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Handpicked recommendations of gear by Fender, Eden, Gibson, Roland, Zildjian, and more!

Performance-Ready Gear Picks by the Musicians Who Use Them

Ask any musician -- playing out on the live circuit will change the way you look at your rig. It's why many performers choose a few key pieces of dependable gear that cover a lot of tonal ground and won't require scheduling back surgery the next week.

That's exactly the kind of gear you'll find in this Gigging Musician's Guide. It's packed with hand-picked items from members of our team who really use and love their gear. We've got selections for guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and live sound, so read on for some excellent picks to rock your next gig!
Guitars
Your guitar's sound starts with your hands, so a guitar that responds well to playing dynamics and touch will give you a wide tonal palette before your signal ever gets to a pedal or amp. Gigging puts wear and tear on gear, so a guitar that ages well is crucial.

Sergio Coronado, one of zZounds' guitar merchandisers, has wielded his trusty Gibson Les Paul Standard for years, and says it now fits like a glove. "This guitar has been my number one for over 10 years, so if that doesn't tell you it's reliable, then I don't know what will. I've probably played over 500 shows with this guitar, and since the nitro finish has aged with me, it plays even better than when I first got it," Sergio says.

Justin LaForte is one of zZounds' resident gear experts. His pick for acoustic players is the Taylor 324ce acoustic-electric. "It responds to strumming and fingerpicking equally well," Justin says. "It has a cutaway for upper reach access and electronics so you can plug in when extra volume is needed."
Gibson 2016 ES-335 Studio Electric Guitar (with Case)
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Fender American Pro Stratocaster Electric Guitar, ...
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Learn more in our Guitar Beginner's Gear Guide »
Guitar Amps and Effects
As a gigging guitarist, you'll want an amp with plenty of headroom so the tone you've worked so hard to create stays true even at high volumes. Sergio recommends the famed Fender '65 Twin Reverb for its thick output and clean tone that takes well to pedals -- like the Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Boy. "This pedal has been on countless tours, seen the inside of hundreds of venues, flown overseas twice, and still hasn't broken," Sergio notes. "Turn down the feedback to prevent any delay from going on, crank the level and -- voila -- instant overdrive that actually sounds pretty sweet."

After playing a few live shows, guitarists learn an important lesson: do not overlook the importance of a reliable tuner. "While a lot of people -- myself included -- love to use headstock tuners, they usually just don't have the accuracy of a pedal tuner, or LEDs bright enough to be easily read on a dark stage," Justin says. "The TC Electronic PolyTune 2 pedal has an accuracy of +/- 0.1 cents, which makes it great for the stage, or even for doing studio tunings or precise jobs like intonating your guitars."
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See more in our Guitar Amplifier Buying Guide »
Bass
Whether it's a driving beat at a sweaty club or a smooth walking bass line at a jazz cafe, audiences love feeling that low-end thump in their chests. As a bassist, it's your duty to bring the boom, and with the gear listed below, you'll be able to get tons of tones without needing a forklift. Martin Stonikas, zZounds' bass expert, says that just as with guitars, a responsive bass is the foundation of a great rig. "The Fender American Professional Jazz Bass is one of the most versatile basses out there. I'm able to dial in pretty much any sound for any type of music I'm playing right on the bass," explains Martin.
Fender American Pro Jazz Electric Bass, Rosewood ...
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Ernie Ball Music Man Classic StingRay 4 Electric Bass ...
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Find your groove in our Bass Buying Guide »
Drums
There's nothing more disappointing to an '80s night bar crowd than hearing "Rock You Like a Hurricane" launched by a wimpy kick drum. Electronic kits pack those epic arena drum sounds and plenty more in a lightweight package. Martin, who also performs as a percussionist, loves the intuitive nature of the TD-11 module on the Roland TD-11KV V-Compact drum kit. He also praised the authentic feel of the cymbals on this road-friendly kit: "They have a sensitive response that makes the subtleties of drumming come through the mix."

There are plenty of travel-friendly acoustic kits as well, like the Gretsch CT1J484 Catalina Club kit, which pairs well with Zildjian K Custom Hybrid cymbals for just about any gig. "They can be played so many different ways, and achieve a variety of tones," enthuses Martin. "K Customs sound good for jazz, rock, metal -- you name it!"
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Keyboards
Keyboards and synths are, by nature, versatile instruments. A workstation like the 61-key Korg Kross2 comes loaded with gigabytes of tones, and analog-modeling synths like the Nord Lead A1 let you build your own patches quickly.

Another option is to bring your sounds to the show on a laptop -- in which case you'll need a MIDI controller keyboard like the Akai Advance 61to trigger them. Check out our MIDI keyboard controllers buying guide for more options.

Maya Kuper, zZounds' keyboard merchandiser, recommends that gigging keyboardists ditch X-stands in favor of the solid foundation the On-Stage KS9102 provides. "This design is tough to beat: it's incredibly stable, the arms and legs all fold up inside the column core for transport, and it just looks really cool on stage," she said. "Leave the rickety X-stands at home and bring this bad boy to the show -- it's worth the investment."
Akai Advance 61 USB MIDI Keyboard Controller, 61-Key
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See more stage-ready synths in our Synth Buying Guide »
Mixers and PA Speakers
Once the band has arrived and set up their gear, it's time for the soundcheck. Engineers, it's your time to shine. Having reliable, intuitive gear ready will help the soundcheck go smoothly and ensure consistent audio quality throughout the show.

