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Archive for March, 2017

Wah Wah Wah…

20170318_120643I had a gig with my classic rock cover band yesterday. On a whim, I decided to use my big board so I could use my Vox Big Bad Wah. I got this a few years ago and hadn’t really used it all that much, even though I love playing with a wah. But with my songwriting taking yet another turn to a highly reggae-influenced flavor, I’ve started taking stock of the effects that I use, and wah is certainly an important component.

But moreover, as with all my gig configurations, I put the effects on my board based on how I’m feeling, and yesterday, as I was configuring my board, I thought, Hmmm… I really feel like using a wah today That meant using my big board because I prefer having all my pedals on a single unit, sharing the same power source. It’s an efficiency thing… 🙂

The picture above shows my board configuration for yesterday’s gig. I daresay that that will probably be my configuration going forward. I know… so simple. Just an overdrive, fed into a wah, then out to modulation effects and into my amp. Simple. I used to have 10 to 12 pedals on the board. In fact, the bottom half of the board sported three to four overdrive and distortion pedals. But the Soul Food – and to a lesser extent – my Timmy give me all I need for pedal-based grit. Admittedly, I’ll probably add the Timmy in there next to the Soul Food. But I love that Soul Food pedal so much, I could do with it alone.

Now with respect to my gig and using the wah pedal, in the middle of our first set I was thinking to myself, Why haven’t I been using this the entire time?!! I don’t know if it was fear, or maybe it was because I was so new to being just a lead guitarist. Who knows? I’m not going to spend much time in analysis. But what I do know is that I absolutely LOVE using a wah pedal. I didn’t use it for every song, of course, but I’d switch in an out of it a lot.

My favorite use of it was when we covered the Beatles’ “Come Together.” We have our female singer do this so we raise the key to Em. But I wanted to uglify it a bit, and since the focus is on the bass for that, I played an Em+9 and frequently added a 6th to that. I also added the wah to add a bit of a sinister twist.

When it came time for my lead, whereas I’d normally do that lead riff, I decided to dispense with it altogether, closed my eyes and let my fingers do the talking. With the wah providing that emphasis when I’d bend notes upon the fret board. I was having so much fun with the lead that I think the rest of the band just let me wail until I was done. I really don’t know how long I jammed. I just know that it was longer than normal, and when I finished I had a shit-eating grin on my face. Using the wah then was just an inspirational experience.

Frankly, I don’t even know how good I sounded. For all I know, I sounded like total shit. But I was just played with loose abandon, letting whatever was inside me come out through my fingers. But I think I did a good job because the audience were hooting afterward, and the lady who put on the event just looked at me and said, “Wow…”

The point to all this is that there have been times in my playing career where I find something – in this case, my wah pedal – where something just clicks. It’s strange, it’s new, and perhaps a bit weird feeling. But rather than run from it, I dive head first and immerse myself in the experience, wanting to discover where it takes me. That was yesterday. Now my wah-wah-wah isn’t because I’m crying. It’s a wail of pure inspiration!

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No lead-in. Just watch…

What technique! Those descending scales reminded me of a clean version of Yngwie Malmsteen. The dude shredded those scales! And NO distortion!

All I know is that I’m determined to be playing proficiently past 80. Les Paul played up until he died at 95, and his right elbow was locked into place!

Simple AMAZING!

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“The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.”

~ Jack London

I was watching a documentary on the great Raiders quarterback, Ken “Snake” Stabler. In one segment, the narrator mentioned that Stabler was well-read, and an avid reader of Jack London. And during that section, the narrator mentioned one of my favorite Jack London quotes, which I listed above.

That’s such a powerful statement because the implication is that we aren’t here in this life to just “be,” but to act. To put ourselves on the line every day and live, and live life in such a way that we can fulfill what my Native American brothers in the past have said: “It’s a good day to die.” To me, that quote can be summed up in three words: “Go for it!”

I’ve taken that approach with playing guitar. As of the past few years, I’ve been getting into reggae. I can honestly say that while I haven’t morphed my music entirely to reggae, the influence is definitely there. I’ve struggled in making the transition. I love all sorts of music, and my writing contains influences from the many musical styles I both write and play.

But lately, at least for me as an artist, I’ve realized that reggae isn’t so much a sound or even music with a set pattern. There certainly is a foundation of that there; however, what I’ve come to realize is that reggae for me is simply the expression of good vibes. Sure, it can be political and even express disdain for the system, but the underlying root is to give people that sense of “irie.” I may be reading it completely wrong. But this is my personal interpretation.

Circling back to that Jack London quote, right or wrong interpretation, I’m just going for it. I’m not letting myself focus on whether or not my music fits in with the genre. What I’m after is a feeling, a “vibe.” And to be completely honest, I’m not really worried about being discovered and making it big. The best I can do is create music, and if people like what they hear, then that pleases me. After all, our purpose is to live and not exist.

In any case, here’s my latest song called “Let It Ride.”

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soul-foodFor me, it’s overdrive pedals. Transparent, amp-in-a-box, tone-coloring, you name it, I love it. To me, overdrive pedals are a lot like guitars. They all have their own unique sounds. And like guitars, when your wife or significant other asks you how many overdrive pedals do you need, for me, the answer is always: Just one more

What got me on this track was the article I wrote yesterday about the Green Child G777 Overdrive. That pedal for me has a lot of promise as it’s a two-channel, stackable overdrive with its own unique voicing. It’s something I’d have to try out, but I like what I’ve seen thus far. This particular pedal got me curious about Green Child’s other offerings, and much to my pleasant surprise, even though Green Child Amplification might seem like an amp company that happens to make drive pedals, their particular specialty is drive pedals. No, this isn’t a plug for Green Child. I’ve never played any of their pedals, though I do find them extremely intriguing because their specialty seems to be creating multi-drive overdrives; that is, two or three overdrive pedals in one. Pretty cool.

I know I lingered a bit on Green Child, but this is what turns me on about overdrive pedals in general: It may seem that there are way too many overdrive pedals on the market, but to me, with all the different overdrives out there, I practically have a never-ending list of overdrive pedals from which to choose! Sure there are lots of clones out there. But there are so many others that may build on a particular foundation, then tweak them to provide their own unique tone. Others, like the EHX Soul Food, unabashedly copy another overdrive’s circuitry – in this case, a Klon Centaur – but get you at least a similar tone and dynamics for a fraction of the price.

I once questioned here on this blog if there are just too many overdrive pedals on the market. But considering what I’ve found with Green Child and even the EHX Soul Food, all I can say is, “Keep ’em comin’!

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