The Best Music Gear to Learn an Instrument (2021): Guitars, Mics, and More

There are many iconic guitar manufacturers, however I nonetheless advocate a Fender as a primary guitar. It’s not simply because Hendrix, Clapton, and Buddy Guy all performed Fenders; it is as a result of a Mexican-made Fender or Korean-made Fender Squier is inexpensive, sounds nice, and holds its worth. If you purchase a used Fender and do not deal with it like crap, you possibly can in all probability promote it for what you paid for it. The 4 most iconic fashions are the Stratocaster ($230), Telecaster, Precision Bass ($480), and Jazz Bass ($230).

Photograph: Soundbrenner

These are the primary gizmos and devices you will need to snag.


Practicing with a metronome (the ticky-tacky-sounding factor you may acknowledge from atop your grandma’s piano) helps you develop muscle reminiscence and maintain your tempo constant by a bit of music. Mechanical metronomes ($17) work advantageous, and so do free smartphone apps, however my favourite is the Soundbrenner Core ($229). You connect a buzzer to your arms or legs throughout observe. Instead of listening to the beat, you are feeling it! It additionally comes with a built-in tuner and a decibel meter to warn you when issues are too loud.


You can use a telephone app, however many individuals choose the reliability of an actual tuner. For stringed devices, I just like the Snark Super Tight ($14), which is the business normal in clip-on tuners. For wind devices, I just like the KLIQ MetroPitch ($28), which additionally has a built-in metronome.

Music Stand/iPad Stand

You can use a desk or some other flat floor to maintain instruments when you observe, however when you learn the way to learn music correctly, you want a music stand to learn as you play. I like this one from Gleam ($26), which comes with two spring-loaded arms to maintain open books or maintain your music on the stand on a windy day. You may also need an iPad attachment ($32), for those who’re studying sheet music off an app. 


Photograph: Audio Technica

A pair of low-cost earbuds is OK to begin with, however it’s price getting an honest pair of wi-fi over-ear headphones just like the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT ($230) for those who’re severe about your tunes. They sound nice for listening, have a Bluetooth connection for contemporary smartphones, and additionally double as wonderful studio headphones for at-home recording. 

Practice Amp

Photograph: Roland

You in all probability will not be ripping up the stage anytime quickly, so one of the best amplifier to purchase to your electrical guitar, keyboard, or bass is one that will not wake the neighbors. There are cheaper choices I like, however I like to recommend the Roland Micro Cube ($165). It may be powered by batteries when out and about (nice for yard training), and it is even received a couple of built-in results for those who begin fascinated with guitar pedals. If you are a bass participant or keyboard participant, the Roland Cube can even work till you determined to get one thing a bit fancier.


Don’t harm your ears! Music may be actually loud. Anything over 85 decibels could cause everlasting listening to injury. Either observe at regular volumes or use a pair of earplugs. There are many who declare to reduce all frequencies evenly (in order that your music sounds the identical). None of them completely nail the sound of listening with out plugs in, however my favorites are Earasers ($40), which include little clear-plastic pulls that make them very easy to take out, in addition to a case that you would be able to connect to your keys.

For Electronic Music and Recording

Photograph: Novation

Interested in enjoying music digitally? Here are some fundamental instruments to get began making and recording tunes.

Digital Recording Software

One of the longest-standing nerd debates is about which recording software program is finest. Studio individuals will inform you Avid’s Pro Tools is finest as a result of it is the business normal. Home producers will inform you Apple’s Logic Pro or Presonus’ Studio One are higher due to their drag-and-drop interfaces. Beatmakers will inform you Ableton Live is the one means to go. Honestly? These days you possibly can’t go unsuitable. All well-known digital recording software program is fairly improbable. I counsel attempting a number of the manufacturers listed above, all of which have free software program samples so you possibly can take a look at the waters before you purchase.

Laptop or Computer

Photograph: Apple

You can use an iPad, smartphone, or one other pill to make and document digital music, however the overwhelming majority of software program for music manufacturing continues to be made for conventional computer systems. That’s as a result of they are a bit extra highly effective, letting them do much more along with your sounds and deal with bigger recording classes. Here’s an inventory of our favorite laptops. I’d counsel getting one with 16 or extra gigabytes of RAM; recording software program eats up loads of reminiscence.

Audio Interface

Photograph: Nigel Matthews/Focusrite

The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 ($170) is the proper starter interface for those who’re fascinated with utilizing precise microphones to document at dwelling. It’s received two inputs and easy-to-use controls and software program, and it even comes with obtain codes for a couple of digital audio workstations (DAWs) like Pro Tools and Ableton Live Lite, so you will get an thought of which recording software program you’d relatively use earlier than spending huge bucks.


Photograph: Apple 

My favourite device for making demos or doing different fundamental recordings is an iPad. There are tons of nice apps, and you possibly can plug in exterior microphones and interfaces to seize higher-quality audio. I additionally like that I can pull up charts and notes digitally, to assist maintain demos and observe classes organized. Which one to purchase is up to you (we have an iPad guide), however I’ve been utilizing an iPad Air ($539) and I like it.

Novation Launchpad

The Novation Launchpad ($200) pairs with recording software program to allow you to do all the pieces from enjoying melodies to triggering samples, making it a central device within the arsenal of many digital musicians. It connects to your pc by way of USB, at which level you possibly can assign its varied pressure-sensitive pads to management practically something you want, from particular person beats and sounds to total musical preparations.

Maschine Micro Mk3

Photograph: Lauren Joseph

The Maschine Micro ($269) is a compact sampling controller that pairs with improbable software program to basically provide the Twenty first-century equal of the drum machines that traditional hip hop producers started utilizing within the early Nineteen Nineties. You can chop up your individual samples or use any from an included vault that is received 1.6 gigabytes of sounds. You can use the Maschine with its personal software program or as a plug-in with any in style recording software program. There’s no excuse for unhealthy beats apart from your expertise; this is identical device utilized by lots of your favourite hip-hop producers.

Smartphone Mic

Photograph: Shure

Whether you are after better-quality demos or a higher-fidelity Instagram stream, get an honest telephone microphone just like the Shure Mv88 or MV88+. The MV88 ($135) works nice when you’ve got an iOS gadget (it is Lightning-only), however the MV88+ ($215) has develop into a favourite of mine currently as a result of it comes with an included tripod stand and its USB-C cable works with Android gadgets just like the Google Pixel (although the MV88+ is not suitable with all Android gadgets).


Photograph: Amazon

If you do not need to fiddle with a smartphone or audio interface, a terrific transportable recording choice is the Zoom H2N ($170). It’s a easy transportable recorder that gives fairly outstanding constancy, particularly for recording issues like classes, reside performances, or rehearsals for later critique.

Shure SM57

Photograph: Shure

An icon of studio and stage, the Shure SM57 ($99) works nicely for vocals, devices, and basically something you need to seize. This dynamic mic is a studio stalwart for guitars and snare drums, however you have in all probability heard it on practically each instrument on varied recordings. They’re comparatively low-cost, they take a beating, and they will final without end. Make your first “real” mic an SM57; you will not remorse it. 

Mic Stand

Buy a crappy mic stand and it can final you a few months. Buy an honest one, it’s going to final you a lifetime. My favourite starter stand is the tripod microphone from On-Stage ($38). It’s well-made and comes with a telescoping increase arm, which suggests you possibly can place the mic precisely the place it wants to go, making it simpler to play with a guitar.

Photograph: Vic Firth

When you are a burgeoning music pupil, you will study shortly that issues break. Here are some smaller objects to replenish on simply in case.


Drumsticks are very private and are available many shapes and sizes, however it’s good to begin with an outdated normal: the 5A. These are about as shut to a “medium” as exists on the earth of drumsticks—you will discover professionals enjoying them in all genres. I’m partial to Vater ($8) and Vic Firth ($10) manufacturers, however you actually cannot go unsuitable. Grab a few pairs to maintain available—they generally tend to disappear simply if you want them.


If you have received an outdated ratty guitar, likelihood is it might use new strings. I like to purchase strings in bulk, as a result of they’re the one a part of a guitar that wants common upkeep. If you have simply picked up a brand new guitar (or nonetheless have the hangtags from the one within the closet), verify what strings it got here with and maintain utilizing these—that is possible what it is arrange to use. Otherwise, it is good to begin with medium-gauge strings. I like these D’Addario strings for electric guitars ($8) and these Ernie Ball strings for acoustic ($6), however there are tons of different nice choices. Worried what strings to use? Check out this cool guide from music retailer Sweetwater.


If you are studying a string instrument, you are gonna need loads of picks available. The finest means to discover which of them you want? Get this fun Fender multipack ($14). It’s received three sizes and all types of colours. You’ll discover your favourite, and then have some emergency picks in different sizes round. 


For woodwind devices, you will want reeds. Lots of them. We like Vandoren Reeds. They’re a bit expensive, however they’re one of the best. For one thing cheaper to observe on, you possibly can go along with D’Addario Rico Reeds. Having a reed break in the course of a session is a buzzkill. Have extras available so you possibly can simply swap them out.


Capos allow you to play normal fingerings increased up on the guitar, making it simpler to change keys. You’re gonna lose one, so you might as nicely purchase two to have a backup. I’m a giant fan of tension-adjustable choices; the Shubb C1 ($16) as a result of it helps you to modify how exhausting it’s clamping the fingerboard of your guitar, for good buzz-free sound.

Instrument Cables

If you are enjoying an electrical instrument, it is good to spend money on good cables. These Kirlin cables ($14) are wonderful high quality and include a restricted lifetime guarantee. Be certain to maintain your cables wrapped and off the ground as a lot as doable. The finest means to make them final is to deal with them kindly.


It’s price having some fundamental instruments available to carry out any upkeep you may want in your instrument. This musician’s tool kit from Ernie Ball ($40) is an efficient all-in-one choice for a lot of, with all of the instruments you want to arrange or restore a guitar or bass. Otherwise, it is good to have a set of hex keys, a drum key, and some screwdrivers available.

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