The Antithesis of Gear

I love gear. Very much so. More than many other things in life towards which my love would be more rational. But there are times…precious few times, but there are times…when gear can be left behind, and beautiful music still happens. This is one of those instances. Full band, huge sound, no sound reinforcement. No amps, no sound system, just them. This is the best thing you’ve ever seen. (I thought about not saying that, but then I decided to.) The whole thing is good, but skip to about 2:20 for the start of the splendor:

Fantastic. And I was going to put all my gear up for sale after watching this, but then I realized that they were using natural echo as a form of delay. And all was once again right with the world.


25 thoughts on “The Antithesis of Gear

  1. That’s it, I quit. Tone–which is life–is over, that level of awesome can never be reached by mere mortals again. Game over, man.

  2. Hey dude, my worship leader and I (plus others on the High School Worship team) have been reading your blog and I have found love in it. Each time I read my mind gets kinda blown. So, the question is if you would be willing to come to our church sometime and do a workshop at this thing we call “Elevate.” It’s a once a month meeting in which all of the worship teams at our church get together and discuss the musical and spiritual aspects of worship. But yeah so if you would come down that would be really cool man. My e-mail is in the thing.

  3. Robin, the main singer guitar guy in fleet foxes is my friend Petrina’s cousin. And yes, he’s really a cool nice guy who’s good at everything. I hate him. 🙂
    In case you are starting to loose the plot as far as the whole tone chasing thing, I suggest you check out and look at getting some cryogenic JJ’s for your matchless. Basically, they freeze the valves (tubes to you and I) to -195C to create a more uniform molecular surface for the electrons to flow off of. If that doesnt’ whet your gear/tone appetite then you may be too far gone! They claim it makes for a clearer tone, I’ve A/B’d some on a friends Vox AC30 and it really did seem to make them sing.
    Your welcome,

  4. Colty–that’s exactly what I thought when I saw this! But then I turned on the flashing lights of my pedalboard and was like, ‘Oh okay. I feel better now.’ hehehe

    Adam–thanks for the kind words, and I’d love to hang out with you guys for the worship deal. I’ll send you an email. Cheers!

    Mark Colvin–really?! Can you maybe arrange it so he and I could hang out? hehe J/k. Unless you actually can. Then no j/k. 😉

    And the tubes thing? Yep, I’m back. hehe I’ve got tubes in my freezer now, as we speak! hehe That’s a really interesting idea. Gonna be some fun research today!


  5. So I saw U2 in concert last night (which was completely amazing minus the Black Eyed Peas opening) and reminded me why tons of gear can also be important! If you have seen It Might Get Loud, Edge demonstrates the opening of Elevation and then turns the effect off and shows how empty it is without the gear. I guess I’m just reminding you why you have a sweet pedal board. 🙂

  6. haha Thanks, Jonathan! Ya, I suppose as I would be selling off my board, I’d get visions of Edge telling me not to. So awesome that you got to see them! I can’t wait for Sunday! Did you have to camp overnight?

  7. Hey karl nice video. It reminds me of a band i dont know if your familiar with called mum. They have some youtube videos with no amplification and it sounds fantastic.

    On a different note I have a general question. I play a fender tele through a vox ac15. When im done paying off the amp (one more payment yay), im gonna need a good OD thats worship safe.
    And Incase your wondering, I already have 2 delays…
    Ive heard alot online about the Ibanez TS stuff and alot of local guitarists recommend me the Boss BD-2. Im a bit of a beginner when it comes to OD so im not sure what to buy.

    Awesome blog, and kudos from Florida

    • I would like to recommend the Hardwire Tube Overdrive. I has alot of options and sounds seriously fantastic. But then again, this is not a custom super dyna whoppin tube pedal with actual tubes. But it does have a great sound, you can do both the TS and a modded TS sound with it, although I think the sound is a bit more wet sounding which is what I like. Something to check out, and they should have one at your local guitar store to check out.

      • I, personally, would recommend the Hermida Zendrive or Mosferatu.

