The Building Blocks of a Great Guitar Gear Demo Video

It’s a great time to be a musician. Never before has there been such a massive range of gear to consider with so many easy ways to acquire it. But with this diversity of options comes an ongoing dilemma: there’s no way you can possibly try it all.

Enter the gear demo.

A high-quality demo video helps us experience the gear we're curious about without needing it in-hand. Interested in that new Big Muff clone with built-in tremolo? A demo can help you make your decision. Looking for a humbucker for your partscaster? Compare and contrast various tones in videos.

If you’ve watched even a handful of demos, you know that they are not all created equally – there’s nothing worse, for instance, than someone capturing a $4,000 amplifier with the mic on their iPhone. And yet, many of the internet's most popular gear demo channels are home-run operations that any passionate player could emulate.

Whether you're thinking of making your own demos or just getting ready to dive down that next YouTube rabbithole, let’s take a look at some key elements that can take gear demos to the next level.

Intro & Outro

A great gear demo functions similarly to a great movie or book – it pulls you in right away. Andy at ProGuitarShop, Joel at Chicago Music Exchange, Brett Kingman. What do they have in common? They start with music. Instead of leading with a boring speech about what transistors are in a fuzz pedal, they just let it rip.

Pro Guitar Shop - EarthQuaker Devices Transmisser Reverb Demo

It’s also clear that they’ve spent time with the gear beforehand, as they often play songs in a style that compliments it. A tasteful, informative explanation of the product being demoed can help clarify questions viewers may have after the initial listening. After you’ve said what you have to say, send them on their way with another awesome example of what the gear can do.

Open that Psych 101 textbook and lookup primacy and recency. Essentially, on a list, we’re more likely to remember the first and last things. In a gear demo, people are likely to remember the beginning and the end, so make them count.

Less Talking, More Rocking

We’ve all seen it – the video titled “demo” that features nine minutes of talking and 30 seconds of shred. Please, for the good of gearhead-kind, don’t do that. Spare listeners the details about your appointment at the podiatrist, and focus on the gear.

If you decide talking will be a part of your demonstration, make sure it is centered on the gear, and try not to ramble. You don’t need to recite an entire spec sheet – just highlight the juicy stuff. As a general rule, if your video has more talking than playing, you’re doing it wrong.

There are, of course, exceptions to this. Dan and Mick from That Pedal Show often produce videos stretching over half-an-hour that are always informative and compelling.

That Pedal Show – Six Awesome Reverbs

Quality, Not Quantity

A demo doesn’t need to be an hour long to be great. In fact, too much time can kill it. You can run through a variety of sounds in every pickup position in a minute if you use your time efficiently.

This will require a careful study of each individual piece of gear. Before the camera starts rolling, study the curves and contours of each guitar. Explore settings on pedals, and experiment with various tones from the amplifier. Find some sounds that you love, and bring them to the people.

There’s nothing wrong with a longer demo if you’ve taken the time to prepare, but you should aim to be efficient. Remember that some gear nerds may have a short attention span.

The demos provided by the best of the best channels are informative and helpful and usually don’t come near the 10 minute mark. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that they have some amazing players showcasing the gear. When discussing this article with my editor, he referred to PGS Andy as a “perfected machine of tone creation,” which I’d say is an understatement.

That being said, some of the top demo players may make you feel insecure about your playing ability, but don’t worry about that. You don’t have to be a virtuoso to capture great sounds, which is what a demo is all about.

Context is Crucial

There are a lot of variables involved with electric guitar – pickups, speakers, and tubes all have an effect on the overall tone. If viewers don’t know what guitar you’re using or what amp you’re playing through, the demo isn’t going to be incredibly helpful.

gearmanndude - T-Rex Effects REPLICATOR Demo

At some point in the demo, point out the other gear you’re using. You don’t need to give excruciating details about the type of wood used for your speaker cabinet, but knowledge of the basics will help people understand how the featured gear in the video plays into the overall setup.

Silence is Golden

Some of the best demo videos have no talking at all. Eirik Stordrange, the mastermind behind Living Room Gear Demos, creates awesome, high-quality pedal demos with an emphasis on tone rather than talking – all killer, no filler. He gives a thorough demo of each product, dialing in various pedal settings so you get to hear what each one is truly capable of.

One reason his videos are so great is because of his ability to create high-quality video and audio. He uses quality cameras and audio equipment to ensure an accurate representation of each device. The end product is more like a little gear movie than a review, and it is very fun to watch.

He’s also a prime example of how you can dispense information using the YouTube format. Without speaking, he gives a detailed rundown of his rig – guitar(s), amplifier, cables, etc. – so that viewers understand the canvas he is working with. This is all done in the info section with no talking necessary during his video.

Listen to Viewer Feedback

Lastly, after you’ve made a few videos, listen to what the people have to say. Within reason, of course, there will always be internet trolls and unreasonable comments.

But if you notice a pattern, such as several people asking you to demo a particular product or asking you to give a demo of the same amplifier using the dirty channel, you can take that feedback into consideration for future demos. You’ll also find yourself building a loyal fanbase, which could lead to other opportunities in the future.

To all the excellent gear demo purveyors out there, thank you. With the overwhelming amount of gear to choose from, having experts showcase products in order to help players across the globe choose what’s right for their rig is invaluable.

I only mentioned a handful of the great reviewers out there in the interest of space, but there is always room for more. If you’re already producing demos, find a way to step up your game. If you think you have what it takes, see what you can learn by studying some of the greats, and go get started.

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