Do You Need Expensive Guitar Gear If You’re Not A Pro?
To start playing guitar, all you need is a guitar. However, many fairly new guitarists get caught up in the world of guitar gear. This is especially true for fans of rock or metal music who own an electric guitar. Once you start looking, you find incredible pieces of equipment that allow you to do a ton of things on your guitar.
Gear can cost a fortune, and even the small things build up over time. Many guitarists are sitting on thousands of dollars worth of equipment. They may even need to update their musical instrument insurance to guarantee that it is all covered, as a break-in or fire could leave them seriously out of pocket.
But is it worth buying this expensive gear if you’re still not anywhere near becoming a pro? Should you splash out on cool pedals and different types of amps only to use them at home?
The simple answer is no, because there is an alternative. However, at some point splashing out on gear may become worthwhile.
The modern alternative
We live in an exciting new world when it comes to guitar tech. There is a reason so many lofi and bedroom musicians are popping up and finding success. What was once only available in a studio stacked with expensive gear is now possible with barely any setup.
You can get a device like the iRig HD 2 for just over $100 that will revolutionize your experience as a guitarist. The iRig HD 2 is a small black box into which you plug your electric guitar. It can then be plugged into your computer or phone via USB. This creates a huge range of possibilities that were impossible before.
You can buy a DAW like Logic Pro X or use the interface provided with the iRig (or similar device). This will give you a ton of different amps, pedals, and effects to use with your guitar. You can use your computer’s speaker or additionally plug it into a real amp.
Instead of spending thousands of dollars on a few pieces of equipment, you get access to endless possibilities with a tiny investment. You can also then record yourself playing. Try recording a simple chord progression, then play a solo over it.
Are there limitations?
If that sounds too good to be true, you’re probably wondering what the limitations are. The fact is that there are limitations, especially if you’re a purist. The effects you add to your signal are unlikely to perfectly equate to the effect of the actual piece of gear. This is especially true when it comes to amps. A basic amp will not provide the sound quality of a specialist amp no matter how good an effect you add.
But the cost of gear is just too high for most amateur guitarists to pay, considering a small piece of hardware and good software can do a decent job at a fraction of the price.
When you start plugging your guitar into your computer or phone, you may feel overwhelmed by the many potential plugins available to make it sound a certain way. It is important to not get bogged down by all this choice. Start with the basics and play around. Have fun and don’t take it too seriously.
If you enjoy covering other artists’ songs, Ultimate Guitar has a very cool app called Tone Bridge. This app has a growing library of presets which staff or users have created to approximate specific songs. Try out the tone for The White Stripes’ hit Fell In Love With A Girl. The moment you strum using this setting you will immediately recognize the classic sound.
By the time you are ready to take things further, you will know a lot more about gear and what you really want. Instead of buying what strikes you first, you’ll spend far mroe selectively.