HOW TO GET YOUR JAM ON WHILE TRAVELING

HITTIN’ THE ROAD

I recently went out of town for work for a month. My first concern, before wondering about sleeping conditions and food opportunities, was how to keep up with playing, primarily with respect to the new songs I had to learn for my band. I was hauling a lot of gear for my job, so whatever I brought had to be compact, easily transportable, and rugged in order to survive any mishaps. Furthermore, I needed a way to hear my guitar and be able to play along with the songs I needed to learn.

TRAVEL GUITARS

I had two travel guitars prior to this journey. My Baby Taylor is perfect for taking to the park, the beach, or even plunking on at home on the couch. When acoustic is the flavor of choice, it’s compact enough and resides in a nicely padded gig bag that’s ideal for travel, but it didn’t meet my needs for this trip. Though durable for an acoustic, I didn’t want to subject it to being knocked around. I was going to be spending a lot of time in airports and on buses and wanted something that wouldn’t disturb others. Finally, learning the solo to ‘Flirtin’ With Disaster’ just wouldn’t have cut it on any acoustic.

My Aria Sinsonido is super compact and also comes in a nicely padded gig bag. It’s been all over the world with me, proving itself as road-worthy time after time. The headphone output meant I’d be able to play anywhere, anytime, without drawing attention. But it’s a steel string model – not so friendly to high register pitch bends and other electric-style gymnastics.

My neighbor had an electric-style guitar from Traveler Guitars that he really enjoyed so I got in touch with them and told them of my plans. They sent over the very appropriate EG-2: full-scale neck, compact and solid, yet small framed and short in length with the tuners built into the body, and both standard 1/4″ guitar and 1/8″ headphone jacks. Add to that a well padded gig bag with extra pockets and carrying handles and straps. Guitar – check.

PLAY THAT FUNKY MUSIC, WHITE BOY!

My next challenge was figuring out how to play the song list for my band and jam with it at the same time. I had all the songs on my trusty iPod Touch, but had no way of looping sections for practice. I was also figuring out how to listen to the songs while playing along at equal volume. IK Multimedia’s Amplitube app and iRig interface to the rescue! Uploading the songs to the app, I was able to loop sections and adjust playback speed. With the iRig, my guitar interfaced perfectly with the app, allowing me to set playback and guitar levels, dial in killer tones through the amp modeling, and further shape my sound through pedal effects. With the inclusion of the built-in tuner and metronome, I had the perfect all-in-one practice solution on a pocket-sized device. This setup was just what I needed and served me well, but when I was holed up in my hotel room, I wanted to break free of the headphones and extra cabling and rock out in the open (as much as rocking out in a hotel room will allow).

THIS ONE GOES TO 11! (but won’t disturb the neighbors)

I took a quick trip to Guitar Center (they’re everywhere!) and scoped out the micro amps. There was good variety and I tried every one, excitedly settling on a Danelectro HoneyTone. It had the best sound of all the amps, it was perfect in size (easily tossed into a backpack) and power (quiet enough to rock and not get kicked out of the hotel, to loud enough to rock and get kicked out of the hotel), and looked damn cool. Done!

I had my Mac laptop with me. One of my favorite practice tools is software by Roni Music called ‘Amazing Slow Downer’. Similar to Amplitube, it allows looping sections of music and adjusting playback speed, but also includes equalization, mix control, saving loop presets, and more. I initially balked at the $50 price tag, but it has become one of the best purchases I’ve made and I use it on a daily basis.

With the songs playing through my laptop’s speakers, and my EG-2 through the HoneyTone, I wailed to my heart’s content. The laptop, guitar, and micro amp were enough, but incorporating Amplitube into the mix really made for a fun time as I ran the guitar into the iRig, through the app’s amp modeling and pedal effects, and out to the HoneyTone. Now I was cookin’!

GO FORTH INTREPID TRAVELER!

With all the great, innovative, travel-friendly products on the market, there is no longer concern as to how to keep up with your six-string while on the road. With the gear mentioned above, I had everything I needed for full-on practicing and jamming: one small, compact padded gig bag for the guitar, and one laptop bag which easily held my computer, iPod Touch, HoneyTone, cables, picks, guitar magazines…

Join the #1 Guitar Social Network! It’s COOL and it’s FREE! Connect with like minded people. Learn, share and rock!

Like this post? Then you won’t want to miss the other awesome posts we have planned. Subscribe to Share My Guitar and get new posts delivered daily…for FREE!

Subscribe to SMG Podcasts!
Download the latest show
from iTunes >>>