by Rick Carson
So you have a little bit of extra cash after Christmas, and you're looking for some things to spend it on. Here are a few ideas for gear every musician should own:
Guitarists and bassists
1. Tuning pedal
I know you're saying to yourself, "I already own a tuner, and it's a rack-mounted Korg!" Trust me on this one: You can never be too in tune, and the pedal route is an easy one.
They're not likely to break like a clip-on tuner and handheld tuners are not made for the rigorous demands of actually jamming with other people. Plus plus plus: It has a mute switch so you can shut up.
Boss tu-3 , TC Poly Tune.
2. A big box of strings and picks
While also not very exciting to come home with on the day after Christmas, these are what I would consider consumable items. You lose them, and they break, both of which will stop you from making music. How are you going to be the biggest things in Nebraska if you're not making music? Buy some strings.
Strings: As far as strings go, it's a personal preference. I like Ernie Ball Slinkys and Beefy Slinkys, but they sound dead in literally one day. Doesn't matter to me, though. I recorded all the guitars in that one day and they sounded great.
Picks: Whatever you like. Dunlop Tortex .73 for me though. Keep 'em chalky.
3. A new pedal
This should actually be No. 4, but I'm putting it at No. 3 because it is more exciting than what really needs to be here. Pedals are one thing you love or hate as a guitarist. They make things noisier. Bass players, on the other hand, should always have one pedal in their arsenal.
For guitarists, I suggest starting with a distortion pedal. Any Ibanez Tubescreamer would be a good place to start. They can be use as an all-around gain boost or as a great distortion. It makes distortion sound more fluid. I have a secret use for the Tubescreamer and own six different models. They are like Pokemon to me and I will catch them all!
For bass players, get a SansAmp pedal. Black or silver, I don't care. Get a SansAmp pedal.
Get anything with a lifetime warranty. This is all that matters. Oxygen-free cables are cool, and silver is the best conductor, but a lifetime warranty is all that matters. I buy cables once. I am totally that guy returning cables when they break. I also make a lot of my own cables. When they break, I have to fix them. Trust me from firsthand experience. I like it a lot more when other people fix them.
You break these things and they fly off in shards like arrows at your band members. Buy a lot. This is war.
2. Drum heads
Drums sound like shit when the heads are dead. We will be talking about which heads to buy later but buy some heads. Change them often and get used to doing it. I know it sucks and it takes a long time but it makes a difference and people will notice how awesome you are.
Scott from Arrows and Matt from The Seen are both on top of that shit. Give them a high five at shows and say thanks for the new drum heads, I appreciate it.
3. A big box of exotic and random drummer bullshit.
I'm talking about fine circles of felt from Persia and blue gel from the moon. Get all the wingnuts a man could ever need.
1. Get an Sm57
This is the standard live mic. It will never hurt to own one and using your own is actually 100 times more hygienic.
2. A handheld recorder to take down some notes and practice
It will also get you really familiar with your own voice.
3. Some sleep after all the booze
Take that cash, buy some honey tea, and chill out.
Refer to the section on guitars. When you hit No. 3, change out the new pedal for a capo and a bottle of whiskey, and you are all set.
Rick Carson is a Hear Nebraska contributor. He works as record producer and mixing engineer at Make Believe Studios. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.