Gigs and MacGyver

What does MacGyver have to do with music performance? Everything. If you’ve ever had a gig, you know that nothing ever, ever goes right. You plug everything in to the amplifier or sound board, and for a reason that you can’t identify in the ten seconds you have before the gig is supposed to start, no sound comes out. Your keyboard stand breaks. Your cymbal hardware breaks. Even worse, your throne breaks while you’re drumming. (Ouch.)

In the highly technological world of amplified music performance, stuff just breaks or plain stops working. If you’re anything like Sapphire Blaze yesterday during their graduation party gig, multiple problems bombard you at once.  But you have to come up with fixes, because the show much go on.

Some things you expect to break, like instrument cables, guitar strings, picks, and yes, even drumsticks, and you should always bring extra. These items have short lifespans, and inevitably, their meager lives will end right in the middle of a rocking rendition of “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey.

But you don’t count on your little brother knocking over your snare drum and snapping the stand in half. How is a drummer to go on without his snare ? Well, sometimes that’s what you do. After all, it’s a rare drummer who brings a spare to a gig. On the other hand, you could try the MacGyver method on the hardware and see what happens.

We took the seat off of the drum throne. We flipped the throne stand upside down and mounted it on top of the bottom half of the snare stand. We were left with three rubber-tipped feet at the top, and three rubber-tipped feet at the bottom. On one side, we used the legs as intended, splaying them in a tripod style on the floor. But the legs that stuck up in the air, we mounted the drum in. It was a little trickier than it sounds, but it worked.

We lost a keyboard stand, too, and we ended up completely redesigning the adjusting mechanism by pulling the spring out altogether and simply screwing the pin in place. It takes a bit longer to set up, because the adjusting pin must be unscrewed and rescrewed every time the keyboardist wants to adjust her height, but it held the keyboard up in the air while she played the gig, and that was what really mattered.

So if you’re thinking of taking your gear out on the road, take a course in how to MacGyver your hardware first. You never know what strange malfunctions you are going to encounter when you gig. And by all means, bring all the spare cables, guitar strings, picks, and drum sticks that you can carry.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.