Gigging Singer Songwriters: What You Need
So you’ve decided to do it. Cast off the shackles of oppression and strike out on your own. Who needs them? They were holding you back! How can a song sound “too much like Bob Dylan” anyway? I am of course talking about solo singer songwriting (say that 3 times fast by the way). Here at Kenny’s Music, we say good for you! Also, you’re going to need some stuff so let’s have a chat about that.
For the purposes of not just talking about everything under the sun, we’re gonna go ahead and assume that we are discussing acoustic guitar playing singer songwriters, because these are the ones that we tend to see most of. It may seem obvious, but the first thing you’re going to need is a guitar of some description, and for this purpose, we’d recommend an electro-acoustic. Why? Well because even the best acoustic has its limits, and at some point you’re gonna have to play it through an amp, speaker, PA or similar. A guitar which already has means to do this is gonna make life a whole lot easier.Obviously electro acoustics can be found at all price points, but my recommendation would be not to be tempted by something really affordable, and there are a couple of reasons for this. The first is sound quality. This guitar has to be your entire band, so you want it to sound great, and when we get into acoustics tonewoods reeeally matter. The second is build quality. Again, this guitar is your whole sound, other than your voice of course, so you want something that’s going to be super reliable.
Depending on where you’re playing, this might be overkill, but it certainly won’t hurt you to have your own (during the pandemic, I was asked to provide my own for a rehearsal space. Just saying). I would recommend a dynamic microphone with a cardioid polar pattern. It’s also worth having a decent mic stand and a couple of XLR cables.
Again, depending on the size of venue you’re playing, this might not be a must have. But it’s great to have something available if needed. Most acoustic amps will give you the ability to play small gigs, tight spaces and, if you get a battery powered model, even gives you the option of busking. Just make sure it’s got enough oomph for you to be heard, and that it’s got a second channel to run your microphone into or you are going to end up incredibly hoarse, but at least you’ll have a lift home! (I’m sorry).
This is a really solid option if the goal is to get out there and play as much as possible. This allows you to play venues that don’t have their own sound systems, so gives you the ability to take on things like weddings, small pub gigs, birthday parties,charity events and everything else you can think of really. There are a couple of great options that are designed to be portable and easy to set up, which is ideal for you as a one man band.
Now there’s a vague title, but it kind of has to be because other stuff you might need is completely dependent on what kind of music you’re putting out there. You might just need a tuner (Yes, you do!). You might need some distortion, a looper, a harmony pedal, some reverb, a bit of delay and a kitchen sink (unfortunately we don’t stock these, and I’m not sure I approve of whatever it is you’re trying to create). You might even want some basic percussion, or somewhere to sit your guitar down mid set. The choice is entirely yours.
Hopefully this has given you some kind of jumping off point into the murky waters of what you might need as a burgeoning singer songwriter. There are no real right on wrong answers here. If what you need is a chorus, a flange, a phaser and a wah pedal because you’ve got something really specific in mind, then that’s what to get (and I really want to hear what you’re up to). This blog is only really intended to serve as a sort of “common tools of the trade” to give an idea of what you might like to look at.