Guitarists are in a never-ending pursuit for perfection. We’re always on a mission to find gear that we hope will make us play, sound, and even look better. Every so often, we’ll discover something that’s genuinely great. And occasionally, we’ll take a punt on a product that turns out to be a complete dud!
But off the top of our heads, we can probably name a few pieces of standout equipment that benefited us in a big way along our guitar-playing journeys. Particular guitars, amps, pedals, and even accessories that unlocked “something” and took our technique or tone to the next level.
In this blog, members on the Andertons team have revealed the one piece of guitar gear that they believe changed them the most — with some honourable mentions too! We hope that their top picks will inspire you to try something new, so that you can transform your playing or sound. You just might find that missing piece of the puzzle and have a revelation yourself…
Fender Stratocaster Mid Boost Kit
Lee Anderton: Managing Partner
This is probably the best mod that you can do to a Strat. In fact, I can’t understand why it’s not on more guitars in general! The Fender Mid Boost circuit is a feature that’s installed as standard on a USA Eric Clapton Signature Stratocaster, which is one of my favourite electric guitars. But luckily, you can buy it as an aftermarket upgrade kit for less than £100. And it just sounds fantastic!
Back in 2014, Rob Chapman and I filmed a ‘Customised Guitar Challenge‘ video for YouTube where we each picked cheap instruments and tried to make them the best they could be by upgrading their electronics, hardware, and even sanding off some thick gloss neck lacquer. I wanted to essentially recreate a Fender Eric Clapton Strat for just a fraction of the price, so adding this mid boost circuit to an affordable Squier Classic Vibe Series Strat was a no-brainer. It’s almost like a cheat code for emulating Clapton’s famous “Woman Tone”, and this kit has since transformed two of my Strats!
- Nobels ODR-1 Overdrive Pedal
- Landlord FX Happy Hour Looper Pedal
- Monty’s Montypresso Guitar Relic Wax
TC Electronic Ditto Looper Pedal
Pete Honoré: Video Manager
Anyone who watches our videos on Andertons TV will know that I just love looping! A product that allows you to essentially jam with yourself can provide an almost endless amount of musical possibilities. Looper pedals are fantastic for developing your skills when it comes to both improvising and songwriting, but most importantly of all, they’re just incredibly fun!
The TC Electronic Ditto Looper is, in my opinion, a pedal that every guitarist should own. It’s a best-seller for a reason! It might be very simple compared to some of the more sophisticated loopers out there, but this intuitive mini-sized stompbox can fit on pretty much any pedalboard, offers plenty of recording time (5 minutes), is true bypass, and sounds great with 24-bit uncompressed high-quality audio. Want a Ditto Looper but with more functionality and recording time? Try TC Electronic’s Ditto+!
- Fender Custom Shop Telecaster in Purple
- ThorpyFX ‘The Dane’ Pete Honoré Signature Drive & Boost Pedal
- Victory DP40 Pete Honoré Signature Duchess Valve Amp Head
GHS Fast Fret String Cleaner & Lubricant
Elliot Stent: Senior Digital Guitar Marketer
Yes, that’s right. It wasn’t a special guitar, amp or pedal that “changed” me. It was (my late discovery of) GHS Fast Fret, a small and cheap accessory that you can get for less than £10. As a guitar player with more than 16 years of experience, I’m ashamed to admit that it took me 15 of those to finally try out a string cleaner/lubricant. I’d gone that long without even considering one. And honestly, I now wish that I had started using Fast Fret more than a decade ago! Anyone got a time machine?
For years, I’d wondered how so many of my guitar heroes managed to play so effortlessly on stage. They’d move up and down the neck at lightning speed and slide into notes with little resistance. I just couldn’t figure it out. I’d practice so hard at learning these sophisticated solos and riffs and then just hit a wall, lacking that last bit of finesse. It was like I could get about 90% of the way to perfecting something, but no further than that. Then I tried Fast Fret, and I had that “eureka” moment…
It improved every aspect of my guitar playing. No exaggeration. Fast Fret just took me to that next level and unlocked the extra potential that I always knew was there. I could play faster and glide across the fingerboard so much more easily. And as someone who loves to challenge themself with technical material — it has helped me immensely. Not only that, but Fast Fret keeps your guitar strings fresher for much longer too. So it’ll save you quite a bit of time and money! And apparently, Fast Fret lasts for ages — making it a small gear investment that goes a long way.
