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Why Duct Tape is a Musician’s Best Friend

And you thought it was exclusive to Cheezyrydr and Red Green.




After your guitar, amp and signal chain, there’s only one absolutely essential item that should be in your gig bag: duct tape. From making quick repairs to gagging the drummer during long drives, duct tape is irreplaceable for its versatility and crisis solving powers.

It’s not surprising that duct tape, despite its name, initially had a military application. The stuff’s that good! This cloth-backed pressure sensitive tape coated with polyethylene was first used to seal ammo cases, keeping the gunpowder dry, during World War II.

This wondrous tool’s name actually comes from the duct or “duck” cloth originally used in its manufacture, not because of any HVAC applications. So if it can keep ammo dry, be transformed into prom couture and assist in auto customizing, this list of 10 ways that duct tape can help keep you and your band firing on all cylinders on the road just scratches the surface.

• Accident prevention: This one’s basic, but, if you’ve got the time, tape down all the cables you need to traverse on stage. Taping your guitar and amp cables on either side of your pedal board can prevent embarrassing unplugging incidents, but, more important, if your cables are taped to the floor you’re not going to get the top of your foot under them and trip. Falling down on stage never looks cool, especially if you come up bloody.

• Anchoring accessories and amps: If you put a few stomp boxes down sans pedal board, tape them in place front and back so they don’t slide and or disconnect when you step on them. Also, there are times when your gear could use the additional stability that DT can provide. Once, while playing a party boat on Boston Harbor, rough waters were making my band’s gear slide around on stage. Between sets I liberally applied duct tape to the wheels under my amp and — turning the tape sticky side out and shaping loops of it into big circles — the bottom of my pedal board. Viola! Thankfully the gig ended just before I needed to fashion a duct tape seasickness bag.

• Covering sharp edges: Beneath the cover of every toggle switch lies a sharp screw or blade. I’ve learned this the hard way on several occasions, when the toggle cover’s fallen off during heated performances and the metal beneath has sliced into the flesh of my picking hand due to a windmill or an effort to make quick volume and tone adjustments. Much bleeding has occurred, which looks great if you’re going for the Pete Townsend thing, but nonetheless sucks. Tearing off a small patch of duct tape and sealing it over the potentially dangerous bare switch temporarily solves the problem.

• Wiring repairs: Chances are you don’t travel with a soldering iron or shrinkable wire casings, let alone a blow dryer (unless you’re in an ’80s tribute band). If a wire comes loose in a stomp box or elsewhere, there’s a good change that duct tape can come to the rescue. I’ve repaired everything from 9-volt battery connectors to amp-to-speaker solder points and amp off-on switches using small bits of duct tape to make the severed connections. This isn’t a permanent fix and it’s not as good as electrical tape, which should also be carried, but it’s gotten me through the gig every time.

• Amp and cabinet customizing: There’s noting more punk rock than having an amp that says “Mars” on its face, and duct tape can get you there. I’ve seen amps adorned with lightning bolts and band logos fashioned from duct tape. Plus, if you’re stuck with a lemon of just don’t feel like giving a free plug to a corporation — hell, I’ve never wear a “Nike “or “Adidas” shirt — DT will do the job. Here’s a sonic use: if you’re recording, a strategically placed layer of duct tape on an amp’s speaker cover can dampen the sound in ways that may be desirable. I also recently did a low rent conversion using duct tape. I removed the electronics from a cheap, dead 1x12 combo, covered up the slot where they were with duct tape and replaced the speaker with a high-end model to create my own 1x12 speaker cab. The duct tape keeps the electronics slot from becoming a baffle, without adding to the wood weight and resonance of the cab. Plus, it looks gnarly and low-rent as hell (save for the vintage Marshall of Mesa-Bogie head perched on top), which I love.

• Case repair: Last year I played a gig in a small dive where slam dancers thought it okay to dance and dive on the band’s road cases, piled up next to the stage. My guitar case was semi-crushed and wouldn’t close, but a band of duct tape around the case kept my guitar safe inside until I could replace the case a few days down the road. I’ve also held torn luggage and gig bags together temporarily with duct tape, and used it to compensate for a broken latch on the keyboard case I keep my main pedal board in. The point is: when something breaks, take a breath and ask the question, “How can duct tape help?”

• Hardware fixes: Club microphone stands have a tendency to get stripped from overuse, allowing mikes to slide toward the floor or spin around as one sings. In most cases, a few bands of duct tape will stop those problems. I also played a road gig with a drummer who thought it would be cool to end the night by kicking over his kit, like Keith Moon. He broke his hi-hat stand. Duct tape put it back in action for the next night.

