Curated #15 By Joel Gardner

Curated #15 By Joel Gardner

Joel Gardner is a singer and guitarist from Manchester UK.

With a live show honed by relentless gigging; Joel won the ‘Danny Kyle Award’ at Celtic Connections, Wath Festival’s ‘Young Performer Of The Year Award’ and ‘Manchester’s Got Busker Talent in 2017.’

His successes have seen him support James Gillespie, Adam French, Mull Historical Society, Bernard Butler (Suede), Brian Kennedy, All The Luck In The World and US chart topping band ‘The Revivalists’ on their first UK tour amongst many others.


 Here is a list of his go-to products for emerging musicians:


1. Strymon Big Sky Hall Reverbs Guitar Effect Pedal: First of all, I’d like to apologize for how ‘techy’ this article will be! I am an utter nerd when it comes to musical equipment and thought I would give you guys a heads up on the things that I have found most useful for gigging and recording out of the things that I have bought over the years.

The Strymon Big Sky Reverb Pedal has totally transformed my live performances and recordings. It has helped me find my sound and instantly elevates my guitar tones to right near the top of the pile. It’s incredibly simple to use and super reliable. I use it to add a light shimmer and warmth to my guitar live and in the studio I blend in a small amount in the background of my recordings to add some believable depth. It totally transforms guitar tones and I believe will solve anyones quest for a better tone.



2. ROLAND SPD-SX Percussion Sampling Pad: While neither of these first two options are remotely cheap. The SPD SX is simply so useful that it is a great investment. You can run professional backing tracks off it, trigger samples and plug in external triggers. If you want your live performances to sound more like the recording this is a must. I use it to trigger programmed harmonies and atmosphere to sit behind my guitar and vocal live. I also run my kick drum sound through the SPD SX and pre mix everything so it’s just a case of plug in and play. There is a reason that this bit of kit is in just about every pro band in the world’s set up. I would say of all the things on this list, this bit of kit has the most potential and while it is a lot of work to get it really working for you, it is the most fun item and will completely transform your live show.



3. IMG Stage XLR Splitter Box: I realize that if you were buying the things on this list you’d already have parted with almost a grand by the time you reached recommendation #3 so here’s  a couple of things that are much cheaper that (if used right) I feel are worth significantly more than their price tag . An XLR splitter box is in my opinion one of the most useful things that I have bought and for under £30 I think this is a MUST buy. This bit of kit basically means I can record my vocals while simultaneously sending a feed to the front of house. (This specific splitter box means you can do it with two mics at once). I recorded a live album using this incredibly simple bit of kit (which means it’s spectacularly easy to make your money back on it!) and it means you can enhance any live video taken by a fan in the crowd by blending in a vocal mic feed in post. It’s truly, spectacularly useful.



4. Stagg Multicore Cable Snake:  My setup for playing live is very self contained. I have a lot of leads doing different jobs going to either the FOH (front of house PA), a portable recorder or going to my monitors. This Multicore (cable snake) keeps my cabling really safe and tidy. It’s not a particularly exciting addition to the list. But it makes live shows and setup a lot more stress free and comfortable. When I play live I have two kick triggers, a footswitch for my SPD SX, a good sized pedal board and a twin cable going to my guitar ALL by my feet so not having excess cables around is super important so I can still perform without worrying about tripping up or breaking something! I run my guitar in stereo, my kick trigger and my output from my SPD in stereo down this multicore (5 of the 8 leads) but it’s important to have spares and this product just makes life easier for everyone on stage.


5. Shure AONIC SE215 Earphones: As I’ve developed I’ve started to rely more and more on In Ear Monitoring. As I’m an Acoustic orientated artist I can be quite prone to some on stage feedback which can be a really annoying and unpleasant issue. I’ve started playing some parts of songs with a click in my ears and have my vocal sent mostly to my earphones. Proper moulded In Ear Monitors can cost quite easily over £1,000 and while everyone who has made the investment raves about it; I find that these £80 headphones do a great job. They cut out a lot of external stage sound, fit comfortably, sound great and are just generally a brilliant alternative to spending big bucks. I’d recommend anyone debating whether to take the plunge into In Ear Monitoring to experiment with these first. 



“All of the equipment in this article has massively helped me achieve different goals in music. Whether it’s enhancing my live show, improving my recordings, enabling me to record my live show or just achieving little jobs that I feel made the biggest difference. In 2020 I’m writing, producing, mixing and releasing two songs every month. My fan base then pick their favourite of the two tunes and that song will go straight onto the track listing for one of three EPs that I will be putting out in 2020. If that sounds exciting to you or something you’d like to get involved in then please check out my social media!”

– Joel Gardner

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