Jack up your guitar: If you ask me what part fails most often on an electric guitar, it is the jack. Higher end guitars usually have better components, including better quality jacks, but lower end imports are notorious for cutting corners in that area. In the pictures, the jack on the left is one I pulled from an imported guitar. On the right a Switchcraft, which is pretty much the industry standard, and what I use in my shop.
Cheap jacks don't hold the contact with the input jack as well, and have much thinner walls that will break if your cord is bumped hard. Barrel or cylinder shaped jacks (including end-pin jacks used on acoustic guitars) also have a high fail rate. So if you have a lower end guitar, one of the best things you can do to make it reliable and stage-worthy is have a quality jack installed. Guitar cables are also a source of failure, so get good quality ones and carry a spare.
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