I'm no stranger to guitars. I've been playing for a few years now but most of my time has been spent playing solo, with a little 15 watt amp in my bedroom. It is only in recent months that my schedule opened up enough to give me enough free time to join a band. I've been playing with a group of really awesome dudes for a couple of months, after they responded to my "guitarist looking to join a band" ad on craigslist. We've been spending lots of time working on some covers and some original material, and our vocalist has some hookups that were able to get us a really sweet gig, opening for a band on August 7th.

This gig is not only the first live performance for my two-month-old band, but also my first one ever. All of us are in our early to mid 20's and come to the table with varying levels of experience. We are sounding pretty good to say we've only been playing together for such a short amount of time. My questions have to do with performing live, and tweaking everything to get the most of of our available resources.

At the moment, I have numerous very nice guitars at my disposal, but no performance-worthy amp. My pathetically tiny Fender Frontman 15w ain't gonna get the job done. One of the other band members has been letting me use his friend's amp at practices (a 100w 1x12 B52) but he told me that the friend is probably going to be taking it back soon. To that extent, I'm keeping an eye open for decent amps that might serve my needs. Unfortunately I'm moving into a new place soon and will need to spend a lot of money on that, so I don't have a whole ton of cash available to me at the moment. I would really love (love love love) to be able to buy this sweet halfstack but it's a bit more than I really feel comfortable spending at the moment. I'm probably going to end up with A combo amp such as this if I can find one at a decent price (the price on the page I linked to here is a bit steep as well and I think I can do better elsewhere.)

I've never needed an amp that could play a show, so any advice that anybody has would be very much welcomed.

My next issue is with setting everything up properly. My band practices (and indeed, has only ever played in) a dank, echoey basement. The singer can never really be heard over the music because if he turns his volume up loud enough to be heard all you get is nasty feedback. I have massive problems with feedback too no matter what I do. I stand as far away from the amp as possible but I still get monster feedback no matter how I tweak my settings. It's very annoying. I don't want this to happen at a show, because it really makes us look stupid. Since I've never done this before, I don't know if the type of room I'm in is affecting this or if there's more to it. Before joining this band I never played anything loud enough to have this problem before (I actually didn't even know you could get feedback from a guitar!) I own a POD X3, is there something I can do with this that might help alleviate the problem? I don't always use it when playing because I almost feel like it makes the problem a lot worse. Lately I've taken to just using the amp without the POD because at least the feedback only happens 50% of the time instead of like 80% when I do use the POD. What do I do about this? How can I adjust everything so that it's still loud and has the right type of high gain/distorted sound I need without turning it into a mess of feedback every single time I blink?

Finally, are there any other suggestions you guys have for someone about to play before a (fairly decent sized) crowd for the first time? I'm not going to drink at all until after my set and I'm just going to try to relax and have fun doing something I love. I just don't want technical difficulties to get in the way.
Andy Fox
Hard rock guitarist
I play a Jackson DK-2 and an Ibanez RG through a Peavey 6505+ stack
get the amp you think is best from a ear point of view

you seem to want to get a noise gate for your feedback issue. the boss one is really good no problems on my side it works nicely. and i know how you feel, just seriously have fun try not to be nervous, after a few shows youll really be enjoying if you dont the first few shows

good luck to you
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Okay! I got a a few suggestions.

Make sure, number one, that all your equipment is show worthy. So, you're going to have a some work to do. If you don't have an amp now, go get one. If your playing a show with your band, you'll probably play more. So get a pretty decent amp. If your getting a tube amp, make sure you have your pedal effects ready and available. If your using a digital, make sure you have a pedal footswitch available for easy switching. I have a Line 6 Spider III 75 watts, not that big, but it gets the job done. I have the basic express pedal for it, also.

Get a P.A. system. If you can't buy one, borrow one. If you're playing with other bands, ask to see if they have one. Make sure you have enough mics, and mic stands. You might also want to mic the drums, depending on how big the area is where you're playing.

Make sure you guys sound check. You don't want to go into a song and have your rhythm guitar over power your lead, and have the bass so low you can't hear it.

When you are on stage, just try to have fun. You'll probably nervous the first song or two, but it should go away. I don't drink[only 16] haha, so I don't know what to tell you about that. But make sure you're not stiff. Appearance is just as important. You don't want to watch a band who just stands there.

Make sure you communicate with your band-mates, e.g. eye contact. You don't have to be whispering in their ear, but if there's a change up or something that you feel a little less then confident about, just take a look around and make sure all the members respond to it.

Make sure you're guitar is in tune, and stays so. You don't want to go into a song and be out of tune. If such case occurs, try to fix it by ear, but if it can't be done, stop and tune it. [Failed to mention up at the top to have some sort of chromatic tuner pedal].

And try to not to anticipate it so much before. Just make sure you know your material.
The more anxious you make yourself, the more nervous you'll be. You want to make sure you're enjoying it, because you're going to be done before you know it.

When you're playing, be confident. It will give of good vibes, allowing you to interact with the crowd. Look around and notice them.

Make sure you have a decent playing face. Haha.

And if someone is taking pictures, make sure you're prepared and ready to pose!

And good luck!
Cool, thanks for the tips.

To respond to some things you mentioned: We do plan to play out frequently, this opportunity just happened to present itself sooner than any of us expected and it's such a great chance to get some exposure that we'd be fools to pass on it. We have to drive about an hour for this show but it's going to be a blast and there's going to be a decent sized audience which will be cool.

I am really very excited about it. Honestly, I'm suprised I don't feel very nervous. I guess it's because I've spent so much time practicing the material that I can play it in my sleep and I am able to enjoy myself rather than being preoccupied with that.

I do need to get an amp, no doubt. the other guitar player has a decent tube amp (I think it's a Crate 100w can't remember if it's 1x12 or 2x12 but it sounds good.) The bass player has a nice amp as well, and the drummer said he has mics though he has never needed them for any of our practices. It's just a matter of spending the time on the sound-check since we've never played anywhere that we can actualy hear everything the way it's supposed to sound (like I said, the dank, echoey basement)

As far as a noise gate, do you guys think a dedicated pedal for this purpose will be better than the POD? I've been messing with the gate on the POD trying to eliminate my feedback problems but haven't had much success.
Andy Fox
Hard rock guitarist
I play a Jackson DK-2 and an Ibanez RG through a Peavey 6505+ stack
If you need to save money on your amp, you could try looking for a second hand one.
what genre do you play?

if your playing blues or rock the fender hot rod deluxe is a great cheap(ish) tube amp, i can get over my drummer at 2.

going up there s*** faced is a bad idea, but having a drink or two before hand isn't a bad way to calm your nerves.
A used tube amp will serve you best as a 60w SS is not going to be very loud. Yes, enough for small gigs but having a fair bit to spare is good practice. (alright I use a 50wSS but I've had it for 25 years and I know every trick) If you have a rehearsal before the gig, try setting up the way you will on a stage. Get your noise down to where you can hear the singer. That basement is doing you no favours.
Above, you have plenty of good advice so just go to it like any other job of work and enjoy it.
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If you are playing at a bar, why not run your POD X3 into the PA? You can pick up an Express footswitch for it for $100 new and it'll let you switch channels/sounds on your POD.

Also, about the echo'ey basement, you should hang up a bunch of old blankets on the walls and put some rugs on the floor. The bare cement walls and floors bounce around sound-waves like a pinball. The blankets and rugs will help stop the sound from bouncing so much and keep the amps/mics from feeding back too much.
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