Offering your talents as a solo acoustic act for venues and events is an extremely beneficial venture for many reasons. It opens up a whole new audience of people who you didn’t have to invite and bombard continuously on Facebook to be there, it allows you to play live regularly building confidence and it often pays much more than self promoted gigs. And why not get paid for something you love doing? With stiff competition however from those taking the same path, it is important that you sound great and stand out from the start. In this blog the most important features of a one piece set up will be outlined with some of our top acoustic gear recommendations!
In a small period of time you could be extremely busy playing around 5 gigs per week. This could be more or it could be less but you should have a guitar that is comfortable and you don’t have to fight with for a good sound. You will definitely find an electro-acoustic very useful, giving you onboard EQ controls and often a tuner. Invest in a good instrument now as trying to improve drastically can prove very costly.
The Takamine Pro Series 3 has been a very popular guitar for many years for its reputation as a workhorse. With a cedar top and sapele back and sides the Takamine gives a resonant sound with strong low end and plenty of volume. The Takamine pre-amp sounds amazing plugged in and this series comes with an essential hard case.
The Faith Naked Series is a little less expensive than the Takamine but still delivers a stunning tone through its spruce top and mahogany body with a very comfortable feel. The onboard electronics are very simple and have been outsourced to Fishman in their latest products but if pick up an older model with a shadow pickup and preamp it’s still very impressive.
Because you’re on your own on stage with a set that could stretch to over 2 hours, it’s important that your sound is as clear as possible but with the option of some variations in colour. There are some products that offer EQ, effects and DI’s in one and these are extremely good value for money and great for saving floor space. The Fishman Tonedeq and the L.R Baggs Venue DI are great pedals that allow you to sculpt your tone and boost your volume; the Fishman has the edge over the L.R Baggs with its inbuilt reverb, delay, chorus, tremolo and flanger effects.
Many solo musicians overlook the benefits a simple beat brings to the table. A small wooded stompbox is inexpensive, adds texture to your playing and helps you and the audience settle into a nice steady groove. The Ruach Road Stompbox offers an authentic bass drum sound and looks great with an acoustic guitar.
A lot of venues allow you to use their PA equipment which can be handy but not always the best decision. The venue could have old and knackered gear which will only make you sound horrible or it may be overly complicated and a pain to set up!
Investing in small mixing desk will be mean you always have something you know how to use and can be a back up if any problems occur with a venues in house system. The Allen and Heath ZEDi series is a great option with build in guitar DI’s, effects engine and strong housing. A little bonus feature with the ZEDi series is that they double up as an audio interface for multitrack recording and it comes with Cubase recording software!
There are a lot of different powered speakers on the market but it important that you invest in a pair that is light weight and sound great. You may need your speakers less than any other of the previously mentioned equipment but if you go down the line of performing at weddings, birthdays, BBQs and private functions you may find you need them quite a lot. A company that offers a great range of low cost powered speakers is Alto. Their Truesonic line, specifically their TS210’s, are light weight and extremely powerful at 1100 watts.
Microphones have a huge impact on how your sound, a cheap mic will sound tinny and be more prone to feedback than better quality products like the Sennheiser E835, E935 or Shure SM58. Although the SM58 has the more popular legendary name the Beta version is more true to the classic sound and costs more than the Sennheisers. It’s always good to have 2 in case 1 gives up in the middle of a set.
Last but not least, leads. Make sure to invest in good quality XLR cables that are a sufficient length. You’re better having it rather than looking for it!
Make sure you try out any products and know they are right for you, those mentioned above are ones that I’ve used or have seen and heard others use over the years.
Thanks for reading, and good luck gigging!