Roland MicroCube – Great little amp. It has several different amp models on it, so I can get modern metal, classic rock, British rock, jazz, and clean sounds. The gain knob allows you to control the amount of distortion. It has tremelo, reverb, and digital delay on one effects knob (so you can’t have both at the same time), and chorus, phase, and flange effects on the other effects knob. It puts out great sound and tone…I’ve never used the volume all the way up. The best thing about it is that it is slightly smaller than a car battery, far lighter, and runs 20+ hours on 6 AA batteries. That makes it the perfect amp for portability. You could easily take it with you backpacking, camping, traveling, etc. Combined with a lightweight/compact travel guitar like the Ministar Rokstar, you could easily play guitar on top of a mountain like Tempest Mountain in Montana.
Zoom PS04 Portable 4-track – I haven’t used this yet, so I can’t say that much about it. But I intend to use it to make some music when I’m on my upcoming year-long deployment to Iraq. I’ll give reviews after I’ve used it a while.
Boss DR-5 – This being a Roland product, it should be pretty good. Perhaps it is. I did find it easy to make a short, simple composition. But I haven’t taken the time to really learn its in and outs, and to this point, I find it inadequate for what I wanted, which was to be able to reproduce some of my favorite songs for sing-/play-along performance. The problem is that even a simple song usually has more variations than this little device can handle, and entering each minor variation section means starting from scratch each time. Due to that limitation, it probably would be more useful for composing rather than reproducing, but it seems that would limit your composition, too. I’m hopeful I don’t run into the same frustrations when I use the PS04. But having the buttons arranged and used like the first several frets of a 6-string guitar is innovative, intuitive, and useful, especially for bass parts. It might be best to use this to make interesting chord progressions to practice your soloing. For that reason, and because the inevitable obsolescence of electronic gadgets means I can only get about a third of what I paid for it, I’ll hold onto it and see about learning to use it when I get back from Iraq next year.
ART Tube Pre-amp: I got this as part of the bundle with the PS-04 above. I bought the bundle for $100, and it included a professional microphone that I already sold for $60 or so. Since the PS-04 usually sells for about $50 right now, it’s like I got this free! Or, if I decide to sell it, it will be like getting the PS-04 free! Yeah, I’m a cheap bastard, so what? Anyway, I haven’t used this yet. I may hold on to it, just in case someday I want to play live, or join/form a band or something.
Peavey Audition 110 – Decent amp. I don’t use it much because the MicroCube is smaller, lighter, and more versatile, and at the indoor volumes I play at, there’s no advantage to the Peavey. I might end up selling it at some point.
Crate amp –
Dunlop GCB CryBaby Wah pedal -I’ve just used this enough to know it works. I haven’t had time to really get into it yet. You may notice the “lack of time” theme. Well, I haven’t been able to set up a music studio for myself, so every time I want to play, I have to get everything out and set it up, and then I have to put it all away when I’m done. I just haven’t made the time for that. So it is possible that in-depth experimentation with all these gadgets may have to wait until I retire. It will definitely have to wait until I finish my Master’s degree…
Ibanez auto-wah pedal -I’ve never even used this once. Not enough time, yadda, yadda, yadda. But, boy! Do I have plans for it!
Zoom 505II effects pedal – A great little effects pedal. You can get just about any sound you can think of out of this. There may be some combinations that aren’t possible due to being on the same channel, but I haven’t been picky enough to notice. It sounds great for living room-level volume effects, but guitarists more experienced than me say that it starts to sound fake/tinny if you try to take it up to club levels, and so is inadequate for actual paying performances. I dunno. But then, I’ve already admitted I’m not that picky about timbre/tone. If I ever get a paying gig, I’ll let you know how this sounds. But to be honest, I’m not that much into funky guitar sounds. I like some different distortion results, but for the most part, I like my guitar to sound like a guitar. So if I ever end up getting famous from putting my stuff on YouTube (someday), I’d just as likely just be me, my guitar, and a Marshall stack. The important part, to me, is the notes I play, and how my hands play them.
Pocket Rock-it – The linked item is basically the same as mine, except mine is white and has “Reverb” where that one says “pro”. I’m not sure of all the differences, but basically, this is the ultimate in portability. It is far less versatile than the MicroCube, of course, but it is much smaller and uses fewer batteries. On the other hand, it goes directly into headphones, so it can’t be used for jamming with anyone else. It has decent, but not great, sound. Worth the money I paid for it, because I can use it in the same room as my wife when she is watching TV.
guitar cords: I use no-names. I’ve never found a cord that makes any difference whatsoever in my guitars’ sound/tone.
Strings: I’m a cheap bastard, and I’ve never really noticed any difference in guitar sound/tone from the strings. I think I might be somewhat timbre-deaf. If a guitar makes the sound I want it to make, minor variations mean nothing to me. And I’ve played on so many different guitars and gauges, I couldn’t tell you which one I prefer. I can tell the difference between medium and ultra-light gauge, of course, but I don’t really have a preference. Off-hand, I couldn’t tell you what any of my guitars have on them, and without thinking about it, I can’t really tell the difference between .09s and .10s. It’s all the same to me, so I bought the cheapest stuff I could…I got 2 boxes of 10 sets of Alice electric strings for about $25 each on eBay…looks like they are .09s, but since I usually only replace strings when one breaks, I’m still using the strings that were on each guitar when they were shipped to me. On some of the guitars I recently sold, I did use the Alice’s, and they did an acceptable job. Like I said, I really don’t notice much difference in strings, so why pay a fortune for ’em?