Busking Equipment

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Busking Equipment

This Is A Lengthy Article On Busking Equipment & Experiences.

  • When Loading On A Mobile, Do 2 - 3 Rapid Swipes Up

Article Topics Include:

  • PA Amplifiers

  • Microphones

  • Vocal Processors

  • Loop Pedals

  • Drums & Percussion

  • Mixers

  • Guitar Pedal Boards

  • Power Supply Options

Oh! What Choices

Busking Equipment Introduction

Today's Range of High Tech Equipment Can Be Bewildering When Making Choices. Usually A Busker or Musician Acquires Their Equipment Over Time, Adding Pieces As They Go, With Some Form of Idea About What They Are Trying To Achieve. Normally, There Isn't A Master Plan, It's Just An Evolutionary Process. What This Means Is That We Acquire Various Pieces of Gear And Put Aside Others, As Our Sound Evolves.

Having Some Kind of Objective At The Start Would Be Great, Saving Us Time & Money But, It's Usually The Journey We Are On Where The Objective Becomes Clearer. Understanding Various Bits of Gear Would Be A Good Start Thou!

The Gear Could Be Simple, A Guitar, Keyboard or Wind Instrument, A Music Stand, Maybe A Seat & Something For Donations! Move On From This And Add An Amp, Microphone, Some Form of Mixing, Pedal Board, Loop Pedal, Other Effects, Power Supply And The List Goes On. The Following Are A Few Ideas.


Whether You Are Busking In The Street or Mall, With Friends or At Home Practicing, You Need To Easily Move Your Equipment From Place To Place. Having Equipment That Is Portable Is A Must! This Not Only Means Equipment Size & Weight But, If It Is Powered, What Else Will Be Required Such As Extension Leads, Batteries, Inverters, Leads etc.

The Equipment List Quickly Builds, Say A Guitar or Keyboard, A Stand, Amplifier, Music Stand, Effect Pedals, Mic & Loop Pedal. How Will You Transport or Move This Gear Around? A Collapsible Trolley? A Suitcase With Wheels? Hmmm . . . . More Decisions! Do You Need Power? Will You Have Access To Power? Will You Power By Batteries?

Standing, With Guitar in Hand & Belting Out A Tune Sounds Much Simpler! OK, Throw In A Collapsible Seat :)

When Acquiring Gear, Remember, A Key Objective Is Portability & This May Determine Your Choices.

PA Amplifier

To Amp or Not To Amp? That's A Good Question. It Depends On Your Gear & Where You Intend To Busk.

An Acoustic Guitar May Not Require It. An Electric, Definitely Does. A Keyboard May Require Amplification, While Harmonica & Wind Instruments May Not. Some Local Regulations Prohibit or, Restrict It To Certain Areas. Maybe You Just Want To Have A Portable Arrangement, To Play In Venues or, With Family & Friends.

If Practical, Using An Amplifier Is Great To Cut Through The Ambient Noise of Your Location or, Amplify A Guitar or Keyboard. If Doing So, The First Question Is, "How Do I Want To Power It?" It's Pretty Pointless Falling In Love With A Nice PA or Guitar Amp If You Are Going To Play In Venues or Even At Home, Where Mains Power Is Not Readily At Hand, Without The Use of Extension Leads & The Care Required.

I Remember Once Running A Mains Extension Lead Outside And A Large Parrot, We Call Galah's, Chomped Into It. There Was Great Commotion, Feathers Flying & Raucous Screeching, Luckily The Parrot Survived But It Did Trip The Power To The Building!!

There Are Three Choices When It Comes To Power,

  • Batteries - Preferably Rechargeable Using Readily Available Batteries Such As Nickel Metal Hydride

  • Mains Power - Requiring The Use of An Extension Lead. A Safety Cutoff Switch Should Also Be Used

  • Inverter - Usually A 12 Volt To Mains Power Unit With The Capacity To Power Your Gear

  • I Suppose There Is A Fourth Choice, If You're Way Out In The Open, A Portable Generator

Most Busking Is Done In Venues Where There Is Limited Access To Mains Power. Even Playing Outdoors, With Family & Friends, The Use of Mains Power May Be A Challenge.

Powering Your Amp Using An Inverter Has Some Advantages. You Have A Lot More Choices of Amplifier Types & Brands, Even Using Your Current Go-To Amp. The Disadvantage Is That You Need To Carry A Bulky Battery & An Inverter That Has The Capacity, In Watts, For Your Needs. A Pure Sine Wave Inverter Running On 12 Volts Is The Norm But, They Don't Come Cheap!

Running A Generator Out In The Open Works, Especially The Small Lightweight Units But, You Have To Run It At Some Distance To Reduce Noise And Use A Very Long Extension Lead! For Most People It's Not Practical.