        The Mosferatu in particular is great for worship. It has a very smooth feel that stands out in the mix without being loud or harsh.

        I just read on The Gear Page that Eric Johnson was spotted using a Zendrive. Cool.

        They’re a bit more expensive than an ‘off the shelf’ pedal but I feel the sound quality you get is really worth it.

        Of course, if you can manage to get both someday – they stack wonderfully together!

        Oh yes. No gear is great. (I’m glad you can’t see the expression on my face right now…) Great video. yeah.

        Nickel Creek did a bunch of that – they all stood around a microphone and recorded. Very cool. As for me? I’m keeping my gear!!! Especially Matchy.
        confession… i didn’t even watch the video…. 🙂

  8. Jacob–ah, man. Great call on Mum! I have some of their ambient stuff, and just love it!

    As for od’s, my stock answer is almost always the Paul Cochrane Tim. ( ) It does a great job of really bringing out the amp’s natural overdrive tones. However, the Sobbat Drivebreaker also works very well with Vox type amps. The BD-2 is very nice and versatile for worship. But I’d get one that’s been modded by Robert Keeley. Much more open sounding. And of course, the Fulltone Fulldrive is a great old stand-by that reacts great to EL84 tubes.

    And it makes my day that you already have two delays. Because that would have been my next question. hehehe 😉

    Cheers, brother!

    Shane–very interesting. I have not tried out those pedals, but I keep hearing good things about them! 🙂

    Tom–I agree. Zen and Mos are great pedals for worship. 🙂 And you didn’t watch the video?! You gotta! It’s life-changing. Oh, wait. We already have Matchless’s. Our lives are good just how they are. 😉 hehehe

    And I forgot about Nickel Creek! Good call. Gonna go re-check them out. 🙂

    • I have a very Zen philosophy about things. Use a Zendrive and things will be just fine. Ok, just kidding.

      Seriously though, I’d like to share a thought that changed my life. My old boss, Marshall Mathews, was an amazing man. He collected and restored antique cars and motorcycles, built a 36 car garage to keep them, and really never stopped loving what he did. Sadly, he passed away about 6 years ago from ALS, aka Lou Gherig’s Disease.

      I was asked to pick him up on my way to work one morning. (yeah, they guy with 50 cars needed a ride to work…) anyway, he said something to me that morning that has stuck with me ever since and really created a paradigm shift in my way of thinking.

      He said, “I believe a man can do anything he wants. He just can’t do everything he wants. I see people who get involved in all sorts of things and are never really happy with what they do. They have a boat in their driveway, a couple of cars, they play softball on the weekends, have joined a bowling league, build model airplanes, etc. I really do one thing. I collect and restore antique cars; and I’ve been very successful with that.”

      It took a while to really figure out what he meant. It was about focus. At that time in my life I had been playing guitar for almost 20 years, but never really took it beyond the simple playing I was doing. I dabbled in building computers and had several other hobbies as well. I really sat and thought about how I wanted to be “successful” in my life like Marshall had been. It was at that point that I decided to take my guitar playing seriously and send other hobbies to the back. It’s not that I don’t enjoy doing other things; I do more than play guitar of course. But it’s my focus. It’s how I define myself. When people ask what I do, I tell them I play guitar.

      Christianity isn’t too different is it? We think and talk about other philosophies and entertain different ideas and religions, but when it comes down to it, we identify ourselves with Christ. He is our focus.

      So what does this have to do with your post today? Not a lot. The style of playing in that video is not something I yearn to do. I appreciate it, I acknowledge it, I entertain the idea of it. But for me? I am an electric guitar player. That’s my shtick. I doesn’t change the way I feel about my own playing, nor does it inspire me to do anything different. I am confident in who I am and what I want. Again, much like Christianity.

      I guess when I see a video like this, I approach it very much like someone talking to me about Buddhism or some other eastern philosophy. I think to myself – that’s all very well and good – but it’s not for me. Thanks!

