We’d all likely agree that there are few things better than getting together with friends or a band and jamming away. But these days we’re all spending more time than ever at home. And while playing guitar on your own might not provide the same rush as being onstage or in a studio, with all the great gear available nowadays it’s just as easy to get the full-band vibe from the comfort of your bedroom.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a primer on some killer products that will help make playing solo a full-on, full-band-like blast. From amps to pedals to drum machines and beyond (we’ll assume you already have the guitar) here are some key items – and let’s save software for another time – to get you started without breaking the bank.
There’s no better place to begin than with your amp, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better sounding, more compact and downright fun model than Positive Grid’s Spark (opens in new tab).
The 40-watt practice combo took the guitar amp world by storm in 2020, with overall sales surpassing 100,1000 units. And it’s no wonder why – with 30 amp models to choose from (running the gamut from sparkly clean to crushing gain), 40 varied effects and innovative and genuinely useful features such as Smart Jam and Auto Chord, the intelligent amp allow for practicing and playing millions of songs, and you’ll sound great doing it, too.
You probably want to be sure you’re playing in tune while you’re rocking out through your Spark, and so we suggest picking up the Roadie 3 (opens in new tab), a stylish and simple tuner that you can attach right to your headstock.
Don’t be fooled by its small size – the powerful unit boasts a motor that can reach speeds of 120 RPM. There’s also next-gen vibration detection, 100+ built-in tunings and the possibility to create your own custom ones, as well as a vibrating metronome mode, a large, full-color LCD screen for easy viewing and more. Roadie 3 will even wind your new string to tension then tune it up, all in one smooth step. A little wonder, indeed.
Now that you’ve got your guitar plugged in, tuned up and ready to go, why not create your own backing tracks to jam along to? To this end, look no further than the Aeros Loop Studio (opens in new tab) by Singular Sound, which offers the ability to craft up to an amazing 36 unique loops per song, with unlimited overdubs.
The looper, arguably the most powerful on the market, also boasts a built-in mixer and flexible I/O for onboard mixing of multiple instruments or audio sources, as well as four built-in footswitches, a built-in scroll wheel for hands-free mixing, a touch-enabled screen with color coded cues and waveforms, MIDI functionality to sync with your other gear and much, much more.
Furthermore, the pedal offers up to 48 hours of recording time, and constantly updates via Bluetooth and WiFi with new functionality.
Want to add some drums to your jam? The Aeros Loop Studio also connects seamlessly to The BeatBuddy (opens in new tab), one of Singular Sound’s other innovative pedals. The BeatBuddy is one of the most realistic-sounding – and also ridiculously easy to use – drum machines on the market.
Essentially a drum machine in a pedal – just stomp on it to add fills, transitions and outros to your rhythms – the BeatBuddy sports studio-quality 24-bit sound with true stereo audio, as well as beats in more than 200 styles and 24 diverse genres, via 10 unique drum sets. And you can do it all hands-free, no programming necessary.
Other features include multi-velocity sampling, non-quantized playback and varied rhythms for an ultra-realistic sound. Furthermore, the BeatBuddy is expandable with premium library content for even more musical styles and drum set sounds, and like the Loop Station, boasts MIDI functionality to sync with your other gear.
While there are plenty of products that allow you to record your riffs and ideas on the fly (including that ever-present smartphone), a fun and easy tool is TC Electronic’s WireTap (opens in new tab) pedal.
The super-compact, true-bypass stompbox makes it possible to capture song ideas as you play, with the ability to record up to eight hours’ worth of 24-bit 44.1khz CD quality files, which can then be downloaded to a computer via the onboard mini USB socket.
Best of all, like Aeros’ Loop Studio and BeatBuddy, it offers hands-free operation. To start recording, stomp on the footswitch. To stop, hit it again. Done.
Finally, it’s important to note that with all the playing you might be doing, things might get, um, loud. So we’ll end by suggesting a cool set of cans that not only offer crystal-clear sound, but look great to boot: Vox’s VH-Q1 Smart Noise Cancelling Headphones (opens in new tab).
The brand-new design from the legendary amp maker features internal and external microphones that make them an excellent tool for guitar, picking up and isolating frequencies from your instrument or amp. You can even feed in an audio source and blend it against what you play – perfect for rehearsing or jamming to backing tracks.
And that’s not all – the VH-Q1 also supports voice assistant services and comes with a rechargeable battery that lasts 36 hours. What’s more, they’re outfitted in classic Vox black and gold, making it feel as if you’re wearing an AC-30 on your head.
You’ll never want – or need – to leave your house again.