I’m a bit of pedal head truth be told. And while I am completely void of creativity, (I do write originals), I love playing cover tunes. I have a lot of fun trying different pedals with different guitars and pickups and matching tones to the recordings I hear.
I own several Iconic guitars with the all the classic pick up configurations. I love the sound of a PAF humbucker, the spanky bark of P-90, the crisp twang of single coils. And, just because I can and want to, I get a kick out of selecting the exact guitar a particular song was recorded with (when possible), finding the exact pickup and tone settings that the original artist used, and trying to coax the exact tone from my 20 watt tube amp with the help of my beloved foot pedals.
How big is my pedal board? Too big to be practical for sure! But I never move it so I don’t care. I have my scaled down 5-favorite pedal board for road gigs but at home in my tone cave? Different deal!
You have probably heard the saying “it’s all in the hands”. This is the claim that certain artists will always sound like themselves regardless of the equipment used because it is “all in the hands”. I can only say that I sound more like Stevie Ray Vaughn using a Tube Screamer, or more like David Gilmour with a vibe pedal and other stompboxes akin to the ones he used.
Here are a few favorite Tones and hopefully you will share some of yours!
Time / David Gilmour- Pink Floyd :
American Standard Strat, Neck pickup, Vox AC-15 amp, Voodoo Labs Micro Vibe, ModTone MT-CR Compressor, ModTone MT-BD Bohemian Drive, MXR Carbon Copy Delay.
Samba Pa Ti / Carlos Santana:
Fender Custom Shop Strat, Neck Pickup, guitar tone controls rolled off complete, Fender Blues amp, MXR Dyna Comp Compressor, Modtone MT-DO Dallas Over Drive, ModTone MT-VD Vintage Delay.
All Right Now / Free:
Gibson Les Paul Standard, PAF Humbucker bridge pick up, Modtone MT-Duo Dual Over Drive, Modtone MT-VD Vintage Delay, ModTone MT-CRV Reverb
If you have tips to get specific tones please share them here so all can benefit!
The late Steve Jobs had a famous phrase “Content is King.” , and while no one can disagree to that, as I was putting together my gig set the other night, it dawned on me: “How useful would this content be if I didn’t have it organized at all. Now by no means am I some crazy IBM database scientist, but I do want to share with you my system, and maybe after you’ve read, I can get some tips from you about yours.
So back to Jobs, er apple…. In my ITunes app I have a Playlist called “Band”, this where I keep the music file to every song I can ever remember playing with any band. In almost all cases I have a matching Backtrack file, often in the standard key and also a ½ step down version. When I click on the song file I get a lyrics tab, and you guessed it, I have a copy of the words and chord chart to those songs which are attached to the file. Now whenever I have to brush up on songs for a particular project, there is nothing to search for because everything is organized in one place. That library is forever growing.
I also use separate sub Lists that are specific to certain tasks. For instance, I have a friend named Al that always plays with the same guys and every once in a while I will have need of them or they of me, so I keep a list called “Al Band”. This list has every song I have ever played with them, usually they are going to ask for songs from this list so I am always ready, and if they hit me with a new tune I just add it to the list. Other example lists that compartmentalize my songs are “Country Band” “Jam Tracks” and a file for my current project called “My Band”. Because I have the original song and a back track minus lead guitar (my instrument) and Vocals (if I’m singing) for every song on my bands list, I can open the folder and run down the list and rehearse with my virtual band while preparing for my real one. Whenever I need the lyrics or chord charts for myself or other members, I print them right out of my playlist. In this way I find that I spend my time practicing instead of searching, surfing, clicking etc.