2021 Review: Gigging Gear

Rather than do a ‘best of’ style post, every year I’m going to do a rundown of what gear we started with and what gear we ended up with – along with a discussion of why.

Previous posts in this series: [2019][2020]

tl;dr

Thanks to the pandemic, it’s been a second year of no gigs and no rehearsals for us. 2022 was looking hopeful, but at the time of writing, we’re waiting to see what happens with the latest variants.

Decision Made: Goodbye Acoustasonic

Back in 2019, I sold my Taylor T5z, and picked up an Auden 45 Bowman to be my main gigging guitar, with my Fender Acoustasonic Telecaster as its backup. This year, I sold off the Fender Acoustasonic Telecaster too.

There were a couple of things that made this an easy decision:

  1. I kept struggling with the string tension on the Acoustasonic. I don’t know what it is about the Acoustasonic, but I’ve always found that the string tension felt high for its scale length. I ended up finding it much easier to play an actual acoustic guitar than one emulating one.
  2. At the start of the year, I picked up some new recording mics and did a straight head-to-head. Even with my lack of engineering skills, the mic’d up Auden sounded much better than the Acoustasonic did.

That’s not to say the Acoustasonic is a bad guitar. It isn’t. I’ve got a friend who plays one (hi Adam!) and he absolutely loves his. And, like the Taylor T5z before it, it was an important bridge guitar for me. The Acoustasonic enabled us to get out and gig, and help me realise what I want from an acoustic instrument.

Next Contestant: B&G Guitars Little Sister Crossroads

During the summer, before the Delta variant emerged, it was starting to look hopeful on the rehearsal and gigging front. That’s when I realised that I needed something to do what I used to use the Taylor T5z for.

The Taylor had been my main writing guitar for our little duo: loud enough to use unplugged, but quiet enough that I could work on arrangements well into the small hours without disturbing anyone at all. After I sold it in 2019, we started writing the arrangements together during our weekly rehearsals instead. Arguably a good move, just one that didn’t work once we couldn’t rehearse together.

Mid-2021, with the success of the vaccination programme, it was looking hopeful that we’d be able to get back to live music in 2022. It was too soon to start rehearsals again, but we did start talking about which songs we’d like to add to our set list. We agreed that I’d start learning to play the songs, so that I could start working on new arrangements for them.

As much as I love my Les Paul, it’s not the right guitar for me for this kind of thing. So I picked up a B&G Little Sister P90 Crossroads to do this on.

I’ll write up a short-term review of the guitar in the new year.

My Next Backup Guitar?

Once we’re back out gigging, we want to land more decent-length slots. We did a 30 minute opening slot for Ariana Spina in April 2019, and it gave us a taste for more. I’m going to need a backup guitar for those. There’s no way I’m comfortable doing a ticketed gig with just one instrument to hand.

I need to spend time with Merrang! to see if she’ll work as a backup guitar. I honestly doubt it – P90s into an acoustic amp?

Another possibility is Vox’s new Giulietta range. Kristi bought one this year, and my first impressions are that I’d happily gig one. Again, I need to spend time with one to help me decide (probably need to try a full rehearsal with one).

Any Plans For 2022?

I’ve no idea if we’ll be able to safely rehearse or gig in 2022.

I really hope that we can. My week used to be built around our music, and I’m missing that just as much today as I was at the start of the pandemic.

Just in case, I’m going to continue picking up the bits and pieces I need to build a pedal board for my acoustic guitar. I’m up to three items: Fender Smoulder Acoustic Drive, LR Baggs Align Session and Reverb pedals. I want to pick up the other pedals in the LR Baggs Align series, especially the Active DI and EQ pedals.

New Arrivals: October 2021

Towards the start of the month, something in me snapped. That’s the best way that I can describe it. I looked at three guitars that have fallen out of favour this year, and said to myself, “why am I not sorting this out?”

All three guitars have the same issue: I just don’t get on with their pickups atm.

One of them (The Squirrel) has a stock pickup that can’t compete with its sister guitar (Hedgehog). One of them (Dexter) has stock pickups that just deeply disappoint. And one of them (the Charvel) is already on its fourth or fifth bridge pickup, and I’m still not happy.

So this month, it’s new (to me) pickups all around. Is this going to be money well-spent, or an expensive disappointment? Read on to find out.

Continue reading “New Arrivals: October 2021”

New Arrivals: July 2021

This month has been a very special month. A couple of purchases I’ve been working towards unexpectedly all came together at the same time. And then I learned that you really do need to be careful what you wish for!

The second-hand market remains pretty flat. I did miss out on one of my bucket-list pedals though. It’s going to take me a while before I stop kicking myself over that one. I managed to pickup another great BJFe-designed pedal instead, so it wasn’t all bad 🙂

Continue reading “New Arrivals: July 2021”

New Arrivals: May 2021

Regular readers are probably bored with me talking about the state of the second hand market here, so I’ll keep that brief. Anecdotally, there still isn’t a lot of second hand gear turning up, and (again anecdotally) it’s becoming more and more common for sellers to list second-hand guitars at above-retail prices. eBay has really cut back on its offers this month too, which probably isn’t helping the situation.

This month, though, there has been a number of interesting (to me) items crop up. Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to even think about bidding on them because I’ve been into hospital for an operation, and it’ll be July before I’m fully recovered and able to lift amps and guitars again.

I was able to pick up a couple of pedals off my wish list, thankfully. And this month saw the release of a new guitar that’s completely blown me away. Read on to learn more!

Continue reading “New Arrivals: May 2021”

#PlayAlternative: Heritage Guitars

Got a short-but-sweet one, for anyone who’s after an alternative to the mighty Gibson Les Paul.

Andertons have just posted a video introducing Heritage Guitars’ Standard Series to their audience. Have a listen!

In terms of tone, I reckon it’s all there. To my ears, the H150 model sounded like a good Les Paul.

Let me know if you agree or not, in the comments below.

The PRS S2 McCarty 594 Is Finally Here!

PRS announced the S2 McCarty 594 back at Winter NAMM 2020. I ordered one the same month … and then shortly after, the global pandemic began.

I ended up cancelling my order later in 2020, as there was no sign of it actually shipping to the UK. Fast forward to March 2021, and the S2 McCarty 594 that I ordered has finally reached these shores!

What is it like? Read on to find out 🙂

Continue reading “The PRS S2 McCarty 594 Is Finally Here!”