I really don’t think that enough people talk about Fast Fret. Maybe some guitar players are reluctant to let others find out about their secret, or they’re embarrassed to admit that they rely on string ‘lube’. But I strongly recommend it. You just might have the same revelation as me. In fact, if I now pick up a guitar without Fast Fret applied to the strings — it feels almost unplayable!
- Music Man Axis Electric Guitar
- One Control Crocodile Tail Loop Pedal Switcher
- Jim Dunlop Flow Guitar Picks
Guitar String Dampener
Cian Hodge: Marketing Executive
I love playing lean, tight staccato metal riffs, but I always felt frustrated when I couldn’t completely kill those ringing overtones after I’d already muted the strings. The only accessory to have a noticeable effect on eliminating that bleed was a string dampener. These nifty fabric wraps do a good job of muting unwanted noise, whether you’re playing guitar or bass, digging in and muting aggressively, or tapping.
You can easily use a hair band or scrunchie, but I opted for a Gruv Gear Fretwrap because they’re adjustable and look a bit cooler. I was always intrigued by how much of an effect they really had when I saw the likes of Trivium’s Matt Heafy, Guthrie Govan or the boys from Protest The Hero using them. But having owned one for a few years, I can attest to it being a game changer. Now I have them equipped on all my guitars.
- Any Top-Quality Reverb Pedal!
- Oversized 2×12” Speaker Cabinet
- Jim Dunlop Jazz III XL Guitar Picks
Strymon Compadre Dual Voice Compressor & Boost Pedal
Chris Toft: Guitar Content Team Leader
Despite having played guitar for over 25 years, compressor pedals had never been on my radar until fairly recently! I don’t know the exact reason why… Maybe it was because I never really understood how they worked, or I couldn’t really hear the “effect”. Whatever the reason, I just never felt that I needed a compressor on my pedalboard. That is, however, until I actually tried one for the first time. And the rest, as they say, is history! I finally understood what all the fuss was about and why so many pro guitarists used compressors.
After hearing how much fatter and more balanced my clean tones were when using a compressor, there was no turning back. It was a real “lightbulb” moment for me, and I had to have one! So, I tried out a bunch of different compressors and finally settled on the Strymon Compadre Dual Voice Compressor & Boost. I have to admit, I love Strymon pedals! They’re certainly not the cheapest but, in my humble opinion, they make some of the best sounding gear on the market.
What I love about the Strymon Compadre is how transparent and quiet it is. A lot of compressor pedals tend to add a lot of unwanted noise as you turn up the compression. The Compadre simply goes about its business without you really noticing it’s there. That’s not to say that isn’t doing anything though! The Compadre’s two compression modes allow for a range of sounds, from rack mounted studio-style compression to heavily “squished” stompbox-style compression. What’s more, the Compadre also serves as a boost pedal with clean and dirty modes available so, you know… two birds, one stone!
Whether I want to even out the volume of my strumming patterns or add some singing sustain to my solos, the Strymon Compadre just makes everything sound better! I feel as though it has the ability to unlock the full potential of my amp, so much so that it has become an “always on” pedal for me. I went from not really understanding or appreciating compressors to never wanting to be without one on my board!
If like me, you never really “got” compressors, do yourself a favour and try the Strymon Compadre. You might just be surprised by how quickly you fall in love with compression!
- Gibson Les Paul Standard Electric Guitar
- EVH 5150III EL34 Valve Amp Head
- Jim Dunlop Jazz III Guitar Picks
Squier Mini Stratocaster Guitar
James Hurman: Digital Product Marketer
New gear can be a great source of inspiration. I could have chosen my first valve amp, first overdrive pedal or first delay. But ultimately, I chose the guitar that started it all.
The most important piece of gear I’ve ever acquired was my Squier Mini Stratocaster which I got for my 9th birthday. Since then, I’ve become an avid Strat player, but this was the very start of my journey — learning “Smoke on the Water”, “Seven Nation Army” and of course, “Wonderwall”. We all grow and develop differently as players, finding our own voice. But as guitarists we all have that same shared experience of holding our first guitar, running our hand along the neck and strumming that first E chord!
- Marshall Origin 20 Valve Amp Head
- TC Electronic Flashback II Delay Pedal
- Mooer Blues Crab Overdrive Pedal