Using Batteries As A Power Source Sounds Simple, And It Is, But There Are Limited Choices In Amp Types & Brands.

For Busking or Playing At Home, An Amplifier With The Following Features, Would Be Ideal,

  • Battery Powered And Last At Least 5 Hours Using Rechargeable Batteries

  • Microphone Input For Vocals With EQ & Reverb

  • Guitar Input With An Instrument or Clean Channel As Well As, EQ & Reverb

  • Built In Guitar Effects For Delay & Chorus, Preferably Foot Controlled On/Off

  • Loud Enough, For The Most Noisiest Venue You Would Typically Encounter

There Are Other "Nice-To-Haves" Such As Amp Modelling, Additional Effects, An Aux Input For Backing Tracks And So On But, The Above List Will Cover Most Needs.

From Experience

My Current Busking Amp Is The Roland Cube Street. I Have A Mains Powered PA, Great Sound, Lots of Features Including USB Enabled But Not Easily Transported. As Well, I Have Tried Other Battery Powered Amps But They Had Limitations.

This Amp Satisfies The Above Features Lists & What I Have Found Surprising, Is How Loud They Can Go & The Long Duration From 6 x 2500mah Rechargeable Batteries. It Has Many Additional Features Including An Aux Input For Backing Tracks & Is Very Portable. This Is The 5W Model But They Do Come In A 50W Model As Well.

It Has A Very Clear Sound, Using The Instrument Setting For Acoustic or, The Clean Amp Modelling For Electric Guitar. With 2 Channel Input, For Mic & Instrument/Guitar & Separate EQ, Reverb & Volume, It Meets My Needs.

It 's Easily Loud Enough For Home Use or Small Venues But, For Outdoors, The 50W Model Is The Go!

See Below, Under Boss VE-20 Experiences, For My Cube Street Amplifier Settings.


We Are Inundated With Choices When It Comes To Microphones. For Live Vocals, The Norm Is To Use A Dynamic Mic With Cardioid Pattern. That Is, A Mic More Sensitive In The Front Compared To The Rear, So As To Reduce Background Noise.

Other Mics, Such As Studio Mics, Are Usually Condenser Mics Requiring Phantom Power. These Mics Can Be Bulkier & Are More Sensitive To Background Noise, Best Suited To The Home Studio. If You Are Interested In A Condenser Mic, And There A Number Similar In Size & Style As Dynamic Mics, Make Sure Your Amp Has A Phantom Power Feature or The Mic Uses An Internal Battery For Power.

Great Mic Brands Such As Sennheiser, Shure, Rode, Audix, Audio Technica etc. Have A Comprehensive Range.

Every Mic Has Its Own Unique Tonal Characteristic. Some Mics Are Renown For There Tone Such As The Ubiquitous Shure SM58.

These Are A Highly Recommended Mic With A Warm Sound & Pleasant Proximity Effect, As You Move Closer To The Mic. These Mics Can Be Seen Being Used At Many Live Gigs & On Videos. They Are A Dynamic Mic, Rugged & Reliable. Just Plug Into Your Amp And Sing! A Mic Stand Is Required If You Are Playing An Instrument. The SM58 Has Been Around For Many Years & Is Not Overly Expensive, As Mic Prices Go.

If You Are Looking For A Less Restrictive Mic, Consider A Headset Mic. Not As Numerous As Dynamic Mics, They Do Have The Advantage of Allowing Freedom With Your Hands To Play & Not Being Fixed To A Mic Stand.

Shure WH20XLR

The Shure WH20XLR Is A Dynamic Headset Mic With XLR Connection. Easy To Use With A Nice Tone & Clear Sound. It Has A Flexible Arm For The Mic & A Clip On The XLR Connector For Your Belt or Whatever.

I Have Found That Mic Positioning Can Be Important For A Consistent Tone & Volume From Gig To Gig. Once You Have Found The Best Position For Your Voice, Take A Note of How You Have Positioned It.

The Tonal Character Is Very Similar To The Shure SM58.

It Is Comfortable To Wear & By Using An XLR Extension Lead, Gives The Freedom You May Want.

Vocal Processor

You May Consider Some Kind of Vocal Processor To Enhance Your Singing Voice. Vocal Processing Is Purely Optional & May Not Be Necessary For Your Voice & Setup. What Does Vocal Processing Do?

Some of The Features:

  • Dynamic Control or Compression

  • Pitch Correction Chromatic or Major/Minor Key

  • Tone Control via Preamp EQ or Special Effects

  • Harmony or Doubling Feature

  • Delay For Voice Thickening & Effect

  • Reverb With Plate/Room/Hall Selections

  • All Programmable & Stored For Recall

  • Some Also Do Looping

  • Battery Powered or Mains Adapter

Different Brands Offer All or, Just Some of These Features.

