Monday, September 12, 2016

After Action Report: Church Slide

First things first: I've seen suggestions that you drink coffee right before you take a nap, so when naptime is over and your body has metabolized the caffeine, you're energized and ready to go. So, as I sat awake at 1:30 am, knowing that call time was 7:30 am, I started thinking I should've had that cup of coffee right before I crashed, or not at all, instead of at 6 pm.


Starting at practice. Signal chain is Guitar > Wireless > Pedalboard > D/I Box > Hidden Amp > Mic > PA.

Song list starts with slide guitar. I'm not Sonny Landreth, but the song didn't need that, but it needed someone who could do it. Made me happy.

Normally, I bring my pedalboard because I know all the pedals, but I was asked to use their pedalboard, which includes a volume pedal, 2 "dirt" pedals, a compressor that I can't discern, a Line 6 DL4 delay and a Strymon Blue Sky reverb. I was hit with the following issues:

  • My Number One is not optimized for slide playing. The action is high enough, but I go with Ernie Ball Extra Slinky .008-.038 which makes it hard to not accidently fret and such. 
  • My Number One is a Telecaster with standard single-coils, which were not powerful enough to drive the dirt pedals to have discernable dirt, which gave me a plinky clean sound when I wanted a dirty rhythm sound, which caused me to not play the way I wanted on some of the other songs. There was enough to get enough hair on it for the slide stuff, though.
  • Something caused all the hum to hum all the possible hum. 
I didn't really debug the hum at first, but eventually I learned that the hum was between the wireless (turned off the pack; hum still there) and the volume pedal (heel down; hum gone). So, most of the practice was a struggle to not just sound like a beehive. 

So, when it came time to play for real, I brought my Squier HH Tele. I love it; it's easily the lightest electric guitar I own, and I don't think I've put on new strings yet, so it didn't have the eights and the string tension was high enough for me do better with slide. The humbuckers were enough to drive the pedals to get the better distortion from the pedals, which meant that I could get enough of a rhythm crunch for the points I wanted it.

Also, I was plugged directly to the pedalboard, so no hum!

First pedal on my board is an always-on EHX LPB-1 to get my clean volume about the same level as my dirty volume. I dial my gain to the point where I'm well in the grinVd on my dirt pedals. I'm thinking 1) adding at least the capability of more output for the guitar is a good thing, and 2) perhaps I go for too much crunch on those pedals. My "lead" distortion is a Washburn Soloist, which was inexpensive and I think is beginning to show signs of failing, and I'm considering a replacement. 

The Strymon is a very ambient-safe reverb, with a shimmer set on the Favorite pedal, but I was able to make it work for the slide, and I'm thinking I need to get something, maybe more like an EHX Holy Grail to go at the end of my chain. It's really good, but not me.

  • Consider heavier strings
  • Consider higher output pickups for the Number One
  • Practice with less distortion to get better and braver
  • Price a reverb pedal
  • Price a lead-tone distortion pedal

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