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Thinking of Leading with an Electric Guitar?

By Troy Kennedy on January 15, 2010

We have received questions from some of our listeners on how to lead with an electric guitar vs. an acoustic guitar.  Since neither Wisdom or Ben lead "plugged in", we asked Troy Kennedy if he wouldn't mind sharing with you all his set up and any advice he might have for a leader making that transition. HUGE thanks to Troy for taking time to share with us.  (BTW: Troy will be at the upcoming AllAboutWorship retreat) Check the video below for a great rig walk thru with Troy then scroll below for a detailed list of his set up:

The best thing I can say is to keep it very simple, especially at first. It can be very distracting if you have too many elements to juggle while you are leading. Some guys should never get too deep into this stuff. It can be a hole in the ground in which to pour money. So only pursue this stuff if you need to, it is fun for you and it doesn't derail you as a lead worshiper. Consider yourself warned! (Actually, it is a lot of fun in an OCD kind of way for me.)

Start off with a Telecaster and a good low powered amp like a Vox AC15 or Fender Deluxe Reverb (Either the Hot Rod or the Reissue. I like the reissue.) Even with those amps, it is unlikely you will get the amp loud enough in your church for it to be breaking up on it's own. You will need pedals for any kind of overdrive or distortion.

Also, the digital modeling route is a great, cost effective way to go. Can sound great if you spend time dialing it in. For most churches, may be the best way to go. The Line6 X3 Live would be my recommendation. Plus, you can download artist patches online from guys like Lincoln Brewster who have it very dialed in. Great for all levels of players and the price is right!

The options are endless but here are a few ideas. Remember it can get expensive very fast. Keep it simple and take your time developing your rig. Don't add to it until you are very comfortable with your basic setup

Basic entry level, inexpensive setup:

Telecaster

Vox AC15 or Fender Deluxe

Line6 M9 for effects (distortions, delays etc..)

(or bag it all and get the X3 Live!)

Mid Level:

Strat or Les Paul type guitar

Vox AC30, Fender Twin, Marshall (these are LOUD amps)

Line6 M13 (more effects options)

Fulltone Fulldrive 2 Overdrive or some tube screamer variant

Ratt Distortion, and some kind of Fuzz. Zvex (Only buy these kind pedals if you don't like the distortions/OD's in the M13. Most people will never exhaust the possibilities of the M13)

Volume pedal.

High End:

Boutique guitars like Suhr, Anderson, Tyler, Fender Custom Shop.

Effects: Either the M13 or the Fractal Audio Axe FX. There are a TON of great pedal makers out there.

I like Suhr amps for their flexibility, quality and amazing sound. EIther the Badger 18, Badger 30 or PT50/100. The Badger amps incorporate something called power scaling that allows you to get power amp break up at low volumes. VERY COOL! Also a hand wired AC30 is really nice.

This is my rig (right now):

Guitars- Suhr S1, Suhr M2, Anderson Atom - elixir strings and cable.

Effects - M13, Lovepedal Eternity, Suhr Koko Boost, Radial amp switcher.

Amps - Suhr Badger 18 through open back 2x12 with a blue and H30. Suhr PT50 (3 channels) through 2x12 closed back with Scumback M75's (better versions of a celestion greenback to my ears.)

warning! - I play my amps at very high volumes because we keep the cab's in iso boxes backstage. Otherwise, I would stick to the Badger, power scaled amps or a direct rig like the Line6 X3Live or Fractal AxeFX. Most popular amps like the Ac30 are just too loud for church applications without a tone of baffling.

-Troy
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