From Experience

Used Sparingly, Vocal Processing Can Add That Missing Element To Your Voice. Harmonies Can Sound Good But I Have Found You Need To Spend Some Time Getting It Right. If You Are After Vocal Effects, Then Most Processors Will Satisfy Your Needs.

I Have Tried A Number of Processors Such As The Boss VE-20 & Various TC Helicon Units. The Advantage of The Boss Unit Is That You Have Everything In The One Pedal. Reverb, Delay, Pitch Correction, Effects etc. All In The One Box & Can Make Selections Using The Foot Switches To Change Song Key, If Using Pitch Correction, & Switch Harmonies On/Off.

The TC Helicon Units Will Do Some or All of This, Depending On Model. Just Make Sure You Get The Effects You're After. Other Units May Offer A Range of Features But, Just Make Sure They Are Easily Controlled By The Busker, Who Is Focussed On Performance, Rather Than Fiddling With Various Pedals, Knobs & Small Screens, Difficult To Read.

I Find That Most Vocal Processor Presets Are A Bit "Over The Top" & That You Get The Best Results Creating Your Own Presets, Matching Your Voice, Mic & Amp Setup. This Way You Can Create A Very Natural Sound & Bring Out The Best In Your Voice, If That Is What You're After. Alternatively, Spend Some Time Adjusting The Inbuilt Presets & Saving To A User Memory Slot.

My Boss VE-20 Vocal Presets

I Use The Boss VE-20 Vocal Processor. In My Setup My Settings Are:

  • Mic Sens 90, Low Cutoff "On" (I Use The Shure Headset Mic)

  • Dynamics "On", Depth 90, Enhance 1 (This Is A Compressor/Enhancer)

  • Pitch Correction "On", Soft (I Have Major/Minor Keys Stored For Each, In User Presets For Recall)

  • Delay Set At 1/16th Note, With 5 Feedback & Level of 40 - 44 (1/16 = 125ms For Tempo = 120bpm)

  • Ambience Reverb of Size +3 & Level of 40 - 44 (Tends To Brighten Vocal, Otherwise Room Is OK)

  • Tone/EFX Set To Distortion (To Add Sparkle), Drive Set At +2 & Tone At -1 (This Really Brightens The Vocal)

  • Harmony Set To Part 1, Double, Level 42 - 48 & Part 2, +5th, Gender +1, Level 10 - 16. They Sound Good, Without Being "Over The Top".

By Removing Any One of These Effects, It Is Just Noticeable, And I Think That Is A Good Way To Set It Up For Your Voice. With The Above Settings, The Combined Result Is A Pleasing Vocal Sound, That Has Clarity. My Voice Is Reasonably Deep & These Settings Work For Me In The Overall Context of The Mix.

It Is Important To Test & Adjust Your Settings Against A Typical Song You Would Play, To Ensure They Work In The Mix. If You Don't, You Will End Up With Too Short A Delay & Not Enough Reverb. I Think This Is An Issue With Most Vocal Processor Reviews Where They Don't Review Against A Music Track, Hence Why They Sound Over The Top, Even Thou That May Be The Case!

Please Note That The Settings Will Vary Depending On Your Mic, Amp & Tone Settings. I Use The Roland Cube Street With The Following Settings.

Roland Cube Street Settings


  • Mic Input Set To Line

  • Equalizer Set At, Bass +2 Graduation, Treble -2 Graduation

  • Reverb 2 Graduation

  • The Cube Street Uses A Stereo Reverb That Sounds Good Hence, Why I Have It Turned On, Complimenting The VE-20 Ambience Reverb That Brightens The Vocal. The Amp EQ Settings Compensate For The Venue And May Vary Slightly.


  • Amp Modelling Set To Instrument (Electric & Acoustic Guitar)

  • Gain 5

  • Equalizer Set At, Bass 0 Graduation, Middle +1 Graduation, Treble +1 Graduation

  • EFX Off

  • Reverb 4 Graduation

With All of The Above Settings I Can Record Direct Out, From The Amps Headphone Socket or, Patch Vocals, Backing & Guitar, Into My Boss BR 800 Recorder, For Live Sound Recording. The Result Is Excellent. Note That I Modified The Cube Street Amp, With A Switch, To Be Able To Output From Speakers & Headphones, Simultaneously, (Live Recording) or, Just Headphones Only (Quiet Recording & Practice) If I Choose To Record Direct Out, via The Headphone Socket.

