Searching through YouTube videos, online magazines, and forums for advice on assembling your guitar rig was one of the biggest distractions my teenage self ever faced. However, I have set out to truly provide the most in depth guide to assembling a live ready rig on a budget you’ll find on the internet. One big disclaimer though, these choices are my preference and I feel that they will best serve you as a player. But, if you have a different piece of gear that you love or want or feel serves your needs, go for it! Assembling a rig can be as individualistic or as vanilla as you want.
- Each rig must be under $1000 in total cost
- Each rig must be loud enough and reliable enough to be used at your first gig or show
- Each rig will consist of 1 guitar, 1 combo amplifier or 1 head/cabinet stack, 3 effects pedals, 1 pedal board, 1 pedal power supply, all the wires and patch cables necessary to connect the rig
$1000 may seem steep, and there are certainly rigs you can assemble for $500 or $750 that could work, but I’m setting out to show you how to build a complete rig from scratch with affordable but reliable gear. As always you can save hundreds by purchasing used gear, and for each item I will recommend a used alternative for you to explore.
Your Guitar – Squier Classic Vibe ’50s Telecaster – $349.99 new
Want to buy a nicer model but still on a budget? Check out a used Fender Telecaster MIM!
I assume most people would expect to see a guitar loaded with P90s or Humbuckers listed here. But the Telecaster is probably the most versatile and reliable solid body guitar you could buy. In fact, some of the heaviest sounding riffs ever recorded by Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin were recorded on his Tele. For punk you want reliable performance, punchy tones, and a guitar that is easy to fix after a night of stage diving, mosh pits, or rugged traveling.
Les Paul’s are a classic choice, but for the money, the high end Squier’s are the better value. Plus, both Gibson and Epiphone Les Paul guitars are infamous for having poor tuning stability and are expensive to fix should you snap a headstock or neck. The Classic Vibe ’50s are lauded for their rich and bright single coil tones that really shine with overdrive or distortion on top. With solid playability, classic looks, and tones that cut through the mix, maybe more punks should be looking at this affordable Tele.
Your Amplifier – Orange Amplifiers Crush 35RT 35 Watt – $259.00 new
Want a slight louder, nicer tube combo for live shows? Check out a used Blackstar HT 40 Club Combo to save some money.
After reviewing the Crush 20 earlier in 2019, I realized that these Orange Crush amps are one of the best values online. They sound great, capturing that classic Orange tube driven overdrive for just a few hundred dollars. Plus, the solid state design makes it a bit more rugged to hit the road with and keeps it lightweight and compact.
The Crush 35RT is no different, packing a ton of crunch and output needed for classic and hardcore punk tones. There is a reason of ton of well known punk, sludge, and hardcore musicians use various Orange amp models. Coming in just around $250, this amp should be loud enough to get you on the stage while still letting you turn down and retain high gain tones for indoor practicing or rehearsing.
Your Effects Pedals – Boss DS-1 Distortion – $49.99, Electro Harmonix Nano Clone Chorus – $45.00, TC Electronic Polytune 2 – $80.00
There’s really too many used options to pick from, but others to shop secondhand for include the Boss CH-1, Ibanez Tube Screamer, TC Electronic Polytune 3.
Finding great pedals for a punk rock rig is easy for two reasons; there is an absurd amount of great, affordable pedals AND punk usually requires very few effects to begin with. Keeping things simple is cost effective and perfect for your sound.
The Boss DS-1 isn’t just cheap but is probably the most popular guitar pedal of all time. And for good reason. While it may not match the rich tones of a Pro Co Rat or the biting tube sounds of the Ibanez Tube Screamer, it is a perfectly suited distortion for mid-gain tones. Especially when paired with single coils, it’ll add great depth and output to your tone. The Nano Clone Chorus is also super affordable but well regarded, popular, and made famous by Kurt Cobain of Nirvana. It’ll add some nice texture and harmonic richness to your power chords or solos without taking up a lot of sonic space. Lastly, a tuning pedal is incredibly helpful for live musicians, making tuning easier, faster, and more discrete on the stage.
Your Pedal Board and Power Supply – Donner DP-2 – $48.00, Donner DB-4 – $56.53
This is probably the best place to cut corners, and going with a selection of import products from Donner makes sense. Despite the import status, they do usually make pretty great stuff for the price, and I enjoyed their cheap Strat and wireless system when I reviewed them. The DB-4 pedal board pack comes with a board, carrying case, patch cables, and velcro that will hold your pedals to the board surface. That’s pretty much everything you need in one package.
Even better, the DP-2 pedal power supply system will let you charge up to 10 pedals, giving you flexibility should you add new effects to your rig. It comes with all the wiring and connections you should need, meaning you just have to mount it under your pedal board, and you’re good to go.
Total Spent = $888.51
Coming in well under the $1000 budget, this leaves us plenty of room for shipping charges or tax based on your location. You’ve got a Tele, an Orange combo amp, and three essential pedals plus all accessories. When I used this gear, I was able to go from The Clash to Black Flag to Green Day with ease. Whatever your preferred punk tone is, this is an unexpected but affordable way to get a live rig you’ll need. No Les Paul Juniors, Ibanez super strats, or Tim Armstrong-inspired Gretsch needed.