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Essentials with Phil King

I’m just putting my feet up after six shows in six days in London and southern England. There’s been plenty of performing variety and you never know quite what to expect when you show up at the venue. Still, I know exactly what I would put in my ideal “gig bag”:

AER Compact 60 Amp.
This is one of the smallest and lightest amps I’ve ever seen.  It’s specifically designed for acoustic instruments and the voice.  I’ve had mine for five years and it’s served me well for almost 1,000 gigs! It is simply the best sounding amp I’ve come across and it enables me to control EQ, reverb and volume levels on stage—whether or not it’s going through a PA. My AER has two inputs: one for the mic and one for my guitar. When I show up at a large venue I use it as my monitor; the sound is very directional—it doesn’t spread around but just punches straight out in front. If there’s a sound engineer at the gig, I will set it at level and then work the EQ while I’m on stage. If I’m doing a gig with a drummer and a bass player in a venue where they don’t have a PA, it will carry me over the drums no problem. For a small speaker it really packs a hell of a punch.

An Extension Lead
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve turned up at a gig and they tell me to set up “over there”.  Why is it that “over there” is always 10 meters away from the nearest power outlet? I have to rush around and find a power lead or plead to set up in a different place—this is the kind of stuff that stresses me out; I’d rather set up, sit down in a quiet place and have a drink before I perform.  Now I’ve got a heavy-duty 10-meter DYI type of extension with 4 sockets.  It’s the wind-up kind. Don’t buy a cheap one: it will crack when you’re loading the van and it gets caught under the bass drum.

My Mailing List
If you are trying to build up a fan base, the best time is during the ten minutes right after you’ve finished playing. All you need is a clipboard and a sheet with just two columns: “name” and “email”.  Don’t rely upon people simply remembering to visit your website the next day. Your audience leaves the venue late at night, goes home, goes to bed, wakes up the next day and attends to their lives—the chance that they will forget about you is high.  If I have their email I can send them links to MySpace, iTunes, etc. They’re usually happy to get this email—after all, they signed my list.  I now have 1,500 names/emails on my list (it grew by another seventy-five last week) and as a result, I’m selling more albums online than ever before.  Remember: tie a pen to the clipboard.

Nail File
This one is for all of you singer-guitarists. I play with a little bit of “nail” which gives me a nice, bright tone. I’ve been in the situation of getting stuff out of the car and breaking one of my nails—the resulting jagged nail produces a less-than-ideal sound.  It might not be anything that people in the audience would notice, but it occupies my mind while I’m playing. I suppose a nail file could come in handy if you need to break out of jail, but mine’s just the emery board type…

Spare Everything….
If I can foresee anything going wrong with any piece of equipment, I have a spare.  Spare picks, spare batteries, spare leads for everything that needs a lead; I always carry around my Shure SM58 and XLR leads—you never know. I even have my own Beyer Dynamic mic stand in the car because even if the venue says they have their own, sometimes they’re crap. I’ve found myself supplying my spares to other musicians I’m playing with—they’re grateful and the fact that they have what they need makes me feel good about the performance.

Useful Links

Phil King’s Website

AER Compact 60 Amp

Extension Lead

Nail File

Beyer Dynamic Mic Stand

Related Videos

Phil King: Getting Vocal Gigs – Vocalist Insight 4

Phil King: Getting In With the Venue Manager – Vocalist Insight 5


Phil King is a singer-songwriter from Bristol who is currently receiving national attention. He has supported many touring artists, including Amp Fiddler, Kate Walsh, Jon Allen, Foy Vance, Karima Francis, Emmy the Great, Ruby Turner, Chris Farlowe and Tina Dico, and has shared the stage with many other great artists including Beth Rowley and Alice Russell. Phil performs all over the UK, plays a part in many of the major musical festivals and performs with the Forster King Band and Backyard. Phil’s albums, Leaves and They Come and They Go are available throughiTunes ) or (Link to Phil’s site ).