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9 Garage Band Essentials

garage band essentials

Garage band gigs are there if you want to start from a humble beginning by practising in your garage, like Nirvana. You need the essential equipment for your garage band lives shows or recordings. Make sure you have this as your checklist, not just for entertainment value but also for good acoustics and a smooth setting up and storing of equipment.

1. Musical Instruments

Of course, the band needs basic instruments such as electric guitar, bass guitar, drum set, keyboards, and maybe even synthesizers, violin trumpets, cello, harp, or tambourine. It all depends on the genre your band plays.

Electric guitars aren’t audible if you pluck a string or strum the strings without amplifiers. Unlike acoustic guitars, they don’t have hollow soundboards to make the sound audible. Amplifiers are needed for the string’s vibrations to turn to sounds.

Synthesizers are mostly used in EDM or techno music, but rock, indie pop, or alternative bands use them to add the spice of digital sounds to the melody of the songs. There are additive, subtractive, and also FM synthesizers, which you can recreate brass sounds and use more on dance music as they were used back in the early 80s.

When the band is not playing, it’s better for the guitars, bass or electric, to be put on their stands. It’s best kept on these stands to avoid breaking their parts.

2. Microphones

As part of your PA system to prepare and be able to perform for live audiences, microphones are part of these essentials, mostly for the vocalist.

The usual microphones used in gigs are dynamic, as condenser microphones are more used on recordings since they are more sensitive and provide accurate and detailed sound. Condenser microphones can also be used in live shows if you want less feedback from their sounds.

Wired or wireless microphones are backups, so spare microphones are necessary, especially on live shows. There may be times that wireless microphones may have their batteries die during the performance so extra microphones would be necessary.

Also, you need to plan what would’ve happened during the show smartly. Vocalists may move away from their mini stage if there is any or move around. That’s where you’ll need a wireless microphone.

3. Amplifiers

Amplifiers are essential to electric guitars as they help convert the strings’ vibrations to sound, making electric guitars now audible to the audience. But electric guitar amplifiers are different from the amplifiers used in PA systems.

A typical amplifier has three parts: the pre-amp, power amplifier, and speaker. The pre-amp boosts a weaker signal to bring it to the line level, and as it reaches the line level, the power amplifier then boosts that signal before it reaches the speaker. But there are also integrated amplifiers that combine the function of a pre-amp and a power amp.

4. Equalizers (EQ)

Equalizers are there to balance the frequencies and improve the sound coming from the musical instruments and vocals. For a garage band live performance, equalizers ensure each instrument is heard yet synced with the song.

The equalizers modify these frequencies by boosting or cutting frequency levels (amplitude). In short, it can control the volume of the sound. There are commonly three types of equalizers used in live shows:

  • Parametric EQ – helps shape the sound’s frequency, as you can modify the gain, centre frequency, and bandwidth.
  • Semi-parametric EQ – the high shelving filters, where its example is treble control, combines with the low shelving filters, which is for bass control, as you can also set the gain and centre frequency, but the bandwidth is not adjustable
  • Graphic EQ – helps in matching audible range for humans, which is between 20-20,000 kHz

5. Speakers

Speakers are the main system for producing sounds adjusted by equalizers, sound mixers, and amplifiers. They reproduce the sound frequency within the human hearing range, and here is the type of speakers used in PA systems:

  • Woofer – for low frequencies from ranges below 500 Hz
  • Mid-range – for mid frequencies from ranges between 200 Hz and 3 kHz
  • Tweeter – for highest frequencies from ranges between 2 kHz and 20 kHz
  • Subwoofers – for lowest frequencies from range 300 Hz down to 30Hz or lower, can handle the lowest bass frequencies and are used mostly with bands that heavily depend on bass and drums.

6. Flight Cases

More than just adding to the live gig band vibe, it’s an efficient storage box for the extension cables, cable reels, and adaptors used in the power systems for musical instruments and microphones. It’s also convenient storage in case of a live tour or setting up in different locations.

7. Live sound mixers

For better acoustics, especially in a live setting, other than the music being audible for everyone, it should sound pleasing and balanced. Before these sounds travel to the speakers, the sound mixers blend the instruments and microphone sounds.

These can come from different channels. The channels need to be considered from the microphones set up on each instrument and vocals. A mic is set up on each electric and bass guitar amplifier, drum kits, cymbals, synthesizers (includes three channels) for the lead vocals, and additional channels for room to spare.

8. Drum Machine

As synthesizers add spice to the melody and harmony of the music, a drum machine spices up the beat of the music. It can emulate different percussion instruments and let you play them simultaneously and at different speeds. You can customize, mix, and make samples you can play for live shows.

9. dB Meter

A decibel meter or sound pressure level (SPL) meter is an instrument to measure noise levels. During live shows, a noisy environment is already present. You’ll need a dB meter to monitor and control that noise level, which helps prevent your audience from hearing impairments caused by long exposure to dangerous noise levels.


Now you got the right equipment, set it up, and you’re good to go on your garage band practice and gigs. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the equipment to know all the workarounds and how you would manage such equipment during live performances.

Having all these essential pieces of equipment helps you focus on how the sound and its quality can make the audience appreciate, feel, and headbang or dance to the rhythm and beats of the music played.













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