Equipment Needed to Start a Band
Hey all! This is a follow up of my hub, How to Start a Band: A step-by-step guide. In it, is a brief description of some of the basic equipment you'll need to get you and your bandmates rocking and rolling in no time. I've decided, however, to get a little bit more detailed as equipment is a vital part of what makes up a band.
In this hub I'm only going to go over the four major members and their necessary equipment. I'm going to give reasons and explanations for some instruments and accessories over others and elaborate on the information from what I originally put in my previous hub. So here we go!
A singer has an important job in the band, this position is often synonymous with the face and sometimes referred to as the "frontman." Even if you are a talented singer there is a lot of pressure that comes from performing. The ability to maintain your singing while under pressure can be a true testament to one's level headedness and composure. I'll reference another hub of mine called, Tips on Improving your Singing. I go over several good points that you can look over. I recommend just browsing and finding what works for you.
Now all things considering there isn't much necessary for a singer. Equipment wise, it's the easiest job. I personally own two microphones, a Shure SM58 and a Sennheiser e945. I bought two because each offers a different sound. Between the two though, I prefer the SM58. It has a more robust, loudness, and it doesn't seem as muted as the Sennheiser.
*The reason why each microphone gives a different sound is how polar patterns are used. Since this is extremely intricate, I'll leave that between you and wikipedia*
- Mic stands- A standard mic stand isn't always a must. You can get wireless technology for your microphones if you prefer a lot of movement. Rap artists and metal artists can have a lot of exaggerated, violent movements that can be interrupted because of cables. If you play an instrument while singing, a boom stand as opposed to a round base stand would be necessary.
For an entire band to function there are some things that are outside each specific member. Mainly how will you all be able to hear yourselves! Luckily drums are loud enough, and luckily most guitars and bass guitars have speakers along with them. However a singer has to be loud enough to be heard by all the members. You'll need to look into some things to get going. Firstly, a set of monitors. These are your speakers, all the sound comes out of these and if placed and set up correctly, each member will be able to hear each other and everything will sound great!
Once you have your monitors, you'll need a mixing board. This is used for the microphones. From the microphone to the mixer, the mixer then must connect to an amplifier by itself. This powers everything. Without an amplifier your voice signal would be too weak and you still wouldn't be heard by your other members. So what is needed?
- A pair of speakers
- A mixing board
- An amplifier
There is some debate with a fellow musician friend of mine over the use of a PA system. This can act as a mixer/amplifier. Make sure you get a good one otherwise it'll overheat and clip out.
Things to look for in a guitar:
- What kind of wood is it made out of?
- What kind of body does it have and is it comfortable to hold? Sitting? Standing?
- What kind of head does it have? Is it possible to change the tuning or does it have a set standard.
- How are the reviews on it?
- How is the "action," meaning, how does it feel to brush your fingers across the neck.
- Are the frets easy to play? Is it smooth?
- Does it feel good? Overall, does it make you go, "yes."
There is so much that can be considered as far as a guitar goes. Electric or acoustic is probably the easiest first question to answer (of course there is electric acoustic as well) Once you've narrowed that down. Where do you go from there? Well this is an extremely difficult question to answer because of a few reasons. Each individual will find that they may like something about a guitar that another person may not. Ultimately what it boils down to is what do you like? I highly recommend visiting a local music shop and browsing. Ask the employees questions because they will know their stock and can help narrow down what you're trying to find.
For beginning guitarists, I would highly recommend an acoustic guitar. The main reason is because you can choose between steel strings or nylon. Nylon is easy on the fingers and allows for one to learn to motions without much pain. Steel strings dig into your fingers, until you develop your calluses, it will be uncomfortable. Pro-tip.
Picking out a guitar can be daunting but more often than not you will find that one that screams your name and you must have it. I've got several guitars and out of all of them I'm only unhappy with one. Don't buy boxed guitars.
- Guitar strap- comfort is most important when picking out a strap. Second most important thing is will the guitar fall off. For either an electric or acoustic guitar, make sure this doesn't happen.
- Guitar amplifier- this is almost as difficult as choosing a guitar. There are many different technologies out there. However I've decided to keep this brief, get a tube amp. Ask your local music shop, look online. This is where the noise will come from, you want to make sure it sounds the best possible. This will be expensive.
- Pedals- this is based solely on what kind of music you will be playing. If at all possible I'd recommend a pedal board with hundreds of different sounds already programmed in. It allows you to experiment at much less cost overall and you can also have tons of fun with it. Rock and roll you could use an octavator, metal you will use the heaviest distortion. You could even mess around with a flanger or crunch. There are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands (I might be exaggerating) of sounds for you to potentially use. Let your imagination and creativity decide.
