I don’t know if you’re like me, but I love to see how other people are doing what I’m doing. I love to see how guys are getting their guitar tone. What’s their setup look like? What do they know that I have no clue about? I grew up with some incredible guitar players around me, so I love learning from guys who know so much more than I do.
Since I think that most of you are like me, I’m gonna give you a brief rundown of what I’m using when I lead worship. It’s nothing sensational, and its actually really simple, which I like.
Its not the best tone you’ve ever heard, and its not the best gear either, but I’m ok with that right now. So, in the vein of music nerdery, here’s what my gear looks like right now:
Fender Classic ’72 Telecaster Deluxe. This was a great guitar that I happened into. It has served me really well, providing some really great rhythm and lead tones from the same source. I love its versatility and its ability to go from a hard cutting lead to a mellow rhythm with some quick adjustments. Its not my dream guitar, but dang it if it doesn’t make a a great multi-tool in your guitar tool kit. You can check it out here.
Amp & Effects:
Line 6 HD500. If you wanna talk about gems, this new series of Line 6’s is awesome. They completely revamped how they modeled amps, and they nailed it. The Dr. Z sounds like a Dr. Z, and the other 15 models sound great. I got the 500 series (or was given it by my incredible wife and parents) because I wanted to have supreme control over the tone.
The 500 allows you to tweak every little piece of the tone, as well as assign various elements to any part of the pedalboard. The amps sound so great, that I don’t really use much of the effects on there. I use the drive/gain (depending on the model) on the amps to give me my various levels of overdrive, and use comps to help me punch through when I need to.
To be honest, I still don’t know a lot about this kinda stuff, which is why I’m trying to learn more. The delays are really great, and you can layer so much. I could write a whole post on the 500, but the bottom line is this: for someone who primarily uses this for music at a church, its got a very small footprint, is very consistent, and highly malleable. Love it. Learn more about the HD series here.
Taylor GS8 (w. LR Baggs iMix). I’ve always liked Taylors, except when they got real weird a couple years ago with the Expression System pickups and stopped caring about how the guitars actually sounded. That problem prompted them to create an entire new line of guitars, solely focused on the product of an acoustic guitar.
The G Series was Taylor’s turn back to what they do best: make high quality acoustics. The GS8 has a larger body (width-wise, rather than depth) and has Indian Rosewood side & back with Spruce top. This wood combo is very popular for higher end acoustics without getting to exotic with the woods.
I’ve had this guitar for about 5 years now, and its awesome. I had an LR Baggs iMix system installed so that I could use it live, and it has been tasty, to say the least. The iMix allows you to blend between two pickups, and gives you plenty of room to mold your tone. The guitar has a lot of lows and low-mids to it, but the Spruce really helps the higher stuff pop. It plays like a dream, and I hope I get to watch it age gracefully. Get a closer look at it here.
DI (Direct Input) Box:
LR Baggs Para Acoustic DI. This is one of the great mack-daddy’s of acoustic DI’s. This guy gives you access and control over every little nuance of your tone. This, coupled with the iMix system, has really helped to solidify and properly display the tone of my Taylor. Its got a 5-band EQ, with sweepable mids, notch filter and presence control. This thing can also give you a substantial amount of gain boost, up to 24dB.
The only thing is that it may be too detailed if you move around a lot. For me, I just took some time the first week or so I was at the church, and really dialed it in (with some help from our awesome sound techs). Other than that, this is a super star DI that will compliment any acoustic you’ve got. Get the full rundown here.
Now It’s Your Turn!
That’s really the long and short of it. I’ve got some stuff that I use for recording or demoing, but this is the stuff that I use most frequently. I think the most important thing I could say about gear is to take your time establishing your setup.
Ask people, especially guys who you think have great tone. Ask guys who do sound and understand some of the technical aspects behind tone. Read reviews and write ups. Learn as much as you can.
I’ve known guys who like to change pedals and amps out like shoes for outfits, and others who have had the same setup for 20 years. Either way, find what works for you and for your ear. If you’re happy with your tone, then it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.
I’d love to hear what you guys are playing with, so feel free to post your own gear list here or link back to a post where you’ve talked about your own.