case the AC power is weird and the pedals are picking up grounding noise and little pig tails with battery clips for the pedals that have the a no-battery option. And always have spare cables and strings!

Appleton: The motto I currently live by working with Alex [Lifeson] and Phil [Collen] is “a good tech has a backup and a great tech has two backups.” [Laughs] Let’s face it—every artist does not have the budget for this way of thinking. Although you will never get all of them, try to think through possible failure scenarios and then prioritize what you need for backups. If anything, I’d suggest always having a spare amp, and an “Oh crap!” cable if you are using wireless units.

Trejo: Well, with Omar [Rodriguez-Lopez] I know that if something goes down it's usually his guitar cable because he’s constantly stomping on it during a show. I usually integrate a spare cable in his loom if that goes down. As far as his pedalboard goes, there’s a great little bypass pedal called the Keeley Looper. It allows me to bypass all or some of his pedals, depending on where in the chain you put it, so you can take the offending pedal out of line to be fixed and replaced.

Farmer: The most important things I have in my entire arsenal are Super Glue and gaffer tape—with that stuff you can build a house [laughs].

Buffa: I really enjoy having my Boss NS-2 in the signal chain. Sure it works great as suppressing unwanted noise, but it—and similarly-designed pedals—lights up when the signal hits it and works great as a built-in safety valve if the rig goes silent or haywire. We know if the NS-2 is lighting up, the issue is behind it. These types of things save tons of time… and in a gig like this, time is money.

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