These are a science by itself but I will leave you with some pointers when looking for the right kind to buy. Durability. This will come first before deciding on the rest of the cable. The most durable cable you can get is a clothed guitar cable. Enough said. Again ask a local music shop what they have, they can narrow down what'll work best for you. The 1/4'' connectors that you use to plug in your guitar is also something important to consider, what is the metal used? This is important because of conductive elements which can produce and give better quality sound. Gold, silver, copper, nickel, etc. These along with cable length change the price drastically.
The bassist. Often the quiet misunderstood member, or crazy as can be. There is never a bassist I've known who wasn't all the way of one way or the other. A lot of what was said for the guitarist can be said for the bassist. The only major difference is strings, you'll need an entirely different type of strings than the guitar AND what type of amplifier you use.
Not all amplifiers have a speaker built in, most of the time, you'll have a separate cabinet that is comprised of two different parts. An amplifier and a speaker. That is how you get the sound.
If you have any further questions regarding the bass, I ask you please refer to the guitar section. Most of what I covered there was meant to describe both of these instruments. I will however go over an important part that is used in both instruments for this section.
- Pickups- a pickup is an electronic device that "picks up" mechanical vibrations and amplifies, broadcasts or records it. There are different kinds for different purposes, from a humbucker, to single coil, to magnetic coil. Each has it's use, depending upon the type of guitar or bass you get you can interchange these parts out. These takes a little bit of electronic expertise and I don't recommend it if you aren't experienced. Leave it to the professionals, that's what they are there for!
I've left the most heavy of equipment for last. The drums are bulky, easily damaged and take up way too much space than what is good for. But they are a 100% definite in any band, percussion at least. The foundation of any good band is it's rhythm. A drummer has to control the pace and tempo of the rest of his group. I've found that in perfect cadence, a bassist and drummer in unison can make the shakiest of bands seem really well practiced. It's a trick of the trade.
Because there is so much that goes in to a drum kit and the combinations are several dozen I've found a wonderful diagram that I will use to best describe a standard kit. This picture to the right shows a 5-piece drum kit.
- Bass drum- the bass drum is the largest piece of any set. It gives a resounding boom and is played with your foot by a pedal attached to the bottom. Several drum kits today are seen with two bass drums, which has a double-bass pedal attached.
- Floor tom- the floor tom is the deepest accompaniment drum beside the bass drum. It is usually tuned in accordance to the hanging toms which can range from any number
- Snare drum- the snare drum is heard a lot in marching bands as that snappy drum that people hit really fast. It has a hinge underneath that pulls or puts on a line of metal beads which give it its "pop" sound. Hence, the snare.
- Hanging toms- higher tuned versions of the floor tom. They add a variable sound to the array of drums available to a drummer.
- Hi-hat- best way to describe the hi-hat is, if you've ever heard that slow jazz beat played in swing time movies or lounges, that's the hi-hat. If that still doesn't help, look it up on youtube.
- Crash cymbal- each of the cymbals are self explanatory. They can come in all shapes and sizes but ultimately they make loud ringing noises.
- Ride cymbal- the ride cymbal helps maintain a steady rhythmic higher frequency bang. It balances out the low frequency drums and adds to the overall music.
- Splash cymbal- the smallest of the cymbals that help maintain rhythm. The splash, along with chinas are known as accent cymbals. They accentuate the sound.
- China type- these are used to give a sharp, trashy sound in western music. They are small, almost bell like cymbals that, if not used correctly, sound terrible in my opinion.
What you determine is the best tom and cymbal for your potential kit depends on your taste. I've mentioned it before and I'll mention it again. Visit your local music shop. They will give you some good ideas to help narrow down what you're looking for.
A lot can be put into a band, equipment wise, and not all of it is necessary. Considering there is so much to think about, if I am missing anything or you disagree with something I've written in this hub then feel free to leave me a message or write me an email. All of what I have outlined in this hub is what I have learned over my years of being in a band, I will admit right now that I am a singer and have no skills with any other instrument. This is all just information I've picked up. It is also important to note, if you haven't already figured it out by now, that this is a very expensive hobby. It doesn't pay out very well unless you keep at it and even then you'd be lucky to break even. Just remember to have fun with it and if it's something you really think you want to do then by all means, pursue it!
Thanks for taking the time to read this, if you got here because of another one of my hubs then great! If not, check them out. Great info from someone with first-hand experience. Thanks and remember, have fun!
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