Ask the expert: with $2-$3k to spend what electric guitar, amp and pedal set-up would you recommend?

Ask the expert: with $2-$3k to spend what electric guitar, amp and pedal set-up would you recommend?

You’ve got a budget of up to $3K. What do you spent it on?

We had a request to make a recommendation for a young guitarist wanting to invest in his gear. Here are Andy’s thoughts.

Its always fun to go fantasy guitar shopping on someone else’s cash. Big thing to remember though, all responses including mine are based on personal taste! 

Biggest question for me is how is he going to be playing the electric? Is he going to be strumming like an acoustic or playing typical electric album parts? 

If it’s more acoustic strumming then a semi hollow body like a Gretsch, Gibson 335 alike or Danelectro is a great place to start as there is less ‘mid’ in the sound and it’ll sound far less muddy. 

If he is playing electric parts much of it depends on what style he gravitates towards, probably based on who his guitar heros are. Typical choices are the Fender Strat/Tele single coil camp or the Gibson Les Paul/SG area for fuller humbucker tones. 

Amps wise, for a worship band go for something with a great clean tone as a starting off point (rather than something that only focuses on distortion where the clean tone can be a bit dull) so as your starting off points try researching the sounds of the Fender ‘Blackface’ and Tweed amps and the Vox AC 15 or AC30. and see what he likes best. The problem here though is that all these tube amps sound their best when being naturally pushed into overdrive and that’s at volumes way above most church levels (even the 15 watt AC15). However there are lots companies that make amps based on these designs with lower or scalable power ratings. (Look up premier guitar ‘champions of chime’ for the Vox-alike stuff… and for most church things i use an 8 watt Lil Dawg Champster fender tweed alike amp). 

I could send people to sleep with with the amount effects choices out there but for electric parts in worship bands at a base level he’ll need a tuner (v important!) an overdrive pedal and a delay. Other popular choices are a compressor – I use one lots, modulation (trem/chorus etc) and a volume or wah pedal. 

For all in one units at his price point I like the TC Nova system and the line 6 m9 or m13. For individual effects, these are sooooo many options but as a starting point you cant go wrong with a drive pedal based around a rat or tube screamer (something that says 808 is normally a good clue) and make sure the delay has a tap tempo. Manufacturer options for both could be Boss, Line 6, Visual Sound, TC, MXR, Fulltone to name but a VERY few. Other suggestions? 

All in all though I’d probably say spend more on the amp than the guitar – so for his budget – 50% on the amp, 30% on the guitar and 20% on effects. Not forgetting of course to invest $90 in the Musicademy Intermediate Electric Guitar Course, which covers lots of stuff on effects as well as teaching you all the chord shapes/positions scales, licks, tricks and ideas to be able to work out and reproduce how any electric guitar part from a typical worship album… My inner geek is now satisfied…

Other articles you might find helpful:


Which pedals do I need to start playing in a worship band? Part 1part 2 & part 3

A guide to guitar effects pedals for beginners

Gear confessional – my pedal rig (for those who care!)

Pedaltrain Mini – downsizing my rig

Which pedals do I need to start playing in a worship band? Part 1part 2 & part 3

Gear confessional – Andy’s pedal rig


Light Weight Les Paul?

Lightweight Les Paul of Love part 2

Gear confessional- guitars

Andy’s Squire Telecaster

Flow chart – Do you have too many guitars?


Small amp, great sound –  part 1part 2part 3part 4 and part 5

Gear confessional – amps

Mini tube heads