Many guitarists (for instance Ian D'Sa) admit to using different gear in the studio. What are the reasons for this?

All answers gave some info in general. Anyway Ian answered this question :)



5 Answers 5


Different requirements.

An instrument for studio use should produce the best possible sound for recording; it might also be good if it presents a range of options for the artist to experiment with when trying to create an interesting part for a record. Artists may well use quite unfamiliar instruments in the studio to spark inspiration.

An instrument for live use should be robust and reliable, easy to integrate into the live sound mix (which may be different to the mix of a song from a record, and may need to vary from venue to venue); It may be desirable for it to be a cheaper instrument that is less expensive to insure, and also for it to use more common parts for ease of maintenance over the course of a tour. It should also be comfortable to play for long periods, and familiar and easy enough to play while also taking part in any necessary showmanship. It needs to fit into the artist's visual theme, if there is one and also needs to be easy to pack, move, and set up repeatedly.

(Of course some musicians find that a single instrument can fulfil both sets of requirements!)

  • 1
    Just to add, in respect of the Strat+humbucker configuration noted on the link page - you can more easily get an approximation of the Fender/Gibson basic sounds without swapping guitars.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 12:21
  • Actually Ian (and for example Noodles from TheOffspring) prefer P90 to Humbuckers, but they are single coil so very senstive to interference
    – teodozjan
    Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 18:52
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    You might add that traveling can be very tough on instruments. They may have that one special guitar they've had for years, was custom made, or even built themselves and has that special sound. They don't want them to be damaged or stolen out on the road. Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 1:02
  • @Tom I'm sure that's true for many artists. There's the opposite phenomenon too which would be where a particular instrument is so much part of an artist's 'brand' that they can't really get away without using it live!
    – user16
    Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 7:37

There a different mindset in the studio then on tour. In the studio the goal is the sound so the equipment used needs to sound the best a lot of musicians will spend hours trying difference amps, effects, cabinets, instruments, mic, ect to get the exact sound they want.

On tour the sound is secondary to the actual performance and typical usability, general performance look, and to some extent portability need to be taken into account. Also for big stage gigs, the volume is at an extreme so the sound quality itself is not the best so the slight differences in sound that the studio gear would make in most cases is completely noticed.


To expandon what u/topo said, take for example a ZVex Fuzz Factory pedal. Insanely versatile fuzz that's been used on a bunch of recordings (e.g. Muse's earlier albums). This pedal is so sensative to heat, radio interference, and any adjustment to the five knobs, that it's not practical for most people to use live.

Like the Fuzz Factory, some gear really needs to be 'dialed in' to sound great. In studio, you can spend the time to get 'that' sound for a particular song, then dial in the gear totally different for the next song. This is obviously not practical live.

  • Another pedal that came to mind is the Big Muff - featured on thousands of records but often blamed for making guitars disappear in the live mix!
    – user16
    Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 18:30

One of the biggest reason that I personally use different amps in the studio is to layer the sounds to build a bigger overall impression of the song. That typically calls for many different amps and/or effects. Once out on the road, you can't carry it all so we'll compromise and try to do as much with as little as possible.

Another reason is that we tend to use lower wattage (power) amps during a recording session and when out on the stage you'll often need more.


Simply put: in the studio, they use very expensive, rare and delicate equipment that is difficult to work with. It may even be borrowed or rented. It would be too risky to take this delicate and rare equipment on tour because it could be damaged or stolen. So they go out on tour with cheaper instruments and equipment which is more portable, rugged and durable and easier to work with.

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