What I Have Noticed, Is That The VE-20 Is Very Sensitive To Battery Voltage. If The Green "ON" LED Is Not Glowing Bright, Then You Will Hear The Sound Lose Its Sharpness & Colouration Occurring. It's Not Too Bad With Alkaline Batteries But Only If, That LED, Is Not Dull! Rechargeable Batteries If Fresh Are OK But, When They Lose The Surface Charge, That LED Goes Dull. So, Dull Green LED Equals Loss of Sound Quality! Bright LED Equals :)

I Wasted An Incredible Amount of Time Chasing Settings, To Get The Sound I Wanted, Only To Do It All Again, At A Later Stage, When Things Didn't Sound Right. Once I Realised That The LED Had To Be Bright, Then I Was Able To Get Consistent Results. A Mains Adapter or Other 9 Volt Power Option Is The Go! Alternatively, Use Fresh Batteries & Keep An Eye On That LED.

Loop Pedal

A Big Bearing On Whether You Choose To Use A Loop Pedal Or Not, Is The Type of Sounds You're Looking For In Your Performance. If You Are Performing Covers & Playing An Instrument You May Not Have Much Need For A Looper.

I Have Seen Buskers With A Loop Pedal On Their Pedal Board But Rarely Use It.

On The Other Hand, If You Like Being Creative & Developing Beats & Rhythm, A Loop Pedal of Some Description, Would Be A Great Asset. Also, If You Want To Add Some Dynamics To Your Performance, The Loop Pedal Allows Turning Tracks On/Off or, Having A Complete Song Backing Track That You Can Start/Stop At Leisure.

I Think A Loop Pedal That You Can Download Backing Tracks Too, Then Call Up As Needed, To Be A Valuable Tool To Aid Your Performance. Some Have A USB Port On The Rear To Do This Very Thing.

The Busker Has Many Choices When It Comes To Loop Pedals.

Some Offer A Single Track That You Layer Loops Onto, While Others Are Multi Track Devices. The Single Track Loopers Are Simple To Operate & Do The Job. Great For Getting Into Looping.

If Your Performance Calls For Starting & Stopping Particular Loops Such As, A Percussion or Guitar Fill, Then A Multi Track Looper is Required.

Features To Look For:

  • Single, Double, Triple or More Tracks. What Is Your Need? The More Tracks Generally Means The More Expensive! I Suggest Going For What You Can Afford, Coupled With How You Think You Will Integrate The Looper In Your Performance. If You Think You Will Only Layer A Few Sounds Then A Single Track Device Might Do. Most People Aim For At Least Two Tracks To Provide Options In Their Performance.

  • Ability To Save Your Loop or Track. Most Single Track Loopers, Particularly The Ones That Are Included In Other Pedals, Don't Allow For Saving Your Loop. Once Turned Off, That's It! So, The Ability To Store A Loop or Track Is Important If You Wish To Recall A Performance For Later Use.

  • Memory Size. If The Looper Can Save A Loop It Means It Has Memory Slots But, How Many? The More Memory Slots Available Means You Can Store Many Performances, Recall, Then Save Into A Different Memory Slot & Further Layer Additional Loops Onto It. The More Memory The Better. As An Example, The Boss RC-30 Loop Pedal Has 99 Memory Slots With 2 Tracks In Each Slot.

  • Ability To Start/Stop A Track or All Tracks Simultaneously, Is An Important Feature To Look For With Multi Track Loopers.

  • USB Enabled? If You Want To Use The Loop Pedal As An Easy Way To Play Backing Tracks, With The Ability To Start/Stop Using The Foot Switch, Then Being Able To Connect To A PC Is Important. Also, If You Want To Clear Out The Memory But, Not Lose Your Loops, Then Having The Ability To Connect To a PC & Store Your Loops Requires USB.

  • Included Effects. Many Loop Pedals Include Some Form of Effects. Don't Get Too Hung Up Over Them. I Never Use Them.

  • Ability To Have A Few Bars of Say Percussion On A Track Which Continuously Loops, While On Another Track, You May Have Many Bars Looping, All In Sync. This Is A Great Feature To Have And Speeds Up The Looping Process.

  • In Built Rhythm Is A Good Option To Have, Especially For Pre Saved Loops. Just Recall The Loop & It Will Play The Rhythm, At The Tempo You Set, At The Time You Stored The Loop.

From Experience

I Use Both The Boss RC-30 & RC-300 Loop Pedals. The RC-30 Was My First Loop Pedal And Is Great, Particularly Playing Backing Tracks. It Has 2 Tracks & 99 Memory Slots.

The RC-300 Has The Advantage of 3 Tracks, A Programmable Expression Pedal And Easy To Use. Getting The Loops To Start & Loop Properly Is Easy. This Is A Rugged Unit, As Is The RC-30. All Metal Construction And Near Unbreakable!

The RC-30 Can Use Batteries But The RC-300 Requires Power via The Mains Adapter.

