Bent Out of Shape: Tour Diary, Part 1 — Travel Tips
Today I present the first installment of a new series of columns documenting my touring activities with White Wizzard as we make our way across Europe over the next month.
My goal is to provide some insight into what goes on behind the scenes with a touring band — and also to offer tips and advice. You might remember one of my earlier columns, which offered general touring tips for independent bands. Hopefully I'll be able to go into more detail and cover more space with this series.
I'm writing this from my hometown of Devon, England, where I'm spending a few days before the tour to make sure I'm fully prepared and equipped with the necessary supplies. For this first entry, I'm going to cover my journey from Los Angeles to London and give you some tips for flying with musical instruments. It might not be as exciting as when I get into the actual tour, but it will demonstrate the type of planning you are likely to encounter when flying.
So here are a few general tips. I've also made an accompanying video.
01. Always carry your guitar onto the plane. This one probably seems obvious, but even if you are flying with more than one, you should make sure your main guitar is with you on the plane. Most airlines allow you to bring special items like musical instruments onto planes and will store them in closets at the front of the cabin. It's much better to know your guitar is safe with you, as opposed to checking it in, which raises the risk of its being lost or damaged.
02. Make sure you have all the necessary accessories needed for your tour — and budget your strings. There's nothing worse than being in a foreign country where you don't speak the language and need to buy guitar accessories. You'll be lucky to find a guitar store in most cases. It's far better to plan ahead and make sure you bring everything you're likely to need. When touring. I always bring enough sets of strings for the whole tour. in addition to picks and other accessories.
03. Make sure your guitar is fully protected, physically and financially. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you might be forced to check your guitar when flying. Even when driving from gig to gig, there's always the risk of someone dropping your guitar case — or the guitar falling out the back of a trailer. I always add extra padding around my guitar, particularly the headstock (See the video). You should make sure you have a strong, sturdy case for all your guitars. You also should make sure your guitar is fully insured and your policy covers your instrument in foreign countries. There are insurance companies that specialize in musical instruments, and the policies aren't very expensive.
04. Put your contact details in your guitar case. This is something I've started doing whenever I fly to another country. I put my contact details, such as name, email and phone number, with all of my guitars just in case they are lost. If you're lucky, someone might try to return your guitar. If you don't have any contact details, it would be impossible for them to do so.
I hope you find some this information useful. Soon I'll be heading off to Brighton, England, for the first gig. Cheers!
Will Wallner is a guitarist from England who now lives in Los Angeles. He recently signed a solo deal with Polish record label Metal Mind Productions for the release of his debut album, which features influential musicians from hard rock and heavy metal. He also is the lead guitarist for White Wizzard (Earache Records) and toured Japan, the US and Canada in 2012. Follow Will on Facebook and Twitter.