A good point, well made

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A good point, well made

Post by SecretSam »

From a session guitarist writing a column called 'Lean & Mean' in a well-known guitar mag:

"I think there’s satisfaction in looking down and seeing a bunch of expensive pedals through a true bypass looper, but in reality there’s no way your audience will hear any difference during a live gig, and your money is probably better spent on guitar lessons if your aim is to ultimately make better music."

Shame about the split infinitive, but you can't have everything.
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Re: A good point, well made

Post by awjoe »

I came to the same conclusion a few years ago via plugins rather than guitar pedals. Shifted the emphasis almost completely to writing and performing to see if it would get better. It has done, slowly. Well worth the effort.

The heart of the craft is musical skill, whatever form that takes.
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Re: A good point, well made

Post by SecretSam »

Agreed. There is a local busker who sings a groovy Cape Carnival-style 'My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean,' using a plastic bottle containing fine gravel as percussion. It's quite convincing. Annoying if you have heard it every few weeks for twenty years, but the tourists seem to keep paying him.

In many respects, lots of gear is actually a hindrance. Your head is in analysis mode while you think about how it works and what to tweak, instead of using it instinctively like, well, a musical instrument.
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Re: A good point, well made

Post by Drew Stephenson »

If guitarists* spent as much time practising as they did worrying/talking/tweaking about their tone... no-one would be worrying about their tone. ;)

* Also applies to some other instruments, but guitarists are the worst. ;)
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Re: A good point, well made

Post by ManFromGlass »

But then how good would their tone be? Hmm? :tongue:
And some of us aren’t meant to be good guitarists, we’re meant for listeners to say - Lousy player but really cool sound!
On a serious note - The few times I drive now I listen to jazz again. There is a fantastic station near me. Sometimes the DJ focuses on guitar players. Some brilliant players but the tone of the players is mostly the same. It get’s boring really quickly to my ear no matter how fantastic the player. Then some cat will solo with FX and that brings the magic!
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Re: A good point, well made

Post by adrian_k »

Hmm…. I’m actually a bit intentionally awkward about this and have taken pleasure in gigging with the cheapest kit I can lay my hands on. It just needs to be good enough, and you have to play to its strengths. Sometimes it hasn’t worked out but years ago I was gigging with a £50 Chinese Strat copy and an old solid state Fender amp I was given for free and regularly had other guitarists asking about the gear and how I got that ‘tone’.
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Re: A good point, well made

Post by The Elf »

The best guitar tone I ever heard in a soundcheck was a Line 6 Helix straight into the PA. I can still see the looks of amazement on the faces of the other guitarists in that hall! :lol:
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Re: A good point, well made

Post by SecretSam »

blinddrew wrote: Wed Sep 22, 2021 12:31 pm If guitarists* spent as much time practising as they did worrying/talking/tweaking about their tone... no-one would be worrying about their tone. ;)

Nice one. I shall use that at the first opportunity.
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Re: A good point, well made

Post by Music Wolf »

The Elf wrote: Wed Sep 22, 2021 3:48 pm The best guitar tone I ever heard in a soundcheck was a Line 6 Helix straight into the PA. I can still see the looks of amazement on the faces of the other guitarists in that hall! :lol:

Very much my approach. A Helix (or Kemper etc) isn’t quite the same as having a ‘real’ amp a few feet away from you but, out front (where it matters), they certainly do the business.
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Re: A good point, well made

Post by Dave.P »

There are plenty of stories of big name players with signature sounds swapping kit and still sounding like themselves.
Does not stop people - including myself trying out everything they can.
I suspect the truth is you just need to feel comfortable with what you have to sound good and accept that practice is the real magic ingredient....
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Re: A good point, well made

Post by Music Wolf »

A guitarist's 'sound' is made up of their technique / style and their tone which comes from the gear they use and how they use it.

It's like me signing my name. The tone is the type of pen. I can use a fountain pen, a ballpoint or a pencil but it will always be recognisable as my signature.
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Re: A good point, well made

Post by Arpangel »

blinddrew wrote: Wed Sep 22, 2021 12:31 pm * Also applies to some other instruments, but guitarists are the worst. ;)

OMG, keyboard players make guitarists look positively monogamous when it comes to gear.
I know a couple of guitarists, and they haven’t bought anything new for years, one still has the same guitar he was using in the early 80’s, the other only got a new guitar recently because his wife bought it for him as a birthday present, unbeknown to him.
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Re: A good point, well made

Post by Random Guitarist »

Music Wolf wrote: Wed Sep 22, 2021 8:56 pm A Helix (or Kemper etc) isn’t quite the same as having a ‘real’ amp a few feet away from you but, out front (where it matters), they certainly do the business.

