Just wondering if I need to be looking at tech for getting the most out of CBG playing. I've seen videos from you awesome lot using loop machines, fancy pants amps, distortion pedals, other effects pedals, mics and other baffling stuff. Here's the question. What would I benefit from purchasing and using as a beginner? For example, sometimes I think it would be cool to finger pick along to a backing track, or a loop of me strumming some barred chords at the beginning. Sometimes I think that a bit of distortion might make my noise more bearable (using a ukulele portable amp right now) or I'd like to record something with better quality than the laptop or smartphone mic. What's the best beginner setup with the least financial outlay? What would you advise? 1am here, I can't sleep and I've got to go all weekend before the box for my build is delivered.

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It's not about the equipment. How good or how much you have. In the end it's what you want to sound like. What is important to use to get what you want in your music. As a beginner I'd say stick with the basics. You already have a computer. For recording get a basic DAW setup ( digital audio workstation, a fancy wording for recording software,) and a USB microphone. You wont need a lot of expensive equipment to start learning how all this stuff works. However a word to the wise. Not all USB microphones are good. You get what you pay for. Some are no better than the built in mics on your laptop. Your better off not buying a cheap mic.

As far as loopers go a TC Electronics 'Ditto' can be had for around $80 on Ebay. Or under 50 if you catch a good deal.

As far as effects go the market is flooded with them. There are a few tried and true distortion boxes out there.
Ibanez Tube Screamer,
Boss DS-1 Distortion,
Go to Youtube and check both of these out. They have different sounds. And will sound different with a piezo pickup.

My advice? If you just started playing then go with what would be the most fun. A distortion pedal. You can still record yourself using the equipment you have.

I think the MicroCube amp may be the best bang for the buck to start with. It gives you lots of decent sound choices without spending much money. I bet you could find one on eBay for under $100.

Do not get sucked into buying effects and all sorts of other gear.  Just buy an amp and a lead.  The Roland MicroCube is a great starting point, but any of the Roland Cube range offer a great range of tones from clean to heavily distorted overdrive, plus some easily useable built-in effects. 

The worst thing about effects for beginners is that they can be flattering to your guitar sound, and fool you think you are sound like a much a better player than you are, You can spend a lot of money, time and effort making noise rather than music.

Great advice from you all. Seems the micro cube is recommended by pretty much everyone so I'll start there. Good that it's portable too so I won't have to replace it if I fancy an impromptu gig or a busk. I still think I'd like to have a looper but I can wait. Thanks all!

Dani,Bear,from a 'not very good player',C B John's advice is sound,i have a couple of pedals and a looper,they're buried in a drawer,i found they just added complexity to the basics,i've had a bit of fun with the looper,but my playing skills don't justify fiddling with it,i have a reasonable amp with more effects than i can justify,[orange ldx 20],i have around 17 guitars within easy reach,and i rarely turn my amplifiers on,1 step at a time for me,i generally amplify my fretless guitars  only as i can fudge a bit there

Thanks Darryl. I think I'll just get the Micro Cube for now then. I've seen a few videos of people using loopers for busking and just thought it was so cool that I'd fancy a try too. You're definitely right though, no sense confusing myself even more with this, that and the other just yet.
Thanks Wayfinder. Always wise to listen to advice and act on it when you specifically asked for it.

Really any decent multi fx practice amp will give you tons of options. Line 6, Vox, Roland are probably the best of them, and the Peavey Vypyr if you're going to play more than guitar through it. Tons of them on the used market and very reasonably priced; between $40-100. Sometime on the $100 end you get a cheap Strat bundled with it.

If you just want a single track of looping, using something free like Audacity and your computer is easy enough to wait until you need a looping pedal. I play bad washboard or suitcase bass drum onto the computer and play along with it best I can, definitely adds to playing at times!

Oh I'll take a look at Audacity. I've heard of it before but always thought it was some Spotify type thing. Thanks Sean
Good to know, thanks. I like the idea of batteries but I'm not set on it yet. I'll have me a think. Cheers bud.
I'm gonna cross em all here...
You don't need any gear at all, just the guitar itself. They work great without plugging up to anything at all. The best thing you can spend a few bucks on is a few lessons. Most guitar teachers will give you the first one for free, so try plenty of teachers until you find someone you really click with, and spend a few bucks with him. Best :)
I've been asking around a couple of people about lessons but might struggle to meet the costs. I'm contemplating some block booking intensive lessons too but need to save first. I definitely agree though, spending on self improvement is always the best course of action. Thanks for the advice.

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