Strings and Things
These are things chosen to be under $40, in most case under $20 and in many cases under $10.
- #1 My #1 Tele is strung light so I can work on Country bending. The Strings I tend to go for are Ernie Ball Super Slinky, which run .009-.042. I'm considering going up to .010-.046, to Ernie Ball Regular Slinky. Musician's Friend can give you great deals on 10-packs, which I am sure to use but not waste. I usually end up changing strings on this one about every three-to-six months.
- Blanc This one is strung baritone, BEADF#B instead of EADGBE, so it needs a much heavier string. I go for Ernie Ball Not Even Slinky strings, .012-.056.
- Acoustic I've been going lighter and lighter for my acoustic, hunting a decent gauge Ernie Ball Earthwood Lights are where I'm leaning now.
- Old Standby This is my Ibanez acoustic that I've had forever, with a broken neck and no frets. Because it has no frets and no pickup, I hardly ever use this for anything but playing myself to sleep. So, slick strings that can last forever are exactly what this one needs. A set of Elixir Nanowebs, acoustic light gauge, are just what the instrument needs.
- Classical This one lives with my eldest son as he conspires to get himself an electric guitar again. Any classical strings with ball ends are fine with me, because tying off a classical bridge is annoying.
- Lap Steels I have two, a Supro with legs and an Epiphone Pee Wee Les Paul with a nut extender. The Pee Wee, which I tune to A Sebastapol, tends to get cast-off strings taken off other guitars. The Supro, on the other hand, is tuned to a C6 and I've gone to a custom set of gauges
As with string sets, you can get single strings from JustStrings or your local music store.
A .022p (plain, not wound)
- Mandolin For this one, I am not picky. I'll take any mandolin string set, as long as it isn't Black Diamond.
- Fiddles Fiddle strings are surprisingly expensive. The strings I put on the fiddle I use most are D'Addario Prelude. While I'm talking about the violin, I suppose I should mention that I could really use a Kun shoulder pad.
- Picks I shouldn't be picky about picks. (Pun intended.) There are many good picks out there. But I love love love love Dunlop Ultex picks, 1mm width. They make more of a difference when you're flatpicking an acoustic guitar, but they feel great in the hand on any instrument.
- Cables I play out, and playing out means cabling up, and right now, more and more of my cables are flaking and dying. I need up to 3 10' cables, used to connect guitar to effects, effects to amp, or just guitar to amp. I would also really like a few 6" or 12" patch cables to connect effects together. Guitar Fetish has some obscenely great deals on cables.
Effects and Electronics
This is where things start getting pricier, and also further from the "I know I need this" category and closer to "I think I want this".
- Noise Gate Electric guitars can be fairly noisy, single coil guitars being the worst. A noise gate serves to cut down on the hum and buzz while keeping up the signal.
- Tuner Pedal These sit on your effects chain, allowing you to tune up with just a kick of the pedal. Boss, Korg and Petersen all make great tuner pedals.
- Transparent Drive Also known as "Clean Boost". Many effects pedals change the sound when they engage. This is often what you want. Take for example the fuzz sound on the Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction". A Transparent Drive is the opposite, trying to evenly and cleanly add gain to the signal. The Danelectro Transparent Drive pedal is an inexpensive entry into this category.
- Overdrive Here we're getting more into the "Satisfaction" thing. The DigiTech Bad Monkey is an inexpensive example of what I'm going for.
- Attenuator This is kind of the opposite. Imagine you're straight out roaring, but want to back off so the singer can sing. This pedal, specifically the Electro-Harmonix Nano Signal Pad in this case, turns you down. Yeah, you can use the volume knob, but sometimes your hands are busy.
- Volume Pedal This is a pedal that serves like a volume knob, allowing you to mute your system. You can also use them to do volume swells. Ernie Ball makes a series of built-like-a-tank volume pedals, and Morley also has a few nice ones.
- Vibrato Vibrato is variation in pitch. They sound cool. Danelectro makes a vibrato pedal that's not too expensive.
- Digital Delay Delay pedals allow you to have your signal repeat. Think the slapback of rockabilly, or the Edge's guitar in U2. What I really want here, what I can't do with my existing gear, is reverse delay, which takes what you play and repeats it backwards, like Jimi Hendrix did (really reverse in the studio) on "Are You Experienced?". The Boss DD-7 and Line 6 Echo Park have this capability.
- Violin Pickup I'm forseeing a chance to play out more if I can get one of my violins set up to play in an electronic setting. Thus, I would like a pickup on the fiddle. My initial thought is going with Fishman but the Shadow SV1 and SV2 seem like they would work, for much less.
- Power All those pedals, not to mention the ones I already have, either have many many "wall wart" power adapters or go through 9-volt batteries. The 1 Spot serves as one adapter for several pedals.
You may want to stop reading here.
- Amplification I do not have any amps rated to play next to a drummer. This, to my mind, is the next step. The solid state choice would be something like a Fender Frontman 65R or Frontman 212R. Having 2 amps would allow me to play one and let Niel play on the other. Of course, tube wattage, pound-for-pound, is louder than solid state wattage, so if I could get a tube amp of up to 60 watts, that would be better.
- Bass I want a bass. You can get a Rondo bass-and-amp setups for not much more than $100. Eric has expressed interest in the low end, too, so he could use it when I'm not using it.
- Steel I've done enough with lap steel that now I want a pedal steel, too. Carter makes a starter-level pedal steel they call the Starter.
- Fretless Playing the fretless acoustic makes me curious. Rondo has a fretless LesPaul-style that looks just nice, and at much less than you can get one from Gibson or Epiphone.
- Hot Rod This is a long-term interest for me, a guitar with everything I'm dreaming about in a hot guitar. I'm a Tele guy so I'd go for a Tele body and neck. I've been very happy with my low-end SX STL50 from Rondo, so that will do. Beyond that, I want:
- Banjo Tuners on the E and A strings for quick retuning Schaller D-Tuners should fit the SX or modern Fender tuning holes - $100
- High-output "Rails" bridge pickup Joe Bardens are the end-all for this class (That's what Danny Gatton used) but Seymour Duncan Hot Rails would be fine. - $80
- My intention is to mount this pickup to the body, so a Strat-style hardtail bridge would be good to mount six saddles for a ... Graphtech Ghost system Piezo pickups to use for acoustic emulation. Being graphite, they'd be lubricated for
- a B-Bender Ultimately I would want a Parsons-White or Parsons-Green style Bender, or a Glaser, but I think a Hipshot would be a good first stop.
- Fernandes FSK401 Sustainer Kit This has a single-coil-sized driver.
Of course, part of the joy of this is the learning of it, putting it together and making it work.