The Gear I Wish I Would Have Bought Earlier

July 5, 2017 by Jordan Nelson

When I first began to DJ, I knew that I was going to be investing some hefty money into the equipment I was going to use. What I wasn’t counting on, however, was becoming a total gearhead, blowing way more dough than I should have on every cool light, cable, and gadget that popped into my Google searches (don’t deny it, you’ve got the bug too). Looking back now, I’ve come to realize that many of those purchases, while fun and interesting, have spent more time on their shelves than at events. However, there are some pieces of gear that, while less glamorous, have given me so much utility that I wonder why they weren’t the first things I bought when starting out. In no particular order, here’s some gear that I think every DJ should buy as soon as possible.

A Rock N Roller Cart

If you buy nothing else on this list, buy this. Seriously, it’s a complete game changer. Before I purchased a Rock N Roller, I had tried every imaginable cart and dolly with varying amounts of success. They were either too small, too awkward, or too difficult to maneuver. Rock N Rollers come in a variety of sizes, so there is sure to be one that fits your needs. They have smooth-riding wheels, are collapsible, and hold plenty of weight. The link below is for the exact cart I use:

Rock N Roller R6RT Multi-Cart Equipment Cart with R Trac Wheels

Professional Ear Plugs

I started out DJing at college and high school parties and events, which tend to be quite a bit louder than your typical wedding. While I love rocking out as much as the next guy, riding home with ringing ears every week is probably not the best option if you plan to keep using those ears to make money in the future. The V Moda faders are a comfy, well-built pair of earplugs made for musicians that lower volume levels without “coloring” or changing the sound. They’re small enough to fit under your DJ headphones, and I find myself even taking them when I go shooting or to concerts.

V-MODA Faders VIP Tuned Metal Earplugs (Gunmetal Black)

Gear Bags… For Everything

Do you know a DJ that shows up to his events with his cables in clear Tupperware and his lights in their original cardboard boxes? I was that guy. Don’t be that guy. Investing in sleek looking, quality gear bags and road cases has helped me streamline my load in and enhance my company’s image. Opt for all black, and looks for durable zippers and straps. Nothing gives the wrong first impression like showing up to an elegant wedding venue with a dozen mismatched cardboard boxes.

Arriba Cases Ac-144 Padded Gear Transport Bag Dimensions 30X14X14 Inches

An All-in-One Lighting System

Lighting is one of my biggest passions, so don’t take me as a guy that likes the easy way out. I’ve got my fair share of trussing, moving heads, DMX transmitters, and lighting controllers. If you’re having success selling larger lighting packages at every event, keep doin’ your thang. If you’re like me, however, and have found yourself selling your services mainly based on your MC and DJ abilities, lighting can be an afterthought to many of your clients. Even if not expressly desired by a particular bride and groom, I’m a big proponent of having at least some lighting at each event where it’s appropriate, as it really helps to set the tone during dancing. However, adding lights to your smaller packages can also add a lot of headache, and as you clamp lights to tripods, run wires, and attach safety cables you might wonder if it’s worth the time. Last year I purchased a Chauvet Gig Bar LT and have happily use it at about 90% of my weddings since. It packs up in the two included travel bags, sets up in under a minute, is pre-wired, and has a footswitch and remote. It really has shortened my setup and takedown by at least 10-15 minutes!

Chauvet DJ GigBAR LT Moonflower Washlights & Strobe LED IRC Light Effect System

And Lastly, Quality XLR and DMX Cables

There are 2 types of people; those that think all cables are equal and those that don’t. For a long time, I was in the first batch. I assumed that a cable was a cable, and if I could get them from the bargain bin for $5 a pop I might as well save the dough and replace them when they went bad. Then, last Christmas, I treated myself to some quality cables for the first time and never looked back. Quality cables feel great (really, it’s a tangible thing), sound better, carry amazing warranties, coil easily, and look good. I’m personally a huge fan of Pig Hog cables and have all sorts of lengths, but the NLFX cables made by Ben Stowe are outstanding as well.

Pig Hog PHM25 High Performance 8mm XLR Microphone Cable, 25 feet

Do you have favorite gear purchases that have helped you be more efficient and professional? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

This article contains affiliate links. The author receives a small percentage of product sales made through the links above.

Jordan Nelson Jordan Nelson (24 Posts)

Jordan Nelson is the owner of SLC Mobile DJ in Salt Lake City, UT. A native of the tiny southern Utah town of St. George, Jordan began his mobile DJ journey as a junior in high school. After traveling to Salt Lake to attend the University of Utah, Jordan completely revamped his business and invested heavily in sales and master of ceremonies training, turning his $400/event company into a $1,500/event company in under a year at 22 years old.

Jordan developed a strong passion for lighting and lighting programming during his early DJ years and has written 2 books for mobile DJs on the subjects. When he is not spending his weekends at weddings and events, you can find him at the local gun range or hiking with his beautiful wife.


Filed Under: Event DJ Tips, Mobile DJ Business, Mobile DJ Misc, Sound Engineering for Mobile DJs