Archive for the ‘rock star’ Category

5 Tone Bones - Gear has stellar performance, value, and quality. This is definitely top of the class, best of breed, and it's a no-brainer to add this to your gear lineup!

Hardwire RV-7 Stereo Reverb

Hardwire RV-7 Stereo Reverb

Summary: With seven (7) licensed Lexicon reverb models, this is one bad-ass reverb pedal, and a great value proposition given the relatively inexpensive price of $149.99 for a true bypass pedal. With the Hardwire series, Digitech has really hit a home run!

Pros: Just about the best-sounding spring and plate reverbs I’ve ever heard in a digital reverb. Capable of subtle reverb, to thick, rich and wet surf.

Cons: None. I dig this pedal!

Price: $149.99 street

Features (from Digitech):

  • Reverb Types
    • 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

Tone Bone Rating: 5.0 – I did a review of this awhile back, but I finally bought one, and I am oh so pleased with how it sounds!

Yeah, yeah, say what you will about Digitech being known for “consumer” grade pedals, and I’m as much of a boutique pedal snob as the next guy, but there’s no denying the quality workmanship that has gone into the Digitech Hardwire series of pedals. And yes, I know, I reviewed this pedal before, but that review was based upon a test at my local Guitar Center, while competing against the flailing of a wanker sitting next to me, trying to look cool and and trying to play metal licks and failing horribly. Okay, enough of the ranting… Y’all know how I feel about wankers… (search GG for “wankers”).

And say what you will about a digital effect box, but the fact the RV-7 has seven licensed Lexicon reverb voices inside give this pedal LOTS of credibility in my book. As I mentioned in my previous review, I’ve used a Lexicon rackmount for vocals at my Church, and have absolutely loved the reverb effects it contains. Though digital, Lexicon has figured it out, so it’s no surprise that they’re pretty much the standard for digital reverb.

In any case, despite the conditions I had to play within during my initial test, the RV-7 blew me away. Honestly, at the time, I didn’t think Digitech was capable of making a truly great-sounding pedal. Make no mistake, I’ve had Digitech pedals in the past, and they’re all quite functional, but I would never give them a “best in class” rating. They tend to offer great value for the money you pay – which isn’t much for their standard stuff; at least until I discovered the Hardwire series – especially the RV-7!

Since I reviewed the RV-7, I’ve tried several, and even came close to buying an EH Holy Grail. It too is a great sounding reverb, but there was something about its room reverb model which just didn’t do it for me. It’s a great pedal though, but I still liked the RV-7 better.

Recently, I had the chance to go to the local music shop near my work (B Street Music in San Mateo, CA) to perform an A/B test between the Holy Grail and the RV-7. Head-to-head the pedals were pretty close in performance, but the RV-7 beat the Holy Grail with the types of reverb voices it offered, plus the room reverb model on the RV-7 was superb! While the Holy Grail just edged out the RV-7 with the spring reverb, I found I could dial in a great sounding spring reverb with the RV-7 just the same, so that, combined with the awesome room reverb was what sold me. But let’s get into some specifics…

Fit and Finish

All the Hardwire pedals are solidly built with a cool, flat metallic finish. These pedals are very well-built, and surprisingly heavy – definitely gig-worthy. The RV-7 has a purplish, flat metallic finish on the body with a flat silver switch plate that has a nice rubber pad with the Hardwire logo. The pedal featurs a cool, light-blue LED indicator light. The RV-7 has four control knobs: Level, Liveliness, Delay, and a Voice selector knob. The first three knobs are not smooth sweep knobs. They have – for lack of a better term – micro-notches that really add to the whole industrial vibe that the Hardwire pedals have going on. When you look at the pedal, what’s not to like? 🙂 Of course, how it sounds is where it’s at, isn’t it?


Level – Controls the Wet/Dry amount. Fully clockwise is 100% wet.
Liveliness – This is actually hi-cut filter to add or reduce the amount of high-end freqs that come through
Delay – Controls how long the reverb effect decays after striking a note or chord
Voice Selector – pretty self-explanatory

How It Sounds

In a word, AWESOME! I used it in my weekly acoustic gig this evening, and was thanking the heavens for such a great pedal. My guitar maintained its clarity, no matter how much I upped the level knob. It must have a slight pre-delay built in; whatever, the fact that I could clearly hear the notes and chords I was playing and not having them washed out by the effect was truly an inspiring experience. Add to the fact that it is true bypass, so when it’s off, it’s really off, is yet another reason to love this pedal; no hum, no buzz.

To be fair, I have no idea what to do with the reverse reverb other than to add some interesting effect with single notes in a song. But other than that, I’m really digging this pedal!

Sound Samples

Here are some sound samples I quickly created… Please excuse the recording quality. I just recorded in an open room with no filtering. BTW, I used a Strat with a prototype Aracom RoxBox 18 Watt Amp with a Jensen 1 X10 speaker. In almost every case, all the dials were at 12 o’clock, except for the Hall and Spring, where I set Level and Decay to about 2pm. I prefer a more subtle reverb effect, but as you’ll hear, the RV-7 is crystal clear, and produces a very nice reverb effect.








