Keys players have for some time known that Mainstage is a top piece of software to use. When you see a keys player on stage with a Macbook sat on the top, it’s because they are using Mainstage to control their sounds (at least this is the most likely scenario).
Mainstage is a piece of software made by Apple. It creates a much more useable interface to the sounds of Logic Studio and Garageband for the live musician, allowing multiple presets or patches to be saved into specific concerts, so all your sounds for that set are in one place and you just select the one you want for each song.
Guitarists have rarely fully embraced an all digital sound. Rightly or wrongly insisting that analogue amps are going to be better. The fact is though, that a few years ago, yes, digital modelling of guitar amps sucked! It sucked big time! But now, digital modelling has caught up (with products from brands like Line 6, Digitech, Zoom etc all having good offerings), and to the ears of the vast majority of people, there is little to no difference.
If you already own a Mac, then Mainstage (which currently costs £22.99 in the App Store on your mac) is a great way to try out digital modelling and to use live. All you need is an audio interface (some thing like this is fine http://www.dv247.com/computer-hardware/behringer-u-phoria-um2--207603) plus a reasonable set of speakers / headphones and you’re good to go.
Mainstage gives you access to a huge number of amps and cabinets all modelled from some great amps. They don’t tell you which amps they are modelling but from looking at the images of the amps there are clearly some great amps from Vox, Marshall, Fender and more. There are also a host of effects pedals you can build a pedalboard with, as well as access to all ofthe studio effects built into either garageband or logic (depending on which you have installed on your mac). Which can lead to some great sounds. However as with all of these things you have to learn how to use it and it can take a while to get the sounds you want. I spent some time doing this and found a few sounds I like, however I haven’t got hours to spend tweaking sounds for it, so I set about looking for some patches I could download that would at least have me most of the way there. Enter, thatworshipsound.com - here I found their Worship Guitar Essentials Package (https://thatworshipsound.com/patches/bundles/worship-guitar-essentials/) which for $20 gives you 6 mono and 6 stereo presets which sound amazing and are fully customisable to try out yourself. Check out the sounds on their youtube video below:
I have found some great uses for these sounds - especially the ‘Frozen Verv’ sound - I used this leading worship on electric on the song ‘One thing remains’ from Bethel. This sound was really atmospheric, gave a kind of pad sound and filled the sound out amazingly.
The possibilities are really endless with mainstage for guitarists. I’ve now started running my acoustic through it as well and adding a studio compressor and some great reverb to fill out the sound.
This content was written by Andy Hood. A worship leader and guitar teacher in Exeter. Check out his website http://www.exeterguitarlessons.co.uk