Ever felt that your digital mixes were just missing something? Something warm and musical and just flat-out real? Well, what you’re probably missing is the beauty of analog tape. There’s something very pleasing to the ear lurking in the particular way analog tape captures sound, and it’s something that’s impossible for digital technology to replicate. And yet, as Roger Mayer observes, these qualities can be captured on a CD, which leads us to the realisation that they can be incorporated within your own recordings too. But how? Roger’s 456, that’s how! It allows you to duplicate the dynamic and harmonic qualities of analog tape even within the digital realm. Here’s Roger’s extensive documentation about what the 456 is, what it does and how it does it. Continue reading
The Octavia is a classic yet mysterious effect, and one that’s particularly hard to describe with the written word. It produces an overtone an octave above whatever you play, but it doesn’t sound like a harmonizer or a 12-string guitar. Instead, imagine fuzz combined with the sound that you hear when you run your finger around the rim of a crystal wine glass, except the pitch of the glass follows that of the guitar. It can be hauntingly beautiful when combined with a clean tone or it can add a harmonic, fixed-wah-like quality to distorted ones.
The Voodoo TC Octavia is Roger Mayer’s latest iteration of his historic invention. The intention is very much the same as when Jimi Hendrix used Mayer’s Octavia on “Purple Haze” and “Fire,” but the Voodoo TC range offers many advantages. Continue reading
Check out this great video of Aussie guitar monster James Ryan showcasing the Roger Mayer Voodoo TC Octavia. I love this pedal! I used it to record a song which I’m currently adding nicer-sounding drums to, and then it’ll be ready to go. But don’t wait for my track – click on the video below and hear the Voodoo TC Octavia now! In Australia, Roger Mayer pedals are distributed by Guitar Toyz.
When Garbage went into hiatus around 2006, nobody expected the band to be gone forever. It really did seem like more of a ‘recharge the creative batteries’ break than a ‘we hate each other and can’t stand to work together ever again’ thing. So when they announced their plans to return, it was not really a surprise. What is a surprise is that their new album, Not Your Kind Of People, sounds like they never missed a day. It does what Garbage – Shirley Manson, Butch Vig, Steve Marker and Duke Erikson – have always done best, and that’s to sound like themselves. That indefinable quality that makes each Garbage album sound different to the one before it, yet makes them all sound like part of the unified output of those four musicians and the dynamic between them.
“We did not want to reinvent ourselves,” Vig says. “We wanted to embrace the sensibilities of what we like as the four of us. And just basically try to capture what it is that makes it sound like who we are.” Part of that was the realisation that nobody else sounds like Garbage, and that there’s something about having an identity that’s very hard to define and quantify, but that when you find it, you hang on to it. “I think that’s a huge, valuable asset in today’s world, to have that kind of signature sound. So we decided to simply do what we like to do. And that’s the sound of this record. A lot of people said it reminded them of our first album.”
I recently interviewed a famous producer who said they love to use Roger Mayer’s RM58 limiter, and they mentioned that they wished it came in plug-in form so everyone could enjoy it. But as Roger is one of the pioneers of analog music technology and is dedicated to preserving the full sonic glory of the analog audio signal, somehow I don’t see that happening. Roger has supplied the following application note explaining his discoveries on digital and its deficiencies compared to analog.
DIGITAL MODELLING AND PLUG-INS
By Roger Mayer
The claims and performance of digital modelling and plug-ins have several basic flaws, which are conveniently forgotten in the hype and description of their use.
Information in the original sound source:
The fact is that you are trying to simulate or emulate a sound using a sound source that differs in one or more ways from that which you wish to emulate. Your starting source of information might or probably does not contain within itself the necessary information you are trying to simulate. It is not possible to accurately extrapolate information from any sources that do not contain it.
You regularly visit www.effectsdatabase.com, right? Bart Provoost’s site is one of the most informative on the web for pedal fans like you and I. He was recently on the ground at Musikmesse in Frankfurt and he filed this report. Some incredible stuff here by the likes of Amsterdam Cream, AMT Electronics, Bogner, Carl Martin, Ciocks, Dr. J, Ego Sonoro, Electro-Harmonix, Greenhouse Effects, GWires, JAM Pedals, Mooer Audio, Nux, Palmer Audio, Paul Landes, Roger Mayer, T-Rex, TC Electronics, Two Notes, and Yerasov.
If you’re at Musikmesse this year, make sure you stop by Hall 4.0 booth B45 to check out Roger Mayer’s new Voodoo TC Series of pedals. The line includes the Axis, Spitfire, Voodoo Boost, Mongoose, Voodoo Bass, Voodoo Bass2, Voodoo-1, Voodoo Vibe TC and my personal favourite, the Octavia. In fact, I’m on a personal mission to make sure everyone realises how great the Octavia is and promptly adds one to their pedalboard.
The large knob on each TC series pedal can be adjusted by your foot while you play, and it also allows you to really, really zero in on the perfect setting for your particular musical situation. The two Soft Touch Small Diameter controls are Tone (with each one optimised for that particular pedal) and Output, which gives you a range from unit to the required level of boost. The colours are Cay Coral, Matador Red, Dusk Pearl, Coranado Yellow, Colonial Cream and Tropical Turquoise, and they – like the general visual design of the pedals themselves – are inspired by classic USA cars of the 1950s.
There’s plenty more info at Roger’s site.
One of my favourite pedals ever is the Roger Mayer Voodoo Vibe. It’s one of those pedals that has the uncanny ability to simply make everything sound better, and once you turn it on it’s hard to turn it off. Well the latest evolution of the Voodoo Vibe is the new Vibe TC, and it’s a very stylish little unit too. The press release is below, and make sure you check out Roger’s website and Facebook page.
The legendary Roger Mayer is gearing up to release a new line of pedals called the Voodoo TC line. Designed to meet a demand for smaller pedals (and with a very cool atomic-era design style that I just love), Roger’s added a very handy feature: the Drive control be controlled by foot. Over at the Roger Mayer Effectpedals Facebook page, you can have your say on which of the existing pedals should be relaesed in this new Voodoo TC enclosure.
Roger Mayer’s Axis Fuzz pedal was developed in 1967 for one Jimi Hendrix, and was famously used on the title track of ‘Axis Bold As Love,’ as well as ‘Band Of Gypsies.’ One of its strengths is its ability to handle chords as brilliantly as single notes while retaining the guitar’s own voice. The Voodoo-Axe is based on the Axis but comes with several handy modifications and refinements which increase its tonal sculptability while making it more friendly to modern players’ gear needs.
The Voodoo-Axe has three controls: output, drive and fatness. The first two function much like the original Axis while the third gives you a huge range of control over the low end. There’s a sturdy stomp switch, eye-catching graphic, and a very handy sliding battery door. Like all pedals in the Voodoo series, Mayer has included several handy player-friendly features, one of the most revolutionary being the option of hardwire or buffered bypass. If you’ve seen my previous reviews of Mayer’s pedals you know the score: choose the hardwire bypass to completely switch the pedal out of the signal chain when you’re not using it (not recommended if you use long guitar cables), or select the buffered outputs (yes, there are two so you can drive two amps) to drive longer cable runs. You’ll notice a slightly fatter tone with more headroom in the buffered mode, no doubt as a result of the signal getting that extra dose of TLC from the buffering, versus the tone-sucking problem that builds up with every foot of guitar cable you add to your rig. You can’t use the hardwire and buffered outputs at the same time but there’s still lots of fun to be had with the twin buffered outs if you need to hear your guitar coming at you from multiple angles at once.
I tested the Voodoo-Axe with a couple of valve heads (my Marshall DSL50 50 and an Orange Dual Terror) through a Marshall 1960A cabinet with Celestion V30 speakers. I pretty quickly found two particularly great sounds lurking within the Voodoo-Axe. Interestingly, they were pretty much opposites of each other. Sometimes it’s hard to get one distinctive and sound-defining tone out of one pedal, so I was pretty psyched to find two in there that were so different yet so usable. The first was with the output level at around 5, then gain and fatness both at 4. At these settings chords took on a very musical softness, somewhat at odds with the angular, jagged edges one often expects when playing through a fuzz box as opposed to an overdrive or distortion pedal. I was able to play voicings with suspended fourths and major sixths without inducing a chaotic free-for-all of dissonance – no mean feat when you start introducing piles of gain. If you’ve ever heard Lyle Workman’s track ‘Inhale,’ that’s the type of tone I’m talking about (and I couldn’t resist running the fuzz through an analog delay to really take advantage of the warmth and expansiveness of the sound). Then, switching to single notes, the sound seemed to become cleaner and brighter, making it great for dry, vintage-toned single note riffage and solo work.
The other setting involved cranking both the gain and fatness controls up to 6 and pushing the output up to 8 (10 squashed the headroom too much). In this configuration the Voodoo-Axe took on a thick, sustaining, dominating lead tone which worked especially well with neck pickups for a big round growl. Using the output control to beef up the signal to the amp’s input no doubt played a part, but even reeling back the output to unity volume resulted in much of the same fatness and detail. By the way, on the bridge pickup I noticed that between the C note on the 3rd fret of the A string and the C on the 5th fret of the G string something quite unusual happened: The note would start with a kind of bassy, muffled attack before blossoming with treble and clarity. It was almost like stepping on a wah wah which, rather than sweeping from low to high, instead faded down one while fading up the other. If you don’t dig this effect it can be tamed somewhat by turning the gain down a touch, but it adds a huge amount of expression to what is already an extremely reactive pedal.
No matter where you set the controls (unless you crank them all the way and get some wild and not altogether un-useful squeals), the Voodoo-Axe responds to the input signal in a way that few fuzz pedals do. A very clear distinction was heard between different pickup selections, and the neck-plus-bridge single coil mode on my Ibanez Talman in particular sounded entertainingly quacky and strident despite layers of fuzz. The same goes for variations in picking and fretting techniques.
The Voodoo-Axe is particularly at home with lower tunings, so I tried it out both in drop D and with one of my Ibanez 7 strings. The results were thick and chewy, with some cool upper midrange squonk with the fatness control set at about 2 o’clock. With low tunings you could have an awful lot of fun using the Voodoo-Axe through two amps with one of them set for more gain than the other.
There are lots of pedals in Mayer’s Voodoo range, and the decision of which one is for you depends largely on what nuances you like. It’s almost like wine tasting. What I like most about the Voodoo-Axe is that it nicely balances some of Roger Mayer’s warmer, more sonorous tones with some of the ruder, brasher ones if you want to push it that far. It’s equally happy with chords and single notes, which makes it a great contender for the basis of your sound rather than an occasional effect.
Ok, you’ve got your fuzz, your overdrive, your distortion and your clean boost. That’s all, right? Wrongo. The treble booster is an almost-forgotten member of the distortion family, and without it we wouldn’t have such classic tones as Black Sabbath’s ‘Paranoid,’ pretty much all of Led Zeppelin 1, and everything Brian May’s ever done. So what’s a treble booster and why is it different to just turning up the treble knob on the amp? Well not quite a fuzz, not quite an EQ, treble boosters were typically based on very simple circuits and they promoted the idea of boosting the strength of the signal to the amp while tailoring its tone curve to attain maximum tonal goodness.
The boutique pedal boom of today could very well be traced back to one man: Roger Mayer. Mayer was building unique pedals for players like Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and Jimi Hendrix back when those venerable players were shaping the future of the guitar. Once upon a time his pedals were the exclusive domain of a select few. Now, though, Mayer’s pedals are readily available, and they build on the legacy and sound of his classic work, updating them for the future while still paying tribute to the past.
How did you meet Jimi Hendrix?
I met Jimi a few days after my 21st birthday at a club called the Bag of Nails in London. He was playing there and I went to him after the performance, introduced myself and said ‘I’ve got this new sound you might be interested in.’ I also told him I’d been working with Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck over the years and produced some very different fuzz boxes. Jimi was very interested and invited me to come down in a few weeks to a gig at the Chiselhurst Caves where he was performing, and that’s where I first showed him a prototype of the Octavia, which was the new sound. Jimi tried it out in the dressing room and was very interested in the new sound. He also mentioned he was going to be making a new single. He invited me down to another gig in about a week’s time, and he said that after the gig we were gonna go back to Olympic Studios. So that all happened and after the gig we went back to Olympic Studios and that’s when we recorded the solos to Purple Haze and Fire. After that we became close friends and started hanging out, and as they say, the rest is history!