Monday, 8 March 2004

But that helped

I've just spent a hour and a half setting up some new patches on the guitar processor to suit my recently re-pickuped Washburn. You know that amazing singing 'so dirty it's clean' guitar sound that some bands have? Y'know, like REO speedwagon or Toto. Well that was what I wanted. Think "I can't fight this feeling" or "Dave's gone skiing".

Didn't quite get there, but I've got a patch now where the guitar definitely sings at the top of the neck. Further down it's still a bit grungy and gritty, but still a good rock sound. It was great running through some minor pentatonic scales, a bit of dorian mode or even some slightly baroque stuff. I ditched the 'Mesa/Boogie' patch that I never used (it was always such a harsh sound, really abrasive) and replaced the reverb settings with a 450msec delay that runs on for about 4 repeats. Played carefully, this layers up, building harmonies within the melody line. The downside is that if you make a mistake, it's going to get repeated again. And again. And again. And again. And again. It won't get a lot of use, but there are certain songs we sing where it would help carry a bit of singing in the spirit just nicely.

I've also finally found out what I needed to do for the guitar to work well just strumming chords. i.e. for about 95% of the time I have to play. Leave out all compression.

Those Gibson humbuckers have so much natural squash that if you compress at all you lose all openess and attack. I've kept the same chorus settings as for the strat (this Korg unit doesn't do good chorus) since they couldn't be improved. But losing all compression and boosting the upper mids has made it all bright and sparkly, rather than a solid wall of sound.

It's interesting too, how after playing the strat for the last 14 years, I realised that the way I've set the processor up was to give it the handling characteristics of a humbucked guitar. It was only once I'd replaced most of the pickups, especially with a stacked humbucker in the bridge, that I began to realise what I was aiming for. I hardly use the one authentic US strat PU (neck) any more as it isn't fat enough for me.

Now the question remains: do I get the strat re-fretted (really, really badly needed) and if so, tall skinny ones like before or wide smooth ones for flowing lead playing? Or do I do what I wanted to all along, and try to pick up a Les Paul or flying V with a nice short scale neck and bags of sustain?

Choices. Tut tut.

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