I’m normally very methodical in my approach to writing music. But sometimes, I just get carried away with playing that I’ll just create a riff, and jam over it again and again until my fingertips are numb. Writing my latest instrumental was exactly that experience. I came up with a riff, added some bass and a basic drum kit loop to it, and spent the next several hours trying to cop my best SRV. Believe me, no one can play like that dude! He was special.
But the point of this is that after hours and hours of playing, I really got inspired to not just let it be a jam track, especially after I came up with a phrase that felt like it could define the theme of a song. So over the next few days I tweaked with the song, and this is the final result. Note that I had a version of this up as of a couple of days ago, but I remixed it, added an echo part for the last section, and removed a bunch of layered on effects from the first cut. I ended up with a much more raw sound, which was really what I was after. Here it is:
All the guitar parts were played with “Pearl” my 60th Diamond Anniversary Strat. After playing ‘buckers for awhile, I forgot how fun it was to play my Strat! My amp, of course, was my ever versatile tone machine, my Aracom Amps VRX22. For effects, I used a Hardwire RV-7 Reverb, a Creation Audio Labs Mk.4.23 booster, and a Voodoo Lab MicroVibe.
I forgot how much fun this little 5 watter is to play! I just put in new tubes to make it have more headroom, as this is an incredibly pedal-friendly amp. The tubes I got were as follows: NOS JAN-Philips 12AT7 and a JJ 6V6. The idea behind this is that the 12AT7 has about half the gain of a regular 12AX7, so it won’t push the power tube as hard as a 12AX7. The JJ 6V6 has tons of gain, and is much harder to break up; thus, I hoped to attain more clean headroom with this combination.
While I like the breakup of the Champ 600, it’s a little weak, but the clean tone is spectacular with this amp. And hooking it up to a 1 X 12 extension cab really expands the depth of the tone it produces. Combine that with a couple of pedals, and the result is like candy to the ears.
Some people might frown upon this diminutive amp, but I used it throughout my first album, and for good reason: It’s so damn versatile! I can play pretty much any style with this amp, and miked properly, can make it sound much bigger than it actually is. And at $200 bucks (that’s what I paid for it), it was a total steal!
Here’s a simple clip I recorded using one of GarageBand’s “Magic Garage Band” backing tracks. It’s a slow blues in E. The first part of the song is played with the neck pickup of my Prestige Heritage Elite, into my Tone Freak Effects Abunai 2, into my Hardwire RV-7 Reverb, then into the Champ and out my custom Aracom 1 X 12 extension cab with a Jensen P12N (damn! that totally sounds like name dropping! Yikes!). In second half of the song, I switch to my bridge pickup and stack my Tube Screamer on top of the Abunai 2. Oh my freakin’ gawd! This was fun. In any case, here’s the clip:
Sorry for the mistakes. I actually didn’t care because I was having so much fun! And by the way, I played the lead parts with my brand-spankin’-new V-Picks Psycho pick, a 1 3/4″ wide, 5.85 mm thick monster of a pick. I’m in tone heaven right now! You just gotta check this pick out!
And I almost forgot! I just can’t believe who incredibly awesome these Wyres strings sound and play. They’re so pliable, so resonant, and they sustain so well that they send my inspiration through the roof! Like the Psycho pick, I just can’t enough of these absolutely wonderful strings!
Back in September of this year, DigiTech released a line of high-end pedals under the “Hardwire” brand. These are high-quality, true-bypass pedals, and I have to say that I’m very impressed. Traditionally, DigiTech hasn’t been known for really high-end pedals. They’re typically priced at the mid- to low-end, and have always had reasonable quality. Nothing to complain about, but definitely nothing to write home about either.
But with the new Hardwire line, they’ve completely stepped beyond the norm, and have created pedals that have the potential to compete with other high-end pedals. In addition to being true-bypass, the pedals operate with a higher operating voltage which gives them a lot of headroom, making them a lot less susceptible to clipping. The power conditioning within each unit also ensures a constant voltage; a boon when a battery is being used, so you don’t get performance loss as battery power runs down (though I wonder how that affects battery life…).
