I was just peeking through the mountain of “Fanbridge” questions that I have, and I came across a recurring theme…
Question: “Adam what guitar/strings/gear do you use?”
I get asked about this 10 times a week.
With the “mountain” of gear that one sees in catalogs & stores it is easy to get confused.
Since I carry most of my stuff myself (no car – yep, I’m a New York guy), it has to be portable, easy, and sound great.
All of what I am listing fits in a backpack (except the guitars), and I am ready to play any size concert hall or festival.
Keep in mind, this list WILL change, and “there is more than one way to do it” – but this has been working for me.
In this post, I’ll cover the following the 6 most important pieces of gear I use:
- DI Box
I’ll also talk about:
- Amplifier (optional)
- How to secure pedals to the floor
I usually only play my main guitar, but if something goes haywire with it, I can continue & finish the gig. They do sound different, but they are close enough that there is hardly any adjustment I need to do. Physically they feel the same.
Imagine playing at a really important festival, and the pickup dies during the set. It never has, but hey – you never know. It’s not the promoter’s problem – it’s my problem. So that’s why I pay all those extra baggage fees to the airlines – to have a backup guitar.
Here’s an online review that I just did recently of the guitar:
I use Martin SP Phosphor Bronze strings (.012 gauge) not the 80 / 20. On the main axe, I change strings 20 minutes before I go on stage – every time. They sound crisp and ring perfectly in tune.
Is this extreme? Nope – I can hear the difference. It’s a gig expense.
It feels like a shower, shave and splash aftershave before going on a date, but for my guitar.
Dunlop Medium – no filing, sculpting, etc – I use them as they come.
I use the Boss TU-3 floor pedal. East to read, built like a tank, and I love the fact that I can mute the guitar signal on stage. I have a few clip-on tuners for backstage – but on stage, I use the floor pedal so that audiences don’t have to listen to me tune-up.
Nothing fancy – but it has a tube so it warms things up a little. I use reverbs 2 & 3 only – a short & a long one. It ain’t cheap.
I used to use an LR Baggs para acoustic DI but the input got “crackly.” When I wanted a replacement, the RADIAL was recommended to me.
I love it – there are NO knobs, it’s crystal clear, sound men love it when they see it because it’s not adding more color, hiss, or degrading the sound. It gives a straight, clear signal.
In the case of the J48 – less is more. I love it.
Lock it Down:
Once the tuner, reverb, and DI box are on the floor – I use gaffer tape to secure every patch cable and a power strip to the floor.
I especially secure the patch cable going from the guitar into the tuner (I’ve unplugged that on gigs with my feet.) An effects box or pedal train would only make my bags heavier – remember I am flying!
If possible AER alpha or Super 60 direct out, and then I’ll use no DI box. An amp is not always provided, but if it is, I’ll use one instead of a DI box. I have learned to do gigs with or without an amp.
I own an AER Compact 60 but I’d need a 3rd arm to carry it around, so I often just use a DI.
Putting it All Together
This is like a simple Italian meal with good ingredients – olive oil, tomatoes, bread, cheese, pasta, and wine. Each piece of gear is great, so it’s just then up to me to play well.
I don’t bring my own PA. I am a total pain in the neck regarding demanding subwoofers – I need them for depth in the guitar sound, guitar percussion and human beatbox. I can sleep on a park bench if they can’t afford a hotel – but I INSIST on subs.
Monitors are required, as is a sound man. The worst sounding gigs were when I showed up and the PA is onstage, and I have to do my own sound. I will never do those again!
I don’t know the brand but I have lots of extra cables. Don’t buy cheap cables. I usually go middle of the road, price-wise – about $25-30 USD per cable.
(STAY AWAY from Monster Cables! – Their 1/4 endings are just a little too big – and will wear out your input jack.)
I even bring a few XLR mic cables in case the soundman is a rookie and is not prepared.
Embarrassing – but yes, it happens, and then it’s “one hour until showtime and he can’t drive to his place and back to get the extra cable.”
Yes, the extra XLR cables have come in handy in this situations!
FYI – It’s in Your Ears and Fingers
Make sure you practice properly & warm up. Playing acoustic through a PA is not the warm fuzzy feeling of playing a guitar through a tube amp. It puts you under a microscope – it is a different beast.
This gear will give you a great sound – but then the rest is up to you!
That’s it y’all – I hope this gives you some insight. Feel free to leave a comment if you have questions!
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