Lessons about performing, lesson 39: Case closed!

Y’all know what I’m doing, right? I mean, this is the 39th entry on this damned list. I really shouldn’t have to explain it to you nearly every day!

I should seriously plan these things out better. The sloppiness of this is entirely my fault. There is nobody to blame but me – and possibly the lazier people who came before me and didn’t actually write this shit down.

What didn’t they write down? The list of rules you should follow if you want to actually make a living as a performer. It’s not gonna make you a rock star, but it might mean you don’t have to eat pasta and butter every night.

Here, read the full damned list. It might be up to date, it might not be. It was up to date the other day but you’ll have to forgive me for having other things with higher priorities. It’s probably never going to be complete – until the series is done.

When is the series over? Buggered if I know. It’s over when I run out of ideas. I actually get quite a few ideas from you folks (my dear readers) and turn ’em into lessons.

Not this one, however. This one I had to come up with all on my own. I got not one iota of help, you unhelpful bastards. Seriously, help me out! I’m running low on ideas and could use some fresh eyeballs and thoughts. There’s a contact form and you (yes you, you personally) should use it.

Seriously, click here and send me a message. You can even throw in gratuitous insults. I ain’t scared. I ain’t even smart enough to be scared! No, really, I’m running low on ideas.

What you might not have noticed is you’ve had a new article – every single day – for over two months now. That’s right. We’re fucking productive. (Y’all chew through some bandwidth, too. But, I digress.) Anyhow, it’s been two months and I’ve had some help along the way (for which I’m very grateful, as are my dear readers) but the ol’ idea bucket is running a bit dry.

Am I ranting? Yes, yes I am. Why? ‘Cause I’m getting good at these damned intros! Ha! I had a madness to my method all along!

Rule #39: Hard cases are mandatory!

I’m going to try to make this one fairly brief but it’s amazing how often I see people make this mistake and it’s amazing how often I see guitars in the shop for needless repairs.

People sometimes ask what you’d change in history if you could go  back and change just one thing. Some folks want to establish world peace by making a single change, such as advising or killing a politician. Me? I have a more useful (and realistic) thing that I’d change.

If I could go back in history and find the stupid son-of-a-bitch that invented the name ‘gig bag’ then I’d slap them so hard their future children would flinch. If there are two words that don’t belong in the same sentence, except for the purposes of mockery, then those two are they.

No. Just no.

If you’re new and starting out, spend the $150 to get a well fitting hard-shell case (preferably made of metal) for your guitar. Seriously. That’s not a suggestion.

If you’re going out gigging, don’t use a fucking bag. That’s just stupid.

Whoever came up with the idea of a gig bag was possibly the dumbest person to ever work in the industry. Whoever agreed to it was second dumbest. Unfortunately, this has caused all sorts of other people to do stupid things – like protect their $2,000 guitar with nothing but a bit of nylon and a logo.

No, your padded gig bag is not acceptable. No, the patches you ironed onto it don’t actually give it a +2 savings throw vs. drunken idiots.

Seriously. Whose bright idea was this?

A gig bag is useful for people who live in small apartments and never plan on having anyone visit or taking their guitar out of their house. Even then, there’s a dozen better ways to store your guitar and using a bag for it is just asking for an accident to happen.

If I’m auditioning you and you show up with a gig bag – and claim to have even an iota of experience, you’re not making it into the band. If you show up at the local open mic night and you’ve only got a gig bag, you’ll learn. Oh, will you learn.

You may very well cry when you learn this lesson.

If it’s not a bolt-on neck, you may seriously cry. If it’s an acoustic, there’s no repairing some of the damage that may be done. You might just as well as throw that $7,000 Martin right into the trash. Hell, you probably should have just bought it, stomped right on the top, and thrown it straight in the trash to begin with. It’d save you some time.

You think I’m kidding? I’m not…

I’ve seen guitars worth that much, and more, tossed into a gig bag and thrown into a trunk. I watched a guy fly with (I asked him what it was) a 1930s Martin, some model or other, in a gig bag. He didn’t even carry it on. Nope. He threw that right into the damned cargo hold. He may have gotten lucky. I don’t know. I made it a point to never talk to him again.

I’d like to say this is obvious – but I see it so many times!

If I buy a guitar, any guitar, and it comes with a gig bag? The first thing I do is look for some way to give it away. I sure as shit didn’t buy a guitar without getting the appropriate case for it. I consider that part of the purchase price for a guitar. When I see the price of a guitar, I automatically factor in the price for a case.

And, I use some pretty snazzy cases. I’ll avoid recommending a brand ’cause, you know, they’re made of metal and hard plastic. It’s pretty hard to go wrong with this choice. This isn’t actually something that’s all that complicated. Y’all pick whatever damned vendor you want, but don’t use a gig bag.

If anyone knows who came up with the idea of a gig bag, do please let me know. I have some choice words for them and might like a few minutes of alone-time with them. I’ve no idea how many times I’ve seen people lugging their guitar in a gig bag, but even once was too many.

I don’t even want you walking out the music store with it. Give it to the guy behind the counter. Throw the damned thing right into their trash as a way of protesting the stupidity that is a gig bag. Make a show of it, if you want. The idea is just stupid and we’re not stupid people on this site. No, we’re not.

We’re smart enough to realize we’ve got a lot of money invested in our instruments and, more importantly, we actually need to have them in working order to make a living. Shit, even my microphones have hard cases!

Yeah, it’s kind of important to have your instrument in good working order. You kind of need it to play. The audience isn’t going to be all that pleased with, “So, my guitar was in a gig bag and it fell off the back of the truck. I’m gonna just stand here and play air-guitar. Hope you don’t mind!”

Don’t make this mistake. Please? Appreciate your instrument, regardless of the cost. Take care of it. I’ve put guitars into cases that cost me more than the guitar itself cost me. Before you scoff and say that’s stupidly expensive, I’d like to point out that I’m not the one with the history of broken guitars! (At least not while they were in cases!)

Hmm… This was longer than I expected, but I knew I was going to rant a bit. I strongly, strongly urge you to get good cases – and absolutely insist it’s a rule if you’re going to subject your instrument to the hardship of performances. It’s such a basic thing and it’s a very, very common mistake.

Accidents will happen and instruments will get dropped, stepped on, and mistreated in ways you never even imagined. Good cases aren’t even that expensive and I just assume they’re part of the purchase price and process.

I see no valuable function for a gig bag and I think the invention of such has led to more troubles than the invention of auto-tune. It was a stupid idea then. It’s a stupid idea now. Don’t buy a guitar (or any instrument) without an adequately protective case. Until next time…

Shut up and play us a song!

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