I think nearly every music producer and musician out there all share a giddy excitement for gear.
I could literally spend hours in a music shop, just looking at all of the different equipment, trying things out, and buying all kinds of great stuff that I’d probably use for ages.
I know that sometimes finding the right equipment can be a bit jarring, so I made a list of nearly every piece of equipment that I use on a day-to-day basis.
The list I’ve laid out here are in no particular order. Each link will take you to Amazon, and if you purchase any of it, I get a small commission.
Pretty much all of it is compatible with every DAW, as well, not just Garageband.
I should also add that a few of these products are designed specifically for guitar players, although many of them are not.
In each product’s headline, I’ll state whether it’s just for guitar players or not.
Anyway, without further ado.
1) iRig HD 2 (For Guitar Players)
I bought this Audio Interface a few months back and it was a great purchase. For years, I used a Saffire 6 USB which is a fantastic interface as well, but what I like about the iRig HD 2 is its portability.
I went on vacation to Florida recently and I just stuck my iRig HD 2 in my bag that way I didn’t have to cart around my big Focusrite Saffire 6USB.
Although it’s a great piece of equipment, I did run into a minor problem at first.
When I first started using it, I found there was a bit of an issue with my MacBook Pro and its ability to recognize the iRig HD 2.
What I discovered was that I needed to reboot Garageband with the iRig HD 2 still plugged in, and then suddenly it began recognizing it.
Since then, I’ve had no problems and I love it.
My only criticism of it is the fact it’s made out of plastic rather than steel, but other than that, it’s great.
It also comes with Amplitube 4 (I think a demo version) and some other plug-ins. But I haven’t really used them yet.
Regardless, I’m glad I bought this because of its convenience and ease of use.
2) Acorn Masterkey 49
(Make sure you have the USB to USB-C adaptor if your computer is relatively new)
This is a 49-key MIDI Keyboard and it’s been great for me thus far. There are all kinds of different keyboards to use out there.
From what I’ve heard, the most popular is the Akai MPK 49 or the Akai Mini, but those are for more “advanced” producers (or simply people with more money to spend).
I’d recommend just getting a much cheaper MIDI Keyboard to start. It works perfectly.
It’s best to have a few octaves at your disposal, otherwise, there won’t be enough range in pitch.
What I mean by that, simply put; a 25-key MIDI keyboard doesn’t have enough keys (notes) to suit me.
I like to make piano riffs using the higher and lower notes of the register, rather than only playing within one or two octaves.
If you have only a 25-key keyboard, you don’t have the same amount of versatility and thus it inhibits creativity – at least for me anyway.
3) Focusrite Saffire 6USB or the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
(The 6USB that I own is no longer available but the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is just as good)
I first purchased this audio interface around 8 or 9 years ago and it still works to this day. There are a few different things between the Focusrite Saffire 6USB and the iRig HD 2.
For instance, this is more of a “real” interface, because you can use it with a microphone, bass guitar, and pretty much anything else you want. It’s for more than just guitar players.
You can also run 2 different instruments at once, rather than the iRig HD 2 which can only work with one bass or a guitar.
Additionally, it’s just a well-built piece of equipment that’ll last forever. It’s completely made out of steel and a drop or two on the floor shouldn’t cause irreversible damage.
The Focusrite Saffire 6USB comes with a copy of Ableton I believe, although they may have scrapped that program since I first bought mine nearly ten years ago.
I should add that I’ve had this bad boy for over ten years and it still works the same way as it did when I first bought it.
The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is as good as
I use two different metronomes: 1) the “Metronome – BPM & Click Track” from Gismart, and then 2) I also use a real Metronome from Pacquet.
The second is a real one from Pacquet, which you can see in the picture below.
The link above is to the Wittner metronome, but it’s equally as good as the Pacquet. I always prefer the wooden ones to the plastic because they sound a lot better.
The metronome I’ve downloaded on my phone is decent. It does the job I need it to, but frankly, a lot of these downloaded metronomes (and other free apps) have the tendency to get annoying.
