The right tools for the job: Workbox essentials.

Choosing what to pack in a small workbox before you leave for a gig can be a little stressful at times. This is especially true if you are just starting out,  working for a new client, or you have lined up some one-offs. You may not always know exactly what you are in for until you actually get to the gig. Being able to do a lot with a little can make you that much more valuable – be the go to person who is always prepared.

you should take into consideration a few possible scenarios.

You may find you are the only tech for an entire band…

You might have been told that you just need to focus on one player since the other players are expected to take care of themselves.

In theory this may work for some players/bands or “hired guns” just fine but when the show starts and something goes wrong – ‘all bets are off’.

You may have been hired under the notion that you are there to do one specific job but it is best to be ready for any unconventional circumstances that may arise.

You conceivably will find that on most gigs you are a part of a team and should be prepared to jump in and help with a multitude of situations. Being prepared is your ultimate asset.

Plenty of times you will need to fly into a gig with your own personal workbox.

Since you will need tools in this package you will most likely need to check it in. Due to baggage handler limits, which differ around the world, you’ll want to make sure your loaded workbox is under 50 lbs.

   → A “small” hand carry workbox is preferable

A tabletop guitar tech box is just right for essentials

→ You could also use a pelican 1510

Even a classic hand carry tool bag will do the job


Keeping your workbox organized is just about as important as having the right tools. If you can’t find what you need quickly you might as well not look for it a lot of the time. Before you start filling your workbox up, come up with an organizational strategy.

Zip up bank pouches or microphone bags can be a good way to separate workbox contents into “departments”

one for screw drivers, one for a soldering kit, one for small parts etc…

what to pack.

Now that you’ve sorted out what to carry your tools in, you’re going to need to fill it up. There are tons of things that may come in handy but if you do not have the luxury of a large tech box you will need to be selective. Knowing how to do a lot with a little goes a really long ways in this business. There are things that will be must-haves so that you can deal with whatever comes your way. Break it down to survival mode style. Be ready for the gig by looking at the big picture.

here is a list that can serve as the baseline for a tech box

– screwdrivers

 large 4-in-1

  small 2-in-1

 precision set

– quick adjust wrench

robo grip wrench (good for multiple situations)

– needle nose pliers

– wire cutters

– wire stripper

– allen keys

– small soldering kit w/ solder

→ and the knowledge to use it 

– super glue

– multimeter

→ and the knowledge to use it 

multi tool

– measuring tape

– pocket knife

– electrical tape

– gaff tape

a half used up roll will weigh less and take up less space

– ground lifts

– flashlight aka torch

– head light

– clip light

– zip ties

– scissors

– lighter

– pencil/pens

– sharpies

 assortment of colors

– ear plugs

– spare phone charger

– small notebook

– toothbrush

– bottle opener

– work gloves

– pain reliever

Keep in mind that titles are sometimes used loosely, think about the responsibilities of closely related positions and what you can bring that may be helpful.

if you are hired as a FOH engineer for some club dates, you may be expected to help troubleshoot a problem with the monitors even though they may not be your responsiblity.


→ If you are hired as a “guitar tech” you may be expected to help with ALL of the players and not just the guitarist. Some people use the term “guitar tech” and they really mean “backline tech who pays extra attention to the guitars.”

here is an example list of additions a well prepared backline tech should consider

– chromatic tuner

– secondary/backup tuner

→todays smart phones are capable of many things, you can use an iRig and a tuner app in a pinch.

– neck stand

– drumsticks

drum keys

– always have more than one.

– moongel

– kick drum beater pad

– string winder

– wire cutters

– truss rod sockets

– cleaning cloth

– assorted screws, nuts, bolts

– glue


with limited space you can transfer the glue to a smaller container than it comes in.


Applicator pipettes


– barrel connectors (1/4″, midi, RCA)

– short cables assortment

– fuze assortment

– nut lubricant

– drum felts/washers/wing nuts/lugs

– HH clutch

– guitar strap

– paint brush (clean)

– electronic spray clean

– headphones/ in ears monitors

– small hand drill ( if it fits)

– mini amp (cigarette amp)

→a smartphone can help in a pinch, with an iRig and an amp emulator app you can use headphones to listen to whats happening.

– metal files

– feeler gauges

– batteries assortment

– 9v power supply

– Velcro

– Banana plug

– Female 1/8″ stereo to 1/4″ male  (headphone adapter)

– two – 1/4″ female to RCA adapter – DJ gear

– string winder

– Guitar picks

– Capo

– Rack screws

– A/B/Y selector

– Tweezers

– Edison (flat pin) female to schuko (round pin) male converter if USA tech, opposite for European tech.

– Flat tooth picks (shims for screw holes)

– Neutrik to 1/4″ female converter (NA4LJX Adapter)

– midi to usb adaptor

you can use this to backup and restore many keyboards, drum electronics and guitar effects.

– usb sticks

you can back up many different keyboards and drum electronics via a usb memory stick.

 What’s in your work box?

#workboxwednesday #thistourlife


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 Every sale of our “Flag” design merch donates $5 to touring based charities in hopes of doing our continued part in supporting the mental and physical health of our music touring community.

Help support Our Community by looking fresh

 every sale of our “Flag” design merch donates $5 to touring based charities in hopes of doing our continued part in supporting the mental and physical health of our music touring community.


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