String Break, System Crash, Show Must Go On

I broke a guitar string during a big gig…nearly 25 year ago…

…as a result, I’m regularly asked to perform live technical demos.

Let me explain…

I grew up playing in a band. My first big gig was at a “Battle of the Bands” contest, where we had only one song to show our skills…

We start: the song I wrote sounds strong…the chorus ends and I’m just about to go into the big solo and…

…my high E string breaks.

That’s bad. What’s worse is I’m playing my Charvel with a tremelo and all the strings are tuned relying on the tension of each other…and when one breaks, the tension moves from the broken string to the other strings.

Now, while this sounds noble and all ‘how a team should work’, but in this case it just made my whole guitar awful. I was lost, frustrated, and the song completely failed. The solo was awful, and since I didn’t know how badly the guitar was out of tune, I just played with my normal hand positioning…terrible. Not playing anything would have sounded better.

I was not prepared for the worst, I did not have a backup plan, and I did not have the experience in doing the best with what I had at that second.

What I learned:

Since then, I prepare for the worst during live events. For technical demos, I bring backups:  Backup demo systems, backup pre-recorded movies, and even backup slides on an iPad.

Overkill? Lets see: My primary system has failed. My backup system has not, but the wifi to CONNECT to that backup system did. Once I did the whole demo to a pre-recorded movie. Another time I worked with a crippled system, verbalizing much of what I would have done while moving my mouse around a limited system.

I’ve learned that effective presentation is putting on a good show. Sometimes shows props will fail, but the show must go on. So plan, practice, and prepare for the worst. You may never need your backups, but you’ll never regret having them.

How about you? What event caused you to plan, practice, and prepare?

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3 thoughts on “String Break, System Crash, Show Must Go On

  1. Thanks! (I think). Or I’m replying to my first spam comment. Either way, welcome to HinterVision and I hope we can start sharing experiences in inventing, speaking, demoing, and user experience 🙂

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