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Covering The Most Ground With The Least Equipment
Unless you live in a major recording center—New York, L.A. or Nashville—it’s tough to make a living as a session guitarist. But with more and better home recording equipment, a larger number of players are getting opportunities to work in the studio environment and are looking for the equipment that will help them get the job done. Since racks full of gear aren’t realistic for most of us, we asked several recording/touring pros what they consider absolutely essential (outside of their guitars and amps) for success in the studio.
Perhaps the best insight came from Nashville blues/rocker Bob Britt, who noted, “My #1 is not a piece of gear, but it’s just as important: a good attitude. If folks don’t want to be around you, you aren’t gonna work much.”
With that in mind, here are some other suggestions we received from every-day recording pros:
“Regarding the gear, I’m pretty simple… I always like to have my Line 6 M9 Pedal, a Fulltone OCD, and a Keely compressor.”
(Kelly Clarkson, Faith Hill, Keith Urban)
“A Line 6 M13, Strymon Timeline Delay and a Pro Co Rat, Fulltone Fulldrive or a Zendrive by Hermida Audio.”
“It’s pretty simple for me: the old three-knob Boss CS-2 compressor, the vintage green Nobels ODR-1 overdrive and a good stompbox delay. Right now I’m using a TC Flashback, but any good delay will do.”
(Time Jumpers, Reba McEntire)
“Just the obvious: tuner,capo, slide. I don’t use a lot of pedals, but a boost, overdrive and delay, and maybe a tremolo and volume pedal.”
(Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins)
“Some basics that I always have with me include a Fulltone Wah ‘Clyde,’ The Visual Sound Open Road overdrive pedal (for great crunchy tones), Fulltone Plimsoul distortion pedal (great for medium distortion or blues tones), The Visual Sound Son Of Hyde or the Fulltone OCD for heavy distorted tones into a Visual Sound volume pedal. Next, into a Line 6 M9 multi-effects pedal for all modulation, delay, reverb sounds. This setup covers a lot of ground without breaking your back or pocketbook.“
(Bob Dylan, John Fogerty)
Having your gear in shape and quiet should go without saying… good cables (I use Planet Waves stuff), no crackles, buzzes, exorbitant noise, etc. Gear is very much a personal preference. Some guys love stuff that others hate and vice versa. A couple of my favorite pedals are the RC Boost and the Ibanez Mostortion. The #1 thing I always take with me is my headphones. Always using the same cans gives me confidence that the tone I dial up in the studio will be what I hear when I walk back into the control room.
(Ray Charles, Elvis Presley, Ronnie Milsap)
I always take a volume pedal, an Orange Squeezer (the best electric guitar compressor I know about), a delay/chorus and a slide. That covers a lot of ground for me.
(Jingles, demos, artist projects)
Spares of everything, if possible (Plan B if something breaks). Tuner for sure. Effects-wise: analog overdrive, distortion, digital delay, or decent multi effect.
So there you have it, from those who know. Bring a great attitude, your best ideas and a few basic (and quiet) pieces of gear, and you should be ready to rock—or groove or twang, depending on the project.
Nice article, Ronnie. Lots of info.
Adding links to all of those products would have been super helpful, so we can read about the products we’re unfamiliar with. Sure, I can cut/paste look them up, but as long as you’re taking the time to write a professional music blog, it’s a nice touch.
Good point, Joe. I’ll plan to add links to upcoming articles. Thanks for the suggestion. rb