Ed Sheeran Gear Guide: Featuring 'THE' Loop Pedal and Pawed Guitar
Ed Sheeran Gear Guide (LAST UPDATE: FEB. 2015)
After having his debut album reach No.1, performing at over 300 gigs in 2009, being nominated for multiple awards since his debut and being generally one of the most talked about artists since his introduction in 2011, we think it’s probably time to give you The Ed Sheeran Gear Guide. Here's all the info you need about guitars and gear he's used, and how to get a similar sound!
Most of us first heard of this genius performer upon the release of his first commercial single, The A-Team in June 2011. But before hitting the charts last year Ed Sheeran already had a huge fan base. He performed as much as he could on the come-up, playing gigs every chance he got and making himself known through collaborations and a number of candid video’s on YouTube, Ed Sheeran pretty much paved his own way to the top of the charts.
In addition to delivering a ridiculous 300+ gigs 2009, Sheeran made a name for himself releasing independent collaborations with the likes of Wiley, Sway and JME.
Sheeran featured on the EP No.5 Collaboration Project (2011), which soared its way to No.2 in the iTunes Charts and sold over 7000 copies in its first week, all with no major promotions and no record label backing.
With a shocking 11 EPs, a multi-platinum selling debut album and a fan-base that could probably rival the population of China... times 10, Ed Sheeran is most definitely setting a new bar for the acoustic singer songwriter. His double win at the BRIT Awards 2015 (Best Male Solo Artist & Album of The Year) coupled with headlining gigs at Wembley Arena confirms him as a major musical force for the years to come.
No wonder then, that so many people feel inspired and are influenced by him, so the aim of this Ed Sheeran Gear Guide is to answer many questions people have regarding his setup, and also to give a few suggestions to help you get a similar sound, without needing a millionaire budget!
ED SHEERAN'S 'X' ELECTRO-ACOUSTIC GUITAR
This guitar, as said before, is a replica of one of his main instruments as of 2015, and which could be seen recently at the BRIT Awards 2015 ceremony.
Possibly Eddie’s most notable piece of equipment ever was his Boss RC-30 Looping Pedal. Sheeran used the RC-30 in most of his live performances and he’s probably the most recognised looper in the UK right now. Roland themselves believe that Mr. Sheeran is in fact “A master of looping on the cusp of greatness.”
Sheeran has now moved into more complex looping realms, with a massive custom pedalboard called "The Chewie Monsta".
"We needed to source a pedal that had separate outputs for the guitar, percussion, and vocal elements of the loop, allowing for separate treatments (reverb, echo, harmonizer etc.) at the front of the house, Chris and I spent about 6 months contacting every pedal manufacture worldwide that we could think of to get someone to help us come up with a pedal that would be future proof and sonically superior to the RC. Although a couple of manufacturers were interested, no one had an existing product that really came close to what we wanted to do in terms of numbers of outputs and attainable loop lengths."
The "Chewie Monsta" is not an FX pedal, it's a sophisticated, unique pedalboard controller that Ed uses to manipulate a Roland FC300 MIDI Controller which is placed off-stage, described by his tech as the "brain behind the looping system." The pedal controls Ed's new looper: a Mobius 2 VST plug-in, hosted on Ableton Live. (For more info on Mobius, which is a FREE software, visit circularlabs.com)
"The pedal allows Ed to record, overdub, and play back on any one of four synchronized loops, each of which has its own output, allowing us to now have the guitars, percussion and vocals separately, which is invaluable in a live situation. Ed can also now mute the loops individually, allowing him to alternate between different sections, such as a verse/chorus scenario. We also have an undo function, which allows Ed to clear the last overdub on the selected channel, should he need to."
Live, besides his guitar, Sheeran also plugs a Sennheiser e945 to the controller, which is used to loop his vocals. At gigs, Ed uses two mics. The second one is not for looping, it's used just for a clear signal.
Boss RC-30 LoopStation - Sheeran’s Crème de la Crème
Sheeran using the Boss RC-20XL pedal (replaced by the Boss RC-30)
In addition to his concerts, Sheeran has used the Boss RC-30 in a number of videos, for the likes of SBTV, such as his “remix” of 'You Need Me, I Don’t Need You', which currently has over 5.5m hits on YouTube. The RC-30 has made an appearance in many other videos including 'Wayfaring Stranger' and 'Small Bump'.
This pedal is a fantastic tool for any singer-songwriter who want to enrich their solo performance, so it's no wonder it's become Ed Sheeran's essential on stage tool, only replaced more recently.
Featuring two synchronised stereo tracks, each independently controllable with volume faders and track select buttons and an auto-recording feature that starts recording the moment you begin playing/singing there’s no wonder why countless artists are climbing on board this loop train.
The RC-30 comes with a great line-up of creative looping effects built-in, including pitch bend, step phaser, sweep filter and tempo delay. Plug in your microphone through the XLR connection with an option of Phantom Power for condenser mics; with the RC-30 you’re options are always open.
If you feel inspired by Ed Sheeran and want to experiment with a looping pedal, there are also other good options available, so check them out:
- Boss RC-1 Loop Station (only £79)
- TC Electronic Ditto Looper (only £79)
- Electro-Harmonix Nano Looper 360 (£100)
- Vox Lil' Looper (£129.99)
- Boss RC-3 Loop Station (£135)
But if you want something closer to the "Chewie Monsta" in terms of functionality, the best option is the TC Helicon VoiceLive 3, which allows you to plug your microphone and guitar, and choose between looping either or both:
Another pedal used by Ed Sheeran is the Boss TU-3 Guitar Tuner, a very practical and easy to use tuner that's a favourite among many top performers. This white pedal can be seen on many live videos:
ED SHEERAN'S ACOUSTIC GUITARS
It was Little Martin who got Pawed
There has been a lot of interest on this front recently, everybody wants to know what guitar Ed Sheeran Plays. Well we’ve done our research and we’re pretty sure we can answer that question, so you can all stop wrecking your brains trying to catch a glimpse of his headstock.
Mr. Sheeran has found the guitar that works for him, and stuck with it. Although many of us might say that once we’d hit the big time we’d go splash out on a top of the range guitar that costs more that we’d make in a year, Sheeran pushed aside that ‘gotta buy big’ mentality and settled down with the incredible LX1E Little Martin.
Now that's... a guitar with character!
MARTIN LX1 LITTLE MARTIN - only £345!
The LX1 Little Martin is a popular and affordable acoustic, also very suitable for beginners. This is a great guitar and the perfect model for Ed Sheeran fans!
MARTIN LXME LITTLE MARTIN - only £385
The LXME Little Martin is another great guitar for Ed Sheeran fans who perform live, because it's an electro-acoustic model with a great sounding pickup.
The Little Martin is in extremely high demand at the moment!
C A L L U S O N 0 1 5 1 4 4 8 2 0 8 0 F O R A V A I L A B I L I T Y
Ed Sheeran’s Little Martin guitar, although constructed to a smaller scale than your regular acoustic, is in fact a superb quality and highly praised instrument. This Martin & Co LX1E travel guitar is recognised for its quality sound and playability. It is comfortable to hold and easy to lug around with you on the fly, so we can understand why it was Sheeran’s instrument of choice, I mean, he played over 300 gigs in one year for goodness sake!
Despite its downsized 23” scale neck and small, modified 0-14 (uncovered) fret design, the LX1E Little Martin produces a full, broad sound with a surprisingly good bass tone. It has equally good high end and low end response, with a pretty impressive ability to sustain and project. It’s got everything you need in an acoustic.
The most recent Little Martin Ed Sheeran Signature Models are structured using a Sapele top with HPL back and sides, a Richlite fretboard and bridge. Features Ed’s signature “+” sign on the headstock and album logo laser-etched on the solid sapele top.
