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Posted on Feb 17, 2014 in Featured Slider, Tools | 4 comments

My “Where Are All the Electric Guitarists?” Solution

One truth that blue collar worship leaders live with is: sometimes you have the instrumentalists you want and sometimes you don’t! At the church I’ve been blessed to serve at the last 6.5 years, we’ve continually had more than our fair share of talent. But even so, we’ve faced seasons where a certain instrument was hard to come by. One such season of drought has been pretty permanent and that’s guitar. Thankfully, I play guitar but I’ve always been an acoustic rhythm guy and some songs just beg for electric!

Maybe you or someone you know is in a similar situation? I don’t know if my solution will be your solution but–if nothing else–you’ll find out there is hope beyond just waiting and waiting for a decent electric player to show up.

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I found that hope several years ago in the form of a hybrid guitar. The idea of such a guitar appealed to me with the idea that I could switch back and forth from acoustic to electric seamlessly in the midst of a worship set. I didn’t want to be that guy that has to switch guitars back and forth between songs. I felt that would serve to draw attention to me rather than Him. So hybrid it was and the then-new-ish Taylor T5 seemed to be the ticket.

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It was a bit of a splurge for me but I had paid my dues to frugality (as if that’s possible!). I was still playing the same guitar I’d had through high school and had promised myself a serious upgrade if music became a significant part of my income. I found a used one through Guitar Center and they cut me a solid deal on shipping, etc. I was so excited when it arrived but soon found myself truly disappointed!

Mind you, I was (and mostly still am) completely ignorant of all things electric guitar. My goal had been to continue running direct through the house like I’d always done with my acoustics. But I quickly found sending an electric pick-up straight through the house doesn’t do much for you in terms of electric-wow!

I needed an amp but I didn’t want an amp. Nor did I want the pedal jungle that so many guitarists drool over. Just not my thing. I landed on a little compromise called the Vox ToneLab LE.

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It actually has a small tube in it that helps give off that warm, electric feel similar to what an actual tube amp can provide. And it has about a gazillion amp & effect combinations to create a vast array of sounds. That meant a bit of a learning curve but it didn’t take too long to sort through their pre-sets and find a few I could live with or tweak to my purposes.

All in all, the T5/ToneLab combo has been what I need for this season of ministry. Maybe someday soon I’ll be able to trade them both in for the acoustic guitar of my dreams! But in the meantime, I’ve been able to add some energy and character to some songs that would have lacked both. And it’s been fun along the way.

Got questions about either the T5 or ToneLab? Or can you share what works for you?

Also, check out what I think is the best acoustic guitar for the money. 

Disclosure: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

  • Doc Kavanagh

    I was blessed to pick up a Fender Acoustisonic Strat for about $500 . They are a well made Mexican semi acoustic hybrid that feels like an electric but sounds enough like an acoustic to get by when used with a full band and plugged into an amp made for an acoustic guitar . Do not confuse them with the inexpensive fat bodied acoustic / electric that Fender put out a few years back with a similar name . ( not a good guitar ) .
    I also have a Fender Acoustisonic Tele which has the piezo for acoustic sounds and a lipstick neck pickup for electric . It is also Mexican , well made , and stereo , allowing me to start acoustically for the verse and switch , on board , to electric for the chorus . Pretty nifty , no ? God is so good !

    • http://bluecollarworship.com/ Neil Oldham

      Nice, I hadn’t heard from anyone who had tried those before! And you’re right about “enough to get by when used with a full band”. You do lose a little something on both ends with a hybrid…not quite as good an electric as a dedicated electric can be, not quite as good an acoustic as a normal acoustic would be. But there is definitely something to be said about the ability to switch so effortlessly back and forth, huh?!

  • Immanuel Sundar

    I haven’t heard one live but another option maybe the Line 6 Tyler Variax – comes in strat, les paul and super strat body types – can change tunings on the fly and in addition to the Acoustics, and Electrics modeled you also get a Resonator Guitar, a banjo and a Sitar. Some haven’t been convinced about the modelled acoustic sound though..

    • oldhamn@yahoo.com

      Very interesting, wasn’t familiar with this before. Thanks for sharing!