How To Build The Ultimate Portable #VanLife Guitar Rig

Wanna take off into the great unknown but don’t want to leave your guitar behind? This is the rig you’ll need.

Vanlife: Guild Surfliner
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Going off grid is all well and good, but what’s the use in getting away from everyday life if you can’t take your guitar with you? Whether you’re fully leaving the world behind and embarking on a full-time Van Life free of the trappings of modern life, or if you just like exploring the wilderness on the weekends, there are some essentials that you simply cannot leave behind. Of course, we’re talking about the guitar here, obviously.


Some might say that the ultimate #VanLife guitar rig is very simply an acoustic guitar – and maybe they’re right… but we think these people lack vision. After all, what’s the point of immersing yourself in the great outdoors, basking in the beauty and majesty of the beach, the mountains, the wide open spaces of the country or the tranquil harmony of the lake if you can’t make proper, electrified guitar music to accompany your experience? We say there’s no point at all, and so here’s the ultimate portable rig that will give you maximum sonic fun in as compact and portable a form as possible.

The Guitar: Guild Surfliner Deluxe

Vanlife: Guild Surfliner

Space in a camper van is at an absolute premium, so if you’re taking one electric guitar with you out into the wilderness, it better be compact, affordable, reliable and above all versatile. The brand new Guild Surfliner Deluxe ticks all of these boxes and more – for starters the guitar’s compact offset body shape means that you won’t struggle to get to grips with it even inside the van. With the Deluxe’s new locking tuners and roasted maple neck you also have peace of mind that the guitar is gonna stay in tune whatever the weather outside the van.
What’s more, the new Deluxe version of the Surfliner takes what was already an incredibly versatile and great sounding guitar and gives you even more fun toys to play with. In addition to the impressively versatile offering of a full-size Guild HB-2 humbucker in the bridge and a pair of DeArmond Aerosonic single coils in the middle and neck positions, the Surfliner Deluxe fully embraces its name with the addition of a floating tremolo.

This all-new Guild Floating Vibrato Tailpiece features a nylon insert and adjustable tension spring that allows you to set the bar up just as you like it, whether that’s for surfy wobbles or grungey trem wig-outs, all while enjoying the variety of tones the HSS arrangement and its streamlined switching options. Truly, this is a guitar to enjoy anywhere you want to take it.

The Amp: Positive Grid Spark Mini

Vanlife: The Positive Grid Spark

While the new Positive Grid Spark Go is even more compact, we like the balance that this revolutionary ‘smart amp’ offers for Van Life guitarists. With its rechargeable battery and carry handle it’s easily taken down by the water or out into the campsite, while the physical controls mean that you’re not necessarily tied to a smartphone (and leeching its all-important battery) to control things. The fact that it can double as a Bluetooth speaker and sounds legitimately brilliant isn’t lost on us either – the great outdoors deserves a great guitar tone, surely?

The Pedals: Silktone Fuzz, MXR Duke Of Tone, Fender Hammertone Space Delay, Strymon Flint V2

Vanlife: Amp and Pedalboard

With the Spark offering a variety of different on board effects, you could argue that we don’t need any pedals really – and if you’re REALLY trying to save space, you could do without this mini-board… but where’s the fun in that? We opted for three pedals that give us maximum versatility while being extremely well built and hard-wearing. The Silktone fuzz, with its variable bias knob offers a bewildering array of fuzz tones from rich warm vintage tones to gated filth, while the other dirt pedal, MXR’s Analog Man collab Duke Of Tone offers three different flavours of drive – boost, overdrive and distortion – at the flick of a toggle. Fender’s Hammertone Space Delay might only do one thing, but it’s the perfect ethereal companion to our Deluxe, while the two-in-one Strymon Flint offers wonderfully authentic tremolo and reverb tones that will put the Surf into the Surfliner – especially with that trem bar wiggling.

The Pedalboard: Marcus D’luxe VertDluxe V3

Vanlife: Guild Surfliner

The thing about living out of a van, especially if you’re at the beach, or up in the mountains, or anywhere that isn’t tarmac really – it’s a tricky thing to keep the floor, and your shoes clean. Now, ask yourself – do you really want to have your precious pedals down on the van floor where they could easily get dirt, sand, snow or goodness knows what else in their innards? And that’s before we consider what a trip hazard it is having them down on your very limited floor space. That’s where the VertDluxe is a revelation – with the pedals velcro’d in place in vertical configuration, you can keep them up on your seat/table/bed out of harms way and tweak them to your heart’s content. We paired it with a PedalTrain Volto V3 – a rechargeable PSU that provides up to 2000mA of power, more than handling the draw of our mini-board.

So there you have it – the ultimate portable guitar rig. From the versatile and dependable Surfliner Deluxe to the hi-tech Spark Mini and our bevy of hand pedals, there’s surely nothing any guitar player could want when they’re packing their life into a van and heading out into the unknown.

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