Cruise ship guitar gear question...

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by doc, Jul 2, 2019.

  1. doc

    doc Member

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    I've become idly curious. I've read a little and watched some YouTube vids of people discussing life as a cruise ship musician, and I'm a little sad I didn't try that in my 20s. Here's my question. I'm assuming you'd want to take a good playing but not particularly valuable guitar, but not sure what else. Is backline always provided so all you need is a few pedals, or do you need to bring an amp too? Do some bring more than one guitar? Do you have a secure place you can store your gear? What about your other stuff, say you bring a pricey laptop you depend on for most of your personal life stuff, reading material, etc. Is there a place you can lock that up when you're not around? I don't see me ever doing this type gig, but I can conceive a scenario where due to big and weird life changes it could be an option (and I've grown used to weird stuff happening in my life).
     
  2. doc

    doc Member

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    Not that I really need to know, but thought I'd give this a bump. From what I can tell online, most players get some direction from the agency that books them, and I'm guessing most electric players have one guitar and a small pedalboard that goes direct.
     
  3. maydaynyc

    maydaynyc Supporting Member

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    Never done any cruise work at all, but some of my friends that have said that the big ships are comparable in quality and tech to Broadway. So that means you need several guitars to cover a myriad of styles that might come up in one show, and most likely they are providing some kind of digital amp or direct situation because there is no stage volume, it's all through the board with in ears. I'm told you have a small cabin to keep your things where you sleep. And they seem to have a lot of downtime. Basically 2 shows per day plus a rehearsal and you are off at other times. I've heard its both lonely and boring.
     
  4. treeofpain

    treeofpain Silver Supporting Member

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    Many ships are moving away from live music in the main broadway-type shows, but there are always solos, duos, and small bands in different spots on the ships. I am sure the pay is different depending on what you are doing.
     
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  5. Rhyn087

    Rhyn087 Member

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    I can’t answer your questions, but I was on a cruise at age 13 (I’m 32 now) and was blown away by a guitar player on the boat. At the end of his set I had complimented him while he was casing his guitar and the only thing he said to me was “kid, be a doctor when you grow up”. While that wasn’t the response I expected, I suppose he was not thrilled by life as a guitar player on a cruise ship.
     
  6. TonePilot

    TonePilot Supporting Member

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    They supply the FOH gear and usually an amp or two is available. The ones I’ve seen have all been Fenders. If you're not part of the crew (and you don’t want to be), you’ll have your own cabin to store your gear. Bring lots of strings, picks, etc as you won’t be able to buy any of that stuff on the ship or in most ports.
     
  7. TonePilot

    TonePilot Supporting Member

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    If you have a family, you won’t see them much. You can’t date other crew members and it’s got to be lonely.
     
  8. doc

    doc Member

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    Thanks for the input. There would need to be major changes in my life situation for doing something like this to make sense, but just got curious about it. In some ways seeing lots of new places, working on playing music and having lots of free boring time sounds pretty good right now.
     
  9. TonePilot

    TonePilot Supporting Member

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    It’s free room and board anyway.
     
  10. fjrabon

    fjrabon Member

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    A guy I played with did a year on a cruise ship.

    To answer some specifics: take a bolt neck fender. Or two. Climate changes are wild. Humidity can go from extremes. You need the most stable guitar possible. I’d probably recommend something like a telecaster and a coranado. You definitely need two guitars. If one goes down, there’s no going to have it repaired or getting a rental.

    Make sure you have the tools and know how for any basic repairs. Including soldering. There’s no on ship tech. There’s a good chance you’ll need to adjust the truss rod at some point.

    Amp situations vary by ship. Some you go direct and in ears, some you use a provided back line amp, some you bring your own. This should be worked at prior to you signing on.

    Buy an insane amount of strings in sealed packs.

    You get a cabin. Depending on the ship you may get your own cabin or a bunk mate.

    It’s something you do while you’re single. My friend ended up marrying a girl he met who was also a crew member.

    It’s good to build your chops. Usually all the musicians are top notch and pretty much all you do is read, play, practice, rehearse and work out.

    It’s not something you want to make a life out of. There is usually one crusty lifer, a couple of people who did multiple runs, but half or more of the band will only do a year of it.
     
  11. Phil the Kill Bill V2 guy

    Phil the Kill Bill V2 guy Member

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    On Norwegian cruise line ships they provide Fender, Vox, or Line 6 amps, and crew members move them around for the musicians.
    Good gig for younger, probably unattached guys and gals
     
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  12. derekd

    derekd Member

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    Yes.

    I met a guy on a cruise a decade or so ago who played a solo jazz set and then with a trio in the cigar bar each night. His wife was a horn player and was in the main band for their broadway-esque shows. He played an old ES-295. Don't remember the amp he used.

    They were paid differently but seemed to work it out and enjoyed that life for several years. She was let go in an unfortunate manner and when I met him he was fulfilling his contract and would be off the boat for good in a few months.
     
  13. Wagster

    Wagster Supporting Member

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    My first cruise ship gig I didn't ask the right questions before taking the gig. I was part of the crew and had to do the training and deck duety. It was the gig from hell.
     
  14. Okra

    Okra Member

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    Diarrhea and other ship-borne maladies would be a challenge.

    “Why is he playing so fast?”
     
  15. maydaynyc

    maydaynyc Supporting Member

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    I couldn't make it more than 3 minutes into the video because his personality is so annoying but this definitely answers some of your questions.

     

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