I’m attracted to the simplicity of acoustic guitar – just steel and wood, fingers and tone. There’s no hiding and, perhaps more importantly, there’s not many distractions. Just good, clean playing. And yet, even as acoustic players, we buy effects pedals and pedalboards, capos and tuners, and the list goes on. So how do we stay organized so that we can maintain that distraction-free, good, clean playing? Here’s a few tips:
1. Get a Guitar Case
A nice, simple gig bag will work wonders. You don’t need a hard case, necessarily. There are a lot of good soft cases with enough padding to protect your acoustic guitar. The point, though, is to have some pockets for storage. This is where you can keep a “minimalist” supply of equipment you need handy – picks, a ¼” cable, strap, and tuner.
2. Get a Separate Bag for Loose Ends
There are a lot of products for guitars, and many of them are quite useful. For example, a humidifier for those dry winter months, or an extra long ¼” cable for deep stages, etc. But you don’t want to carry those in your gig bag, and remembering to put them all in the back of your car is a hassle. It’s best to have a backpack or small duffle bag that has all of your secondary gear, ready to go and easy to handle.
3. Get Some Zip Ties
A lot of the clutter in any guitarists setup is…. you guessed it: cables. Cable craziness creates several problems:
- It creates a sense of clutter, which affects your mental clarity,
- It increases the hazard of tripping, or accidentally pulling out a cable, and
- It makes the sound tech and fellow musicians life more difficult when they have navigate your mess to do their job.
Having the ability to quickly zip tie together a loose coil of cables or power cords is a simple way to quickly bring order and reduce the chance of problems.
4. Get a Place to Store It
Have a place in your apartment or house where your gear goes. Establish a place where you put your gear away. A closet, a room, a corner – it doesn’t have to be fancy. And it doesn’t need to be set up for playing (though that is helpful). It just needs to be a place where you know you can quickly grab everything at once. Finding a place is usually not a problem, the difficulty is in remaining disciplined to always put things back there. If you can keep up the discipline, it will solve a hundred cases of frantic, last-minute searches as you scramble to grab your gear and get out the door.
5. Get a Pedalboard
If you use a number of effects pedals – even just a pedal tuner and reverb pedal, perhaps – it’s worth keeping those organized with a pedalboard. A pedalboard allows you to strap those pedals down onto a small board and even keep cabling (¼” patch cables as well as power cables) in place. There’s two basic benefits to using a pedalboard: 1) It makes setup and cleanup of your rig more efficient, and 2) it minimizes the likelihood of errors from mis-connected cables, missing power adapters, etc.
The Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with…Well, 5 Steps.
Can you do more to keep your acoustic guitar setup organized? Sure. Using a binder for sheet music, and baggies for picks, and multi-guitar rack stands for tight stages – these are all great ideas. And, of course, there are many more.
But these five tips will get you miles closer to keeping a clean set up. And a clean setup will remove distractions, prevent mistakes, and nudge you back towards your first love – that clarity and simplicity of acoustic guitar that we love so much.