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Great Gear for Guitarists

Updated: Jul 21, 2021

The Power of Tools

Musicians, at the barest, can get by with their instrument, a pad of paper, and the Voice Memo app on their phone. There are people like Annette Kruisbrink making music that would blow your mind using just her hands and a classical guitar. Gear-heads may be more interested in the gadget side of things than the actual playing, which is all well and good for some, but I feel a portion of these people may be overcompensating. Some for lack of talent, lack of confidence, or lack of creativity. However, there is a happy medium, where technology can be used as another extension of creative force - We can use the power of tools to enhance your creative work.

Powerful Gear for Guitarists

Here are a few of the things I love as a guitarist and recording musician.

Pricey, most definitely, but definitely my most amazing asset as a recording guitarist. But – I’ve had my Mark II since 2012 and it’s still going strong. There is an absolute infinite array of tones that can be conjured out of this thing, and it can be used in conjunction with an amp. If you invest in one of these, prepare for a deep rabbit hole. The newer ones are much better and much faster as well, but I’m still super happy with mine at this point.

Any high-quality interface

An interface is something you can plug your guitar into so that it will communicate with a computer for recording. I primarily use my Axe Fx for recording guitars, but sometimes route it through my main recording interface.

You can also hook microphones into some interfaces, so that you could use the microphone to record the sound of your guitar alone or playing through an amp, as well as vocals or drums.

I’ve used a few over the years, including M-Audio ProFire, Presonus Firepod, and today, the Roland OctaCapture. I would recommend buying a new interface versus a used one, as the technology seems to improve every year. Buy one that is high quality, low latency, and matches your needs for number of inputs and outputs.

The industry standard for playing and writing tabs. When I was developing all of the parts for Cat the Adversary, I would use this is as my preferred compositional program and then export the score or MIDI information to my DAW (the program that you are "recording into). The newer versions have made programming drums slightly more difficult however. However there are other ways to do drums now that are simpler, such as using Logic Pro X’s Drummer tracks or loops (at least to give you a baseline). For full control over guitar writing though, I still feel like you can't go wrong with Guitar Pro. You can check it out here.

Powerful plug-ins for sculpting and mixing the sounds of your recordings. Plug-ins are used in your DAW to sculpt and mould the "raw" sounds or data that results from recording through your interface. Waves plug-ins improved the quality of my recordings so much, and also made the process of mixing a creatively engaging one. However, they are fairly expensive – but they do have an interest-free split payment option, which was a lifesaver for me when I was a broke university student! Also, there is a discount code here.

But How do I Afford It?

Where there is will, there is way. Especially with Youtube and Kijiji. Second-hand gear is usually half-price (or less) and while there is no warranty, most things can be fixed if they break.

As far as getting some extra money, Kijiji is great for finding part time and one-off gigs as well. With sites like Simbi as well, you can trade services, get new clients, and find talents that people are looking for. I teach music and used to offer cleaning through there, and ended up getting many paid clients as well. There is a referral code here! When you sign up it gives you enough credits that you can get some pretty great services for free.

My MistaKes

Unfortunately for me, when I was younger (and frankly dumber), I bought a lot of my gear using student loans. I worked throughout University and put money borrowed into the essentials for my studio. This was arguably dumb move, but at the end of it I do have a functional studio that I absolutely love! I don’t necessarily recommend this, but I use this example as a point to illustrate that, especially in a wealthy country like Canada, there is always a way!

The Power of Tools

In the video below, I show you how the Axe Fx II can turn a couple simple chords into a soundscape. This can be done with a daisy chain of pedals as well, but the Axe Fx is easier and more convenient.

I’ll be using this piece as a background for one of my meditations on Insight Timer.

I make a simple Em7 barre chord and slide it into a Dm7.

With the right tools, this simple transition becomes a fractal spectacle of intervals, echos and octaves.

In Conclusion

Having the right tools can give you seemingly magic powers – giving you the power to express yourself in a unique and intricate way that you couldn’t without them. However, be careful not to let that distract you from the instrument itself.

Creativity is truly your birthright. All you really need is to open yourself to inspiration and put in the work, and it shall be there.

If you have any questions do not hesitate to comment below.

Thanks for reading!

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