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As someone who hasn't gigged much, how do I stop thieves?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by CocoaThumper, Aug 27, 2017.

  1. CocoaThumper


    Aug 18, 2017
    Hey all,

    So I haven't gigged much in my life. Ive had a few bands I've been in during my teens and 20s, but we mostly did a few local shows at most. We we usually just friends doing the jam band thing together or hitting the studio. Back then I couldn't afford much either. I used Squiers, cheap Peaveys, and SX basses through those years. My stuff wasn't a target.

    Now I am in my early 30s, educated, making good money and finally buying some instruments worth a bit more. I am also getting more interested in jamming with people again and maybe eventually gigging (maybe even regularly). Over the years Ive read horror stories of people's basses, guitars, and all sorts of gear being stolen.

    Stolen off stage when no one was looking, stolen backstage, and even cars/vans broken into. I've seen the threads here of people sharing serial number and pictures in case someone sees their stolen bass on craigslist or in a pawnshop. This scares me a lot. And it sucks thinking Id have to hawkeye my gear all night if I go play somewhere...or feel unsafe even locking it up in a truck.

    My most expensive bass is a custom made 4 string, and while Im sure most people wouldnt have heard of the builder, it would likely be targeted for theft since its still got the Fender body style and looks snazzy. So now Ive been thinking its probably better to just gig with my $500 Fender instead. I could swallow losing a production model inexpensive bass, more than I could swallow losing a few thousand dollar custom.

    Thoughts? Or advice based on your experiences? From what I read, it seems like the truly safest place for instruments and gear is inside a home. *sigh*
  2. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    central NY state
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    perhaps it sucks, but that's basically the deal, as far as I'm concerned. Never out of my sight unless I have someone I really trust watching instead.
    Dave W, 2112, David Jayne and 19 others like this.
  3. CocoaThumper


    Aug 18, 2017
    I see youre from Central NY. I'm from NY as well. So even people in small suburban or rural areas like yours will pilfer gear? I'm closer to NYC and live in the burbs just outside the big city....so I know its risky and common down this way.

    And while my question may seem naïve. I guess I was thinking smaller town areas had nicer people.
  4. lokikallas

    lokikallas Supporting Member

    Aug 15, 2010
    los angeles
    I try to always have my gear in sight or within sight of a band mate. I don't leave stuff in the car too long, and try to park close enough for the club staff to keep an eye out. I use a mono backpack guitar case and walk around with it pre-gig sometimes just to keep it safe.
  5. Spidey2112


    Aug 3, 2016
    "... Id have to hawkeye my gear all night if I go play somewhere..."

    I'm thinking he has other things on his mind, than your gear...
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2017
  6. Spidey2112


    Aug 3, 2016
    "So even people in small suburban or rural areas like yours will pilfer gear?"

    Trust no one... well, except that guy over there... he's OK.
  7. nixdad


    Aug 15, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    I recommend having your gear insured as well. That will give you piece of mind should the worst occur.

    MusicPro is very affordable, and their customer service was fantastic. We've only had to use them once (to replace a dropped Mac laptop which was on the policy - nothing was stolen, thankfully,) and they came through with flying colors.
  8. skwee


    Apr 2, 2010
    Some might call me non chalant about it, but I feel that if you use common sense (keep your axe out of sight in your trunk if you have to leave it in the car; play with your replaceable axe, not the custom job) you can trust that people will respect the instruments on a gig.
    Make bathroom breaks in shifts if you're that worried, but I would not worry so much. That kind of concern will lead you to an early grave.
  9. garp


    Feb 7, 2009
    Connecticut USA
    +1. Be practical, not paranoid. From load-in to performance to breaks to load-out, security is a band-wide responsibility. Maintain awareness of your surroundings at all times and you'll generally be okay.
  10. LowNloud1

    LowNloud1 Commercial User

    Jun 11, 2012
    Wilmington NC
    I am a hobbyist making stone picks that I occasionally sell but mostly give away. They made me do this anyways.
    Always make sure your lead guitarist and rhythm guitarist have more expensive guitars.
    jfh2112, 2112, Coolhandjjl and 29 others like this.
  11. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    central NY state
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Nope, we have the same percentage distribution of jerks vs. decent people as urban areas - though lower overall concentration of people does mean less chance of encountering jerks to some extent, but they're out here too. :(
    S-Bigbottom likes this.
  12. eJake


