Adam Rafferty – Guitar and Spirit

All about music, guitar, spirituality, personal development and being happy

6 Pieces of Guitar Gear I Can’t Live Without


Hey Gang!

I was just peeking through the mountain of “Fanbridge”  questions that I have, and I came across a recurring theme…

Question:  “Adam what guitar / strings / gear do you use?”

I get asked about this 10 times a week.

With the “mountain”  of gear that one sees in catalogs & stores it is easy to get confused.

Since I carry most of my stuff myself (no car – yep, I’m a a New York guy), it has to be portable, easy and sound great.

All of what I am listing fits in a backpack (except the guitars), and I am ready to play any size concert hall or festival.

Keep in mind, this list WILL change, and “there is more than one way to do it” – but this has been working for me.

If f YOU have any suggestions or questions  – please leave a reply below!

FYI – The sound is actually in your fingers….but good gear helps get it across!

In this post, I’ll cover the following the 6 most important pieces of gear I use:

  • Guitars
  • Strings
  • Tuner
  • Reverb
  • DI Box
  • Thumbpicks

I’ll also talk about:

  • Amplifier (optional)
  • Cables
  • How to secure pedals to the floor


2 Maton Michael Fix model guitars.

I usually only play my main guitar, but if something goes haywire with it, I can continue & finish the gig.  They do sound different, but they are close enough that there is hardly any adjustment I need to do.  Physically they feel the same.

Imagine playing on a really important festival, and the pickup dies during the set. It never has, but hey – you never know.  It’s not the promoters problem – it’s my problem.  So that’s why I pay all those extra baggage fees to the airlines – to have a back up guitar.

Here’s an online review that I just did recently if the guitar:


I use Martin SP Phosphor Bronze strings (.012 gauge) not the 80 / 20.  On the main axe I change strings 20 minutes before I go on stage – every time.  They sound crisp and ring perfectly in tune.

Is this extreme?  Nope – I can hear the difference.   It’s a gig expense.

It’s feels like a shower, shave and splash aftershave before going on a date, but for my guitar.


Dunlop Medium – no filing, sculpting, etc – I use them as they come.


I use the Boss TU-3  floor pedal.  East to read, built like a tank, and I love the fact that I can mute the guitar signal on stage.  I have a few clip on tuners for backstage – but on stage, I use the floor pedal so that audiences don’t have to listen to me tune up.


T-REX room mate pedal

Nothing fancy – but it has a tube so it warms things up a little.  I use reverbs 2 & 3 only – a short & a long one.  It ain’t cheap.

DI box:


I used to use an LR Baggs para acoustic DI  but the input got “crackly.”  When I wanted a replacement, the RADIAL was recommended to me.

I love it – there are NO knobs, it’s crystal clear, sound men love it when they see it, because it’s not adding more color, hiss or degrading the sound.  It gives straight, clear signal.

In the case of the J48 – less is more.  I love it.

Lock it Down:

Once the tuner, reverb and DI box are on the floor – I use gaffer tape to secure every patch cable and power strip to the floor.

I especially secure the patch cable going form the guitar into the tuner (I’ve unplugged that on gigs with my feet.)  An effects box or pedal train would only make my bags heavier – remember I am flying!


If possible AER alpha or Super 60 direct out, and then I’ll use no DI box.  An amp is not always provided, but if it is, I’ll use one instead of a DI box.  I have learned to do gigs with or without an amp.

I own an AER Compact 60 but I’d need a 3rd arm to carry it around, so I often just use a DI.–AUOAERCMPCT602

Putting it All Together

This is like a simple Italian meal with good ingredients – olive oil, tomatoes, bread, cheese, pasta and wine.  Each piece of gear is great, so it’s just then up to me to play well.

PA system:

I don’t bring my own PA.  I am a total pain in the neck regarding demanding subwoofers – I need them for depth in the guitar sound, guitar percussion and human beatbox.  I can sleep on a park bench if they can’t afford a hotel – but I INSIST on subs.

Monitors are required, as is a sound man.  The worst sounding gigs were when I have showed up and the PA is onstage, and I have to do my own sound.  I will never do those again!


I don’t know the brand but I have lots of extra cables.  Don’t buy cheap cables.  I usually go middle of the road, price wise – about $25-30 USD per cable.

(STAY AWAY from Monster Cables!  – Their 1/4 endings are just a little too big – and will wear out your input jack.)

I even bring a few XLR mic cables in case the sound man is a rookie and is not prepared.

Embarrasing – but yes, it happens, and then it’s “one hour until showtime and he can’t drive to his place and back to get the extra cable.”

Yes, the extra XLR cables have come in handy in this situations!

FYI – It’s in Your Ears and Fingers

Make sure you practice properly & warm up.  Playing acoustic through a PA is not the warm fuzzy feeling of playing a guitar through a tube amp.  It puts you under a microscope – it is a different beast.

This gear will give you a great sound – but then the rest is up to you!

That’s it y’all – I hope this gives you some insight.  Feel free to leave a comment if you have questions!


Author: Adam Rafferty

Adam Rafferty. Fingerstyle Guitarist. Recording and Concert Artist. Meditator. Philosopher. Lover of Groove.

6 thoughts on “6 Pieces of Guitar Gear I Can’t Live Without

  1. Thanks again Adam for the inspiration. And for wrapping up – It’s in Your Ears and Fingers. Actually, you can’t really do it enough – it’s the hardest piece to understand for the guitar gear freaks. THANKX, LOVE 😉

  2. I prefer to change strings the day before the gig. Do you ever have a problem with strings stretching or tuning, playing a gig so soon after a string change?

    Thanks for this info. Also loved your short video on gear used to record youtube stuff. You Rock. Hope to see you this Friday night in Clearwater with Shaun Hopper. Yay! rj

  3. Interesting read. I also listened to your version of “Dancing Queen”. Nice going. Good sound and playing 🙂

  4. Thanks for the ABC’s… it makes ALL the difference.

    I have not gotten to your level however, I will not rest until i do. Currently apart of the armed service and during deployments I’ve brought my guitar with. Chapel service is better with music (kinda like campfire singing).

    I’ve stepped outside that comfort zone and did a coffee shop (WOW). After i get those needed supplies i’ll try again but have to ask….?

    Did you start out flat picking?

    How hard / long did it take to convert?

    Want it bad but my fingers seem to have a mind of their own LOL.

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