Sunday, August 16, 2015

After-Action Report: That Was Swell

Ach. I'm sure I used that one before.

This was a six-piece band: drums, bass, electric guitar, electric guitar, acoustic guitar and vox, vox, vox. I was guitar number two. My pedalboard is comp -> boost -> volume pedal -> Bad Monkey OD -> dirt 2 -> tremolo -> kill switch -> Flashback delay, set up with minimal warble and about 4 repeats. The boost was on all the time, giving me a little more volume. I plugged into a D/I box connected to a mic'd Egnator backstage, and there was a grounding issue that lead to a persistent buzz in the connection. I know that's not my board's fault, so that's not an issue that I'm going to spend too much mental energy on.

I had a recurring lick in the first song that required slide, and I liked it, but there were three notes, defining a D chord: A- F# D-A-F# D-A. I had my pedals set to make my slide sing -- comp, boost, Bad Monkey, delay -- and I rode the volume pedal. I'm told the effect was great, that my parts worked well within the song, but I am not a huge fan of standing around with a muted guitar, waiting for the end of the chorus for my part to come around again.

Much of the rest of the set list had me taking the place of the keyboard, playing long swelled chords to take the place of a synth pad. Another guitarist suggested I tune between songs, especially while doing that, because sour notes run into a delay pedal stay sour a long time. Problem is, I own a tuner pedal, but I don't use it because it's huge and I want the pedalboard space. So, I've been using a headstock tuner. I love it, I really do, but I left it on another guitar, which I noticed in practice, and somehow, it had been left on and now is dead, which I noticed right before we started to play.

I love that phones and tablets now have tuner apps, but while they're great for bedroom players, they really don't work onstage, especially if they're playing music over the PA while you're trying to tune. So, I was stuck with no way to determine if I'm in tune.

The SEALs say "two is one, one is none", and I left myself with no means of tuning.

Tuner pedals have other benefits besides being able to tune. First one is that they're a kill switch. I don't play with terribly high gain, but even when you don't have a rig that'll make horrible noise without you if you don't kill the signal, they're useful. Another wonderful thing about tuners is that you can use them to tell where your signal problem is. Put the tuner toward the end of the board and, if you can still tune, you know that the problem causing no audio is after the board.

So, next on my guitar pedal wish-list is a tuner. Thinking a used Korg PitchBlack or the like.

Beyond that, I'm thinking that something that's less OD and more distortion would be a good addition, so I can get a solid angry GRR when I need it. My previous dirt 2, a Washburn Soloist, has recently started being the quietest thing ever, which is exactly what I do not need. Of course, I have a Digitech Death Metal pedal that contains all the gain, which makes it unusable for any music I expect to play. I think getting something Klon-like will be in the same class as the Bad Monkey, so the EHX Soul Food is off the table, so I'm thinking about something fuzzy, like a Big Muff Pi.

I like the idea of adding a reverb pedal, like a Catalinbread Topanga or EHX Holy Grail Nano, but the venue I play in is large enough that it gets that effect naturally.

I played decently, at least as far as being-in-tune could carry me. I enjoyed myself and, by and large, didn't bring the side down. Most problems were beyond my control, so I didn't worry about them. If the only things to mention in the after-action are technical issues, then it's a good day.