Over the years I’ve detailed tools that sound techs and engineers should carry at every gig, but let’s take a look at this from another angle: tools that sound companies should have on hand at all times to insure things run as smoothly, efficiently and professionally as possible.
I’m going to skip over the obvious items such as gaff tape, adapters and spare cables. (Cough, cough… they are obvious, right?)
Larger operations often utilize an ATA workbox with drawers to house these tools, but any smaller scaled trunk or toolbox will do. It’s the tools themselves that matter, not the vehicle.
Electrical Test Equipment. A multimeter or a multitester, also known as a VOM (volt-ohm-milliammeter) for reading AC voltage is a must, especially on gigs with generators. In addition, a plug-in 3-light “cube” outlet tester, non-contact voltage tester, and circuit breaker finder set should be carried to test outlets, identify circuits, etc. (For more about testing power see my article in April 2017 LSI and/or on ProSoundWeb.)
General Tools. This includes common items that are needed more often than not, including screwdrivers, pliers, vise-grips, utility knives, hammers, small socket sets, and so on. After 3-plus decades in this business, I’m still constantly amazed by how many companies don’t carry these very basic things that can help in quickly fixing simple problems. Oh, and a cordless drill is another useful addition, accompanied by an assortment of drill and screwdriver bits.
Basic Hardware. A small plastic bin organizer containing an assortment of screws, bolts and nuts, and nails can be worth its weight in gold when a fastener is needed.
Truck Repair. We can’t work the gig if we can’t get there, so keep basic tire changing implements on hand, as well as spare parts like electrical fuses, light bulbs and even fan belts should be carried. Silicone tape can be used for an emergency repair of a split radiator hose, and a few gallons of water carried onboard can make the difference between sitting on the side of a highway at 2 am or having already unloaded back at the shop and going home.
Truck Safety. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) require commercial vehicles to carry a minimum of safety gear as prescribed in their regulations, and further, every truck, car and trailer used to carry gear should have items onboard that include reflectors, road flares and fire extinguishers.
Another Fire Extinguisher. In addition to the ones in the trucks/trailers, keep a fire extinguisher in the toolkit, especially for outdoor gigs where there are no installed units.
Basic First Aid. Be ready for the inevitable “owies” with an assortment of sizes of Band-Aids, gauze pads, and antiseptic — and don’t forget tweezers for those pesky splinters.
Tarps & Plastic Sheeting. Outdoor shows and festivals are fun until it rains. Tarps and plastic sheeting, accompanied by gaff tape, tie lines and rope, are invaluable in covering loudspeakers and electronics when the weather turns. The plastic doesn’t need to be very thick, just waterproof. Plastic drop cloths for painters work well for these applications, and they come tightly wrapped so they don’t take up much room. They’re also relatively inexpensive.
Tie Lines, a.k.a., Trick Lines. These black braided cotton cords have a myriad of uses, including keeping flown loudspeakers from swinging, hanging sponsor signage, and of course, securing plastic around gear when it starts to rain.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This includes items like lifelines, climbing harnesses, and disposable earplugs.
Batteries. AA, AAA and 9-volt spare batteries should be a staple for both sound company and client needs.
Acoustic Aiming Devices (AAD). The high-falutin’ technical term for something really simple: small pieces of black painted wood that can be placed under monitor wedges to change the coverage angle or shimmed under a tripod loudspeaker stand to level the legs on uneven terrain.