I am pretty new to gigging using an electric guitar, and wanted to know if its possible to get a live sound without using an amp (I simply don't want to lug around my amp while going for open mics/small solo gigs).

Will using an amp simulator pedal directly into the PA system work? The only effects I would need is some reverb and distortion, and want to know what's the minimum equipment requirement to achieve this?

I am thinking, guitar --> reverb pedal --> dirty amp sim pedal --> PA. Please help me out in this!!!

  • 1
    I've played a lot of venues where the PA is not suited to running the guitar through it, so be aware, if you don't have your own amp that is loud enough to fill a small bar, there might be some gigs you won't be able to play. If you decide you want to roll without a real amp, then there are many modeling amps and amp simulators available. You'll have to decide for yourself what your favorite is. Commented Mar 13, 2019 at 14:42
  • @ToddWilcox - could one not use line out (obviously only if the amp in question has one) straight into the p.a? Then foldback could provide enough monitoring on stage.
    – Tim
    Commented Mar 13, 2019 at 16:07
  • @Tim By "not suited" I mean "barely has enough power to get the vocals over the drums". A lot of bars just have a couple 12" mains with 500 - 1000 watts of power, which might sound like a lot, but often isn't. Running guitars through PAs like that is usually a recipe for inaudible vocals. Smaller places expect that guitars, basses, and drums will not go through the PA, since all three can fill small rooms with reasonable amps on stage (15 - 50 watts on the guitar side). So smaller places don't buy enough PA for guitars and basses and keyboards. Best to prepare for that, IMHO. Commented Mar 13, 2019 at 17:46

3 Answers 3


'connect my guitar to the PA system'. We don't know what type of PA system it is. It might be a real PA, or it could be a glorified home stereo. So we're going to have to make an assumption that it's a real (or at least semi-pro) PA, with XLR inputs for each channel.

There are any number of multi-effect pedals out there, from a few dollars up to many-few dollars. Take your pick.

The problem with multi-effect pedals is that "Cheap" might not be cost-effective, if the only sound you can get out of it sounds like a tin box full of angry bees. You'll need to go to a guitar store and try some out.

At the lower end of multi-effect pedals, you generally don't find XLR output. So you'll also need a DI box to convert the multi-effect 1/4" output to XLR. And yes - you need to provide a balanced signal to the PA, which is why you need the XLR connection.

Once you have all this equuipment, of course, you might decide that taking your little Blackstar amp and letting the venue mic it up would be less hassle... :p

  • Most p.as will have some socketry involving jacks, surely? And if not, a D.I. box is always a good little toy to bring to the party.
    – Tim
    Commented Mar 13, 2019 at 16:09
  • @Tim: Yes, most PA's have 1/4" inputs - but they're usually not Hi-Z, so not ideal for a guitar. They'll work, over short distances, but not over about 30ft. Agree that a DI box is a useful toy to have in the toolbox.
    – PeteCon
    Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 3:26

One year when we played a lot of small gigs and festivals in a row, my ideal setup was my Line6 multieffects board. I had my amp sim in it, I'd hook in to the house PA, and they'd give me a feed back to my monitor. No big amp/cab required. It meant we could keep the volume on stage pretty low (which was nice) and the only thing that was a bit trickier was tweaking the gain so I could induce feedback as needed using the monitor as my source.

Very easy, and only a few hundred pounds. Depends what you classify as cheap, though... It's certainly a lot cheaper than my current Kemper Profiler setup.


The cheapest way to do that would be to use one of the guitar-smartphone interfaces along with a software (not recommending anything specific as it's against the rules here, just search for them).

But you have to bear in mind that live gig is all about reliability and cheap almost always means unreliable. You'll end up with flimsy connectors, consumer type cables ect. so it might be worth looking at more advanced versions of these products (integrated rack version, pedal versions ect.) so that everything is more gig ready

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    Recommending specific stuff isn’t against the rules, asking for specific recommendations is off topic. Generally we prefer not answering off topic questions, since it sends a confusing message. Commented Mar 13, 2019 at 15:07

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