Amen to this. I recently started doing a new covers band thing, the first time using a Helix. It sounds very good, and it frees up my focus for playing. With the snapshots feature I just need to select the right patch, tap the tempo on the count in if needed, and play. As sounds change through the song I have a single press to move snapshots. I can focus on what I'm playing what others are playing. Even if the tone wasn't stellar it would still be the thing to use because it frees me up to be a better player.
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Re: A good point, well made

Post by Music Wolf »

Random Guitarist wrote: Fri Sep 24, 2021 10:30 am
Music Wolf wrote: Wed Sep 22, 2021 8:56 pm A Helix (or Kemper etc) isn’t quite the same as having a ‘real’ amp a few feet away from you but, out front (where it matters), they certainly do the business.

Amen to this. I recently started doing a new covers band thing, the first time using a Helix. It sounds very good, and it frees up my focus for playing. With the snapshots feature I just need to select the right patch, tap the tempo on the count in if needed, and play. As sounds change through the song I have a single press to move snapshots. I can focus on what I'm playing what others are playing. Even if the tone wasn't stellar it would still be the thing to use because it frees me up to be a better player.

Something that I like to do with my Helix, and I used to empoly a similar technique when I gigged my Kemper, is to set up two paths and either switch between them or bring in the second path using the expresion pedal (with the Kemper I used the morph feature). Typically one path is rhythm and the other lead.

The idea is that the expression pedal is a much bigger target to aim for, as opposed to a footswitch, especially if you are covering any vocal duties.
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Re: A good point, well made

Post by Drew Stephenson »

I would love to get to this point, I'm practically tap-dancing through some songs and switching between vocal mics as well.
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Re: A good point, well made

Post by Music Wolf »

blinddrew wrote: Fri Sep 24, 2021 11:25 am I would love to get to this point, I'm practically tap-dancing through some songs and switching between vocal mics as well.

There are pros and cons.

When it's all set up and working the possibilities are endless. I use my Helix as a controller for two external MIDI effects, a digital mixer and record / playback from my laptop. I select a patch from the Helix (one patch per song, so my Helix is also my set list - no more bits of paper), this pulls up the corresponding song in Cantabile software on my laptop, it selects the scene on the mixer and calls up the correct patches on the SY-300 and VoiceLive VL-2. I have footswitches set up as 'play', 'stop' and 'mute'. 'Play' starts the 'song' running in Cantabile. A couple of songs have a pre-recorded intro / count-in which starts but I also have it set to begin a multi-track recording of everything running through the PA. 'Stop' ends the recoding and 'Mute' kills the PA in case of uncontrolled feedback or at the end of a set.

Next step - controling the lighting.

Cons - Learning curve, it takes a while to 'tune' things (an amp and a couple of pedals are so much easier, especially in the beginning) and more complexity increases the risk of something going wrong.
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Re: A good point, well made

Post by Drew Stephenson »

The other 'con' is the cost of the system in the first place. ;)
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Re: A good point, well made

Post by BigRedX »

blinddrew wrote: Fri Sep 24, 2021 1:06 pm The other 'con' is the cost of the system in the first place. ;)

I spent less money on my latest bass rig - a Line6 Helix Floor and an RCF 745 powered cab (approximately £2k) than I had on the rig it replaced that was composed mainly of items bought second hand.

And when you consider the fact that I also use this rig for Bass VI and guitar, I actually came away with a profit after selling all the stuff it replaced.
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Re: A good point, well made

Post by Drew Stephenson »

I'm much more of a cheapskate so that equation really wouldn't work out for me! :D
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Re: A good point, well made

Post by merlyn »

The good point in question was whether the £1000 is better spent on gear or guitar lessons.

Or you could save yourself some money and practice.

Taking time at £30 per hour £1000 is ~33hrs practice, or 3hrs a day for 11 days.

A year's practice at 3 hrs a day is then worth £32850. (OK, take Christmas Day off -- £32820)
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Re: A good point, well made

Post by Murray B »

I'm a recent convert to the Line 6 Pod Go - it's nowhere near as sophisticated as a Helix but I used it for two gigs at the same weekend festival (one on guitar and one on the bass) and I was very happy with the results, plus it was easier than travelling with and loading two amps.