Another Great Looper Is The Boss RC-505. This Is Hand Operated, Instead of Foot But, Has 5 Tracks! They Have Become Expensive Thou!

Drum & Percussion

A Lot of Buskers Use Their Guitar To Create Percussion Sounds, Either Tapping The Body of An Acoustic Guitar or Raking Muted Strings, On An Electric Guitar.

Some People Can Get Great Sounds While Others, Use A Dedicated Drum or Percussion Pad. Most Keyboards or Synths Have Drum & Percussion Sounds or Patches. If You Use Other Instruments, A Drum Pad May Add Some Additional Depth To Your Performance.

Notable Brands Are Roland, Nord, Alesis, Yamaha etc. I Have Tried A Number of Models. All Have Very Good Sounds & Features Plus, The Ability To Tailor The Sound You Want. With Numerous Kits To Choose From & Programmability, Your Choices Are Nearly Endless.

For Busking, You Need To Consider How You Will Power The Drum Pad. Most Use A Mains Power Adapter Delivering 9 or 12 Volts. This Means You Could Power Directly From Another Source, As Long As You Use The Same Voltage & Current Specs & With The Correct Polarity Lead.

An Alternative Approach Is To Pre Record Your Drum Loops Using Your Loop Pedal & Store Them For Later Recall, When You Perform. This Is A Simple Approach & Saves Having To Lug More Gear Around.

Recording Numerous Beat Styles & Tempo Gives You Plenty of Performance Options. The Advantage Of This Is That You Have The Freedom of Expression To Create Loops On The "Fly" Plus, Have Backing Tracks To Call Upon As Well. If You Have Pre Recorded Tracks, You Can Include Other Instruments Such As, Bass Guitar or Keyboard, To Give The Performance A Lift.

From Experience

I Have Tried A Number of Ways To Get Drum & Percussion Sounds That Sound Good, Even Tapping A Tamborine With My Foot & Beat Boxes.

There Are Pro's & Con's, The Biggest Pro's Are Simplicity & Costs, The Con's Are Usability And Control of A Single Sound.

For Looping I Use The Nord Drum 3P. It Is A Rugged, Reliable Unit With Many Great Sounds. One Draw Back Is That It Is Powered By A Mains Adapter So This Means You Need Mains Power, Which You Probably Won't Have, Unless You Are Indoors. You Could Power Directly From Another Source At The Correct Voltage & Current Rating.

There Is Nothing On The Market For The Live Performer Who Wants A Variety of Sounds, Triggered By Foot Tapping or Selectable Tempo & Battery Powered For Portability.

So, The Challenge, Build My Own!

The WAV Player

A Live Performer Has Unique Needs,

  • Firstly, Sounds Should Be Selectable & Programmable

  • Secondly, The Sounds Must Be Triggered By The Typical Guitar Pedal Foot Switch

  • Thirdly, The Sound Should Trigger By The Foot Switch, Selectable Tempo or Tap Tempo

  • Fourthly, There Should Be Zero Delay or Latency. Tap The Footswitch And The Sound Should Be Instant & Immediately Repeatable or, If A Backing Track, Instant Play, For You To Jam With

  • Lastly, It Should Be Capable of Playing A Single Sound Through To Complete Song Tracks, Be Portable, Easy To Use & Battery Powered

Having An Electronic Engineering Background I Decided To Design & Build A Dedicated Sound Pedal, For Live Performance, Based On Those Needs.

The Pedal Will Play Any Sound, Be It A Single Tap of The Woodblock or Tamborine or Whatever Sounds You Have Stored On The SD Card. From Single Sounds, Drum Tracks, Rhythm Tracks or Complete Song Backing Tracks, As Long As The Sound Is A Wav File, It Will Play It!

For Portability, It Is Battery Powered. Just Plug Into An Amp And Tap Away.

It Is A Two Channel Device With 10 Memory Slots Per Channel. You Have The Option of Selecting Different Sounds On Each Channel Say, Woodblock On Channel 1 & Tamborine or Backing Rhythm On Channel 2. You Can Use 1 or 2 Feet, Together, Separately, Single Tap, Multi Tap, Whatever You Like!

I Usually Play Song Backing Tracks or Drum/Percussion & Bass Lines, On Channel 2, With The Option of Adding Percussion On Channel 1 Say, During A Chorus, Such As Cabasa, Tamborine or Woodblock.

The Unit's Line Out, Connects To The Amp's Aux In. It Has EQ & Level Controls For Each Channel. The Sound Is Amazing, Like Having A Band In Your Back Pocket!

I Normally Play Backing Guitar Plus Lead & Add Vocals, To My Own Rhythm or Backing Tracks.

I Called It The "WAV Player".

Tap A Backbeat - Maybe Woodblock?