"The last thing you ever want as a live sound engineer is to have anyone waiting on you," says Alex Kime, zZounds' live sound merchandiser. "Digital mixers like the PreSonus StudioLive 16.0.2 cut your setup time between bands dramatically by letting you instantly recall pre-made settings, and wirelessly tweak levels from anywhere in the venue via your iPad."

Traveling lightly is just as important to sound engineers as it is to performers. Alex says to look for speakers with great sound dispersion that don't require additional gear that weighs you down or clogs up your space. "Space is a scarce resource in any live sound engineer's rig. Your setup needs to be extremely versatile, so you can handle every obstacle with as little gear as possible," Alex notes. "The QSC K12 speakers are powered, and feature both a built-in limiter and EQ, so you can skip hauling a power amp or other outboard gear."
PreSonus StudioLive 16.0.2 Digital Mixer, 16-Channel
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On-Stage SS7730 Tripod Speaker Stand
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See more pro-level PA gear in our Live Sound Buying Guide »
Microphones and Outboard Gear
Once the show kicks off, having a few more essentials will help you as an engineer, the band and the audience, get the most out of the show. A wireless system opens all corners of the stage, meaning singers can now roam as far as their egos will take them.

"It used to be that if a band had a wandering lead singer, you'd need the longest XLR cable you could find, and then spend the whole show making sure no one tripped over it. At the end of the night while everyone's partying, you're still at the venue wrapping up that cable," Alex said. "Now with digital wireless systems like the Shure PGX, you get that dependable SM58 sound you expect, without the cables."

Even feedback, ever the plague of live performance, has been tamed. In fact, feedback remedies are often compact and fairly inexpensive. "Nothing kills the energy of a good show like piercing feedback," Alex says. "Instead of spending the whole set fiddling with knobs trying to hunt down those problem frequencies, make your night easier by adding a Behringer FBQ1000 Feedback Destroyer to your rig."
Behringer FBQ1000 Feedback Destroyer
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Learn more in our Beginner's Guide to Stage Staple Microphones »
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A temporary customer reference number is assigned to each customer only while they are shopping on zZounds.com. If you call our customer service department for assistance, this number makes it easier for us to answer any questions you have about products, services or purchases.
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1. zZounds offers the industry‘s most musician-friendly payment plans

zZounds offers a variety of Play as You Pay installment plans that allow you to get the gear you want today. While our competitors might offer house credit cards that require you to fill out an application and pass a credit check, our payment plans are easy to get, simple to use, and, best of all, accrue zero interest. Unlike those house credit cards that can leave you vulnerable to exorbitant interest charges once the promotional period ends, we never have and never will charge interest when you take advantage of one of the zZounds Play as You Pay plans.

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2. zZounds guarantees the lowest price

Seen it for less somewhere else? Get it for less at zZounds. Simply click the “Seen it for less?” link on any product page and as long as we‘re not losing money, we‘ll beat any legitimate competitor‘s lowest price, usually within two hours. Want our best price even faster? Call us at 844-zZounds (844-996-8637), and we‘ll provide you with a lower price on the phone. Also, if you purchase from us and later find the product for less elsewhere, call or email us within 45 days, and we‘ll refund you the difference.

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3. Nobody Beats zZounds‘ Fast & Free Shipping

At zZounds, we know you want your gear fast, and shipped to you free of charge. That‘s why we have absolutely free ground shipping on every single order shipped within the continental United States. This includes heavy and oversized items. No minimum purchase required. No exclusions. We also ship over 90% of our orders with FREE 2-day shipping. We pull it all off with our strategically placed, coast-to-coast warehouses.

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4. zZounds makes returns super easy

Buy it, try it, like it, or return it to us for a full refund. It‘s just that simple. If you‘re not in love with what you bought, return it to zZounds within 45 days, and we‘ll promptly arrange for an exchange or a refund. No hassles. No hidden charges. And if a product‘s defective or damaged, call us at 844-zZounds (844-996-8637), and we‘ll email you a prepaid shipping label so you can easily return it to us at zero cost to you.

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5. zZounds delivers top-rated customer service

zZounds has received multiple Bizrate® Circle of Excellence Platinum awards, placing us in the top 0.7 percent of Bizrate‘s network of 5,200 retailers. Our success in meeting the needs of our customers -- since 1996, we‘ve satisfied over 1,000,000 people -- is due in large part to the fact that zZounds only hires experienced musicians to answer your calls and emails, and they are never paid a commission.

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close [x]
Available on
orders $59+
learn more

Need it now but short of cash? All we need is the first payment up front and the rest in easy monthly payments!

Fast approval.
We approve everyone, with very few exceptions, as long as we can verify your identity.
No interest. Ever.
It's just as if you paid the whole amount up front!
No paperwork. Nothing to track.
No application to mail or fax, no bills to pay. We automatically charge the payments to your credit card.

We'll wait on your money so you don't have to wait for your gear!

When you checkout, just click the Play as you Pay checkbox to indicate which installment plan you wish to use.

close [x]
no minimum

learn more

Why fight traffic and pushy salesmen when we'll bring your gear straight to your home, free of charge?

zZounds free shipping is really free!
No hidden charges or hassles on returns.
Fast, reliable delivery
We have warehouses on both coasts, so most shipments arrive in 3 days or less.
We don't collect sales tax. Bonus!
Only NJ residents pay tax during checkout.
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A guarantee so solid, you never have to worry about price when shopping at zZounds

We'll beat any price
Simply click the Seen it for less? link next to the gear you want or call us at 844-zZounds (844-996-8637)
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No problem. We'll refund you the difference for 45 days, so you'll never regret buying from zZounds.

You'll still get the trustworthy service you've come to expect from zZounds, without paying more for your gear!