Category Archives: Opinion

Gigging With Vintage Tube Amps

GigBeing a guitar player, I take every opportunity I can when it comes to getting out there and playing with friends, whether its in a hotel, a stage or in the corner of a pub. The experience of gigging is something which I feel is invaluable to the growing musician, and something which can greatly help you to hone your skills, improve your listening, and become a better, well-rounded player on the whole.

This experience often comes at a cost though, often there is little money involved, and aonly a few drinks on the house for your troubles. This means that it is sometimes quite tempting to bring as little equipment with you as will suffice in order to get a sound from the guitar. Some may decide to bring only their ten watt practice amp and mic that up, some may go even further and show up toting only a guitar, a strap and an extra high e string, and plug directly into a mixer. This issue gives birth to something of a dilemma: in order to gain all of that vital experience playing in a band situation outside of the home, is it necessary to care about the sound of the guitar and bring decent equipment, or is it ok to make do with the easy option and bring the bare minimum. Do you have to sound good to make the experience worthwhile, or is it enough to just be playing with others, regardless of tone?

The advantage of digital effects processors is that they are usually compact, stuffed with effects and amp sims and – perhaps most importantly – are very mixer friendly. This is why the majority of player will show up for a gig with a guitar and a multi-effect processor from either Boss or Line 6. The best part of the crowd in local bars and restaurants will likely be unable to tell the difference no matter what, and as long as you are in tune, relatively in time and there is always at least one person singing, its all good.

I, however, believe that the tone is always important when playing with other musicians. If you are to really enjoy the night, and therefore play your best and really get into the groove with your bandmates, you must like how you sound onstage. A good sound makes a happy band, a happy band makes good music, and good music makes a good night for everyone involved, both audience and band. This is why wherever I play I bring a tube amp with me. While some may consider it to be an extra thing, heavier than effects pedals and guitar combined and hard work to transport without a car or a taxi and not worth the effort, I believe that the benefits make it totally worthwhile.

A mic'd amplifier sounds better!
A mic’d amplifier sounds better!
For shows in bigger places, your tube combo amp acts as your own personal monitor: no more calling through the mic for the sound guy to give you a little more on the left monitor and less on the right! Not to mention that the sweet, warm tone from a tube amp sounds amazing when mic’d up and sent through a good PA system. As far as gigs in those smaller places are concerned, it is even better. You don’t need any kind of sound reinforcement at all, and are completely self-sufficient. All control is yours, and it allows you to tweak your sound with ease in order to dial in that sweet spot for each song you play.

Given the choice between digital effects into a mixer and a real boutique tube amp having your back on stage like your best friend, I know what I’d take any day of the week.

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How Many Overdrive Pedals Do I Need?

Overdrive Pedals
Overdrive is one of the most used effects in musical performance, andevery guitarist has at least two overdrive effects pedals in their rig. They are completely necessary for achieving many popular tones, including rock, metal and dirtier blues. As there are so many different kinds of overdrive pedal around to choose from, and no two stomp boxes have the same sound, the above question is a popular one in the internet musician community. Here’s my take on it.

TUBE HARD COLORWhile some players are famous for using the Ibanez Tubescreamer, and others the TubeDriver, it is impractical – and rather expensive – to buy one of each to put into your rig. Even if you had the money to spend and the space to put the pedals, you’d have to remember that the more pedals you have in a line, the more the sound quality of the guitar is effected. For eample, running your guitar signal through a lot of unnecessary effects pedals which have true bypass will result in the high end of your guitar suffering when it finally reaches the amplifier.

So, we don’t want specific pedals for specific songs in our rig. Instead of choosing pedals based on artists who use them, you just need to find the one that is right for your style, and get to know the best way to use it to achieve the tones which you want. Then, once you have found your dream overdrive and are completely happy with it, get the next best one as well. Two overdrives is the best number to have, any more would just be getting crazy. With two carefully chosen pedals, you can have most of the tones you need covered, and also when one is working, turn down the drive on the other and use it as a boost pedal for the solos!

What Makes a Musician

Pro Bands Get The Big GigsPeople learn to play the guitar for a variety of different reasons. Filling in free time, impressing girls, a deep-felt love of anything music and ‘everyone in my family plays’ are all common reasons, but regardless of what makes us start, most of us end up at the same place: crazy about great guitar sounds and creating the riffs that might one day launch us into stardom.

So, why is the guitar such an appealing instrument to learn? It’s the attitude mainly. Look at the great guitar players – Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eddie Van Halen and Slash to name a few of the most popular – while they all play very different styles of music, the thing that they all have in common is their energy and presence when they perform on the stage. This ‘coolness’ is what many guitarists aspire to reach; to get to the point where they too can stand on stage in front of thousands of people and play an incredible guitar solo which touches others deep in the heart, inspiring yet another generation to pick up the guitar.

The guitar is also a naturally leading instrument. Its tonal range means that, along with vocals, it jumps out from the mix during live performance situations and it is an indispensable part of the line-up for most bands today. And here comes the point. A guitarist LP Close Upwho has learned every one of their favourite player’s riffs and solos note for note will want to get up there and share their love with the rest of the band and everyone watching. They have the love, they have the passion, they have the necessary techniques to pull it off and they have the perfect vehicle to use to deliver it all up. But the riffs and style that ignited the passion in the guitarist might not necessarily have the same inspiring effect on those listening. Playing for you and playing with a band are two very different things. To play well in a band it is not enough to be a great guitarist. You have to be a great musician too.

The musician understands that tasteful note choice, listening to the band as a whole and ‘playing the silences’ are integral to the bands success as a whole. The notes that you don’t play are just as important as the ones you do and playing simply but keeping a tight groove with the band can create a much more pleasant experience for both band and audience. The good musician compliments the rest of the band, instead of trying to draw all of the attention. The good musician is always conscious of locking into the rhythm with the bass and drums. The good musician contributes tastefully to the whole sound of the group.

This is what makes the difference between a tight, professional band and a garage band: groups made up of guitarists, bassists, drummers and vocalists can never be successful in the long run, but a group made up of musicians just might find themselves topping the charts and landing the big gigs.

Thanks for reading.  If you’re interested in checking out some of our amps and effects (perfect for musicians and guitarists alike) feel free to check us out here.