I have just recently added the electric guitar and am trying to figure out what to start out with. I need to buy an amp also so if you have any pointers let me know. We are a small congregation that is growing rapidly and am anticipating have the full band together in about a month. Any help on this would be awesome. Peace, blessings and chik-fil-a!

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Will,

Not sure if you have bought your gear yet, and if you have let us know what you bought.

You could ask me the same question a year from now, you might get a different answer. You ask 10 people, you'll get 10 answers. =) So with that disclaimer...


I think for effects the debate is always multi-effects vs. (single) stomp-boxes. There are also some purist out there who say you don't need any effects as long as you have a nice tube amp. Search the google for details.

However, from my personal experience, the effects I use nearly every Sunday are:

- Distortion (add some dirt to electric guitar)
- Chorus/Reverb (fattens up the sound when playing rhythm parts)
- Delay (more 'wet' sound for solos and clean parts)

Sometimes the distortion is from Tube Amp modeling, sometimes from Overdrive pedal emulation or both. I've also found a tremolo pedal is nice to have here and there. Wah/Volume pedal has come in handy over the years. Saved me number of times when I was on the verge of feedback back or blasting the audience.


Some gear that I have/used and would recommend to others:
- Boss SD-1 (U2's edge uses this) great asymmetrical clipping pedal
- Boss BD-2 blues driver. pretty common fair as well. You can get nice warm, fat sounds
- Line6 DL4 great delay pedal. Can be used as a looper as well
- Line6 MM4 great modulation pedal. All the basic chorus, phase, leslie and flanger sounds you need to start

Some other gear I've heard is good
- DigiTech Bad Monkey is supposed to be a great 'budget' distortion pedal. never used it.
- TC Electronics Nova Delay is competes with Line DL4 as one of the best delays

Final statement. If I had to choose between skimping on the pedals or the amp, I'd spend the money on a good tube amp. Many famous people have gotten great tone with the most basic set-up. Someone once said the sound is in the "fingers".

( For the record, I use a POD XT live now almost exclusively, DI into the Sound System. I have a lot of 'vintage' pedals, but found them to too much trouble. I spend the week pre-programming it before Sunday, tap-tap and I'm done. As I'm getting older, I realized I was willing to trade 'tone' for 'simplicity' on Sunday mornings. Recording and gigs are different story. )
Agreed with the Nova. My friend has one and I covet it. I told him to give it to me because it was making me stumble but he still said no. Apparently he doesn't read his Bible!
If you aren't doing so, get with a reputable instructor and start taking lessons. This is something I've seen many musicians who get started via church ignore. I am largely self-taught, but my progress would have been soooo much better in the early years had I taken lessons.
I'm with Jeremiah. There's a huge difference in where you will be if you stay self-taught .vs. if you get some lessons. Even with the great online resources, you'll be much further along if you have someone to keep opening up new ways for you to improve.
I'm not sure what you're working with already, but I find that hollow-body or semi-hollow-body electric guitars lend themselves to a "transitioning" style worship better than solid bodied ones. By "transitioning" I mean moving from acoustic only to full band (musically). Semi-hollow/hollow body guitars have a fatter warmer tone to begin with and they are capable of more organic tones than solid body guitars, which are primarily designed to melt faces. I'm not saying that's bad, just that you might not want to make the jump to that right away.

DISCLAIMER: I'm a tone snob and I'm ok with it.

As far as amps, there are a lot of choices out there. I'm a tube man myself. I think you get a better quality of product and of sound for your money. The main thing is to pick one that fits your venue. If you are a small and medium size church you won't even need anything over 15-20 watts. Any dude at a music shop that shows you anything over that just likes big amps. Even if you move to bigger venues just mic the amp (you'd be doing that with bigger amp anyway). Some to think about: Fender Blues Junior, Egnator Rebel 20.

I'm not much for multi-effect pedals. I find them too confining. The easiest way to get started with effects is to keep it simple. I'd start with a BOSS TU-2 Tuner (or another higher quality tuner that features a stomp mute button that allows you to interrupt the signal). You can pick up things as you go.
Next get a distortion or overdrive pedal. Nothing that looks like it was made in the depths of hell unless you' in that heavy metal church. Stick with an effect that will give you a nice dirty sound without making you sound like Dave Mustaine (you can also tweak your amp to have a break as well so that your sound gets dirtier the harder you play, but stays cleaner when you strum or pick softly
After that you can pretty much go where ever you'd like. I went for delay next and picked up a Line6 DL4 delay, which is a surprisingly standard pedal in the rigs of worship guitarists.

After you get a tuner, dirt and delay, everything else is gravy (tremolo, reverb, ANOTHER delay, compressor, ANOTHER overdrive, wah/volume, synthesizers...the possibilities are endless).

