I use some of this stuff only in the studio and some come with me to every gig. There are some lifesavers in there that may be useful for you to consider…
Feel free to comment with your essential recommendations!
Markbass Bass Keeper Strap
This is my favourite accessory of all! It’s so simple but useful. I strap it to the side of my stacked combo and it holds my bass flat against the mini stack. For most gigs I love gear that is lightweight and packed easily. If you want something compact and easy to pack that will hold your bass safely then get one of these.
TC Electronic PolyTune Clip
I use this live and in the studio. They are accurate and allow you to tune silently. The Snark tuners are a great cheaper alternative. It’s easy to use and saves having to setup a pedal tuner.
Tony Levin Funk Fingers
Made famous by the great Tony Levin these are attached to your fingers via straps and allow you to essentially drum on the strings. The result is an aggressive, unique sound.
Barker Bass Mute
You can (and probably should) make something like this yourself but I was just feeling lazy. You can use a household sponge and/or foam. One of these tucked under the strings by the bridge creates a really cool muted sound. In fact early Fenders had something similar under the bridge covers, contributing to a sound that was on many, many hits from the 60s onwards. That sound is still great for many applications especially in Hip Hop. I don’t think Barker Bass is around anymore so make your own!
Gruv Gear FretWraps
You wrap these handy gizmos around the neck of your bass by the headstock. They come in different sizes and are especially useful for taming unwanted open string noise when slapping. I’ve used these in the studio when I need a clean and pristine sound. They give you the confidence to go for it a bit more without worrying too much about those pesky open strings.
Music Nomad F-ONE Fretboard Oil Cleaner and Conditioner
I own a variety of basses with different necks – maple, rosewood, wenge and ebony. This stuff is safe to use on all (not all fretboard cleaners are safe to use on certain woods).
Dr.Duck’s Ax Wax & String Lube
Great cleaner for your bass and contains no nasty stuff to harm your precious instrument. Also has a great name.
Servisol Super 10
The correct stuff to use to clean crackly pots and switches.
Comfort Strapp Bass Guitar Strap
Make sure you buy a comfortable strap for those long sets. Something like this that has a wide strap and distributes the weight evenly. I actually also use wide Levy’s leather straps but, whatever you go for, it’s worth the money getting one that you find comfortable.
Jim Dunlop Straplok
I’ve used many different brands’ versions and I find these to be the best and have them on all my basses. You need to fit some of the parts onto your strap which can then only be used with bass with Dunlop Straploks. But, if you forget that strap you can still use a normal strap in the usual way. The two other locking systems I have used both failed resulting in falling basses! These have never ever let me (or my bass) down.
Jim Dunlop Dunlop 462P.73
The great Bobby Vega uses these so I do too. I actually have a large collection of different materials and widths because they do sound different but I do like these. Get a variety of brands/widths and materials as they really do alter the tone albeit often in a subtle way.
StageTrix Setting Saver
Does exactly what it says. Easily removable green fluorescent ink that can be used on pedals, rack gear, amps etc to save the setting you want. You can then see what you’re doing on a darkened stage.
Probably the most important of all. Hearing problems are no joke and it is worth investing in a good set of plugs. I use these ones by ACS and they cost over £100 including getting the custom moulds done. I wish I had these earlier as I developed tinnitus at the age of 21 due to loud rehearsals and no ear protection. Not fun.
They just bring the volume down without you losing too much definition. When using earplugs it’s a great idea to start playing with them in, as putting them in afterwards can disorientate you a little. The perceived drop in volume can freak you out a bit if you don’t start with them in.
If you consider how important your ears are as a musician then it’s not much to ask to fork out for a decent pair of plugs. Think how much you spend on pedals and amps – the very things that damage your ears!
However, a budget set will be fine and there are loads that do a great job (just without the excellent fit of a custom set).
These Isolates from Flare Audio are good.