What's more enjoyable than playing guitar outside in a nice weather or just during a business trip or vacation? For acoustic guitar, nothing more simple since, as per definition, the amplification system is integrated with the instrument.
For electric guitars, it is different because our dear electrified instruments need at least an amp to operate. Here's an overview of possible solutions for playing guitar in mobility:
- Hybrid system
There are many electric guitar amplifiers which combine the advantage of being very compact and battery operated. The Marshall MS-2 is one of the models that use a single 9v battery for many long hours of play. It has been the choice of The Guitar Channel for many years.
Complete list of The Guitar Channel mobile setup
- 1 amp Marshall MS-2 (35 €)
- 1 reverb pedal Boss RV-5 (or other reverb / delay, battery operated)
- 1 jack to connect the guitar to the pedal
- 1 mini-jack to connect the pedal to the amp
- 1 metronome Korg MA-1 (15 €)
- 1 HP Bluetooth (eg EU Boom) used to run the chord charts with the app iReal Pro
- Optional: external battery to avoid buying too regular 9v batteries
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The advantage of this solution is that everything fits easily in the outer pocket of a soft guitar case. Note that for years, it was rather an overdrive pedal (the excellent Xotic BB Preamp Xotic) which occupied the place of the RV-5.
The choice of the pedal
Over time I've realized that I had more fancy a bit of reverb that a little drive. Especially since the drive position of the MS-2 is quite usable if you know well sculpt your sound with volume and tone controls of your guitar. A reverb pedal gives the impression of space that is necessarily lost when playing outdoors.
On the budget side, there is very high chance that you already have all the elements of this list apart perhaps for the Bluetooth speaker or the mini-amp itself. There is a large selection of battery operated mini-amp. We must not in any case expect miracles so when you go to try some think about it! The MS-2 has the advantage of being almost indestructible, sounds reasonably well when you take time to adjust it properly and will not eat your 9v battery in a hearbeat.
If you find the EU Boom speaker too big, there are others that are even more compact. There are also tiny HP you connect to the headphone jack of your smartphone that are unbeatable in terms of compactness.
With 1 rectangular battery 9v you will get many hours of playing time with the MS-2. Note that recent type of pedal like the Boss RV-5 is a bit more greedy than overdrive pedal like the overdrive BB Preamp. If you want to avoid to buy 9v batteries regularly it is possible to complete this setup by a rechargeable battery via USB.
The Volto Pedaltrain is a compact installation and which weigh down very little overall. Check-out the review I did of the Volto in this article. There are other solutions in the genre.
If you do not want / can not do some decibels with your guitar through an amp, even small, there is the opportunity to play with headphones. For fifteen Euros you can get a iRig interface that will work well to produce some sounds in a headset.
The record of compactness belongs to the AmpPlug Vox (see image below of Joe Satriani model). In fact you've got a solution that connects directly to the guitar without a jack. You only need headphones of some sort and off you go!
Personally, I tire fast when I play with headphones. Especially with the smartphone type of earbuds that are not optimized dor the guitar sound as they typically offer a sound with little medium while this is precisely where the electric guitar has most of its magic.
In a previous article, it was described how to use a Bluetooth speaker as EU Boom guitar amp. It is also a possibility that is offered to you. The disadvantage of the solution is that your smartphone is then used as a sound generator via an application and it will be difficult if not impossible to turn iReal Pro in parallel for example.
Whatever your situation, with or without decibel, there are all full of ways to play the electric guitar with light equipment and battery operated. It would be a shame not to enjoy.
Until the next article, continue to play the guitar ... outdoors!
How to setup to play electric guitar on the go