Pictured above are all the items I take with me when I play music on the street. Having to make multiple trips to a car not only wastes time but is also a hassle. So, with what you see above I can easily carry all my stuff plus a water bottle and feel comfortable enough to walk where ever I need to go in order to play. While performing on the streets in Seattle, I had to walk over a mile one way to get to my favorite busking spot so it was nice to feel comfortable while making the trek.
Over the years, I've experimented with different set ups but this is my current one. It's pretty simple and gets the job done. You'll notice that nothing pictured here is high end by any means. All of these pieces are valuable to me but not in a financial way. I have owned really nice guitars costing over three thousand dollars but I would never choose to bring them out to play with me on the street. While I would be pretty bummed if someone stole one of these items from me, it wouldn't be the end of the world. I actually like that most of my gear has been worn in, and beaten up a bit. I sit on top of the amp; It has chips in the paint and some scratches. My guitar has two big cracks in it, is taped together, and has a lot of scratches as well. I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable bringing some really expensive items out with me. Although, I love wearing things in and don't care much about appearances. The more cracks and scratches the better! It shows that I've been putting in a lot of time which makes me happy.
A set up like this costs around fifteen hundred dollars total. That may seem like a lot but given that you could spend over a thousand dollars alone on just one of these items, this set up is relatively affordable and high quality. In one hand I carry the amp. In the other, I carry a one gallon water jug. Given that some days I'm playing eight hours at a time, water is definitely needed! The backpack carries the guitar, as well as the microphones, and the stand. The stand is tucked into the outside pocket and secured with a belt so that it lays snug. The mics are tucked in inside the neck part of the guitar case underneath the neck of the guitar itself. Here is a listing of all the pieces in my current busking set up:
Teton STS150 Acoustic/Electric Guitar
I've owned this guitar for about 4 years, and it's been my go-to instrument ever since. It retails for about 450.00, and has been worth every penny. It comes with a Fishman pickup as well so it can be plugged in. As you can see, I've put some miles on this bad boy. The pickup no longer works so I bought a sound hole pickup and just taped it on to the guitar. I will play this guitar until it breaks down completely. If you haven't heard about Teton Guitars, definitely check them out. They're pretty affordable, and sound great!
Roland Cube Street EX
This beauty has been a staple of my busking set up for a couple years now. This amp is made by Roland. It has four channels so it easily can accommodate two people. It's rugged and really well built. I actually sit on it when I play! It can be both plugged into electricity or run on 8 double a batteries. I take this amp with me everywhere! It packs a powerful punch for it's size. I've played shows in very large open hall-style venues and this amp was loud enough to fill that space. For 550.00, this amp is well worth the price. I highly recommend it for any street performer.
Shure 55SH Series II Unidyne Cardioid Dynamic Microphone
When I bought this mic I was looking for something that would stand out physically and that was also decent quality. This microphone is definitely both of those things! I've owned this particular mic for 4 years and wherever I go, people are always intrigued by it. For 179.00, it's a reliable as well as quality option. I love pulling it out of it's case and setting up because of how beautiful it is. The old school look really suits the vibe of my street music setup. If you're looking for a microphone at a affordable price point that also looks amazing, this one is a good way to go!
Hercules MS533B EZ Clutch Tripod Boom Microphone Stand
Over the years I've bought close to a dozen mic stands. most of them eventually wear out and break. This is the first stand I've ever owned that has stood up to the rigors of playing music 5 days a week. The metal is heavy duty and reinforced so the stand doesn't wear out at all. I was gifted this stand but for 80.00, this is such a worthwhile purchase. I will never again buy another stand as this one will probably last forever!
Shure Motiv MV88 iOS Digital Stereo Condenser Microphone
Almost every time I perform I take videos of myself playing to share on social media. For the last year I've just been using my iphone. I bought this mic because the sound quality on my phone wasn't too great. Needless to say that this mic really increases the sound quality of my videos! I can also record music straight to my phone and produce pretty decent recordings. The microphone comes with an awesome carrying case that I can just tuck inside my guitar case for easy transporting. The microphone retails for 179.00.
Shure SM58 Dynamic Handheld Vocal Microphone
Truth be told, I've only used this microphone one time because it's my backup but I'm really glad I have it. This is a really affordable, quality microphone! It sounds great, and gets the job done. For 90.00, you won't find a better mic.
Reunion Blues RB Continental Voyager LP Case
This case has been a god send! Before I bought this case I was lugging around all my gear in a cheaply made case. The straps kept getting twisted and never stayed tight. It didn't have any cushioning on the inside, and wasn't sturdy at all. I needed to find a case that could stand up to the rigors of playing music 5 days a week, and that could lug some of my gear. This case was a great investment! Not only is it comfortable to put on my back and carry long distances but it's also really stood the test of time. It holds my mics, cables, and the stand all comfortably, and shows no sign of breaking down. I purchased this case for 200.00, and I'm really glad I decided to upgrade!
OneManBandCo Suitcase Drum
I've been experimenting with using percussion as a part of my playing for almost 10 years. I've done everything from duct taping a cutting board to my foot, to putting a tambourine around my ankle, to using a stomp box, to even trying to make my own suitcase drum. Some ideas worked better than others but none of them really created the sound I was looking for.
After searching recently for percussion ideas on the internet, I found a company called OneManBandCo. They specialize in making suitcase drums. This was the answer I was looking for! This drum is great because I can use it sitting down or standing. It looks really cool, and sounds amazing! It also adds another incredible element to my performances. Also, the owner is a super friendly, really passionate person so you know these instruments are made with a lot of love and care. 420.00 really well spent. Check out their site here: