Part One – Visual Presentation

An aspect of crafting the performance is visual presentation. Not only in terms of ones attire (which I will speak to later) but also what one surrounds themselves with, props and such like, essentially how the performance is staged and ultimately received by the audience.

I wanted a worn-in aged / vintage lived-in feel which appealed to me for several reasons. First it speaks to age, and by association experience which in turn infers confidence. The pre-owned, used type of styling of new electric guitars has become increasingly popular, ‘road warn’ is the new black for guitar manufacturers like Fender and Gibson.

Secondly when attempting to elicit a donation from an audience, an aged warn-in styling is more agreeable to an audience over giving money to someone playing with shinny new gear. There in lies the rub. An affordable, efficient portable busking amplifier, one which offers both vocals and instrument input, is a relatively modern invention, with contemporary styling and just a bit too shinny. Second-hand / used equipment goes some way to taking the shine off the gear but this approach is not always possible or feasible with things like digital processors, efx and alike, they are simply not always available, and as it turns out not always reliable.

I’d like to think I’m fortunate, being of an age and having played a guitar for a long time, I have my very own ‘road warn’ instrument. The portable battery-powered amplifier and pedal-board (including digital efx processor, distortion stomp box and cough switch for the mic) have proven to be a little more problematic.

Having started with a second-hand amplifier which swiftly died, I took the plunge and purchased a new model of the amplifier, a Roland Cube Street. I have to admit that I purchased the amp before I’d considered the performance visual presentation and consequently purchased the bright orange model which has subsequently been re-sprayed black.

The pedal board has been housed in a custom made wooden case styled to look like a vintage crate/case. Initially conceived to be just a box to house and obscure from the audience the efx processor, distortion stomp box and cough switch, after repeated use it now includes power / audio interface sockets on the exterior surface of the box linking to the equipment within. This modification was made to enable the cables going to and from the case to be easily removed. Prior to this modification the cables, (two 2 meter ¼ inch jack leads and two 2 meter microphone XLR leads) would be wound around the case during transportation and storage which left the cables and associated plug ends vulnerable.

Pedal Board

Money Collection

During an initial trial performance I used my guitar case as the receptacle for receiving donations. Using the guitar case in this way is common practice and so more readily understood by the audience. Added to this and by way of an additional audience prompt, the case contained an initial £5 float. (£34.34 taken during the 90 mins performance).

However presentationally, the case was problematic in so far as it created a physical barrier / disconnect between myself and the audience which was amplified because I was seated (sat on a Cajon). Much of the writing around ‘busking tips’ suggest the need to be unique. Could an alternative receptacle help ?

Box to Collect Donations
With Flashing ‘Thank You’