We check out the best hardware sampler options for bands and singer-songwriters to bring a new element to performances...

Adding a new element to your songwriting or live performances

Samplers don’t have to be used exclusively in the world of electronic music and are often overlooked by those in bands or acoustic guitarists as something best left to the EDM community. However, they can be a valuable tool for all styles of music, including solo artists, acoustic singer-songwriters and even those who take to the streets with their instrument and busk. Take the likes of Jack Garratt for example, his use of samplers along with a myriad of different instruments has seen him carve a successful career in music which has really helped expose just how useful samplers and electronic instruments can be in a more conventional singer-songwriter or live band setup.

Samplers can be a great addition to your set and your overall sound, allowing you to trigger specific noises, sounds or even pre-recorded loops to use in your live set and really bring your music to life by adding an entirely new dimension. They can even inspire some fantastic creativity when you add them to your acoustic writing sessions as a looped beat or sample could be holding the key to get past that writer’s block that we all get!

So, with that in mind, we’re going to look at some great samplers perfect for guitarists and musicians that are easy to use and extremely useful.

1. Akai MPC Live Music Production Controller

Image of an Akai digital instrument

Akai is a name that’s synonymous with modern music production and its evolution throughout the years. The Akai MPC Live Music Production Controller empowers users to make music anywhere. Taking the best of the existing MPC line-up and adding Bluetooth connectivity, a rechargeable battery and 16GB of onboard storage, you can now create and perform killer tracks wherever it suits you. One of the coolest things about this sampler is that you get a 25-gigabyte library for free as well as a plethora of software to get you creating incredible beats straight away!

2. Korg Volca Sample Digital Sample Sequencer

Image of a white Korg sampling instrument

For those who want to manipulate sounds and trigger samples in the live arena, the Korg Volca Sample Digital Sample Sequencer is a great choice for the more electronically influenced singer songwriters out there. This small but extremely powerful 16-key step sequencer would be perfect for those who want to manipulate sounds which they can import directly into the unit via MIDI and adjust the likes of playback length; frequency; pitch attack and decay times; amp attack and decay; and pan. You can even skip steps and create irregular rhythm patterns, drag beats or simply use it to maintain tempos with added samples.

3. Native Instruments Maschine Mikro MK3

Image of a Native Instruments digital sampler

When it comes to samplers, the Maschine Mikro MK3 from Native Instruments is another item that is widely regarded as one of the industry’s best owing to the huge amount of options and fantastic reliability of the product. Not only is it compact enough to slot into your backpack and small enough to transport from gig to gig, but it’s also hardy enough to stand up to years of touring and consistent use.

You can create beats via the 16 highly sensitive back-lit multi-coloured pads and assign patterns, sounds and samples effortlessly via the Maschine 2.x software and a copy of NI Massive synth which is included. With the software package you actually get over 2,000 sounds for basses, leads drum kits, one-shot samples and acoustic instruments as well. For a guitarist or musician who wants to add new elements to their sound, the Maschine Mikro MK3 is a great, budget-friendly option that is perfect for creating music on the go especially as the unit is compatible with the iMaschine app on your iPad or iPhone, meaning you can start tracks anywhere and finish them on the unit.

4. Pioneer Toraiz SP-16 Professional Sampler and Step Sequencer

Image of a Pioneer digital instrument

For those who want to take their sampling and sequencing to the more professional levels, and we don’t blame you, the Pioneer Toraiz SP-16 Professional Sampler and Step Sequencer is a great choice. This combined sampler and step sequencer is a complete production and performing unit that has been designed by the legendary synth creator Dave Smith, so you know it’s good. This 16-step sequencer allows you to create up to 256 unique patterns whilst the 16 velocity-sensitive trigger pads make sure you have enough creative room for triggering your loops, rhythm patterns or any samples you have created. You can even manipulate those samples via the touch strip and bend pitch, or time stretch each one.

The huge benefit musicians will appreciate, especially those who may be using this to busk or perform live, is the fact you don’t need a laptop to operate it. The 8GB of flash memory ensures you have enough space to work with tonnes of sounds, whether the ones you’ve created or the 2GB of pre-loaded options whilst the 7-inch, full-colour touch display allows you to select and scroll through your catalogue with additional control from the sturdy knobs just underneath the screen. This is an all in one performance sampler that is perfect for those who want a reliable, professional grade option that will last for years.

5. Alesis Strike Multipad Percussion Pad with Sampler and Looper

Image of a sampler with drum triggers

For those who like to hit their sampler with gusto, then the Alesis Strike Multipad, is right up your street.

Boasting 32GB of internal memory and the ability to expand that further using a USB flash drive, the Strike Multipad is perfect for those with wild musical ambitions. There are nine velocity-sensitive with customisable lighting system for you to trigger sounds and samples with ease. Thanks to the built-in soundcard you can work readily with the DAW of your choosing, whilst five powerful effects processors allow you to deftly sculpt your sound. As if all that wasn’t enough there’s an integrated looper, which also work whilst recording external audio. All controls and parameters are easy to keep on top of thanks to the 4.3-inch dual display.

As well as coming supplied with Alesis Strike Multipad firmware for immediate operation, you even get a copy of Ableton Live Lite and Avid Pro Tools First software. Therefore, you can hit the ground running as soon as yours arrives!

Get the gear

So, there you have it, the 6 best samplers for bands and singer-songwriters as well as acoustic artists. Remember, there aren’t any rules when it comes to music, so experiment as much as you can and don’t be afraid to try out something new in your set! Check out a full range of Samplers over at the Dawsons website.