Thursday, August 8, 2013

New Fly-Out Rig!

I just built a new super compact and totally awesome sounding guitar rig for fly out dates where I can only bring a limited amount of gear.  If I had my way, I'd bring my Engl Stack and my big rack o' TC gear to every gig, but on fly out dates, that's simply not possible. 

I got tired of being at the mercy of backline companies' amps.  Usually they're ok, but you do get some poorly maintenanced stinkers every once in a while.  I didn't want to chance it anymore, so that inspired this new rig. 

Here are all the gory and geeky details:

1) My signal obviously starts with the guitar.  I use various Ernie Ball Music Man guitars, all equipped with DiMarzio pickups

2) This goes into an Audio Technica AEW-4110 wireless system.  This is a really great sounding and reliable wireless.  It's probably the oldest piece in my entire rig.  It's almost 10 years old and still works great.  How many pieces of electronic gear can you say that about?

3) The output of the wireless goes into a TC Electronic Poly Tune.  This is the coolest tuner ever.  You can check the tuning of all 6 strings at once.  This makes it really easy to tune during very short song breaks.

4) From the tuner, we go into the input of a Line 6 Pod HD-500.  That's right, a POD!  I used to be a tube amp purist. So why did I start using a Pod?  As I said before, the unpredictable nature of backline tube amps, made it nearly impossible to get a consistent sound.  Also, since we started using in-ear monitors, we've been able to keep the stage volume way down.  This made it easier to make this transition.  It took me a long period of tweaking, but I finally got the Pod sounding just right.  The HD models in there are very nice.  The effects are also cool, but they too require a whole lot of tweaking.  I basically use 4 sounds:

            A) Clean Fender Twin Reverb with Chorus, Delay and Reverb
            B) Slightly overdriven Dr. Z amp with Tube Screamer, Tremolo and Delay

            C) Crunchy Marshal JCM-800 with Chorus and Flanger

            D) Engl Fireball with 2 Delays set to different rhythms and mix levels.

Within each of these presets I have the ability to turn the individual effects on and off as if the were stomp boxes.  I also have the expression pedal set up to control the Delay mix level.  At first I was using the Pod going direct, but I wasn't thrilled with these results.  So, I ended up disabling the cabinet simulation.

5) The Pod's mono output goes into a BBE Sonic Stomp pedal.  One unexpected side effect of turning the cabinet simulation off and only using the Pod as a preamp was the loss of the low end.  Don't get me wrong, the tone was great, but that super low end depth that you get from a real amp, was just not there.  This pedal was the perfect solution to these missing freqencies.

6) From there the signal goes into a Matrix Guitar Amplification G-1000 Stereo Power Amp.  This is a solid state 1000 watt power amp that only weighs 6 pounds!!!  It's stereo, so I run it in mono mode.  I could run my rig in stereo if I wanted, but I find that my being mono is more effective in this particular band.  Buck has a really nice stereo spread on his sound, and I don't want to get in the way of that.  Since I wasn't really loving the sound of the Pod going to direct into my ears, this was a perfect solution.  I got the air moving and I got to have a little bit of stage volume. This power amp isn't as loud as you'd think, but it does give you a pretty respectable stage volume and it's totally fine if you're using in-ears.  I kind of wish the amp had a depth and presence control like other power amps, but the BBE pedal fills that void nicely.

7) The power amp goes into a Marshall 1960 Cabinet. This is the only piece of rental gear I use.  These are usually consistent enough where my sound won't change much from gig to gig.  This gets miked up and then sent to the PA.  I'd say the most important step in getting a good guitar sound through a PA is microphone placement.  Poor placement can totally wreck your sound, no matter how great your gear is.  I place the microphone myself using my in ears to monitor the sound.

So that's my new rig.  It's really small and I'm really enjoying it.