Gig Like a Pro

  • 11/8/2016
  • JamPlay, LLC

When making the leap from bedroom guitarist to gigging guitarist, there are a number of things to take into consideration. Below is a basic outline of the skills and tools I think you need in order to be a successful gigging musician.


It is ultra important that you are not only punctual, but in my view, you should show up 10-15 mins earlier than you were asked to be there - that way you arrive and can take your time and not be flustered at the last minute. Arriving at a gig at the last minute is just not acceptable, it affects your confidence and playing and also does not put across a good impression to the band that are hiring you.


Carrying on from punctuality, it is also important that you put across a feeling of professionalism. That means you need to look like you are enjoying what you are playing and also make people feel good, as well as playing the right notes and having a good feel/tone.

The Right Equipment

If you are hired for a gig that requires a particular guitar sound, it is always better that you have a guitar tone that lends itself to that style. For example, if you are hired for a country gig, its probably better to not use a Gibson flying V or a Steve Vai Ibanez. These guitars would probably sound perfectly fine in the right hands, they might not put across the image that the band wants to portray, or indeed simply might not have the sound needed for that particular gig. I realize that a guitar can be used in many different styles, but many people have a hang-up about having a guitar that “looks” right for the gig as well as sounding right.

Know Your Parts Inside and Out

This might sound like it goes without saying, but the number one lesson I learned about gigging is that when you think you know the song - on stage you forget it. That is because nerves take away some of your concentration and lots of what we practiced seems to magically disappear. My rule is “When you think you know it, practice some more.” Also try practicing along with the track and then practice the same song again without the track and only the metronome – This is the acid test as we have no one else’s parts there to cue us. We should not rely on others parts to cue us because of the following reasons:

1) They might not play it exactly like the record, on stage.

2) They might make a mistake so we will be leaning on someone that is weak themselves.

Confidence comes from being sure of yourself and knowing your parts is a huge part of building your confidence as a musician.

Looking the Part

This part is a little subjective as it depends on the type of gig and the formality of the gig. That said, it’s generally better to look smarter on stage than look shabby and unkempt. It generally doesn’t look good if you come on stage with dirty old sneakers, washed out old t-shirts and ripped jeans (again, depends on the gig – I know this can be fashionable and trendy for certain gigs). But if you don’t know the type of gig or the band you are playing with, I would generally say its better to look smart than to look like a hobo. I am not saying you need to wear a three-piece dinner suit, just look clean and presentable.

I hope this has given you some ideas and I would be interested to hear about your gigging experiences too.