They strike me as mere advertiser platforms that profit from my personal data and information rather than just a harmless little tool. Many of them continuously beg for money as well.
Gismart’s Metronome doesn’t need a monthly subscription, but it does frequently flash advertisements which can get tedious.
For that reason, an actual real-life metronome is pretty useful when playing an instrument, like a guitar, bass, piano, or even just the MIDI keyboard.
While the metronome that comes with Garageband works just fine, a traditional one is simpler to use and inspires me to play.
Nothing beats the actual tool on which the application is based.
They usually vary in price from $10 to $150. I would opt for a real wooden metronome because they sound great and they’ll last for forever.
5) Sioti Camera Mount (For Guitar Players)
This is probably one of my favorite tools to use. I purchased it off of Amazon a few months back and love it.
It never leaves the headstock of my guitar.
It’s great for making guitar videos for YouTube, Instagram, or wherever you like to upload your content.
Regarding how it’s built, it’s not the greatest quality in the world, considering all of its components are plastic, but it works and I haven’t had any issues with it since I first bought it.
It doesn’t fall off the headstock either. It’s very sturdy in terms of its grip.
6) Audio Technica ATH-M30x Headphones
The Audio Technica ATH-M30x monitors do a good job without costing a lot of money.
If you’re reading this and wondering why anyone ever recommends headphones like this, to begin with, let me explain it to you using an example.
Most headphones, like the Dre Beats, for instance, are meant for just casual listening, so the specifications on them have been pre-determined for casual listeners who, in general, like a ton of bass (low-end) in their music.
While most audio engineers would argue there is no such thing as “neutral” headphones or monitors, studio headphones at least try to be neutral.
In other words, there is no low, mid, or high frequency boosts with studio headphones. They try to offer a more honest view of what the music really sounds like in the mix, in terms of high, low, and mid frequencies.
You’ll find that if you mix using iPhone headphones or whatever brand, the mixes end up sounding way different on other audio systems.
For instance, you may turn up the bass and low frequencies so it sounds great on your iPhone headphones, but then when you play the song in someone’s car with a decent sound system, all of a sudden the bass is so overpowering that the song is unlistenable.
Obviously, we don’t want this.
We want headphones that accurately show what the song sounds like without a mid, low, or high-frequency boost.
I find that the mixes completed through a good pair of studio monitoring headphones often translate the best to other sound systems.
If it sounds well balanced with studio headphones, it’ll likely sound pretty good using just iPhone speakers or through a car stereo system.
They’re worth the purchase. Grab a pair here.
7) Yorkville or Gearlux Music Stand
I don’t know any music producers that use one of these music stands, but I’m sure many of them have one and I just don’t know about it.
Frankly, I don’t know how anyone could play an instrument or read any kind of tablature/sheet music without having a music stand.
I use this thing every single day, whether it’s for practicing piano, learning a song on the guitar, or just using it to hold stuff.
I even use it to support my clothes hanger when I’m doing laundry.
Whether you need one of these or not depends on what kind of music producer you are.
I know there are a lot of guys/girls out there who have no knowledge of any standard music theory at all, so maybe you don’t need it, but I personally love it and couldn’t be without it.
This particular model is made of steel and is 100% sturdy and reliable. There’s hardly any plastic components at all. I’ve had this stand now for probably 15 years and it’s as good as new to this day.
8) USB to USB-C Adaptor
Not everyone needs this. It depends on how old your computer is, but I have the latest MacBook Pro and the ports have changed significantly.
After purchasing my MIDI Keyboard, I noticed that I had to buy an adaptor in order to use all of my old equipment.
If you want to know the honest truth, I was cursing out Apple for this, but I’ve since gotten used to the fact that all I need is a simple adaptor to use all of my old stuff.
I could honestly go on a tangent about all of the things Apple has done in the last few years, but I guess we’ll save that for another day.
Thus far, I’ve had the same one now for a year and it still works, so no complaints there.
9) Snark Super Tight Tuner (For guitar players)
This is one of those purchases I’ve made recently. I love it. I can’t believe I’ve played guitar for most of my life and not had one of these bad boys.
