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fratis

Live performers! What’s in your bag?

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I’m a recovering drummer just getting my gig legs under me as a guitarist. When I was gigging as a drummer, I knew what to do to be prepared for a gig, what little bits and bobs I’d need in case something went awry. But as a guitarist, I have no clue what I’m doing.

 

I’ve got my whole live “rig” packed in my Helix backpack, including my DI box, lots of instrument cables of varying lengths, two long XLRs, IEMs, extra strings and a winder, a flashlight, and tape. What’s in your bag? (I also have a second guitar, FWIW.)

 

Secondary question: for situations where I’m going direct to FOH, is it better to use a short cable from Helix → DI Box and a longer XLR to FOH? Or is it OK to have both a long 1/4” cable from Helix → DI and a (presumably shorter) XLR to FOH?

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My Helix bag contains the things that apply to the Helix and it's connectivity to the world with a few exceptions.  My guitar cases tend to have the things related to the guitar I use such as strings, capo's (on acoustic and banjo), extra picks, and 1/4" instrument cables.  The Helix bag contains a fairly long 1/4" cable for connecting from the Helix to the my on stage monitor, a long XLR cable for connecting to the board, a phantom power blocker, a DI box and a small flashlight.  I carry a separate briefcase style kit that contains all my power cords, a power strip and wireless parts for the guitar.

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28 minutes ago, fratis said:

What’s in your bag? (I also have a second guitar, FWIW.)

 

 

 

Two of everything that's mission-critical... gigging is notoriously unpredictable, lol. Sounds like you're reasonably well-prepared, but you really should have something to use as a backup in the unlikely event that your Helix decides to commit suicide 2 minutes before showtime. Knock wood, mine's been rock-solid...but it's a computer, and computers do weird $hit, often at somewhat less than opportune moments. If you're lucky it'll happen at home when it doesn't matter, but when was the last time you had car trouble in the driveway? Ideally, I'd have a spare Helix so I wouldn't have to think at all if something goes wrong, but I'm not a full time pro, so I have a hard time justifying the expense. But I still have my My 500X, which I gigged with for years...it's always with me, just in case.

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Do Helixes often fail? Isn’t the point of it to be compact and convenient? If you’re bringing a backup modeler or, worse, amp and pedalboard, doesn’t that defeat the purpose?

 

Any further thoughts on the DI box wiring configuration?

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2 hours ago, fratis said:

Do Helixes often fail? Isn’t the point of it to be compact and convenient? If you’re bringing a backup modeler or, worse, amp and pedalboard, doesn’t that defeat the purpose?

 

Most of the time, the backup stuff stays in the car, unless it's needed. So no, it's not defeating the purpose. And should something critical fail, the alternative is NO GIG. So what's worse... bringing an extra piece of gear that you probably won't need, or going home with your tail between your legs?

 

Does Helix fail often? I suspect not... the Whine Brigade is a lot of things, but shy ain't one of them...I think we'd be hearing about it loudly and at length, were that the case. But "unlikely" doesn't mean "impossible"... and as I said earlier, it's a computer and therefore unpredictable. Has mine died on me at a gig? Not yet, no...but that's no guarantee that it won't happen tomorrow. Everything on earth fails sooner or later.

 

An old school analog rig isn't immune either. I had a Marshall 9100 power amp start billowing smoke on stage once. Another time a Carvin TS100 died at sound-check, minus the smoke that time. Those incidents were probably 15 years apart... not exactly what you'd call "often", but that's of ZERO comfort in the moment. The only thing that would have made it worse would have been packing up and going home because I had no backup. Yet another time, in my rack-gear days, a brand friggin' new MIDI footpedal decided to stop functioning between sets...I had thrown caution to the wind that night, and didn't have a backup... hell, it was new. What were the odds? Not fun, and not a mistake I'll make again. Many moons ago I saw Yngwie at a small club in NY... watched him blow up 3 Plexi heads inside of 10 minutes...don't think I've ever seen an angrier human being, lol.

 

Anyway, you get the point... things go wrong, usually with no warning. Don't care if you gig once every 6 months, or 5 nights a week... sooner or later, you're gonna have a problem. "Sorry folks, show's over", isn't much of a Plan B... and you'll never play at that place again.

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Helix bag? Helix / power cord, 4cm snake, iem xmtr / receiver / set lists etc

Gig bag (Makita tool bag - strong) xlr / 1/4" cables, talkbox & tube, cabgrabber / mics, ext cords, etc

Stays in car for backup? second amp / old X3L / bag with extra cords, first aid kit, frozen water bottle for on the way home, extra shirt 

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I'm the boy scout in the band (even though I was never a boy scout).  I have a drum key, a microphone clip, duct tape, cable ties, various screwdrivers and allen wrenches, flashlight, batteries, permanent marker, right angle adapters and more.  I used to keep Advil.  Also, one great tip I don't follow anymore is to tape a $20 bill under a box or something so you can always pay your tab or get a taxi or whatever.  I have a multi layer tool box that keeps all the microphones and cables in the bottom, pull out drawers for small things, and a box on top for the tablet, video recorder, my IEMs etc.

 

As you go through gigs and realize, "wow, it would have been nice to have xxxxxxx" you just start being that guy.  I've played out for over 25 years and I have learned not only to be prepared for me but for the rest of the band.  It will serve you well.

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- Helix Floor

- HX Stomp & 2-button footswitch mounted to a small board (backup unit)

- HX Stomp power supply and little cables

- two 1/4” guitar cables

- two IEC power cords

- iPhone mic stand holder

- Leatherman wave

- my favorite earplugs and picks

- small power strip

 

 

On the hookups, either would work.   The output signal from the helix is much stronger than a guitar, so any interference would be minimal.  I prefer hitting a DI pretty quick though. 