It's does feel a little precarious having nearly all my eggs in one basket - despite packing a very budget plan B Sonicake multi effects pedal just in case of disaster. One RCF 710 worked well enough as both guitar and bass monitor - although I haven't yet worked out the gain staging so that there is less of a hiss. :? Frustratingly I have no hiss problems with a similar connection approach and my trusty old Yamaha MSR 100.

My pedal board of nearly 20 years is small collection mostly modded and fancy pedals and just nails the tone I like and has meant I've never needed anything other than a clean amp tone to sound 'right' - but it's heavy and I'm not getting any younger. in reference to the original post my band mates didn't notice a negative change to my guitar or bass tone, I can't imagine anyone in the audience wishing I'd brought a valve amp or my bass rig with me either. The drummer liked the lighty up switches. :-) The sound man liked that my 'amp' was pointed at my ears and not firing down the venue.
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Re: A good point, well made

Post by Murray B »

merlyn wrote: Fri Sep 24, 2021 4:59 pm The good point in question was whether the £1000 is better spent on gear or guitar lessons.

Or you could save yourself some money and practice.

Taking time at £30 per hour £1000 is ~33hrs practice, or 3hrs a day for 11 days.

A year's practice at 3 hrs a day is then worth £32850. (OK, take Christmas Day off -- £32820)

Can I use this formula when negotiating my gig fees :bouncy:
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Re: A good point, well made

Post by The Elf »

blinddrew wrote: Fri Sep 24, 2021 1:06 pm The other 'con' is the cost of the system in the first place. ;)

You don't need the full Helix Floor to do that fancy stuff. An HX Stomp XL may suffice.

That said I find the additional switches of the Helix Floor to be helpful, especially since I have them linked to software instruments and effects too.

I also use a Morningstar MC8, which is just a bunch of MIDI control buttons in a box.

TBH all the clever stuff is happening in Cantabile.
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Re: A good point, well made

Post by Sam Spoons »

I bought a Headrush Gigboard at the beginning of lockdown last year. I like it a lot but I can't say I've got it to sound as good as my, fairly modest, pedalboard yet. I will persevere as I don't want to end up sounding like a guy I gigged with a couple of years ago, he had a Helix and a pair of 8" FRFR boxes, sounded pretty feeble compared to my 18 watt combo and a Tube Screamer :headbang:
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Re: A good point, well made

Post by Murray B »

Sam Spoons wrote: Sat Sep 25, 2021 2:03 pm I bought a Headrush Gigboard at the beginning of lockdown last year. I like it a lot but I can't say I've got it to sound as good as my, fairly modest, pedalboard yet. I will persevere as I don't want to end up sounding like a guy I gigged with a couple of years ago, he had a Helix and a pair of 8" FRFR boxes, sounded pretty feeble compared to my 18 watt combo and a Tube Screamer :headbang:

I can't speak re the workflow on the Headrush, but with my newish Pod Go the only way I eventually got to the sounds I like was ditching the idea of setting up the sounds on my headphones and tweaking stuff at gig volume, the Cab high and low pass setting were key to getting something that actually sounded like a guitar amp. Also for me, using the cab module at the end of the signal chain made everything sound more guitar amp like - so the reverbs and delays were going through a speaker sim instead of being super clean. Is it as good as my board and amp? Nope - but it's close enough for me to not worry about it too much and works very well with the PA.
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Re: A good point, well made

Post by Dynamic Mike »

Murray B wrote: Sat Sep 25, 2021 7:08 pm I can't speak re the workflow on the Headrush, but with my newish Pod Go the only way I eventually got to the sounds I like was ditching the idea of setting up the sounds on my headphones and tweaking stuff at gig volume, the Cab high and low pass setting were key to getting something that actually sounded like a guitar amp. Also for me, using the cab module at the end of the signal chain made everything sound more guitar amp like - so the reverbs and delays were going through a speaker sim instead of being super clean. Is it as good as my board and amp? Nope - but it's close enough for me to not worry about it too much and works very well with the PA.

This has pretty much been my Pod Go experience too. Awsome sounds created on headphones (espcially cleanish tones) sounded flat & lifeless through the main outs without tweaking the Cab high/low pass settings. Although you can easily save these as snapshots, it still felt like I was doing everything twice & it's a bit of a faff unless you're editing via the software. But until you posted this I'd never thought of sticking the cab at the end of the chain instead of directly after the amp. I don't know why because that's where it is in real life!

To be honest none of the compromises made by the Pod Go from the full fat Helix bother me in the slightest. I've never struggled for DSP, I won't be dual amping & I'll probably never use 75% of the available amp/fx emulations anyway. Naming snapshots & staggered switches would be nice & as a left hooker I'd like the vol/wha on the opposite side but with Helix tones for silly money it seems churlish to complain.
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Re: A good point, well made

Post by The Elf »

Sam Spoons wrote: Sat Sep 25, 2021 2:03 pm I bought a Headrush Gigboard at the beginning of lockdown last year. I like it a lot but I can't say I've got it to sound as good as my, fairly modest, pedalboard yet. I will persevere as I don't want to end up sounding like a guy I gigged with a couple of years ago, he had a Helix and a pair of 8" FRFR boxes, sounded pretty feeble compared to my 18 watt combo and a Tube Screamer :headbang:

All about the user, I'd say. There's no reason for a Helix to sound thin if you know what you're doing (cabs notwithstanding).

I have a collection of presets from guitarists I've worked with. Some of them exhibit a total lack of understanding (and sound odd), while others sound simply stunning. That's the thing with the Helix, and similar - they give you enough options to sound like a god, or a fly in a bottle. After that it's about your taste and your ability. And far be it from me to question some of these guys - it's like questioning someone's religion! Interesting that the strongest opinions seem to be from the ones with the oddest signal chains...

Your combo and TS are fine, but you can't switch in a whole new chain of effects at the click of a switch - or stereo delay, or reverb, for example, or choose a different amp/cab per song. That's important for some acts. And how it sounds from a cab sitting next to you is not *as* important (though it has a bearing, obviously) as it sounds out front. I've heard some mighty rigs also reduced to the 'fly in a bottle' by the time it reaches the audience!
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Re: A good point, well made

Post by Sam Spoons »

The Elf wrote: Sun Sep 26, 2021 9:42 am
Sam Spoons wrote: Sat Sep 25, 2021 2:03 pm I bought a Headrush Gigboard at the beginning of lockdown last year. I like it a lot but I can't say I've got it to sound as good as my, fairly modest, pedalboard yet. I will persevere as I don't want to end up sounding like a guy I gigged with a couple of years ago, he had a Helix and a pair of 8" FRFR boxes, sounded pretty feeble compared to my 18 watt combo and a Tube Screamer :headbang:

All about the user, I'd say. There's no reason for a Helix to sound thin if you know what you're doing (cabs notwithstanding).

No argument there, I'm not trying to suggest that Helix et al can't be made to sound great just that this particular guy hadn't managed it, (I'm not tech-phobic and for many years used a GX700/Marshall8008 rig).

Your combo and TS are fine, but you can't switch in a whole new chain of effects at the click of a switch - or stereo delay, or reverb, for example, or choose a different amp/cab per song. That's important for some acts.

Yup no argument there too.

And how it sounds from a cab sitting next to you is not *as* important (though it has a bearing, obviously) as it sounds out front.

No but for some players it makes it very hard to perform to 100% if the onstage sound is poor, I'm not precious but I certainly find it easier to play my best if my guitar sounds great to me.

I've heard some mighty rigs also reduced to the 'fly in a bottle' by the time it reaches the audience!

Me too but that said, if it sounds good on stage then it's the sound guy's job to make it sound good out front (said with both my guitarist hat and my sound tech hat on). It does still have to sound good on stage first though.

FWIW I will probably be continuing to use my 18 watt and be treating the Headrush like a pedalboard simply 'cos that's how I like to work, I know that's only using part of it's capabilities
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Re: A good point, well made

Post by Random Guitarist »

Unusually for me I had someone say that my guitar had a really powerful sound at the weekend. I was surprised as I had left all the valves at home and gone out to play with a Helix and a Wharfdale titan 12. I'm not used to tone compliments and was a little taken a back.

I was waiting for a followup along the lines of 'I don't know how you got so many bees in that little jar', but it never came. :D
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Re: A good point, well made

Post by Funkyflash5 »

The Elf wrote: Sun Sep 26, 2021 9:42 am Your combo and TS are fine, but you can't switch in a whole new chain of effects at the click of a switch - or stereo delay, or reverb, for example, or choose a different amp/cab per song. That's important for some acts.

That's broadly true, but with my ES-8 I certainly can set up to switch in a whole new chain of effects with one switch, while still being able to turn a knob with my toe if the creative moment calls for a different sound than planned in advance. Not that I have anything against digital in principal, I also have a Poly Beebo if I want to do Cab IRs or some convoluted interconnected signal path, but having physical controls at my toes is still worthwhile for how I work.
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