7 Guitar Items I Can’t Live Without!
There are many items I can’t live without but there are 7 Guitar Items I Can’t Live Without! No, really! I’ve written them in no particular order as they are all important.
Item #1: A Good Solid Tuner
If you do a lot of gigs like I do, then you’ll understand why I put this first. For those who don’t, imagine this: Listening to an hour of voice and guitar. Not so bad? Right! It’s made worse by the guitar being slightly out of tune. It’s like nails on a chalk board! Especially to us guitarist! So my top thing on my 7 Guitar Items I Can’t Live Without list is a tuner.
My favourite is a BOSS TU-2 pedal tuner. Sadly, it’s discontinued, however you can purchase the Boss TU-3 which, apparently is more accurate. I’ve also used a Korg Pitchblack which is just as great, as is the Korg GA-40. I’d go as far as saying any tuner from BOSS or Korg is worthy of the money it costs. Plus both companies build their gear like TANKS!
Just a note on this, I’m a massive fan of tuners pedals (like the TU3 and the Pitch Black) that can be used inline and have a mute function. Using one of these allows me to tune without noise while the singer talks to the crowd at the start of the set and then in-between each song. Yes I love to tune, and so should you!
Item #2: Guitar Picks
Ok, maybe I can live without guitar plectrums as I fingerpick most things! But I do like to carry a range. For years I’ve the most part, used only two types of guitar picks. I like the Dunlop 1.5mm Purple picks for electric guitars and then Dunlop Nylon 1mm for acoustic guitars. Don’t ask me why but they just work! I think I prefer the thinner pick for acoustics as I can get a better strum sound and the overall attract is softer. I can, get away with using any 1mm pick for everything, if I have to!
For session, I’ve got a box with lots of different picks from really thin to fat. I do this so If I’m asked for a really small strumy part for the second verse just to fill things out, then I’ll grab the thinnest pick I have and play big open chords and make it sound like there’s a few guitars going crazy!
Whereas if I’m trying to frame the chords (i.e. just playing on the chord changes and letting ring), then I’m more likely to use a thicker pick, as it will give me more control over what I’m playing.
Item #3: Spare strings
Time for an embarrassing story, I once played a swanky gig – at posh private members’ club; I really should have changed the strings the day before and then had time to break them in. Instead I believed I could fly! I believe I wouldn’t need to take spares as the ones I had would last. Boy was I wrong! I ended up playing some of the gig with 5 strings. Luckily the artist sore the funny side (as did the manager! thank goodness!) and I kept the job!
I do have more string related stories but they’ll have to wait for another day!
Since then I’ve tried to always carry spares and to restring more often. I use Rotosound 10s on electric guitars and Martin 12 on acoustic guitars. It’s not that funny if you break a string and can’t replace it then and there, and could lose you the gig. So carry spares!
Item #4: Spare Cables
Sounds simple – but a lot of people miss this. If you carry spare instrument cables, you’ll look like a hero when it all goes wrong and someone has a faulty cable or is caught short. You’ll be the saviour when someone wants to “sit in” but doesn’t have any gear with them. You’ll more than likely have a few guitars with you but you might not have enough cables for them to join in as well.
The other thing is that their actually quite cheap to buy, or my case – make and don’t take up that much space. A tip is to make sure you either pick a bright colour or get some bright PVC tape to mark it with. Most gear goes missing not because you lend it, but because gear isn’t ticked off a mental list before leaving the venue.
Item #5: Notepad and Pen
I was told at the age of 10 that a good musician carries a pencil (or pen). This is true and I’d add a pad. Having a notepad can help you reclaim some of the time you lose during sound checks, help you have a space to write down your goals, ideas and other important things you might need to capture. In a gig setting, you can write out set lists, chord charts, use the back stage area to write songs before you go on stage. You can write out charts for upcoming gigs. The list is endless!
Item #6: One pedal to rule them all!
This is a bit subjective, so I don’t mind you skipping this one. There are very few pedals I can live without, one being a tuner.
I can live without a volume pedal as there’s a volume knob a few inches from where my hand is.
One pedal that I love, and can’t really do without is a Route 66 by Visual Sound.
So why do I like it? It has two channels, one side is a compressor and the other is an overdrive. You can use it how it was designed as a compressor and overdrive pedal. You can dial down the compression knob and use that side as a clean boost with added EQ. The overdrive side can then be pushed harder by this clean boost which will make the distortion sound fuller.
With a small amp, you can use the boost stage to get the amp sound crunchy, then use the overdrive (by itself) to for some gain, and then both side for a lead tone.
I’ve done gigs with a BOSS TU-2, Visual Sound Route 66, Volume pedal and a BOSS DD-6. Great guitar tones!
Item #7: Metronome
I do love my metronome; it helps me check my timing, work on my accuracy and makes me become a better guitar player. I have a few loaded onto my Kindle (I reviewed 5 of them) and use my trusty Korg MA-30 almost every time I come to practice. There’s a lot of practical guides and posts on my blog, which teach you how to use a metronome better.
7 Guitar Items I Can’t Live Without
So there you have it, 7 Guitar Items I Can’t Live Without! What can’t you live without?