Ultimate Rigs: Budget vs Pro

Best of the best for very different budgets

First time gig guide

three music performers on scene

It’s nice to dream, innit? It’s fun to imagine the havoc you could cause armed with a blank cheque and a bottomless pit of money to get rid of. Just think of all the cool stuff you could buy with a lottery-esque windfall behind you. The problem is that unless you spend your colossal amounts of cash on stuff which will keep you occupied and mentally, spiritually and creatively fulfilled, you’re likely to waste the whole lot and be in a worse position than you were to start with.

Thankfully, playing music offers people a way to express themselves in such a fashion, as well as rewarding extended playing through an improvement in skills, enhancements in the listening experience and a way to look cool to other people. It just so happens that there is tonnes and tonnes of eye-wateringly expensive toys in the music world, all of which would be fair game for someone who happened to have the financial means to afford them.

Let’s take a look at what might be considered a billionaire’s ultimate rig. We’re steering clear of second hand, auctioned or memorabilia options; primarily because we don’t sell second hand, auctioned or memorabilia gear, but also because it’s hard to justify the amounts on display there. One man’s treasure is another man’s trash, after all. Besides, we’ve got some truly incredible gear to show you.

We’ll also, for balance, show some of the more wallet-friendly alternatives which are probably more within reach of people with more sense than money.

Gibson Les Paul CS7 VOS

Guitars

Clearly this is all subjective. The indie guy doesn’t need a top of the range Ibanez, and the shredder will have little to no use for a Jazzmaster. So we’re going to stay fairly MOR here. We’ll suggest a couple of guitars which stand a decent chance of finding favour with most players.

Now the easy thing to do would be to go to the Dawsons website, navigate to the electric guitar section, set the filter to show highest priced items first and write a couple of paragraphs about whatever comes out on top. However it’s not that easy here. At the time of writing, the most expensive guitar in the Dawsons web store is a Pelham Blue Gibson Joe Bonamassa signature. Now, don’t get me wrong, this is undoubtedly a fine instrument, but it could also be seen as a little niche. It’s probably fair to say this guitar won’t feature on too many wish-lists outside of Bonamassa or obscure/unique Les Paul fans.

Look a bit further down however and you’ll see a small selection of glorious 1950s Reissue models. These are truly the pinnacle of the range, offering time-correct stylings, ultra high-grade woods, gorgeous finishes and the peace of mind that comes from knowing your instrument was hand-built in America.

We’ve gone for the Gibson CS7 50s Style Les Paul VOS Goldtop, for the simple reason that if you’re looking to drop a bucket load of paper on a single guitar, you may as well go for the most ostentatious one there is. And, for those who love a bit of sparkle but don’t have the salary to match, there’s always the trusty Epiphone Les Paul Standard Goldtop which, in itself, is a great guitar for players of any level.

Marshall Bluesbreaker

Amps

Fair to say certain combinations just work. Bacon and brie, Sutton and Shearer, and Les Paul into Marshall. It’s such an obvious comparison that we struggled to look much further than the sublime Marshall 1962 Reissue Bluesbreaker when looking for an amp to feed our devilishly handsome Les Paul into.

The Bluesbreaker features the same stylings and interior gubbins as the famous original, and gives players the opportunity to experience that famous 60s and 70s blues sound pioneered by, among others, Eric Clapton. And, if the wallet doesn’t stretch that far, you might consider looking at the Marshall Class 5 Roulette. The Roulette will give you the classic Marshall sound but is limited to 5 watts, meaning it makes the perfect amp for using at home or in small jam sessions.

Line 6 Helix

Pedals

We’ll round off this article by looking at some of the options available for pedal fiends. We’ve chosen three pedals which are undeniably expensive but oh-my-gosh worth every penny. For the player who needs access to lots and lots of sounds, the Line 6 Helix deserves your attention. This technologically advanced multi-fx unit is giving high-end digital modelling units a run for their money by offering players the best in flexibility and options when it comes to performing.

The Eventide H9 Max is another multi-fx unit, but in a much smaller form. Eventide’s effects are the stuff of legend, and the H9 Max fits in sounds from its more famous standalone units like the Time Factor and Space pedals.

For a pedal that does one type of effect, but does it knee-tremblingly well, look no further than the Strymon Big Sky. Strymon’s pedals fall into the ‘so good you have to hear it for yourself’ category, and if it’s reverb you’re after then the Big Sky will quite possibly blow you away.

Alternatively, if waxing hundreds (if not thousands) on effects pedals is little more than a nice dream for you, the Boss GT-1 multi-fx may be more in line with your thinking. The GT-1 is based on Boss’ famous GT-100 multi-fx, and packs many of the same features including a looper and various amp models, but at a price which will mean you can still afford your rent each month.