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Full-Metal Prep: The Value Of A Well-Appointed Workbox At Every Gig

Numerous things that help solve the various challenges faces when setting up complex audio systems in different venues.

Radios – We bring several 2-way radios loaded with our licensed business frequencies, chargers and remote microphones just in case the crew or clients need radios at the event site.

Headphones – They’re famous for “growing legs” and walking away at the end of gigs, so we keep a pair in the workbox in case the ones that live in the audio racks decide to take a stroll.

Batteries and Battery Tester – A variety of AA, AAA, C, D and 9-volt batteries are available in the workbox, along with a tester. While we don’t have any gear that uses C or D cells, we still have clients who need them on occasion.

Desk Lamps – They come in handy for reading a script at front of house during a show when the house lights are down, as well as for clients working backstage. We like JANSJO 24-inch gooseneck desk lamps, available from IKEA.

Clip-On Lights – The type we prefer have metal reflectors can take standard or LED Edison base bulbs – they come in handy for lighting up backstage areas, especially stage steps. One trick we employ is to tape a blue or red lighting gel over the light so it’s not so bright. A few music stand lights and thin brown extension cords round out the light fixture inventory, and also onboard is a box of 60-watt Edison bulbs and “T” shaped bulbs for the music stand lights.

Flashlights and Area Lights – While every tech should always carry a personal flashlight, we also keep a few Harbor Freight 63601 LED lights around. They offer a choice of a compact flashlight beam or an area light and can be mounted via a fold-out in hook or with the built-in magnet.

Office Supplies – Sharpies, pens, highlighters, pads of paper, cellophane tape and Post-It notes live in a box in a drawer. In addition to the standard black ink Sharpies, gold and/or silver ink ones allow writing on black gaff tape. Highlighters and colored pencils come in handy for marking cues on scripts.

First Aid Kit – While all of our trucks have a comprehensive kit, we also keep a basic kit in the box that has adhesive bandages (Band-Aids), 4 x 4 pads, gauze, antiseptic, splinter tweezers, aspirin and other pain relievers (Aleve, to be specific).

Basic Hand Tools – Sometimes we need more than a multitool or pocketknife, so a basic set of full-size hand tools can save the day. At a minimum we bring full-size and stubby screwdrivers, an adjustable wrench, pliers, channel locks, needle-nose pliers, diagonal cutters, wire strippers, scissors, utility knife, torpedo level and a 25-foot tape measure.

Ten-drawer units from OSP Cases that can hold and organize a lot of gear.

Sockets and Wrench Set
– Every few gigs we find the need for a socket or would prefer to use a sized wrench instead of an adjustable one, so we started carrying both a basic 3/8-inch drive socket set and wrench kit in SAE and Metric. A pair of 1/2-inch drive ratchet with 15/16-inch deep sockets are available for truss bolts.

Saws – Specifically, a Stanley hacksaw and short wood saw from Buck Bros are available for cutting duty.

Distance Measuring — Also along for every show is a 100-foot measuring tape as well as a Fluke 414D laser distance measure. Both come in handy for laying out stages, positioning rigging and setting trim heights.

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Soldering Kit – A basic iron, stand and a roll of solder can save the day in helping to get a piece of gear or cable back up and running right. In fact, we just added a cordless battery powered iron from Ryobi to the box. Before that, we carried a small butane-powered unit.

Assorted Hardware – Finish nails (perfect for wedging between the top door trim and the wall to secure cables that have to go over doorways), various sizes of drywall screws, small washers, rack screws – dozens of times every year, at least one of these items save the day.

Shims and Plywood – In addition to our “Acoustic Aiming Devices” box of black painted wood that allows positioning loudspeakers (and are perfect for getting cabinets off the ground outdoors in the rain), we also have a few wood shims and some plywood squares to help level or position loudspeakers, stands and staging.

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