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playing inspiredIn last month’s issue of Guitar Player, Steve Cropper was spotlighted. Cropper was a great session guitarist for Stax records who wrote and played with the likes Otis Redding, and was arguably one of the great guitarists responsible for establishing the 60’s era soul sound. In the interview, he was asked what advice he’d give to aspiring rhythm guitarists. His reply was both amusing and incredibly insightful (I’m paraphrasing): “Pick the prettiest girl in the front row, look right at her, and play to her.”

On the surface, that may sound a little chauvinistic, but there’s an incredible amount of truth in that. As performers is to, well, perform. No matter how we perform, it’s always an outward facing activity. And from my standpoint, there’s nothing better at inspiring me to create on the than when I’m playing for someone, and shape my playing to describe what emotions are stirred by the thought of the person for whom I’m playing.

Mind you, it’s not a sexual thing. It’s about playing against the images that crop up when you look at someone. For instance, the restaurant that I play at every week is a nice, family-oriented restaurant. During my set, parents will bring their children to where I’m playing, to show their kids the “music man.” Seeing the smiles and faces full of wonderment is really inspiring to me, especially as I’m a father myself (of eight kids!), and I almost always change the way I’m playing when kids come to see me play. I’ll even do special kids songs just for them at times, and let them strum my guitar.

The point to all this is that when you’re playing inspired, you draw your audience in. As a performer, there’s nothing worse to me than being mechanical. The music comes out dry and worse yet, seemingly contrived. And people pick up on that. But play inspired, and you take your audience on your emotional journey.

So take Steve Cropper’s advice, and find someone in your audience who’ll inspire you. I guarantee you’ll like the results!

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A couple of issues ago, Guitar Player mag published an interesting article entitled, “The Homogenization of Rock Guitar Tone” in which they interviewed a few top rock producers, and posed the question (paraphrased): Have we reached the point in guitar tone, where there’s nothing new to be heard?

Interesting question that… and if we were to look at what’s popular on the radio, I’d have to say that I haven’t heard anything new or really individual in a long while. I suppose that’s why I still listen to classic rock and classic heavy metal. Guitars played such a prevalent role in the era between the late 60’s and mid-80’s. Once glam rock, then grunge took over the airwaves, the once garden of guitar tones suddenly became a monotonous desert. That has continued today with most popular music. The guitars all sound the same – highly compressed, scooped, and over-processed.

You have really look to the indie rockers to hear some really good, individual guitar tone nowadays. But that’s not bad. It’s cool discovering new bands and great guitar work. For instance, even though he’s been around awhile, I recently discovered Warren Zanes. This is no-frills rock guitar with very little if any processing on the guitars. It’s the purity of the guitar sounds that I just love.

So I guess the crux of this entry is that I agree with the GP article to a point; at least from the standpoint of pop rock, but I certainly believe there’s hope for guitar. And while there are artists like Warren Zanes, good guitar tone will be alive and well in the future.

And if you’re reading this blog, you’re also one of the guitar faithful who will always be in search of great tone.

Rock on!

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A while back, one of my kids asked me, “Dad, what makes a rock star a rock star?” Being a dad who is also a performer, I didn’t want to give him the trite response and tell him to look up rock star on Google or make comparisons between rock guitarists. I wanted to provide a certain level of intellectualism to my answer, so I told him to hold on a bit, and I’d let him know what I came up with…

So after a lot of thought, I came up with what I think could be a reasonable explanation of what makes a guitarist a rock star. I call it the “Three E’s.” Here goes:

Excellence, Exuberance, and Entertaining

Excellence – A rock star guitarist excels at playing and musicality. Don’t confuse this with speed. Speed can be acquired. You need excellence in musicality as well as technique. Case in point? Neil Young. Okay, not necessarily that good technique-wise, but more than makes up for it with his musicality.

Exuberance – …and passion. You have to be exuberant and passionate about playing your guitar – and it has to be genuine. Audiences can read right through false passion or a boring disposition, or just plain fakery. Look at someone like Steve Vai when he plays. That’s a dude that just exudes passion and exuberance for his instrument. Others that come to mind are Santana, Frampton, Satch, Stevie Ray, etc…

Entertaining – Finally, a rock star guitarist is far from boring. It’s not that they have to jump around on stage. But by their very nature, they engage their audiences, and draw them into what they’re playing. Look at BB King. Damn! What an entertainer! The same would go for Michael Shenker. People might say that he just stands there, but there’s something about him that just completely draws you in when he’s playing.

So to me, a true rock star guitarist possesses a combination of the three E’s in various balances, but they always possess all three characteristics.

Note that I used a picture of Jimi. He was one of the rare guitarists that had enormous quantities of all three rock star guitarist characteristics. There are few that I’ve seen in my lifetime that were huge on all three. Another would be Prince.

Care to share more?

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