I don’t have to run over to my crate full of equipment, drag out my tuner, and then reattach my cable from my guitar to my tuner whenever I want to tune the guitar.
If you’re about to record, it’s as simple as just hitting the button on the Snark Tuner that’s clipped on to the end of your headstock, and then you can start recording knowing you’re perfectly in-tune.
It’s also a chromatic tuner as well, so you don’t have to worry about being constrained to just standard tuning or other pre-determined tunings.
Don’t get me wrong, my Korg tuners have served me well over the years, but this Snark Tuner is awesome and I 100% recommend it to anybody who plays the guitar.
10) Seagate Backup Plus 1TB – External Hard Drive
Chances are, if you’re a beginner music producer using Garageband, you have a MacBook Pro/Air. You likely don’t have a lot of space on your computer. I know I don’t.
As time goes by, you’ll notice that the number of files you’ve created with Garageband will start to add up and will eventually take up a lot of space on the computer.
For that reason, it’s best to go out and purchase an external hard drive, because otherwise, you’ll run out of space.
And trust me, you will run of out of space. Maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow, but eventually it’ll happen if you’re creating a lot of music.
It seems like one of those things where you really don’t need it, but you do, trust me. Of course, it’ll be too late when you need an external hard drive.
It’s not a very exciting purchase, so just grab one the day you run out of space.
The one I have is the Backup Seagate Plus, 1TB, I believe, and I have all of my oldest songs written on there. It’s definitely worth the purchase, and of course, you can put all kinds of stuff on there, not just old songs.
Most of my iTunes library is stored on there too.
11) Right Angle Guitar Jack (For Guitar Players)
This is an awesome guitar cable for a simple reason: If you sit on your bed to play and it’s running into your audio interface or amplifier, the jack will awkwardly poke into the bed/stool/chair and it’s not very comfortable.
A right-angled guitar cable makes it so you can play the guitar wherever and you don’t have to worry about the cable pushing against whatever you’re sitting on.
This cable is worth every penny. I’ll never have a standard guitar cable again after this one.
12) USB to Firewire Cable
If you’ve purchased an Acorn Masterkey-49, you’ll get one of these cables that connect directly from the back of the keyboard into your computer.
It’s worth picking up another one of these, just in case you lose one or it breaks.
13) Google Home
(Not available on Amazon, but you could grab the Echo Plus instead, although I can’t personally verify that it works as well)
This one is kind of optional, but I use it all of the time to check and see how my mixes sound on a less-than-optimal speaker system.
For instance, after I’ve mixed and mastered a song, I’ll play it through the Google Home for a quick sound check.
If it sounds good on this thing, it probably sounds good on everything.
14) Digitech Whammy Pedal (For Guitar Players)
The Digitech Whammy Pedal is one of Tom Morello’s favorites. This thing is a ton of fun to use, although it’s somewhat of a clunky beast.
It must weigh around 3 pounds and it’s a bit of a pain to carry around, but it’s one of those pieces of equipment that makes playing the guitar a lot of fun.
It also has a handy feature where you can quickly drop into other tunings without touching the guitar’s actual tuning.
15) Mark Sarnecki’s ‘The Complete Elementary Music Rudiments’ + Answer Book
Even though I took guitar lessons for a few years as a teenager, the vast majority of the music theory I learned was with this book and a few others.
Mark Sarnecki’s The Complete Elementary Music Rudiments explains the concepts well and the answer book that comes with it is equally as important.
I can’t stress enough how great this stuff is to learn. You don’t have to be Beethoven to benefit from learning a bit of music theory.
Just learn the basics. Y
You may even find that you enjoy learning these concepts and choose to go even deeper into theory.
If that’s the cases, I recommend you check out another free piece of content called, Music Theory For Musicians and Normal People by Toby R. Rush. You can easily find the PDF for this book online.
Just as an added note, in the case of the Mark Sarnecki book, it’s important to grab both the Question and Answer texts.
That’s all for now. I hope you like some of the products here as much as I do.
For a more comprehensive article on some of the best gear out there, look at my recommended gear page.