I’ve been so focused on off-name brands of pedals for awhile that I’ve essentially ignored what the big production houses have been creating. So I apologize for being a bit behind the curve with the timing of this review. But be that as it may, I’m glad I stumbled upon this particular pedal while I was testing the EH #1 Echo at my local Guitar Center.
After I was done testing the #1 Echo, which I really liked, by the way, I asked the helpful, and amazingly knowledgeable sales guy if he had any good reverbs in stock. GC doesn’t really carry much in the way of boutique pedals, so I wasn’t expecting much. But very much to my surprise, he pointed me to the new line of Hardwire pedals, with special emphasis on the RV-7 Stereo Reverb, explaining that Hardwire was a new brand from DigiTech. I raised my eyebrows at that…
Sensing that I wasn’t some schmuck, he didn’t try to do a selling job on me, and just simply said, “Dude, I think you’ll really like this pedal. I wasn’t expecting it to be THIS good. You gotta try it out.” So I did, and the first words that came out of my mouth were “Damn! That’s sweet!” The sales guys just grinned and said, “I told you. Surprising to come from DigiTech, huh?” That was putting it mildly, to say the least.
So what makes this pedal special? DigiTech licensed 7 reverb effects from Lexicon. I’ve worked with Lexicon reverbs for years, and they are top-notch. At my Church gig, we use a Lexicon rack for vocals, and I just DIG that unit. To have them in a pedal for my guitar is even better! Granted, it’s digital modeling, but this pedal really KICKS ASS! In all the voicings, the sound is consistent, and you can dial in as much attack and decay as you need. Attack is controlled via the Liveliness knob which is similar to a pre-delay. For those of you who aren’t familiar with pre-delay, it’s essentially a certain amount of time (usu. in milliseconds) that a reverb unit waits before it kicks in the reverb. It’s very useful to have this kind of control, because those units without it often suffer from being really wet and soupy. Pre-delay allows a certain amount of dry signal to go out first, then tail out with reverb. The net result is that you get much better note articulation.
My favorite setting was the Spring Reverb, though they all sounded dynamite! And with the fine-tuning you can dial in with the Liveliness and Decay knobs, you can get just the right reverb effect for your purposes. I had so much fun playing with this little box! I spent more time with it than the #1 Echo.
Let’s look at the RV-7 features (from the DigiTech web site):
Room – Fast decaying reverb; great for a touch of ambience
Plate – Renowned studio reverb heard on classic recordings
Reverse – Reverb in reverse; gradually crescendos to full volume
Modulated – Lush, modulating, reverb ideal for chords
Gated – Unique reverb with abrupt decay; good for percussive playing
Hall – Large, encompassing reverb with warm decay
Spring – Classic “surf” reverb; great for Rockabilly too!
Tails On/Off Switch – When on, reverb tails are not cut off in bypass
True Bypass circuitry preserves your tone in bypass
Constant high-voltage operation for tonal quality and noise reduction
HardWire Pedals include the following stage accessories
Stomplock™ knob guards lock your tone in place and prevent tampering or accidental knob adjustments onstage
Green gaffer tape helps you locate the pedal in adverse stage lighting
Custom-cut Velcro® pads attach and lock your pedals to your pedalboard
The features in this pedal, plus the standard features included in all the Hardwire pedals are definitely worth a look. And you’ll actually be blown away by the price: $149.00. While higher than their $100 pedals, that’s not a lot more to ask for that much more quality and features! And just for shits and giggles, here’s a video review by ProGuitarShops.com:
Finally, I realize that this review isn’t in the format of my regular reviews, and for that, I’m sorry. I just wanted to get this out. In any case, the DigiTech Hardwire RV-7 Stereo Reverb gets: