What’s Your Approach To Effects?

What kind of a player are you: straight into the amp, or do you build your sound through stompboxes or effects units? I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because the maturity of digital modelling means there’s a third alternative: “It’s all in my Kemper/Helix/Axe-Fx/etc” so sometimes it’s just an amp, sometimes it’s a bunch of effects, and sometimes it changes from verse to chorus.”

Me, I’m typically a straight-into-the-amp player. Generally I follow the EVH approach of using the guitar’s volume pot to adjust the amp gain, and most of the time I’m on the dirty channel whether I’m playing distorted or clean. I still love my pedals though and I’ve been collecting them since I was 13 years old so I’ve amassed a few favourites in that time. The Z.Vex Fuzz Factory, the Jim Dunlop Q Zone and Buddy Guy Cry Baby, the DOD FX25 Envelope Filter, the BOSS OC-2 Octave. And then there are my beloved Seymour Duncan pedals (As many of you no doubt know, I’m SD’s social media guy and I’m pretty loyal): the Forza and 805 Overdrive are my go-to drives even though I have …way too damn many overdriven to choose from. The Catalina Dynamic Chorus is the only chorus I’ll ever use now. And the Pickup Booster is so simple yet so classic. Can’t wait to get my hands and feet on an Andromeda Dynamic Delay too.

I guess the dream setup for me personally would be something like, say, a BOSS ES-8 so I can dip effects in and out while still effectively getting my main tone from the guitar and amp. The way I approach effects is very similar to what I recall Chris DeGarmo saying in a Guitar World interview back in the 90s: I see my tone as a beam of light, and effects as a prism to shine it through. I always want to keep the spirit of the sound intact, and I know that Marshall so well in terms of how it responds to my playing, what it can do, and what it needs a bit of extra help with.

One of the things that excites me about the Andromeda is that it’s MIDI-capable, and so is the ES-8, so if I get the two I’ll be able to build Andromeda preset changes into my patches. Kick in a Pickup Booster or 805 with some ducking delay for a hotter lead sound, switch on a nice atmospheric reverse delay for my rolled-back-volume cleanish rhythms, hit the OC-2 and a fat analog delay sound for big riffs of doom …actually I’m thinking of using a Seymour Duncan PowerStage 700 power amp to power a pair of wet speakers so I can have a wet/dry/wet setup for delays, chorus, reverb and pitch shifting, still taking advantage of my ‘straight-into-the-amp’ approach on the gain side of things while also getting the most out of my pedals for the ambient and really ear-catching stuff.

What about you? How do you approach your use of effects?

IK Multimedia announces iRig Keys I/O

 
IK Multimedia has just announced iRig Keys I/O, a keyboard controller with a built-in audio interface. I love this! Personally I find that one of the biggest impediments to my recording projects is having to set everything up and deal with cramped spaces while trying to feel free and creative. With iRig Keys I/O, IK Multimedia has packed together a keyboard controller with 25 or 49 full-sized keys, line/instrument/mic input with phantom power, eight MIDI-assignable drum/sample pads, assignable control knobs (actually they’re in two banks so there are effectively eight plus a volume/data one. Assign them to your AmpliTube 4 amp knobs!), balanced stereo and headphone outputs, transport controls for your DAW, two assignable touch strips and more. Imagine the possibilities: with just an iRig Keys I/O and an iPad or laptop you can take care of all your keyboard, drum pad, instrument and mic inputs in a single device when you’re out and about. At home, just plug the outputs into some powered monitors and you’re ready to rock. I have to get one!
 
Here’s the press release…

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Jim Dunlop Geezer Butler Cry Baby Wah!

Geezer Butler wah wah

I don’t know a single bass player who has plugged into a wah wah pedal and not immediately played Geezer Butler’s N.I.B. intro licks. Geezer knows what he wants from his wah sound, and now he’s got it in the form of his new signature Jim Dunlop Cry Baby. It has several very stageworthy features: you bring it out of bypass simply by putting your foot on the pedal; you can set the effect ring-out time (ie: how long the effect remains engaged after you return the pedal to its heel position); and there’s an internal Q control. Rotate it clockwise for a narrower frequency range and more pronounced wah effect or counterclockwise for a wider frequency range and subtler wah effect. 

Order yours from Musicians Friend.

Star Wars Is Def Leppard

Ok, so if you follow me on Twitter you know I’m a huge Star Wars fan. Even the prequels. Yeah. Come at me if you wanna fight about it. Anyway, something just hit me while listening to a (subscriber-only) Steele Wars podcast where fans called in with their ideas about the possible Obi Wan movie or other non-saga Star Wars movies:

STAR WARS IS DEF LEPPARD.

Def Leppard is a huge band, right? There was a time where they were selling tens of millions of albums (Hysteria alone has sold over 25 million copies). They have die-hard fans the world over who know every song from every album. Every B-Side. Every little piece of trivia. They collect pressings from different countries, etc etc etc. These are your real hardcores. 

Now, here’s the thing. Go to a Def Leppard concert (seriously, do it. They’re awesome) and you’ll see 15,000 people in the audience. Among them are probably, like, 500 people who know every single song. Then there are another 14,500 people who only know the big hits. If the band was to drop in some deep cuts to please the hardcores, you have 14,500 people going “Uh… what’s this? Let’s go get a beer.” Throw in enough of those songs to satisfy the super-intense fans – the B-side collectors – and guess what: the reviews will suck. “Oh they played a bunch of stuff I didn’t even know. What a waste of money. Nobody ever heard Lady Strange on the radio at work.” And next time Def Leppard comes to town they’ll be playing to just those 500 people – but they won’t because the machine is too big. They’re a business with employees. They have staff to pay. They have ongoing costs to cover which the touring cycle takes care of, and you can’t just take a business like that and say “Y’know what? Let’s make 95% less money on the road this year!”

What I’m saying is, some of us may really really want a Star Wars movie that fills in some piece of obscure timeline trivia or would just be, like, totally cool, but instead we’re gonna keep getting Pour Some Sugar On Me.

They’re saving Ded Flatbird for the novels and comics.

Fender Jimi Hendrix Monterey Stratocaster

Jimi Hendrix’s performance at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 was so revolutionary that its notes are still reverberating today. On that day, Jimi changed so much about what we believed a musician could do and the sounds a guitar could make (whether blasting out ear-shattering feedback or shrieking its last breaths as it smashes against the stage floor in a hail of flames and parts). Fender has now released a limited edition Stratocaster in tribute to that iconic performance and the instrument that met its firey death on that stage. Here’s the press release.  Read More …

PRS Introduces Vernon Reid Signature Model

Vernon Reid is one of my favourite guitarists, and a damn nice guy as well. He’s been playing PRS Guitars for a few years now and has solidified his partnership with the company via a new limited edition signature model, the S2 VR Vela. I love so many things about this guitar, from the Floyd Rose to the pickguard to the choice of colours. And I can’t wait to hear it in action on Living Colour’s new record, Shade, out next month. Here’s the press release. 

(STEVENSVILLE, MD) August 8, 2017 – PRS Guitars is pleased to announce a new limited edition model in the S2 series of US made electric guitars: The S2 VR Vela. Developed with Living Colour founder, Vernon Reid, the VR Vela is a commanding instrument with a cult personality and tons of tonal textures. Read More …

Dweezil To Tour Australia & NZ In 2018

I am so utterly, utterly excited about this. Dweezil Zappa is returning to Australia and New Zealand in February to not only play shows but also present a series of exclusive guitar masterclasses too!
 
PRESS RELEASE: David Roy Williams in collaboration with Principal Entertainment present Dweezil Zappa, son of the legendary Frank Zappa, celebrating 50 years of Zappa with a series of concerts and exclusive guitar masterclasses in Australia & New Zealand in early 2018.
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