Depending On Your Amp & The Gear You Use, You May or May Not Need A Mixer.

As An Example, The Boss RC-30 Loop Pedal Has A Dedicated Mic Input & Stereo Instrument Input. So You Can Set It Up With Mic, Guitar Say, Into The Right Instrument Channel & Other Sounds Into The Left Channel Input. Control of Sound Levels Is Easily Done At The Sound Source. The Pedal Is Acting As A Quasi Mixer. The Big Advantage of Using Your Looper For This, Is That It Is Battery Powered & You Don't Need Additional Gear!

If You Have Access To Mains Power, You Have Many Mixer Options To Choose From. Most Brands Offer Similar Features Such As Level & EQ Controls Thru To Compression & Effects Such As Reverb. It Depends On Your Budget.

If You Are In The Market For A Budget Mixer, Check Out The Behringer Range, In Particular, The QX1202 USB. The USB Audio Interface Is Very Useful For Plugging Into Your PC For Home Recording.

The Big Drawback With Most Mixers Is That They Are Powered Using A Mains Adapter.

There Are A Few Battery Powered Mixers Such As, The Behringer Xenyx 1002B With 5/10 Inputs, Battery or Mains Powered With Lots of Features. It Was Designed To Be Portable & With Phantom Power & Mic Preamps, Would Suit Busking Needs. Unfortunately, It Is Not USB!

Guitar Pedal Board

Your Performance May Be Enhanced, If You're A Guitarist, By Using A Few Guitar Pedals. For Choice, Just Check Out Your Local Music Store or Online And You Will Be Overwhelmed! Oh . . . What Do I Need?

Usually, Most Guitarists Have Their Go-To Pedals, The Ones They Consistently Use.

For Busking, Playing With Family or Friends or, Just Entertaining Yourself, A Small Number of Pedals Is All That Is Required. The Advantage With Pedals Is That They Are Portable & Battery Powered or, Powered via Mains Adapter That Can Be Replaced By Your Power Setup. Proprietary Pedal Boards Are Great But Again, Require Mains Power.

Stating The Obvious, Pedal Selection Is Really Based On The Style of Music You Play & Whether Acoustic or Electric.

For Blues/Rock-Pop/Ballads, I Use Budget Pedals For Compression/Sustain, Vintage Delay, Vintage Tube Overdrive, Chorus & Super Fuzz Plus, I Also Have A Tube Amp Modeller Pedal. Reverb & EQ Is Provided By The Main Amp.

With Other Music Styles You Would Add Distortion etc, All Up To You & The Tone You Want.

The Great Thing About Pedals Is That You Can Keep The Amp Volume Down & Dial In Pedal Settings To Give The Tone You Want, Without Annoying Everybody With A Loud Amp. This Applies Particularly When Chasing That Nice Creamy Blues Lead Tone, Without Having To Have High Gain & Volume On The Amp, Just Before Break Up. Let Your Pedals Do This While Keeping The Volume Down - Great For Practice or Quieter Venues!

From Experience

I Do Use The Electric Acoustic Guitar A Lot So, I Purchased The Boss AD-10 Acoustic Preamp. It Is A Rugged, Portable Unit And Is My Go-To Pedal Recording The Acoustic Guitar.

I Was Lured Into This Purchase By The Acoustic Resonance Feature That I Can Say, Works, Like Always, In Moderation. To Maintain A Crystal Clear Sound With Body Resonance A 50% Setting Is About Right.

Some of The Features Are:

  • Adds The Acoustic Resonance of The Guitar Body, That You Lose From The Piezo Pickup, Back To Your Signal

  • Effects Such As Compression, Delay, Chorus & Boost

  • Reverb via What Is Called "Ambience"

  • Tone Control via Preamp EQ With Adjustable Sweep EQ For The Mid Frequency

  • 10 Memory Slots or Locations To Save Your Settings

  • Anti Feedback Control, Effects Loop, 2 Inputs

  • A Short Looper, Non Storable Thou

  • Battery Powered or Mains Adapter

I Can Recommend This Unit For Acoustic Guitarists, Particularly For Recording. I Don't Use It For Busking Preferring The Following Setup.

My Busking Pedal Board

I Busk To My Own Backing Tracks, That I Have Pre-Recorded. Some Are Simple Loops While Others Are of Complete Songs. This Means Having A Wav Player On My Pedal Board. (I Could Use A Loop Pedal For This But, I Prefer My WAV Player With Percussion Sound Capabilities).

My Tracks Range From Clean Ballads, Overdriven Blues & Slightly Cranked Rock/Pop So, My Pedal Choice Is Based On This.