    May 22, 2011
    New Orleans
    My rule is that if I'm playing a large venue or festival I may bring out a more expensive bass but if the stage is easily accessible to the whole bar stick with your reliable, cheaper gigging gear. I'd be heartbroken if I lost my #1 bass but I wouldn't be walletbroken
    Marikk, swafran and nixdad like this.
  13. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    "I don't have to outrun the bear -- I just have to outrun you!"

    I'll be here all week.
  14. Sid Fang

    Sid Fang Reformed Fusion Player Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2008
    I don't think any of my bands has ever had anything stolen from a gig, but as a teenager I roadied a lot for older friends' bands, and heard the war stories, so I went into gigging with my eyes open. Every situation is a bit different. If we're the only band on the night, we keep our gear on or near the stage where someone is always keeping an eye out. If it's a rotation of bands, I ask the venue staff what they'd recommend, and by default try to stage the gear in a corner where it's out of the way, but where anyone going and messing with it would be pretty obvious. It's mostly common sense.

    One thing worth mentioning on this thread is that many homeowners and personal goods insurance policies will NOT cover a musical instrument IF it's being used "professionally". I would never advocate lying about it, as it could be construed as inciting insurance fraud, but unless you know you're covered for paying gigs, "playing out with friends" might be a wiser turn of phrase than "gig" if, heaven forbid, someone steals your axe at a venue and you have to call it in to the insurance company.
    SirMjac28 and TheBear like this.
  15. rufus.K


    Oct 18, 2015
    just play a beater.
    jfh2112, AltGrendel, Marikk and 6 others like this.
  16. filmtex


    May 29, 2011
    First thing in to the venue-guitars, then amps and the rest. Last thing out of the venue-guitars, as I'm walking out for the last time. No exceptions. I always keep my guitars right out on the open on the stage so EVERYBODY can see them, and always have my guitarist watch them if I have to step out. Same thing for him. Teamwork. If everybody is on the same page, has their eyes open, and allows NO ONE not in the band or venue staff on the stage-ever, things generally go pretty well. This system has worked for me for over 40 years...YMMV.
    TrevorR, NG51, AltGrendel and 8 others like this.
  17. Gear theft is virtually always a crime of opportunity.

    The only way to prevent it is to remove the opportunity.

    I'm always hovering around the stage or keeping my eye on it during breaks, or I make sure a band member or a band familiar (friend, family, spouse, etc.) is watching. Strangers approaching an unattended stage is a big attention-getter with my crew.

    Load in and out is another potential opportunity. I'd rather have a band member stand guard and take a little longer to load in and out than have an unattended piece of gear stolen. Since I end up transporting the PA and lights, as we load the gear out to my vehicle, I put a guard outside to watch the pile of gear as it stacks up curbside. When loading in, the vehicle gets locked in between every trip.

    Keep your wits about you, don't leave gear unattended, don't take anything for granted, and you should be fine. If you think an area has a high potential for more aggressive crime, don't take your best axe. All my gear is replaceable, except for some of the instruments. If you're that concerned, take the SX instead.
  18. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    if you're not gigging and you have this fear maybe you just need to practice more! :thumbsup:


    $hit happens.

    eJake likes this.
  19. TheBear

    TheBear Bergantino Artist, Vibe9 IEM Artist Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2008
    Austin, TX
    Should also be mentioned that if you're concerned about your gear at a show, DON'T partake in any substance that would cause you to be less alert and aware than your sober/clean self.

    Staying sober at a gig has put me in the position of opportunity to watch over my gear and my guitarist's vintage Tele (as he likes to get toasted and loads his gear last of all), particularly when I'm alert enough to notice eyes in the audience lingering a little too long at our guitar racks.
  20. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    That's a great point and if you're thinking about getting insurance for your instruments make sure you go with a company that specializes in that industry or else you won't be getting replacement value.
    TheBear likes this.

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