The biggest thing to remember when choosing gear is that you will get what you pay for. $200 guitars DO NOT sound or perform like guitars that cost $700 and up. Obviously, budget your money well and even a $10,000 guitar won't cover up crappy skills.

I would disagree with the addition of a chorus pedal. A good reverb will fatten your sound better and the chorus effect has become stylistically dated. Also DO NOT waste your money on a phaser. They're like the font Comic Sans. As soon as you see it you write everything else off as dated and irrelevant.
Hey, Will

Need a few basic facts first. ...
- How many people are you playing to?
- What age demographic are you playing for?
- What other musicians do you have in the team? Singers?
- What kind of music are you playing / do you see your team playing?
- What is the building you are playing in (physical characteristics from an audio perspective)?
- Do you have to setup and tear down each week?
- What kind of budget do you want to put into this? What does the church want to put into this?

There are a lot more questions, but these are the first to start with. There is no all-around-right answers, but there are some definitely wrong answers. For instance,
- Louder is not better
- Adding mud to a system does not clean up bad sound
- ...
Hey Will. A couple of things from my experience.

-Nothing beats a good tube amp for both warm clean, slightly overdriven, and rockin heavy tones. I grew up on metal so I tend to want a bit more dirt when I'm playing (esp. lead) but a tube amp is going to be the best sounding and most flexible. My favorite to play thru is our Fender Blues Deluxe Reissue. This sounds good whether I'm playing clean, slightly overdriven, or completely dirty. And it is flexible enough to play smaller venues and larger ones (our church attendance is roughly 600 per service).

-When I first started, all of the veteran guitarists had old-school Boss pedals and suggested that I get the same. When I priced it out I realized that I was going to spend upwards of $400 to get some basic effects, a good tuner, and a case. The guy at guitar center suggested I check out the Boss ME-50 multi-effects and I was really impressed. I paid just over $300 and have everything I could ever want and more. I consistently get comments from our sound guys and members that they love my tone over the guys that play through the actual stomp boxes. (*My main guitar is an old 78 Ibanez Les Paul copy with Seymour Duncan P-Rail pickups, FYI).

-With all that being said, we recently switched from using amps to using the POD XT Live directly into our system and it sounds phenomenal. (I still use my ME-50 thru it for my basic effects). If you have the money to spend it's definitely worth it because you get effects and awesome amp models in one. This pedal plus a great tube amp would be the ultimate setup because there's nothing you couldn't pull off. Some will tell you that multi-effects pedals don't have good tone but I've found that as long as you spend the money on a good unit and take the time to get the tone you want your sound will be amazing. (On a side-note, Lincoln Brewster plays exclusively through the XT Live direct in for his live sound. I personally find his tone amazing).

One last thing...I totally agree with Jeremiah. Lessons will help you improve exponentially if you can find a good teacher. Guitars, amps, and effects mean nothing if you can't play well.

PS, Ignore the amp in the picture I uploaded. I bought that in my metal days and only use it for student ministries when we're playing really heavy stuff.
Attachments:
Correction...we use the POD X3 Live. Sorry about that!
There are a couple of things to keep in mind considering lessons:

1- you CAN approach an electric just like an acoustic and strum. You'll do this a bunch anyhow, but if your purpose is to lead-fill, the approach to how you use the instrument is entirely different than strumming an acoustic. Lessons will help you quickly overcome the different approach. jazz, blues, and classic/southern rock are possible genres to explore. Personally I find the study of jazz too cumbersome.

2 - I'm making generalizations here, so forgive me if I stomp on toes. Most that get started in church read chord 'vamp' charts. These kinds of guitar players have no theory and no fundamentals. A general lack of theory will make it difficult to lead-fill/solo. How on earth can you pick the right triad when you don't know what a chord progressions is, the key you are in or even what a triad is? Lead-fill/soloing will move you from elementary guitar player to musician and will require lots (lifetime) of study. I navigated this ocean without lessons, it was slow. In several cases I was teaching myself the right thing, but was so unsure because I had chosen not to accept any help and had no one to confirm my efforts.
Sorry man. You're not a dummy, and not meaning to come off that way if I implied as much to anyone. Improvisation just requires a deeper understanding of music - that's all I'm saying.

I dunno what else to call them, Lyrics with the Chord symbols written above/below the words. *shrug* must people read 'em and vamp, or strum the chords. Kinda like band kids or choir kids read notes without having any idea what/why the notes are occurring in semi-regular patterns. Heck, a lot of the band kids in college couldn't tell you what key they were in either.

I would say, either a fender blues jr/hrdlx and a boss multi fx unit. After becoming familiar with the different types of effects and signal chain, you can then become a snob and build yourself a pedal board of single units.By this time, you will also know what you need for the style of worship you play.

 

 I have a zillion pedals on a huge board that is always changing. I also have a boss gt 10 for the in a rush days. Aside from getting 85-95% of the tone as the BOOTIQE stuff, they are simply agreat deal. The routing of the GT 10 and quick tweakability are 2nd to none. I am personally excited about the new GT12; I will surly be getting one.

