Traveling as a Street Musician on Public Transportation

As a street musician, the probability of having to travel with your instrument is quite high. Many street musicians choose to use public transport to keep costs low. However, we’re often left lugging heavy instruments with us onto the bus or train in the hopes of getting to our next gig on time. Here are some tips on how to travel as a street musician so that you can get around more easily.

Do You Need Your Instrument?

Sometimes you may want to play a bit of acapella. On those days, do you really need to take your instrument with you? The answer will more than likely always be yes, but on those rare occasions, you should leave your instrument at home. Don’t be tempted to take it with you just in case. It will make the whole journey a lot easier.

Plan It Out

Traveling as a street musician takes careful planning. It’s such a vital part of getting around safely and on time. Buses and trains both have steps and gates that make it difficult to carry larger instruments around with you. Make sure you are considering what instruments and kit you need for the day, and plan your trip accordingly.

Regardless of what method of transportation you are using, you should check on baggage policies first. Many forms of transports will have weight and size restrictions, impeding you from traveling as a musician. Knowing you can take your gear and instrument with you before you set out could save you a lot of time down the road.

Another thing you may want to look into as a street musician is insuring your instrument. Our instruments are expensive, and unfortunately, damage can happen when we travel with them. If something does happen, having insurance in place means you won’t be left without your most prized possession.

Buy a Hard Case

Instruments that aren’t appropriately protected will get damaged when you’re traveling as a street musician. Soft cases are more comfortable to carry and won’t be as heavy, but sometimes your comfort has to go out the window to save the cargo inside. If you don’t already have a hard case, now is the time to get one. This is especially important if luggage handlers will be involved. Hard cases also protect your instrument from the elements like rain and snow that could otherwise damage it.
Buying a hard case is relatively straightforward. Your instrument should fit snugly into it without you having to apply any force. Browse online reviews and find the right case for you.

Add Additional Padding

If you already have a hard case, but it isn’t the perfect fit, you don’t need to go and buy a new one. Instead, use your improvisational skills and add in some extra padding. This could be old clothes, bubble wrap, or even bed covers. Whatever keeps your instrument in the right place and stops it banging about inside the case does the job nicely.

Plan Your Time

Some street musicians have to work under time constraints as you can only play in public between certain hours of the day. If this is the case, you need to plan your time strategically. Try to arrive early and add in extra time for traveling with an instrument and gear. Having this spare time will also help you deal with any setbacks you may encounter, like tricky train ticket gates, without getting too stressed out.

Pack Some Snacks

Being a street musician is hard work, and you’ll be out there all day, playing your music for the masses. Take with you as many snacks as you can. Instrument cases are a wonderful place to store your favorite snack items, especially if your journey is a long one.

Stay Fit

If you have a heavy instrument as a street musician, you need to have the muscles to carry it. Not only will you need to carry it with you, but you will also need to think about the strength required to store it in luggage racks on trains and buses. The best thing you can do here is to prepare for the weight and keep yourself fit. Whatever it takes will help massively.

Beware Of Others

Unfortunately, we live in a world where people aren’t sympathetic to our journey as musicians carrying an instrument. Non-musicians will tend to react badly if you hit them with a sharp corner of your case. You need to be prepared for the complaints and not take them to heart. Traveling as a street musician is hard work, so don’t let the general public get you down.

Plan to Handle It Alone

There won’t be anyone to help you carry your instrument and gear as a solo street musician. You are utterly alone in this situation and have to plan accordingly. Make sure you are capable of lifting and carrying everything you are taking with you.

Use Your Kit As An Advantage

Sometimes we are stuck on train platforms or bus stations because of long delays. Now, this is where your kit can actually come in handy. Use it to perch on and take the weight off your feet while you can. You’ll soon be on your way again, and your body will be thankful for the rest.

Embrace the Experience

It takes someone genuinely passionate about being a street musician to undergo public transport and travel like this. Remember that traveling is a necessary evil of sharing your music with others, and it’s just a small part of the overall experience. Good luck on your travels!

