As a guitarist, there’s nothing more satisfying than rocking out on stage, laying down tracks in a studio, or just writing and playing music for yourself. If you want to really shine, though, you need to have the right equipment. As the saying goes: you get what you pay for, so if you want to sound great, you need to have the best setup. Here’s a list of the essential gear you should be investing in to play like a pro.
Top of the Line Guitars
You want to have the highest quality guitars so you always get the best sound possible when you play. Bargain price instruments are fine when you’re just starting out and learning your craft, but by the time you get to the performance and recording level, they just won’t cut it. People can hear the difference between a cheap guitar and one that’s been designed for professionals. Investing in a top-of-the-line guitar should be number one on your priority list if you’re serious about playing music.
Effects pedals are what give your sound character, and having a good variety of them will let you create the perfect sonic blend when performing. You should invest in the best octave pedals, distortion pedals, and reverb pedals, as well as delay, chorus, and flange effects. Whether using them separately or chaining them together for something unique, having high-quality pedals that give you a high-quality effect can take you from sounding like an amateur to a professional.
Amplifiers don’t just make you sound louder, they also control the way your guitar sounds. Guitarists of every musical genre have their preferred amp choice, but you should find the one that fits your own personal style. Combo amps are great for practicing and playing for small crowds, but they don’t offer the same dynamic, in-your-face experience that an amp head and speaker cabinet provides. Most professionals will use either a tube or solid-state head in a half or full-stack setup, allowing them to get the most out of their sound.
An Accurate Tuner
It can be painfully obvious when one of your guitar strings is even slightly out of tune while playing. Having an accurate tuner can prevent this, as the higher-end options are able to detect the exact pitch of a string. Electric and acoustic-electric guitars can be plugged into a tuner for a more precise reading, ensuring you’re always on key. You’ll want one that’s reliable and easy to use so you can re-tune during performances when your strings start to lose their luster. If you don’t have a tech to tune your instruments for you, having to sit there and pluck your guitar endlessly while trying to hunt down the right pitch will kill the momentum of a show. You can’t sound your best if you don’t have everything in proper working order before you play.
When plugging your guitar into an amp, using cheap cables can end up ruining the quality of your sound, especially if you’re using effects pedals. They often produce unwanted buzzing or white noise due to poor connectors and will have lower sound integrity than you want. Get yourself some high-grade cables to make sure your signal is preserved and sounds as clean as possible when you plug in. If you tend to move around a lot on stage or are constantly transporting your gear from place to place, having better cables means they’re more durable as well, so they won’t easily get ruined from use.
Extra Picks and Strings
Anyone who plays guitar knows the pain of snapping a string mid-performance, but it’s even worse if you don’t have backups ready to go. If you’re gigging all the time, you might want to think about investing in long life guitar strings – they’ll save you frequent string changes, and the right pair will rarely break mid-set. It’s always better to take a short break to change your strings than have to cut a show short because you came unprepared. Having plenty of extra picks is also necessary, as they tend to get worn down fairly quickly, especially if you play hard. Keeping a fresh set with you anytime you perform or record is a great idea, and the audience loves it when a guitarist tosses their used ones out into the crowd during a show.
As a guitar player, mastering your instrument is only half the battle. Getting the best gear will give you that powerful, crisp sound that every professional guitarist craves. From the studio to the stage, you won’t lose any fidelity in your music if you have the right equipment. So when you’re ready for an upgrade, look for these essential pieces of gear that you should invest in.