The members of Live Issue are regularly asked about the instruments they play on stage and during recording sessions. On this page we hope to give you a little background to the group's instrumentation and answer some of the frequently asked questions.
This Takamine EG523SC jumbo electro-acoustic guitar is used by Roy Dreaning in all live concerts. Its large body gives a full resonating sound and is an excellent instrument for rhythm guitar. Roy bought this guitar in Nashville during Live Issue's first US tour in 2007.
Carl Sands' black Fender Stratocaster dates from the early 1970's although he bought it in 1976. A reflective scratch plate was added prior to Carl purchasing it and this looks effective under stage lights. The guitar gives a bright punchy sound but can also give more mellow tone by using the 5 way pick-up setting switch. Carl currently uses his Fender Strat in all live concerts and recording sessions.
Colin Elliott regularly plays his Hofner 500/1 violin bass in Live Issue concerts. Colin has two similar basses, one which was manufactured in 1979 and the second which was built around 1967. The Hofner 500/1 bass guitar was hand built in Germany and many are still made today. The instrument has a very rich and warm tone and can even be made to sound similar to an upright bass.
Colin also plays an Ibanez GSR200 bass guitar on stage and in the studio. He purchased this guitar in 2006 shortly after Live Issue reformed and one of his Hofners had sustained a few bumps during a flight to England. Although priced as a mid-range bass, the GSR200 is very versatile and can give both a deep bottom end and a bright treble sound depending on the settings used. The bass contains a pre-amp and has a lovely playing action similar to those Ibanez guitars in the upper price bracket.
Sam Armstrong plays a "Saturn Green" Mapax 6 piece drum kit with Zildjian and Sabian cymbals. This is usually amplified through the PA system using bass, snare and overhead microphones. In addition to the main kit, Sam also uses a Yamaha snare drum during the acoustic spot in the programme. When Sam is on tour outside Northern Ireland with Live Issue he has to use a drum kit supplied by the venue however, he always brings his own snare drum along on such trips to ensure some continuity. Sam has only recently purchased this Mapax drum kit and it now features a black bass drum head advertising the band's website.
A Roland RD700 digital stage piano is sometimes used during Live Issue concerts. The band purchased the piano following their first American tour in 2007 and the instrument is much more than just a simple piano. Its range of sampled instruments and percussion effects mean it is also used extensively in the studio when the Live Issue are recording.
Roy Dreaning uses this Fender mandolin for a few songs during the band's acoustic set in the middle of their programme. It doesn't contain a pickup so the mandolin needs to have a stick mic placed quite close to it so it can be heard above the other instruments.
Colin Elliott also plays the acoustic guitar during some of the band's songs. Colin is an endorsee of Faith Guitars and owns two different models. The Saturn is a full sized guitar which provides a very genuine acoustic sound when amplified using its Shadow pickup. The low action of the neck makes the guitar very easy to play and is one of Colin's favourite instruments.
Colin also uses his Faith Venus Eclipse guitar both locally and on tour. The guitar is smaller in size compared to the Saturn however, it has a much more adaptable graphic equalizer and internal tuner. The sound produced is more electro-acoustic than the Saturn with a bright clear sound. The black finish is very distinctive and it is finished with ebony tuning pegs, nut and bridge.
Carl Sands' Guild acoustic guitar also dates from the 1970's. Carl uses this guitar regularly during the group's acoustic set of songs and it is often amplified using a stick mic so the richness of the guitar's dynamics can be fully appreciated.
Carl Sands also plays the 5 string banjo on a couple of the group's songs, namely "There's A Man in Here."
During recording sessions Colin sometimes uses his Rickenbacker 370 / 12 string guitar to give a bright jingly sound to the rhythm guitar parts. The distinctive sound of the Rickenbacker makes it instantly recognisable to most folk / rock enthusiasts. Colin bought this guitar in Nashville in 1995 and although it is played in the studio, the guitar isn't used at the moment during concerts or on tour.


Ivan McLernon plays a Mullen pedal steel guitar. Built in the United States, it has 12 string universal tuning, 7 pedals and 5 knee levers. This versatile instrument provides the band with many additional options for sound and texture during live concerts and recordings. 


Both Carl Sands and Roy Dreaning use a range of harmonicas on different songs. The use of a harmonica can give any song either a blues or country feel, depending on how it is played.





Sam Armstrong sometimes uses a Cajon (beatbox) for the band's acoustic sets. This was handmade by Stephen Henderson at Ruach Cajons in Kilkeel. For more information on this instrument call 07889 571336. 





Ivan also regularly plays a Dobro guitar on stage. This guitar is played on its side and uses a steel bar which slides along the strings similar to that of a steel guitar. The sound is very distinctive and takes you immediately to the deep South of the United States.