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Brushing sound

I've recently been enamored with discovering different ways to manipulate my guitar signal to create different sounds. Heck, I've always been interested in effects, from the time I first began playing electric guitar to this evening's work. I've amassed an interesting array of devices and software over the years; for a complete listing of the tools I'm using, check out my gear page. What's interesting to me in the moment is how I find myself using these tools in different combinations to create the sounds I'm after.

I categorize the tools into five different groups:
  • Vintage or boutique analog effect pedals
  • Modern effects pedals
  • Digital effects devices
  • Modeling devices
  • Plug-ins
Each of these types of tools has their own strengths and can be combined in different ways. For example, a signal chain of Analogman Bi-CompROSSor -> Line 6 POD X3 Pro with Boss CE-1 chorus model and spring reverb model and Korg KP3 Kaoss Pad in the effects loop as a high pass filter -> Phase 90 emulation plug-in. Or MXR Phase 90 -> Boss CE-2 Chorus -> Line 6 POD X3 Pro with Boss CS-1 Compressor model and Alesis ModFX Bitrman and Philtre in the effects loop -> Roland Space Echo plug-in. The possibilities are endless and I can often achieve the same or similar results with tools from the different groups.

I've been experimenting with four different Alesis ModFX effects over the last few days. I have the Bitrman, Faze, Philtre, and Phlngr (follow the phonetics and you'll figure it out). Each device in the now defunct ModFX series has a 9-pin male connector on the left side of the unit and a 9-pin female connector on the right side, allowing the devices to be chained together. When they are connected this way, the audio signal is input into the first device of the chain and output from the last device, traveling purely in the digital realm between the devices. This a great way to preserve audio quality in the signal chain. And a great way to manipulate and mangle an audio signal! And these effects aren't about cloning a historical analog effect, although there are settings on some of the units that can do just that, but rather are more focused on sculpting new and different tones.

I get excited by the sound of a Telecaster through a cable into a tube amplifier with nothing in between. Push it just a bit, add of touch of reverb, and the hair stands up on the back of my neck. I love that sound! And I like to push a guitar signal across a spectrum of tone, from slight manipulation to all out mangling, to the point where the end result might sound nothing like a guitar. That can be cool, too!

I like to print the sound I'm after in the recording process, except for some of the delay and reverb. There is a school of thought to record clean and leave oneself with an open palette, but to me the sounds are both a critical part of the song and how I respond to the instrument I'm playing. Now, after I've finished recording and I'm mixing I might very well further manipulate a track, but it's the sonic icing, not the cake I'm baking. I want the song to sound pretty much like it's going to sound when I finish recording and hit save.

Now, it's time to start recording again...

blog for the music of Loren Claypool



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