Introducing Erik Gyepes

Erik Gyepes, the founder of, contacted me about writing a piece for my blog as a guest author. We emailed a few times about what type of content he would like to write, and I agreed that this information would be useful to our readers. Erik’s first piece with us will be about street musicians traveling on public transportation. You can learn more about Erik here.

Alcohol Ink Colored Guitar Picks

Clear carbonate guitar picks colored with alcohol ink.

My wife has been into paper quilling (info on quilling can be found here) lately and I have been helping her make backgrounds for her to quill over. Her quilling Instagram page is here.

We decided to try using alcohol ink to make these backgrounds. While we were learning how to manipulate the ink I thought back to the carbonate guitar picks I made a while ago and thought that alcohol ink may be a cool way to color homemade guitar picks. In my opinion, this worked out quite well!

This was done by applying the alcohol ink to one side of clear carbonate sheeting. When the ink has dried. Then you cut out the pick shape you prefer or use a pick punch (I trace the pick shape on the side that doesn’t have any ink on it and cut it out with scissors). The picks in the picture were created with .80 mm thick clear carbonate sheeting sandwiched together with super glue. The alcohol ink coloring is encapsulated inside the pick so the coloring will not wear off or get on your hands.

More information on how I make these picks can be found in an older post I wrote here.

I varied the process a bit in this case since I applied the coloring/artwork before I cut out the pick shape from the carbonate sheeting. I also finished these two picks entirely by hand using varying sandpaper grits from 120, 220, 600, 1500, 2000, 2500 to shape and polish the picks.

The pictured picks are about 1.6 mm thick, are very stiff, and allow you to play as fast as you can go.

#alcoholink #guitarpick

Zoom G5n Modeler

If you are looking for guitar effects and amp modeling that doesn’t break the bank and sounds good doing it. The Zoom G5n may just be what you are looking for. There are plenty of reviews out there to get the low-down, plus this is a mature device that’s been around a while with a good amount of features, which qualifies this device for some serious consideration.

The G5n is easy to program and use. I erased all of the factory patches since none of them were what I was looking for and wanted to start from square one. Are factory patches ever all that great? I bought a few sets of custom patches from Choptones to get started with patches that sound really good and made it easier to build new patches for the music I play.

The Zoom G5n can be had on the used market in the $200 – $225 range. Brand new it goes for $329.99, which is still a bargain for what you get.

More information on the G5n can be found here.

Zoom MS-70CDR: Why I Love It So Much!

Zoom Multi-effects

Originally I was going to do a full review of this pedal, but there are so many good reviews online I don’t see any point in creating another one. What I am going to do is talk about how I use the pedal and what I think about the Zoom MS-70CDR now that I have been using the pedal in my live rig for quite a while.

At this point I own three Zoom MS-70CDR multi-effects pedals. Two reside on my main pedalboard (#1), and one resides on my backup (#2) pedalboard. Both of these pedalboards are used regularly at this point. My main pedalboard was in use so much that I thought I better build a backup board if my main pedalboard ever goes on the fritz.

Since pedalboard (#2) is smaller it has been getting plenty of use with my church gig. On this board the MS-70CDR is used mostly for light Reverb. Also for set tempo rhythmic delay, as a tuner, and specialty one-off types of sounds that you would not expect to get from a guitar. A single loop true bypass switcher is used to quickly bring this effect in and out of the pedal chain.

On my main pedalboard I have two MS-70CDR pedals. One sits before my volume pedal connected to a true bypass switcher, which allows me to easily kick the pedal in and out of the pedal chain. This pedal typically handles chorus, flanger, tremolo, pitch shift, octaver, chromatic tuner and specialty sounds like organ or synth type tones. The second MS-70CDR sits after my volume pedal and handles Reverb, delay, and anything that may require tap tempo. This configuration of pedals allows for a very powerful and flexible one two punch when playing live or in the studio. The amount of sonic territory you can cover is mind boggling. Limited only by your imagination. I’ve been able to conjure pretty much any type of time based effect sound I have had the need to create from this effect pedal and then some. Considering how inexpensive these pedals are everyone should own at least one of these “Swiss Army” knives of guitar and bass effects. The sound quality is quite good especially in a band situation.

Here’s a quick rundown of what’s available in the pedal (all of my Zoom MS-70CDR pedals have the upgraded 2.0 firmware, which gives you even more effects).

    • 86 guitar and bass effects, including modulation, equalization, delay, and reverb (Firmware Version 2.0 offers 51 all-new effects, in addition to the 86 effects the MS-70CDR already includes. Classic effects like Tremolo, Slicer, Octaver, Pitch Shifter, Slow Attack, Noise Gate, Exciter, and Envelope Filter. There’s also a studio quality compressor and some advanced effects such as Lo-Fi, Synthesizer and Organ simulation.)
    • Up to 6 effects can be used simultaneously, in any order
    • 50 memory locations for the storage of user-created patches
    • 40 preset patches, which can be overwritten.
    • Patch cycling
    • Onboard chromatic tuner supports all standard guitar and bass tunings, including open and drop tunings
    • Tap Tempo for synchronization of delay times or modulation rates
    • Auto Save function for automatic saving of all patch parameters
    • Mono and stereo operation
    • Dual ¼” input jacks (both active and passive instruments supported)
    • Dual ¼” output jacks
    • Backlit LCD with contrast control for easy viewing in low-light environments
    • USB port for power and firmware updates
    • Lightweight and small enough to fit in your gig bag
    • Easily integrated into any existing pedalboard
      • Runs on 2 AA batteries, with alkaline battery life of up to 7 hours (use of AC power in a pedalboard situation is recommended).
    • Optional AC adapter


Street price for this pedal is around $100 – $120. In my opinion the Zoom MS-70CDR is worth its weight in gold…

Useful Links

Zoom MS-70CDR

Choosing a New Guitar from a Scientific Viewpoint

Rob Beck from Beginner Guitar HQ contacted me about his article “How To Choose the Best Guitar, 15 Factors to Consider According to Science”. I read the article over and decided I would add it here for my readers who are looking for a new axe. There are some good points of view to consider when trying out and purchasing a new guitar from a scientific point of view. Especially if you are new to playing guitar. Experienced players usually know what they like and are looking for in a new addition to their arsenal, but even they may learn something new from this information. The article is definitely worth checking out. You can read all about it here.

Keep pickin’!

Elixir Optiweb Guitar Strings Review

I purchased a set of Elixir Optiweb 10 – 46 gauge electric guitar strings at the purchase price of $12.99 per set. My Godin LG Signature was the test instrument, which you can read about here. I decided to play this string set until one or more of the strings failed in some way (I wanted to see how long the strings would last before they became unplayable as a full set). About one month and a half into using the strings regularly for my various practice and playing engagements the “D” string failed.


My first impression of the Optiweb strings was that the plain strings sounded quite nice and were fairly easy to bend. The wound strings had a nice sound, but were not quite as bright sounding as the strings I used before. The Optiweb strings worked great in a band situation. I used the strings for rhythm and lead guitar playing plus some slide guitar work.

I was a string tester for Elixir in the past and I must say a couple of the sets they sent me were absolutely stellar guitar strings. I was a little bit disappointed that the Optiwebs did not live up to my memory of some of the Elixir test strings I had tested, but without a side-by-side comparison this observation is totally subjective. The string tension across the set was well balanced and comfortable to play.


Elixir Optiweb electric guitar strings are high quality coated guitar strings with good tone. The coating gives you extra life in the wound strings by resisting dirt and grime. I must say these strings sounded good up until the day the “D” string gave up the ghost in the heat of battle. If you are looking for strings that are stable, which you won’t have to change every couple of weeks these may be for you. At $12.99 per set they are a little on the high side for me regarding price to performance. The only way to know if they will be your new favorite is to try them.

Keep pickin’


Popular Guitar Pedals for Under $50

This was posted on by Dan Orkin on June 20th. Great information I just had to share.

The Most Popular Pedals You Can Buy for Under $50 :