Avoiding Equipment Failure
Let’s face it. Our technology is ruthless. It allows us to be wowed by it, we grow to love it, trust it, and need it. And once we get to that point, it betrays us. Besides being frustrating when it fails us, it can also be a distraction in worship. With all of the potential problems that can arise from the equipment we use to lead in worship, I try to be very proactive when it comes to the equipment that I am most directly using such as a microphone, and more specifically my guitar.
There are a few things that I try to always be prepared for when leading worship or playing live gigs. And unfortunately, I have had to learn these things the hard way. But now, I always try to prepare for small, but manageable disasters. So, here are some simple, proactive steps to always keep in mind in order to avoid an awkward moment.
Always have a spare guitar with you. Now, I would say this applies to the leader, more than anything. If I am just playing guitar for an event, I may only have one guitar. But if I am leading, I will always...ALWAYS have a spare. I’ve had people ask me over the years why I always have two guitars up there when I never even touch the other one. The reason being is if it fails you either with a broken string, battery dying, electronics going crazy, or it catches on fire (this actually happened at my church), you want to be able to quickly switch guitars and keep going.
Always have fresh and spare batteries nearby. I routinely change the batteries in my wireless microphones and my guitars, and some people even change them out every single week. Though this would be a good way to prevent a dead battery in the middle of a song, it can be expensive and tedious. I have played with my equipment enough to know what kind of battery life it has. But the bottom line is, even though I don’t change them out every single week, I stay on top of it and never let my batteries die during a live event.
Always have spare cables. I wouldn’t say that you have to have several on hand, but just in case a cable fails you, you need to be able to grab one immediately and switch it out. You don’t want to make your congregation to have to wait on you while you try to untangle miles and miles of instrument cables that you dug out of storage. Just keep a few nearby that you can grab in a pinch.
Keep fresh strings. Old strings mean dead tone. Your guitar can’t sound as good as it can with old strings. You should routinely change your strings so that you can get the best tone, but also because they are more durable. I really, really hate it when I break a string live, so I do everything I can to try to prevent that from happening. Right now, I use Elixir strings and depending on how much use the guitar gets, I like to change those out once a month to once every two months.
Use strap locks. I first started using strap locks in high school when I was in a rock band and wanted to spin my guitar around my neck...don’t judge me. As I got older, I decided to put them on my acoustic guitars too. The last thing you want to do in front of your congregation is mourn over your guitar that smashed onto the floor because the strap slipped off.