Monday, 3 March 2014

The art of noise.

I'm not a virtuoso guitarist by any means and I don't pretend to be. But I do subscribe to being a bit of a "tone hound". This term is assigned to those who have a particular, if you will, sweet spot when performing on the electric guitar and must by all account hit that particular sound whether fiddling with an amp or placing their pedals in a certain order, right down to what pick up selection etc. Even finger placement and pick type or technique have a huge bearing on it. I've been informed I have a nasal, creamy live tone and I guess I must agree. It's all down to the influences.

I came quite late to the guitar party for my age at the time, circa 2004, which would have me placed between 20 and 21 years of age. I had originally bought a bass as I didn't think I'd have the dexterity for two more strings (sausage fingers) or patience. My friends were into Steve Vai, Joe Satriani and John Petrucci. All seemingly with the patience and gifts to practically emulate these exceptional players. My three favourite players are Brian May, Rory Gallagher and Keith Scott. All players with exceptional tone and superbly fluid type playing as opposed to technical flair. So I bought a guitar with my final wages (the factory I worked in had just shut down) and it kept me sane and busy in the search for a new job. The rest is history. Still playing music and loving it.

Over the years I've bought countless pedals and practically given them away because I'm a spendaholic technophobe. This was in the relentless pursuit to sound like a certain player who caught my interest at the time. But since music is the "art of noise" then why sound like somebody else when art is about individuality. I wear my influences on my sleeve but what's under the sleeve is mine, right?


Vox Valvetronix AD30VT.
Loved and reviled in equal measure. A digital / valve hybrid with a barrage of useful built in effects. Of which the only one I employ is reverb on the AC30TB setting. I prefer to have my FX controls under foot. Which brings me to:

The venerable BSM treble booster. On the left is the germanium powered RM (Rangemaster) model which was originally used by such stalwarts in the late 60's, early 70's as Rory Gallagher, Tony Iommi, Ritchie Blackmore and Brian May. Essential listening to it's use are Queen: "Procession", Black Sabbath: "Evil Woman" and Rory Gallagher: "Bad Penny". It's interesting to note, this is not a distortion pedal. It merely boosts the guitar's higher frequencies and pushes it into a nice creamy, throaty overdrive. Very old fashioned, nobody really uses them anymore and I have no idea why. The sound is phenomenal. But it does pick up every radio frequency going..... On the right is the silicon powered BM Q Special (Brian May - Queen) Brian May's mid 70's to mid 80's model which has significantly more bite and sustain. Freshly delivered today, I can't wait to put it through it's paces live. It has no volume dial, so you simply run it through your guitar using your guitars tone pots to dial in your sound. Roll back the volume, you've a lovely shimmering clean chime. Turn it up and you have a wild, screaming monster.

Chorus and delay. The guitarist's staple. Nothing too extreme here. The chorus polishes up the clean tone and sounds great with the treble booster rolled back. The delay I use for the more dramatic solos or to add suspense, like many guitar heads! And finally the paintbrush:

My pride and joy complete with broken first string. A fender squier strat with maple fingerboard and Seymour Duncan wired single coils. Or as I call her "Granuaile". Why a strat? Two words: Rory Gallagher.
Think I've bored you enough now. Gotta go. My coffee's calling! Thanks for reading.

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