Affordable Gadgets for Music Making

New Additions for Your Home Studio or Performance

If you have been using the same equipment for a long time you might find that the monotony has caused you to hit a bit of a creative wall. Don’t get too troubled by this, it makes complete sense, especially when you see the studios of high ranking musicians packed to the rafters with all sorts of tools ready to keep them inspired and experimenting with different sounds. However, you probably don’t have the budget to buy an additional thousand pound guitar, or probably can’t splash out on a retro analog synth from a dedicated 80’s collection. This doesn’t mean you are out of options however, thanks to advancements in music technology and of course computing electronics becoming mass produced and therefore cheaper for consumers, there are a bunch of little bits you can add into your selection to spice things up.

Talk Box

You may have heard the sound of one of these but not known how it was made, for example the start of Generator by the Foo Fighters begins with Dave Grohl using one of these little numbers. If you’ve had the delight of seeing one you were probably equally as confused, however. These things look like (and essentially are) effects pedals with a plastic tube sticking out of them which goes straight into the mouth of the performer. What this does is uses the sound of their instruments and warps it with the modulation made from different mouth movements. Of course, these things will take some time to master, but playing around with one will no doubt give you some new ideas, not bad for less than £20.

Theramin

Now these things can get pricey depending on what you are going for, there are however several DIY videos online which teach you how to make one on a budget putting one of these classic devices in at under £30. If you aren’t familiar with the Theremin, this piece of sci-fi magic uses the motion of your hands to make frequency variations that change in pitch and wave speed. Get long high pitch squeals or low rhythmic wobbles depending on how you move. What that means is if you wave your hands in front of this strip of metal you will make music that sounds like a 50’s B-movie, pretty cool.

Loop Pedal (or sampler)

An essential piece of kit for solo musicians looking to do one man shows, loop pedals make it easy to jam with yourself. Whether you like to beatbox (Reggie Watts), play guitar (KT Tunstall) or anything in the middle, looping yourself can be very useful and has become a tool used by many modern musicians. Depending on how you are planning to use this device the price may vary, standard guitar pedals can be bought at around £50 while sampling can be done on the fly with many music apps. Hardware often makes it easier to do and leaves your computer free to do other bits and pieces which is ideal if you are planning a complex cluster of overlapping song elements.