Ed has made the LX1E Little Martin his own with this signature edition, taking a lesser known but sweet sounding Martin and making it a great busking and gigging all rounder. Plus for every one sold a donation is made to East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices.
HOW TO SOUND LIKE ED SHEERAN: THE AFFORDABLE ALTERNATIVES
For the more budget conscious player, you can't go wrong with the Washburn WDM8SNS Mini. This model looks almost identical to Ed's, but it's much cheaper:
Washburn WDM8SNS Mini - only £199
The Washburn WDM8SNS Mini Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar is a hard wearing mini guitar perfect for any guitarist on the go. This mini acoustic guitar features a solid spruce top which delivers the warm rich tones you would expect from a dreadnought acoustic. Also available, the Washburn WDM8SENS model - an electro-acoustic version.
Washburn WDM18SNS Mini - All Mahogany - only £209
The Washburn WDM18SNS Mini Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar ALL Mahogany is an excellent choice for those who missed out on the now discontinued Ed Sheeran signature model. The all-mahogany body gives it a darker, warmer tone, and looks simply stunning! Also available, the electro-acoustic version, ideal for live performers - the Washburn WDM18SENS Mini.
THE BEST ED SHEERAN-STYLE ACOUSTIC DEAL
This Mini Auditorium acoustic bundle is a great value buy, with everything you'll need. It's tailor-made for any singer songwriters out there. Ever since Ed Sheeran made the compact guitar cool again we've seen loads more people getting into the tight, focused tone of these little beauties. Makes a handy travel guitar too, with a free gig bag, clip on tuner and strap. There's even a few packs of medium strings to stash in your bag, for when the inevitable happens! Electro-Acoustic Bundle also available, ideal for performers.
ED SHEERAN ELECTRIC GUITAR
OK, it's not quite as shocking as Bob Dylan going electric in the sixties, but it is still surprisnig to see Ed Sheeran playing an electric guitar! At the recent MTV EMA 2014 Awards, Ed was seen playing a "Crashocaster" guitar. This is simply an Eric Clapton Signature Stratocaster, given a custom "street-art" paintjob by New York artist John Crash Matos. The first Crashocaster was made for Eric Clapton in 1997.
A good alternative - but in beautiful gold finish - is the Squier 60th Anniversary Classic Vibe Strat.
THE STUDIO EQUIPMENT
Focusrite ISA430 MkII
The Grammy award winning engineer and producer Guy Massey, recorded two tracks on Sheeran’s album +.
"One track was guitar and vocal and the other was piano and vocal - it was all live.” Massey used a ribbon mic and the Focusrite ISA430 MkII and says, “both songs are just very pure recordings really, and when we came to tracking we had a few preamps to choose from, but I just chose the ISA430 MkII because you can just dial things in so quickly. It’s very intuitive in its layout and I always find it very easy to get a great sound, whether it be a clean and pure vocal or slamming drum destruction.”
Combining all of the classic designs into one comprehensive production tool. The 430 features an optional 192kHz/24-bit A-D conversion with soft limiter , Phase-cancellation de-esser for more natural processing and a VCA-based expander/gate with "hysteresis" setting to avoid chattering.
With such impeccable specifications we can see why Massey and Sheeran fell in love with this sweet bit of kit. Focusrite, always aiming to please were sure to include these four main elements into the ISA430 MkII. The classic Focusrite transformer-based mic pre with variable input impedance, EQ with two dual-range parametrics HPF and LPF, and of course a dual mode compressor with both VCA and optical circuitry. These can each be accessed individually and can be used as separate processors.
The possibilities are pretty lengthy with the ISA430 MkII, there’s simply nothing quite like it.
Sheeran says "Jake and Guy captured everything I wanted to capture. The album sounds exactly how I wanted it, so thanks Focusrite!"