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I have my Helix on a pedalboard with a (soon to be chucked in the trash) G30 wireless, but my "gig kit" has a guitar stand, 5 extra instrument cables, 5 extra XLR cables, two single-channel DI boxes, a couple speaker cables, a variety of 1/4"-XLR/Speakon Adapters, a complete wired IEM rig that works off either of my bands' mixers, truss wrench, multi-hex wrench (because Kahlers are awesome, lol), a bunch of picks, and my Crate PowerBlock. It all fits a relatively small backpack and most of it never has to come out of the bag, but just about everything in there has been of use at one point or another, either for my use or another band we're playing with.

 

Stuff like extra strings live in my guitar cases, and since I'm running a digital mixer/laptop rig with both bands (back tracks, samples, click tracks .... I know we're cheaters at something that isn't even a sport) I have my IEM receiver, earbuds, batteries, and an LED flashlight that clips on my string mute in THAT backpack.  All that stuff gets used at every show, so I keep it separate from my "insurance pack".

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When I was gigging with Helix, any gig that was more than 10 minutes from my house, I'd throw an amp in the car just in case the Helix failed. Never did need it, though.

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Lets see. Roland Keyboard FA-08. Roland Stand, Fireface UCX. MacBook, Stand for Fireface UCX, Fender strat (Darkmoon pickups). HELIX (as my pedalboard / IR player), Mesa TC100 (not using HELIX amp emulators, effects and IR only, unless there are is a problem with Mesa which has not happen yet.), Decimator Pro, Two 15" floor monitors, Cables, power supply with surge protection. Spare strings, XLR adapters. picks, and spare cables patches.

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as well as my own gear I take

 

too many electrical extensions, iec leads, xlr, gaffa tape

 

And we as a band never have enough.

 

I can only conclude that no one else in the band brings any of these things

 

Top tip - get some very bright gaffa tape and put lots of it on every single thing you own.

 

Makes clearing and packing your own gear much easier at the end of the night and then you can help with other peoples kit if required.

 

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Helix Bag....

  • Helix LT w/power cord
  • External Expression Pedal
  • 4 x 1/4" patch cables (3 in use, 1 spare)
  • 2 x Phantom Power blockers
  • Shure SM58
  • Small box holding strings, winder, cutters, nail file, slide, capo & picks

I also carry a second case that holds extension cables, guitar stands, tape, and my old HD500 as a backup modeler. 

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Really depends on the gigs but I tend to sort things along the lines of stage sound, PA sound and instrument related.  

 

Instrument related varies wildly depending on instruments played but includes: strings, winder/cutter, neck relief tools, nail clippers/files, flat & finger picks, capos, slides, steels, clamp-on tuner, pencil, flashlight, small screwdrivers, straps.  Even lube oil, applicator and of course the bender bar for HipShot bender setups.

 

Stage sound is what’s needed to connect instruments into whatever stage amplification we’ll be using but lotsa 1/4-1/4 cables and any volume pedal, A/B boxes.  I enjoy Fishman Loudbox amps for stage monitoring and in many cases handling DI output.  

 

Don’t normally carry much to connect PA sound to FOH as most those gigs have mic cables and crew scurrying around.  But if small house PA we’re operating it’s always good to have XLR cable and various adapters, inserts, etc.  

 

If you take the leap as myself and others going full range amp modeling you’ll be kinda SOL if Helix LT (or any modeler) dies or becomes damaged during transit.  For this reason I always carry a Zoom MS50 multi pedal.  Never forced to use it in place of Helix LT but did an impromptu bar gig with it past year driving a LoudBox and it was more than satisfying club amp sound imo.  In the unlikely event Helix died I’d be glad to have "something" small yet powerful.  

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I gig a Helix Rack.  In my rack case I have my wireless (G50) mounted behind the Helix as well as a DI box (connected to a 1/4" out) for the FOH signal.  I have an XLR cable plugged into an XLR out to send to my FRFR.  I keep the Cat5 cable for my Helix Control plugged in.  All those things are neatly prewired and ready to go.

 

I use a Columbia diaper bag to transport my Helix Control, two wireless packs for the G50, and extra batteries.  I also have my plectrums, two Dunlop mic stand pic holders, a 15' guitar cable and to 5 hour Energy drinks.

 

I bring two guitars, a Warwick Rockstand 3-guitar holder, as well as an amp stand to hold my rack.

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In my Helix backpack (which is great, btw):

 

Helix floor (duh!)

Guitar stand

Power strip

XLR cable (should carry two but usually don't have the opportunity to go stereo)

Power chord for Helix

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5 minutes ago, erniedenov said:

In my Helix backpack (which is great, btw):

 

Helix floor (duh!)

Guitar stand

Power strip

XLR cable (should carry two but usually don't have the opportunity to go stereo)

Power chord for Helix

 

What kind of power strip do you use? Power conditioner? Random power strip?

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4 hours ago, fratis said:

 

What kind of power strip do you use? Power conditioner? Random power strip?

 

Yeah, just a regular random power strip. It's just in case I'm also using my FRFR speaker and there aren't enough outlets on the stage, which rarely happens. In one band I play with, the leader doesn't want amps on stage (volume paranoia) and I just bring my Helix and go direct to FOH (and we all use in-ear monitors). It's the first time in my long career that I've been able to pack up faster than the horn players.   

 

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