Equipment I Use
I'm often asked by students about what music instruments and equipment to buy, so here are some tried and tested recommendations, along with links.
I bought my blue Aria Elecord about 20 years ago in a shop on Charing Cross Road, and it's still working well 2 decades later. It's earned its keep many times over as my busking guitar in London for 2 years, when I probably made its value every week!
I'll be adding more of my guitars soon, as I have several, including Crafter and Fender electro acoustics, a Fender 12 string, an Epiphone, a Gretsch and a Hofner violin bass, plus other instruments, including a mandolin, guitalele, a dulcimer, an autoharp, a bouzouki, a violin and a cello
Rocket 1/2 or 3/4 size acoustic guitars are good for young beginners with smaller hands.
I have a couple of Mahalo ukuleles, a basic model and an electro acoustic. They're great little instruments, durable and fun to play.
The links are 2 models with various colour options and below is one that includes extras including a tuner, so you don't have to buy that separately, plus a link for an electro acoustic concert ukulele that you can plug into an amp, which is therefore more expensive.
TUNERS, CAPOS AND STRINGS
A capo tuner is a great all in one option, which means you can tune up and also change the key of any song by clipping it on any fret.
A good tip is to check your tuning again once you put the capo on, as using a capo can affect your tuning. This is particularly important when recording or playing live.
Alternatively, you may prefer to have a separate capo and tuner, especially as the 2-in-1 capo tuner can be a little bulky and some may feel it gets in the way of your left hand fretting. Therefore, I've added links for separately buying a tuner and capo. This capo comes with 6 free plectrums too, so overall both options work out pretty similar in price.
I have both a Yamaha and a Casio keyboard that have lasted many years, so I believe these makes are reliable, along with Roland keyboards, which tend to be more expensive.
The links are for some decent Casio and Yamaha keyboards to learn on for a budget price, but more advanced students may wish to invest in more expensive models.
It's worth trying out mics in a shop to see what works best for your voice, as different timbres of voice are enhanced by different microphones.
I have an Audio Technika MB1K mic that is inexpensive and seems to warm up my voice more than the more commonly used Shure mics, and I'm thinking of trying the slightly more expensive MB3K too.
I've also included a link for the SM58, as this is one you'll find in many venues if you plan to go out gigging, plus a link for a lower budget Shure mic.
For recording, I use an SE Z3300a mic, which I've found works well for my voice compared to many more expensive mics. It came with studio extras including a sounds baffle for less than £200 a few years back. I'm not sure if they're produced anymore, but you may find one on ebay.
I busked for 2 years on London Underground 2003-2005 using the Peavey solo portable sound system. It has an XLR input for the mic and a 1/4" jack input for a guitar, keyboard or other instrument. You can plug it into a socket or use 8 batteries. I used rechargeable ones as this was more economical in the long term.
I also have a Bose L1 PA system for gigs, which you can plug a mic and instrument into directly, or you can plug in a mixer to it's stereo input for more channels.
The Roland also works for vocal and an instrument, like keyboards or guitar, and Rockjam amp is a low budget option into which you can just plug one instrument or microphone into. N.B. In both cases, you'd need a lead that's XLR from the mic to 1/4" jack. Some amps have XLR inputs, so you'd use XLR to XLR, as in the case of the Peavey amp and Bose PA mentioned above.
1/4 jack to 1/4" jack are used for most instruments like guitars and keyboards for example, and mics are connected by XLR at the microphone end and either 1/4" jack or another XLR depending on the input on the amp.
I've included links for all 3 types.
Here are some books for inspiration. The Frustrated Songwriter's Handbook and The Art Of Songwriting are full of tips and ideas to spark your imagination and Songwriters On Songwriting contains a multitude of first hand accounts of how a vast array of world famous songwriters create their songs... enjoy!