 

You can run into an amp, or FOH. I ALWAYS run the fender clean preamp (when FOH) with pedals in the loop -  MI audio blue boy deluxe, classic distortion - very usable tone. I dare say that a tele with the BBD is one of the most usable rigs for moden worship.

Also, the GT 10 allows for a .8 delay with the added FX1 and FX2 being sub delays - PERFECT for modern P@W.

 

You have the rest of your life to spend big bucks on gear.

 

If you have any questions, please pm. I would be more than happy to discuss pedals and rigs in attempts at you making right moves, thus not blowing $.

Will,

I'm about 2 years into playing in the worship band at my church. We're pretty "cutting edge" as far as worship goes. I went into this whole thing not having a clue, but have learned a ton from a few guys with a lot of experience in worship oriented gear. As a couple people have said, it does sort of depend on your style of music and your audience and, of course, how much money you want to spend. This is what I currently play with each Sunday:

 

1. Get yourself a good guitar. I found a USA Telecaster on Craigslist for about $600. In my opinion, the Tele is the most widely played guitar in worship music and it really doesn't pay to play on a cheap guitar unless you have to. Worship music is largely about TONE and a beginner guitar won't be able to deliver. I learned this lesson from experience.

 

2. Get yourself a nice tube amp. I went with a Fender Blues Jr. and it sounds fantastic. You can find them if you look around anywhere from $300-$600. Tube amps will give you a warmer, richer tone than something that is solid state. If you've got a bit more money to spend, a ton of worship guitarists use the Vox AC30 (including Chris Tomlin's guitarist and of course The Edge from U2 who owns 30 of them, seriously.)

 

3. Effects - here's where it gets interesting. Some guitarists will use a multi-effects pedal just for simplicity. That's fine for some folks, but I think you sacrifice some authenticity and tone with the all-in-one type pedals. I got rid of my POD and moved into the realm of buying individual pedals and couldn't be happier. Here's what I'm running right now on my pedal board. If you were to purchase pedals, I'd recommend purchasing your pedals in this order just based on use. Again, just my opinion.

 

1. Overdrive - I use a Fulltone OCD overdrive pedal, but the Ibanez Tubescreamer is almost the standard. Fulltone makes some other nice overdrive pedals as well.

2. Tuner - the Boss TU-2 or TU-3 is widely used. The PolyTune is also cool and the latest rage.

3. Delay - HUGELY important in modern worship music. I run the Boss DD-20 and am planning on picking up a Line 6 DL-4. Many guitarists have more than one delay pedal on their boards. These two pedals are affordable (<$200), but you can spend a lot more on some of the more unique pedals like an Eventide Timefactor or an Empress Superdelay. Other reasonable pedals that are good include the Boss DD-7, DD-5, and the MXR Carbon Copy.

4. Reverb - I use the Electro Harmonix Holy Grail (nano) and it does all I could ever want for normal everyday reverb. I also use a Line 6 Verbzilla which is cool for ambient reverb effects. One reverb pedal is sufficient for most players.

5. Volume pedal - these are relatively inexpensive. Most people use the Ernie Ball. You'll need one of these for producing swells.

6. Wah - I don't use wah a ton, but it's helpful for some songs (Mighty to Save for example). I run the standard Crybaby Wah. You can find these used for under $100.

7. Clean boost - I use a boost pedal just to boost when I need extra volume. I picked up an Electro Harmonix LPB1 for about $40 new. There are probably better models out there, but this one was cheap and it does what it's supposed to do.

 

Other stuff -there are plenty of other miscellaneous pedals out there that will give you some really cool sounds, but they definitely should be purchased after the pedals listed above. You can go as crazy as you want with these extra pedals or choose to avoid them altogether.

 

Rotary - I run the Boss RT-20. It's cool for a rotary / leslie sound.

Tremelo - a lot of people run the Boss TR-2

Phaser - for something inexpensive, I see a lot of people using the MXR Phase90.

Compressor - most guitarists have a compressor and run it sometimes non-stop just as a tone-shaper. I'm not completely convinced yet of it's value, but it does make a difference in your sound. I use the Boss CS-3, but honestly don't like it much. It's noisy. I've been considering dumping it and going with the Signa Comp which is a little more money, but a nicer pedal in my opinion.

Synth pedals - these pedals are really cool; you can make your guitar sound like an organ and do some other cool things. They are a bit pricey, but still neat. Our other guitarist uses the POG.Chris Tomlin's guitarist uses the Micro-POG.

Octave - there are many different brands of octave pedals out there. I don't use one, but may look into it somewhere down the line.

 

Hey, I hope this helps. There are tons of varying opinions on effects and amps and guitars out there. This is just mine. I've found that this setup works very nicely for me. Good luck!

 

 

 

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