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Sound Advice

What’s In Your Tool Kit? By Blair Francey


Regardless of whether you tech full time or just for fun, you should always expect the unexpected. One of the best ways to prepare for a gig is to put together a tool kit that covers as many technical issues as you think prudent. I’ve put mine together over 20 years of troubleshooting. This is the list of the tools that I take to every show:

  • AC outlet polarity tester
  • Battery-powered multimeter
  • Screwdriver with interchangeable bits
  • Combination wire cutter/stripper/crimping tool
  • Small locking pliers, hole reaming tool, and fuse removal tool
  • Miniature screwdriver, nut driver set, and miniature awl
  • Allen wrench set up to 3/8″, Torx bits, right-angle Phillips screwdriver
  • Metric and Imperial socket set with ratchet driver and extension
  • LED flashlight, measuring tape, Sharpies, pens, and pencils
  • Drum keys
  • Assorted XLR, 1/4″, 1/8″, and banana plug connectors and adapters
  • Nylon cable ties, cable shrink wrap, and tape head cleaning swabs
  • 10/32″ rack screws, and miscellaneous fasteners and washers
  • Assorted picks, fuses, guitar hardware, pots, strap pins, etc.
  • Vacuum tubes: 2 x 6L6GC, 3 x 12AX7, 1 x 12 AT7, 1 x ECC83
  • Co-axial and Cat-5 inline couplers, and USB to PS/2 keyboard adapter
  • Video adapters: DVI-F to VGA-M, DVI-M to VGA-F, and DVI-M to HDMI
  • 45-watt pencil soldering iron
  • 2 GB USB memory stick

Everything listed above fits in one 7.5″ x 14″ x 11.5″ plastic tool case that weighs about 25 lbs. fully loaded.

I also take a second road case containing the following:

  • Passive and active DIs
  • Headphones
  • SPL meter
  • Guitar tuner
  • Spare microphones, stands, and analog audio cables
  • FireWire, USB, and digital audio cables
  • Masking, gaffers, and coloured electrical tape
  • Laser distance meter
  • Power conditioner
  • Extension cords, IEC power cables, and power bars
  • Clipboard, paper, input list, stage plot, tech rider, and contact list for performers and venue

An industry colleague suggested I add fibre optic cables and couplers and a laptop computer with software to perform RTA and RF analysis. Welcome to the future!
Customize this list to fit your needs and remember, this is a small community; if you’re honest, dependable, work hard, and rise to the challenge, you will earn a reputation as a “go to” person. When that happens, work will find you.

Blair Francey joined his first band as a guitarist and vocalist while attending the University of Western Ontario over 30 years ago. His love of music combined with his desire to understand audio production theory, techniques, and equipment have remained an important part of his life. He is currently a Pro Audio Product Specialist for Music Marketing Inc. in Toronto, provides audio production and recording services in southern Ontario, and is a Member of the AES Toronto Chapter.

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