I Use My Epiphone Les Paul Custom Guitar & To Compliment Its Tone I Use The Following:

  • Pedal Board #1 Has Compressor/Super Fuzz/Vintage Delay/Vintage Tube Overdrive Pedals

  • Pedal Board #2 Has Ultra Chorus/Tube Amp Modeller/Boss VE-20 Vocal Processor Pedals

  • Reverb & EQ Are Adjusted Using The Cube Street Amp

I Use The Behringer Range of Pedals That Give An Excellent Sound For Busking & Are Very Affordable. Yes, They Have A Plastic Case, Very Rugged Thou, Being ABS, But, Are Very Light Weight To Carry!

The Pedals Are Mounted On The "Xtreme" Small Pedal Boards That Come With A Great Carry Bag For Protection.

The Pedal Settings Have Been Dialled In To Give A Good "Bluesy" Type Rhythm Tone With The Guitar Switch on Rhythm (Neck Pickup) And When Switched To Lead, or Treble Setting (Bridge Pickup), Gives A Great Creamy Blues Lead Tone For Solos.

The Compressor & Tube Amp Modeller Are Always "On" And The Chorus Pedal Selected For Rhythm or Overdrive For A Rasping Rhythm. Overdrive/Delay Pedals Are Selected For Solos. Super Fuzz Is Occasionally Selected By Itself For Slightly Cranked Solo or Rhythm, Depending On Tone Required. The Tube Amp Modeller Is Set To Give A Hint of That Breakup Type of Sound.

The Guitar Settings Are:

  • Neck Volume 8, Neck Tone 10 (Rhythm)

  • Bridge Volume 10, Bridge Tone 6.5 - 7 (Solos)

As An Example, For Blues, The Bridge Settings Drive The Overdrive and Tube Amp Pedals A Little Harder Giving Solos A Great Overdrive Sound While The Neck Settings Drop The Level To Remove Some of The Breakup For A Great Rhythm Tone.

Using Both Pickups (Switch To Centre Position), Provides a Nice Rhythm Sound With Sparkle (Chorus "On") or A Creamy Overdrive Solo Sound (Overdrive/Delay "On").

The Above Suits My Needs, Based On Experimentation, And I Think That's A Key Point. Adjust Your Pedal Settings For The Range of Music You Play, Learning What Works Best & What Pedals To Have "On" For Each Song. I Find A Happy Medium For The Settings & Don't Adjust Them. The Focus Is On Performing Not Chasing Pedal Settings!

Power Supply

Most Battery Powered Equipment Is Either 9 or 12 Volts. Amps Are Typically 9 or12 Volts While Most Pedals are 9 Volts. If You Are Using One or Two Pedals Then You Probably Won't Need Anything Other Than 9 Volt Batteries And Either Batteries or, Mains Power For The Amp.

For A Pedal Board, With A Number of Pedals Plus Perhaps A Vocal Processor & Loop Pedal, Changing Batteries Can Be A Hassle. Also, Ensuring They Won't Go Flat During Your Performance Can Be A Challenge & Often Forgotten. This Applies To The Amp As Well!

What Would Be Nice Is A Portable Supply Unit With Both 9 & 12 Volt Outputs.

Unfortunately, There Isn't Anything On The Market That Meets Our Needs. Once Again, No Option Than Build My Own.

Some of The Features:

  • Uses A Common 12 Volt Gel Cell Sealed Battery

  • 2 x 9 Volt Regulators With Short Circuit Protection

  • 2 x 9 Volt Outputs Rated At 1 Amp Each

  • 1 x 12 Volt Output Rated At 5 Amp

The Electronics Is Very Simple Based On The Common 7809 Voltage Regulator Plus Heatsinks, Output Sockets & Small Equipment Case, Including On/Off Switch And LED.

All This Fits In A Purpose Made Carry Bag Available From The Electronics Store, Ideal For The Busker.

Using A Multi Pedal Power Lead, Available Cheaply From Music Stores, I Can Simply Plug This Into The 9 Volt Regulator Output. Similarly, A Lead Connects The Second Regulated 9 Volt Output To The Amp.

A Simple And Convenient System That Can Power The Amp & Pedals For Many, Many Hours, Non Stop!

From Experience, I Know That A 1 Hour Busking Session, Uses About 400 milliampere Hours From The 12 Volt Gel Cell, Powering The Following:

  • Cube Street Amp

  • Vocal Processor

  • 5 x Guitar Pedals

The 12V Gel Cell Battery Is Rated At 7000 milliampere Hours So You Can See, That This Arrangement, Will Easily Power Several Busking Sessions Between Recharges.

My Home Made Portable 9 V & 12 V Supply

Home Charging Station

You Have Options When It Comes To Batteries. The Most Simplest Is To Use Alkaline Non Rechargeable Batteries.