• Pick holder: This is a bit traditional — we’ve all seen the photos — but nothing keeps picks exactly where they’re needed like a strip of doubled over duct tape on the side of a microphone stand or on top of an amp. Stick the tape in place and apply as many picks to it as you like.

• Auto repair: I have had severe radiator hose leaks in two vans that I’ve patched with duct tape. In both cases I got to the gig and then the service shop sans tow truck without further problems. Just make sure to tape tightly and copiously, and refill the radiator with fluid before turning the ignition.

• Wardrobe malfunctions: One of the pitfalls of wearing pants is that sometimes rips occur. Strategically placed duct tape can prevent a display of the ******-tighties under the glare of the spotlights. Noble, dependable DT can also tape the bottom of a floppy sneaker or a shoe’s sole back in place for a while. Other fashion options, from coat repair to silvery adornment, abound.

Why Duct Tape is a Musician’s Best Friend
 
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I've switched to the clear Gorilla Tape as my go to fix-all. Not sure that it's waterproof like duck tape, but being clear, it is much less obtrusive and it doesn't seem to leave nearly as much residue behind when you finally remove it.
Agree. Gorilla is cut above the others. And always have Tuck tape on hand as well (red clear plastic).

My gift to my wife this year was a can of Howies Hockey Tape (multiple colours) and a Howies Hockey Tape hooded sweatshirt. (Shopping is very limited in our area. Lol) She loved it of course (cuz she loves me)
 

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Don't confuse duct tape and gaffer tape ( Gaffer tape - Wikipedia ). They may look similar but have different purposes. Duct tape is for sealing places where air could get through. Gaffer tape is for securing wires in place so that nobody trips over them or knocks them out of place. The "gaffer" is the person on a filming set who tends to the cabling, but primarily the lighting...which always requires cabling.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I've switched to the clear Gorilla Tape as my go to fix-all. Not sure that it's waterproof like duck tape, but being clear, it is much less obtrusive and it doesn't seem to leave nearly as much residue behind when you finally remove it.
I didn't know Gorilla tape cam in clear but I have used the black one and it is pretty good stuff.

BTW, how do you find a gorilla if it's clear?:)
 

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Funny it is, how much tape has found its way into everyday life. Duct, gaffer's, painter's, copper, electrical, tuck, postal, magic, carpet, teflon, they sit in neat piles in my cupboard.
 

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Gorilla Tape
Used it to repair the plastic shelves in my fridge that were cracked. The replacement cost for each shelf was around $75.00, the Gorilla Tape has been holding well for over a year for $10.00 for the roll.
 

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Duct tape in my gig bag for over 25 years. Its a great solution to small problems. I always carry Gorilla tape when fishing as i have an inflatable boat and dont need to tell you how valuable it has been from fixing a small pin hole to mending a broken fishing pole.
 

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i have never once, in my entire career, used duct tape on duct. but i have used it to make marks on a floor without actually marking the floor. and to band material together, and to hog tie the boss's son on his last day at work before returning to school.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
i have never once, in my entire career, used duct tape on duct. but i have used it to make marks on a floor without actually marking the floor. and to band material together, and to hog tie the boss's son on his last day at work before returning to school.
I was wondering if you ever did. It's usually the guys that come after you that use it.
 

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I was wondering if you ever did. It's usually the guys that come after you that use it.

most of the time we use a brush on sealant. there is a tape we use but it's not like duct tape at all. it's applied with a squeegee of sorts. once you apply it, it's forever. you cant remove it. it has to be cut if you ever want to separate that joint again.
 

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Don't confuse duct tape and gaffer tape ( Gaffer tape - Wikipedia ). They may look similar but have different purposes. Duct tape is for sealing places where air could get through. Gaffer tape is for securing wires in place so that nobody trips over them or knocks them out of place. The "gaffer" is the person on a filming set who tends to the cabling, but primarily the lighting...which always requires cabling.
Gaff tape also doesn't leave a mess or residue behind. I use it at work when I need to secure cables on carpet or nice flooring (for safetey!) and not F-up the flooring when I remove it. Try that with Duct Tape!
 

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Only ever used gaff tape. A work standard, bought in bulk, that just kinda makes it's way home and into my gig bags.

And never played in band that called it duct tape, always gaff (or gaffer) tape.
 

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I always keep gaff tape in my gear bag. Quality gaff tape uses an adhesive that doesn't make all your cables messy/sticky like duct tape will. If you've ever had to clean your cables, you know.
 

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I think of duct tape as something that shouldn't be used for normal purposes, but in case of emergency, a backup when nothing else is at hand.
 

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this is a friend of mine who cant say enough good things about duct tape ( sticky tape ) can you imagine you are getting ready for a big and I mean big gig and your guitar decides to come apart just before you go on and he still came out on top
 
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