Over the years I have continually been on the lookout for different configurations for my guitar rig as I find myself playing in different environments. I may play with a full band in a club, playing with a smaller ensemble for something like a wedding or impromptu jam, or just getting some fretboard time in by myself. Each of these opportunities call for a different setup appropriate for the situation. For instance, I am typically not going to bring a full guitar rig to a wedding ceremony 😉
One of the beautiful things about technology today is that many, if not most of us have a fully functioning guitar rig in our pockets! Mobile devices, smart phones in particular, have a wide variety of apps that will let you do anything from jamming in your headphones to full multi-track recording. Along with a relatively inexpensive connector, you can set up amps, speaker cabinets, effects and more all right from your phone. There are other critical apps, such as tuners, that are also available. Combine these applications with something like Evernote for lyrics, charts, etc…, you have everything you need to pull off performances all without having to carry anything except, of course, your axe.
This all sounds easy and fairly simplistic, but it is just one example of how you can use technology to make life easier for you and open up opportunities to play where you wouldn’t have otherwise. There are some limitations, however, such as in a full on band situation, an iPhone probably won’t cut it for more than a song or two. The lack of hands free control makes it difficult to switch sounds, adjust levels or control effects on the fly. Virtually no guitar player is without some sort of pedal board, and at this time, there is not much—if anything—out there that gives you a pedal board controller for your mobile guitar rig apps, but I argue that is only a matter of time. But for now, the options are limited at best.
But it’s not just guitar specific apps or uses that mobile devices give us. As I mentioned above, mobile devices—tablets in particular, are excellent replacements for paper. From set lists to charts and lyrics, your tablet is a great tool to have in your kit. There are many different types of adapters for mic stands, for instance, that will let you set your device up for easy use and viewing while playing live. There are even adapters that let you set your tablet up as a music stand to hold your sheet music. Lastly, as I also mentioned, just using your phone as a tuner is an invaluable tool where a dedicated tuner is not available (you are using a tuner, aren’t you?)
So, as you can see, there are countless creative uses for your mobile device as a musician, and this is not only true for just guitar players, but for everyone involved from band to technician to fan. I don’t see this trend going down any time soon as innovations continue to appear and the number of mobile devices increases each year. I, for one, am excited about being able to leverage this type of technology to be able to take advantage of more opportunities to play.
How about you? How do you use your mobile device for making or performing music? You can share in the comments below!