How to Protect Your Music Gear (and insure it)
You see it on the news or tweeted on the net all the time: touring band’s trailer (or music gear) stolen. You probably know some friends who’ve had their equipment damaged or taken while on the road. Here’s how to take some basic preventive measures that will protect your instruments so you can avoid costly repairs or replacement:
Before You Leave For Tour
- Take an inventory of everything you have. Be sure to list make/model/year/serial numbers and keep copies of receipts. If you bought it used from Ebay or a friend, make your own receipt and keep with your records. A great way to do this for your entire band is to have a Google Doc spreadsheet so everyone can keep up with their own gear (and you can access from anywhere).
- Take photographs of all of your music equipment for your records.
- Use identifiers such as labels/contact information in case your gear was misplaced but also hide a tag in case it was stolen and someone tries to remove the serial number. For example, I like to take off the pickguard and stick an address label with my name and contact information on it, because it is unlikely that the piece will be removed and checked by thieves.
- If you’re using a trailer, invest in a “puck” styled lock that can’t be cut off (while you’re at it, buy a lock for your hitch and locking pin too).
- Get collectible or high-end instruments appraised.
- See if your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance covers music instruments. Better yet, purchase insurance that is specific for musicians (such as Music Pro Insurance). See what conditions apply (if they cover water damage or only in certain areas, etc).
While On Tour
If you’re touring in a van and trailer, chances are that people will suspect you have valuables inside. Always assume this and protect yourself by doing simple things such as double-checking the locks. Here are some other tips:
- Back it up! Back your van and/or trailer against a wall whenever possible so it’s harder to get access to your gear.
- Cover your windows. Invest in some pieces of fabric and pin up to cover windows so that people can’t see inside.
- Consider installing an alarm or anti-theft device.
- If the place is sketchy, consider having a few people sleep inside the vehicle to watch it. If you don’t want to sleep in the van, set up a “dummy” in one of the seats by stuffing a sleeping bag and make it look like someone is inside.
- If you’re extra paranoid, you can use a cable lock and tie up all of your amps, speaker cabinets, and guitar cases together so even if someone was able to break in, they wouldn’t be able to move anything out.
By investing some extra time and a little money, you can protect yourself from every touring band’s worst nightmare. Be street smart and a little paranoid…it can save you a lot of money and heartache!