THE MIC LINE-UP
First up: ES & sE
Sheeran used an sE4400a microphone for recording acoustic guitars, live pianos and percussion in both the No.5 Collaboration Project and in his debut album +, which also features some vocal recordings from the sE Z3300a condenser microphone. The sE Z3300a seems to pop up in many of Sheeran’s live YouTube performances, including the ‘You Need Me l Don’t Need You’ video.
Sheeran also used an sE4400a microphone for recording acoustic guitars, live pianos and percussion on this same album, and with the sound quality of this guy’s tracks, we have no reason to doubt its performance ability.
Here’s what Jake Gosling had to say about sE Microphones:
“I use the sE4400a pair all the time now! I record a lot of guitars and live piano with them, and they’re a fantastic vocal mic too. They’re incredibly versatile… a brilliant set of mics, and nowadays I can’t live without them. They build quality, performance and sound, are totally reliable and very true.”
sE Electronics Z3300a
The Z3300A microphone is in fact the most versatile class A FET microphone in the SE Electronics range, utilizing a large 1.07” twin diaphragm, giving the engineer a choice of the three most widely used polar patterns, omni, cardioid and figure of eight.
Couple this with a 100Hz low cut filter and new ultra clean, ultra quiet Z range electronics and the Z3300A is the ultimate solid state microphone for almost all recording applications, from vocals, to pianos and acoustic instruments, as Jake and Ed have proved.
sE Electronics 4400a
sE Electronics 4400a condenser microphone is often compared to the incredibly popular AKG C414 (now discontinued) as it is a true all-rounder, versatile and does a great job in every recording situation you give it.
The sE Electronics 4400a inherits its dual capsule design from the highly successful sE2200a II, with four polar patterns (Cardioid, Hypercardioid, Figure of 8 and Omni), 2 bass cuts at 60Hz and 120Hz, and 2 pads at 10 and 20dB.
Ed Sheeran and the Beautiful, Tall & Sleek Neumann U87
The Neumann U87 is one of the most prestige microphones available on the market, and is practically a piece of permanent furniture in... well, too many studios to mention.
The U87 can be seen in Ed Sheeran’s live YouTube recording of 'Wayfaring Stranger', famous for its warm sound and well balanced characteristics, the U87 really brings out the best in every performance.
The current U87A yields a 6dB improvement in signal-to-noise over its predecessor. A 10 dB attenuation switch is located on the rear. It enables the microphone to handle sound pressure levels up to 127 dB without distortion and the low frequency response can be reduced to compensate for proximity effect.
... But let’s be honest, talking about all of the technicalities is pretty much useless until you actually hear this mic's quality for yourself, so check out Ed Sheeran performing 'Wayfaring Stranger' with the Neumann U87 here.
Sheeran Gives his Paw Printed Acoustic the AKG Treatment
The AKG C 425 B pencil mic was spotted playing the role of Sheeran’s guitar mic in his live performance video for the song ‘Small Bump’. This mic is an excellent tool for accurately capturing signals rich in transients like those with a percussive sound.
Using an extremely light diaphragm, the AKG C 451 B is almost totally insensitive to handling noise. Other features include an all-metal body for excellent protection from RF interference and high reliability for excellent results under almost all conditions. Plus, it’s just beautiful! With its sleek and slim body; nothing could look that cool and not sound great.
Recently, Ed Sheeran was spotted using a pair of Beyer-Dynamic DT770 headphones, a superb choice for anyone who want professional monitoring at a quite reasonable price...
Recent Sheeran News
Ed Sheeran’s brand new EP The Slumdon Bridge was released 14th Feb 2012 and is totally FREE to download. Sheeran says this is “Some of the best music I’ve made”, so get online and get your ears on this album.
Ed finished the UK leg of his European tour on Friday & now he hits Europe, until the end of November then it's off stateside (19 Nov 2012). More here.
We’re sure to have more to add to the Ed Sheeran Gear Guide soon enough so watch this space for updates with the latest gear he’s been spotted using!
If you hear anything new, feel free to update us and comment below.
Some info taken from this Acousticguitar.com article by Trevor Dawkins.
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