Monday, February 10, 2014

Another new rig!

This is from a couple weeks ago...
Starting at :06s in you can see there is no Bogner, just a Mesa and what looks like a Fender tolex amp like a Pro Junior.  I can't find much audio from the show, but maybe John is just using those for monitoring and still rocking the Axe FX?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Current Pedal Board

Finally took the time to finish my board last night. I was going to get rid of the M5,  but can't power a M9.

I flipped the M5 and Pitch factor in the chain and added a delay and looper.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Axe FX Takes on Harmonica: John Popper's New Rig

Check it out!

The peeps from Fractal met up with BT this past October and tried to recreate Popper's rig with the rack mounted Axe FX:

Unfortunately, that show is not currently on  I can't find an audio source from that show where he used the FX.  He may have used the rig at other shows, but I have no idea at this point.  If I find out anything, I'll post it!

Various Sound Clips and Demos from Last Year

Here are a few clips and vids from 2013 experimenting with different gear:

I tried a Zoom G5 and sorta regret not keeping it.  This is a great clean tone with a pitch delay/reverb that was truly a keeper.

Random noodling with two different mics.  All I did was change mics.  The amp/delay/reverb settings stayed the exact same.  Mic too had less output so I bumped it up so it was similar in volume.

Here is an Audix Fireball with the Para DI. For this, I just twisted the Blend and Drive knobs around. The treble was higher than the clip in the OP. I also had a bit more bass. The mid control was set at noon. I did not adjust eq settings between riffs.

The first passage is totally clean - the Sans amp is off. It is probably my favorite because it is so dynamic. As soon as I play with Blend, it starts compressing and you loose the big bass and clear highs. The Drive adds some bite and grit, but it comes in the form of mids that aren't very pleasing to my ear.

Around :30s is a solid combination of Blend and Drive so the sound is more "amped" than acoustic. The last one is a good modern rock tone. I had a lot more flexibility in sound than with the bullet. The D5 is a lot like the Fireball.

My Current Rig

I don't use an amp to play out live. I use a QSC K10 as a floor wedge and monitor myself from there.  Basically, I strive for a very clean tone that sounds good with several effects.  My favorite effects for harmonica are:

Octave down

There are endless ways to approach this, and this is where I am at now, mostly due to wanting to nail some pitch shifted delay/reverbs, which is a sound I'd be totally ripping off from John Popper.  In my quest to do this, I am realizing the pitch delay with some reverb on the Zoom G5 I had was perfect for this, and the Eventide Pitchfactor is total overkill, so I am rethinking my board.

What makes my board extra complicated is the wireless unit that requires an annoying power supply that is hard to track down.

My signal chain goes:

Samson Wireless with impedence transformer

EP Booster, which is used to boost the signal a hair and add some body.  It makes the tone fatter, but keeps it clean.

Harp Break which I use like a distortion pedal (my mic is a SM58, and that doesn't have enough output to push the HB without the EP)

Rotochoir is what I use for rotary, but I am rethinking using this pedal

Eventide Pitchfactor is used for some pitch delay/reverb sounds, but I am finding it total overkill.  I have it as a Midi Master with the M5, so I use two effects at once, but again, it is probably overkill

Line 6 M5 is used for delays and reverbs and some mods

In my head, I think two Zoom G3's instead of the L6 and PF would be more than enough.  I also think a L6 M9 with a G3 or just a dedicated pitch delay would be ample.

The last pedal is my compressor, a Lone Wolf Flat Cat.  Usually, a pedal compressor is at the start of the chain, but it was recommended by LW to put it last like in studio.  I will experiment with flipping it with the EP soon. I also sometimes put a Tech 21 Blonde there instead.

Zoom G5

Last year, I played around with a Zoom G5.  I subbed the stock preamp tube with a 12ay7 creating a FANTASTIC clean effects machine.  I sold it some time after as I wasn't gigging regularly.  You can hear the clean sound with a sweet pitch delay here.

While an amazing unit with great effect sounds (I liked it more than the Line 6 M series stuff), I couldn't fit in on a pedal board with a Lone Wolf Harp Break distortion pedal and my wireless.  I am seriously rethinking this, as the unit sounded great straight to PA for clean tones.  See my notes below from last year:

 This is the first bank I created for general playing purposes.  Rather than using a patch for an amp model, I chose to experiment with using the boost as my "amp" tone.  I will also be using a Tech 21 Sans Amp Para DI for "amped" tones.  I prefer to run a relatively clean rig with just a bit of added warmth and EQ to my mics...which include an Ultimate 57 and Electro Voice RE10.  I occassionally use a custom bullet mic from Greg Heumann, but have not used it with the G5.

I tried to utilize the Z Pedal on the G5 as to not have to spend much time scrolling between patches if playing live.  This almost worked as planned, but not all the effects, like the rotary, have a "Mix" level.  In otherwords, some effects are all or nothing and will cut your signal should you use the Z Pedal to control the "Level" setting.

As it stands now, the Z Pedal controls the effects in the picture on the right.  I leave the analog delay on all the time and use the footswitches to control the rotary, wah, pitch shift, and phaser.  The up/down of the Z controls the HD Reverb.  If I turn it to the left, I can control the mix of the long digital delay.  If I swing right, I add the pitch delay.  This is a huge thing for me as I was chasing down a way to do some of the pitch delays that John Popper does via Eventide H8000.  So far, the closest I have ever gotten is a pitch delay set to +1 octave plus reverb.  This is not the same as the Octo effect on the Line 6 M series stuff.  This effect on the G5 is similar to "shimmer" or "crystals", a common ambient guitar effect.  The pitch delay has several repeats with a medium delay time.  By itself, it sounds tinny as the the original pitch goes +1 octave to +2 octaves.  The added reverb smooths out the sound and causes more of a wave of sound.  Very cool!

My next bank will focus more on pitch shift effects and the added use of chorus and flang.  I am stealing ideas mostly from guitar players, but am trying to pin down one other Popper-esque effect.  On the live version of, "All Hands Left On Deck", from, "What You and I Have Been Through", there is another pitch delay effect that seems to have an octave or -2 octave effect.  I will try stacking pitch delays to achieve this.  I would also like to work on using the synth to create the illusion of playing in tandem with harmonica.  I will post clips of the above effects some time this week (January 14-19).

Musician's Friend Ad with Myself and Mr. Popper

This is from last winter.  Hohner has since changed the Marine Band packaging to include a picture of Little Walter in lieu of your's truly.  While John is a huge influence of mine and I obviously created the site, this is really my excuse to learn more about using different effects with harmonica in different genres of music.  Thanks for the inspiration, John!

So, I sat in with Blues Traveler this past summer...

While it was truly amazing, I didn't get any good peeks at his gear, lol!