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Do you bring a backup bass to gigs?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by therealting, Mar 4, 2016.

  1. Yes - I have a matching pair

  2. Yes - I have a complementary pair (fretted/fretless, rounds/flats, 4/5, J/P)

  3. Yes - I bring three or more basses

  4. I do on certain gigs, and don't on others

  5. No - I risk it

  6. No - and I don't see it as a risk at all

Multiple votes are allowed.
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  1. Just curious about people's approaches this one. The general wisdom (which I have myself doled out) is that a professional should certainly consider bringing a backup to important gigs where downtime would be an issue.

    I sometimes bring a backup guitar to my guitar gigs since guitar strings do occasionally break, but I can't remember ever needing a backup for a bass on a gig as long as it was maintained well (and had an active/passive switch if active). I do have a somewhat complementary matching pair now (active Dingwall Super J5 with rounds, passive Dingwall Super P5 with flats, both vintage white with rosewood boards and tort pickguards).

    I do bring spare strings, backup cables and a DI.
    audreycashin likes this.
  2. Bob Clayton

    Bob Clayton My P doesn’t have flats or tort Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 14, 2001
    Philly Suburbs
    I usually do, but I don't take it out of the case. just sits off to the side/back of the stage. I wear it on my back so it's not like it takes another trip from the car.
    JimmyThunder and hrodbert696 like this.
  3. Photobassist


    Dec 18, 2010
    I've always only owned one bass at a time, and I've never needed a spare at a gig (knock on wood).

    Spare cables, strings, batteries, etc... YES!
    Dan Bass, koricancowboy and woody357 like this.
  4. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Gigs no. Tours yes.
  5. WhoSeyes


    Aug 18, 2008
    Besides strings, that may occasionally break, haven't your electronics failed in the "worst of the moments"?

    I have not gigged much myself, but I'm scared of that possible situation. And I'm not the type of guy that has a whole toolbox in the back of the car (with screwdrivers, allen wrenches, soldering iron, extra wire, etc).
  6. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    I try to have complete "disaster kits" within each bass hard case for basses currently used for gigging. This includes spare cables, a spare set of strings of the type on THAT bass, batteries (and active/passive switch is major plus), a little tuning meter, and a set of tools in a baggie that consists of all the Allen wrenches, screwdrivers, whatever needed to make ALL adjustments to THAT bass. This is not big deal as all this stuff just sits in the case compartment. In addition, the case also contains an emergency folding stand (small thing that folds like a book) so in a disaster you don't have to stand the bass in a corner. Or it may have it's actual stand which is a folding Ultimate hanging stand where I've hollowed out the case so the gig stand is always included with the bass. Each bass has it's own strap (with Dunlop straplocs) in the case too. Hence with two basses you have two straps that can interchanged. The idea is to walk in with one case like a horn player that has it all rather than schlep in a bass and then a cardboard box filled with your "emergency kit" cables and other stuff.

    I just didn't invent this stuff. I've had a falling cymbal chomp a cable. I used to have this bass where the saddles would lower themselves all night long during the gig. Without the right Allen wrench it's buzz city by the end of the gig! Batteries fail and if you don't have a spare battery AND the screwdriver/Allen wrench that opens the cover to replace that battery, disaster ensues. Straps do indeed fail. (end splits or comes off).

    But in spite of all this you STILL can have to make that trip home for a different bass! I had a bass just break a wire inside mid-gig. Dead as doornail. And no I don't carry a soldering iron/electronic bench with me to gigs. I had a pot just disintegrate to a hand full of funny parts on my Fender bass. It only takes ONE mad dash home for another bass while the gig languishes to teach you the wisdom of having a backup bass handy. "Handy" of course can mean a variety of things and it does to me too. I like to have a fretted/fretless pair on stage for some gigs. Other complimentary things can work too. If I don't want to bother with the two bass setup then the spare bass just sits in the van or backstage depending on how far away each is. Point is simple. You want to be able to reach the backup bass and get it back in use within about the time it takes for the band to take a normal break.

    And of course having done all this stuff, I find that afterwards I never needed a backup bass again! I presume the reason is that having seen that I am fully prepared, the committee in the sky doesn't bother trying to hassle me with bass failures for their own amusement.
  7. viper4000


    Aug 17, 2010
    I never paid much thought to a back up bass. Until my guitar player had an issue with the output jack on his strat. A wire had lost connection. If he brought his back up, we would not have spent 15 mins soldering it back up. Not good at a gig. Then, my damn 9V died in my active bass on the next gig and I didn't have extras (I was new to active basses). Then the post on a tuning machine broke at a rehearsal. All within a few weeks. The music gods were telling me something. I always take two basses now, even to practice. Sometimes the second one never comes out of the case like if we have a super small stage. But the back up is there none-the-less. If you have the second bass, it's really not that big of a burden to take it with you.
  8. theduke1

    theduke1 Supporting Member

    Dec 22, 2010
    Manitowoc WI
    I bring both of my G&L 2500s, because I use both during a gig not as a backup, but I guess I could play one if the other died for some reason.
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2016
    scowboy likes this.
  9. bass32


    Jan 30, 2012
    I gigged for years without a backup. I keep my basses in good shape with regular maintenance and cleaning and I've never had a problem other than having to change batteries on an active bass. (I always carry spares)
    I have often thought about it though. Especially on gigs far from home. So I purchased a Squier bass to use as a back up. Buying the Squier not only gave me an inexpensive back up, but also one that I felt okay about modding it anyway I wanted.......and I have. The only things original on the bass today is the body, neck, tuners and bridge. I even had the bass refinished.
    This is the first bass I've done something like this to and it's been fun. I now have a personalized nice looking, playing and sounding bass built to my specs, more or less. It's turned out well enough that it not only sets on stage with me, but it gets some playing time too.
  10. chris_b


    Jun 2, 2007
    If I was touring the world I'd have several of everything, but these days I only take the old one as a backup when I'm running in a new piece of gear.

    What do you guys do to break so much stuff?

    I just try to buy good gear and then look after it. Seems to work because I have never broken a string or had a bass stop working. About 30 years ago I did blow a speaker but that's the extent of my cab "issues". I did have several amps break down on me but I fixed that by moving to SS amps. Never had a problem since.

    I'd say 99.9% of the guys I play with don't have gear problems either. Brain problems maybe. Last week the guitarist forgot to bring his leads and pedals and the week before the drummer forgot his stool.
  11. MoeTown1986

    MoeTown1986 Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2010
    SoMD (Mechanicsville)
    Always have one tuned standard and one tuned Eb.
    Last Rebel, Clark Westfield and City like this.
  12. 2saddleslab

    2saddleslab Supporting Member

    May 30, 2003
    Two basses when playing both standard tuning and 1/2 step down. One bass otherwise with the exception of the rare high profile gig, better safe than sorry.
    Mike A likes this.
  13. RattleSnack

    RattleSnack Supporting Member

    Sep 22, 2011
    Did it only twice, when I played large venues last year. For small local gigs, I don't bother, because my guitars are reliable. At worst, I play localy so my home is 15-20 minutes away.
    pappabass likes this.
  14. Photobassist


    Dec 18, 2010
    My thoughts exactly.
  15. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    Unless I don't have the space due to bringing others' gear, or it's a short open mic set, I bring a backup. I usually bring a complementary pair, either 4/5 or J/P (an SB-2). I've been playing in original bands for many years, which usually have short sets, 45 minutes or less, so if I take the time to fix something, our set disappears and much crankiness ensues. I need to be able to grab another bass and get going.

    I've recently joined a cover band that plays three-set nights and takes long breaks between sets. I'll still bring a backup, but if something goes wrong there, I could take the time to fix it without ruining the gig.
  16. stonewall


    Jun 14, 2010
    i havnt in the past but i am now going to start bringing a spare.Not only for breakdown purposes.I recently added a 4th bass to my family now im like what bass do i wanna play tonight LOL.If i bring a second bass i guess i could play one first set switch it up for the second and then decide what bass to end the night with.Ya im in on that. :)
    Timmy-Watts likes this.
  17. Old Fart

    Old Fart

    Mar 11, 2011
    I always bring two when I don't bring three. I might play a P all night, or a J all night, but I often have the fretless there as well. Those three....a P and a J and a fretless....they don't sound the same. If I were assembling the setlists, I would pack several J songs together, pack the P songs together and pack the fretless songs together. I will use the 'wrong' bass on songs if the alternative is switching basses every song or two. I won't do that. I'll switch maybe once during the set, if the songs are organized in a way that that makes sense.
  18. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    I keep my gear up. So, I don't think there's a need to.
    koricancowboy and pappabass like this.
  19. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    I always bring a spare and have never needed it. But I don't want to wind up at a gig where I do need the backup and don't have it.
    FenderJazz1989 and TimboZ like this.
  20. 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.
    I had a set up done on my bass when I changed to new a gauge strings. Right towards the end of the last set, a set screw on the saddle of my G fell out. It had vibrated loose and just fell out. Saddle dropped, string was useless.

    2 string failures over hundreds of performances.

    Not often but if you are a gigging musician, best to be prepared. So yeah, unexpected crap happens.

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