The Power Demands of Individual Pedals Is Not Great, Current Draw On Average, Around 40mA, Giving About 8 Hours Use From The Standard Small 9V Battery. These Batteries Are Not Cheap To Buy &, If You Are Also Using AA Batteries As Well, In Other Gear, The Cost Adds Up Quickly.

Using Rechargeable Batteries Makes A Lot of Sense But, You Need A Suitable Charger. You Probably Think Ok, I Have To Spend Money On Rechargeable Batteries & Now A Charger, Is It Worth It?

In The Long Run It Is. You Can Be Assured Of Fully Charged Batteries, Keeping Some Spare, Fully Charged As Backup For Each Gig. Also, You Are No Longer Having To Dash To The Shop To Buy Batteries & No Longer Throwing Old Ones In The Trash. They Last A Few Years So You Do Save Money.

When Buying A Charger Look For These Features:

  • Must Be Mains Powered, Not One That Connects To A Car Battery!

  • Able To Charge Different Battery Types Such As 12 Volt Gel Cells (PB), Nickel Metal Hydride (NMH) & Maybe Lithium Polymer (LiPo), Depending On Your Needs

  • Temperature Safety Cutoff, That's The Little Thing With Red Velcro Next The Battery Holder In The Photo

  • Safety Timer Cutoff To Ensure It Won't Overcharge

  • If Something Goes Wrong, Either The Temperature or Timer Cutoff, Will Save The Day!

  • Never Charge Batteries Unattended Thou!

Suitable Chargers Plus 2500mah Rechargeable Batteries Are Readily Available At Most Hobby or Online Stores, At Reasonable Prices. Shop Around.

Whilst At It, Find A Small Bag To Put Your Charger & Leads In :)

My WAV Player Has Its Own In-Built 3 Cell Lithium Battery & My BR 800 Recorder Uses NMH Rechargeable Batteries.

The Charger In The Photo Can Recharge All These Different Battery Types & Provides Readout of Voltage, Current & The Amount of Milliamp Hours It Has Charged.

All I Need Do Is Charge The 12 Volt Gel Cell Battery & WAV Player, From Time To Time, Giving Me Several Hours of Playing.

From Experience

Continually Removing & Replacing Batteries, Particularly The Guitar Pedal 9 Volt Batteries, Became a Hassle, Even More So When The Pedals Were Mounted On A Pedal Board! Having A Portable Common 9 Volt Supply For Pedals Was The Obvious Solution. OK, You Can Use A Mains Pedal Power Adapter But, What If You Are In A Mall or Street?

In My Setup Everything Is Powered At 9 Volts, Amplifier, Vocal Processor & Guitar Pedals Hence Why I Built The Above Portable 9 Volt Supply. This Was More By Luck Than Design! But, It Does Raise The Point, Think About How You Are Going To Power Your Gear Before Purchase.

Larger Amplifiers Run On 12 Volts, Yet Your Pedals Will Be 9 Volts. This Means Having Both Voltages Available.

If You Don't Have The Resources To Build A Supply Unit You Could Power The Amp With Rechargeable Batteries & Combine 6 Rechargeable NMH's To Power All Your Pedals, Using A Multi Pedal Power Lead From The Music Store.

Suitable Battery Holders & Plug & Leads Are Available From Most Electronic Stores or Online.


For Total Portability & Simplicity, I Use Either My Epiphone Les Paul Custom (Preferred) or Acoustic Guitar, Roland Cube Street Amp, Boss VE - 20 Vocal Processor, Shure WH20XLR Headset Mic, My WAV Player (Percussion & Backing Tracks) & Guitar Pedal Boards With Compressor/Fuzz/Vintage Delay/Vintage Tube Overdrive/Chorus/Tube Amp Modeller Pedals. I Normally Power All This Using My Portable 9/12V Power Supply Unit, With The WAV Player Having An Internal Lithium Battery or External 12V Option From The Portable Supply Unit.

If I Wish To Record A Live Busking Session Then I Patch In My Boss BR 800 Recorder.

All of The Above Are Just Ideas Based On My Own Experiences. Your Needs May Be Different. Hopefully This Article Will Stimulate Your Thinking & Perhaps Clarify What Your Needs Might Be.

Other Items Such As, Mic Stand, Music Stand, Seating & Carrying or Transporting Everything Are Personal Choices With Plenty of Options Available.

Enjoy Busking, Whether In Venues, Streets, With Family or Friends or Just Entertaining Yourself, Preparing To Busk!

Read More About Music Backing Tracks & Backing Tracks For Guitar, Bass Guitar, Keyboard, Drums. Also Read More About Looper Pedal Backing Tracks & Busking Music Backing Tracks. Listen To Busking Music & Busking Loops or Try The Free Learn Guitar-Bass-Drums Lessons! Checkout Musician Resources.

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