      One more thought: I heard an interview with Ozzy many years ago. The interviewer asked him what he listened to when he was home alone. His response surprised me. He said, “I don’t listen to anything. I don’t want someone else’s music to influence what I already have in my head.”

      Interesting eh? Sorry for the long-winded response!

    • I listened to some clips of the Mos and Zen, and I like the Zen sound a little better, more harmonics to my ear. But the Hardwire is really nice, to me it gets me those same sound, with alittle more harmonic richness, and plus you get the bonus of a switch for going standard more, and then flip the switch and you get a scooped modified version.

      What I have done on my board is set up the Tube Overdrive and Valve (both Hardwires), and that gives me a nice mix of sounds, from the tube and then to a more modern sound. And they both work really well together.

      Something to check out.

  9. Randomly curious what you think of Damien Rice/Glen Hansard types. If you haven’t checked out Glen Hansard’s “Once” (a movie) soundtrack, mayhaps it should check it out.

  10. Tom–wow. Very interesting points, and very well-put. I totally hear your point about maintaining focus, and I suppose ‘doing one thing really well.’ A lot of times we get distracted with the new shiny thing, or the new way we feel we need to reinvent ourselves, and it detracts from valuable time we could be spending doing what we’re actually good at, actually called to do, or actually have a purpose, passion, and reason to do.

    However, I also believe that there is a balance to be had as well; because one, we are not perfect, and two, we should always be growing and learning. So, I thoroughly enjoy checking out other styles, methods, ideas, etc. And then I judge their worth–both as they stand alone, and as they relate to me. Sometimes that means I end up integrating them into the things I already do. Sometimes I deem them impertinent, and let them go. And other times, I realize the value they have on their own and seek to add them to my repertoire. But with that last one, as you pointed out, you do need to be careful that you don’t then end up chasing something for five years that will eventually end up not being very valuable to you and your particular skill set.

    I think it’s all about balance. For instance, if I had never come to the conclusion that I might be wrong sometimes (hehe), I might never have passed from being the passionate judgmental Christian into being a passionate, yet more loving Christian. I needed another ‘belief system’ to invade the one I was clinging to. However, if my passion was too low, and I allowed every new doctrine to shake me, I’d probably be a new age hippie worshiping the Native American gods right now. (Not sure why I chose that, but hey. hehe) So the balance comes in, I suppose, being so hungry for truth and purpose, that we give place to every new idea to see if it can benefit us and our passions and beliefs; but yet being discerning and willful enough to be able to throw out the ones that don’t. A fine line to walk, to be sure. Because we want to be humble, teachable, and realizing that we don’t have it all figured out; while at the same time being passionate, driven, and as you so rightly pointed out, focused.

    And I think God does this on purpose to us; that we constantly have to be checking the balance in our lives. Because if we could just put our head down and blindly drive hard in one direction, we’d probably get complacent. But incredible comment! I loved it, and this is great discussion stuff! 🙂

    Oh…and I guess I can find it in my heart to forgive you for not liking the Fleet Foxes song. 😉 Actually, I think it’s pretty cool to discover that some things that move me to tears, don’t do it for other people. Different taste in different people is like a science all on its own! haha Except delay. Everyone loves delay. Yep.

    Rapha–you know, I’m not a huge fan of Damien Rice, though I can’t remember why. (Maybe that means I should check him out again. hehe) Glen Hansard, however, is another story. Great call! First time I saw ‘Once’, I was moved to tears. Partly from the beautiful music, and partly because of flat-out jealousy. haha His band’s pretty decent, too. Now as cool Irish-folk, but still really good. Good times, bro!

  11. Karl, sorry for the late response to your question. No we didn’t camp overnight. We actually live in Arkansas about 3.5 hours away. We drove into town and got in the GA line around 2:00pm. We were about 1,500 in line and they said around 2,400 fit in the inner circle. When we got into the stadium it helped that one of my friends had already seen them in Dallas. He helped us get into the circle faster. To enter the circle, you want to either backsides of the stage (if that makes sense). Once you are in, be prepared to stand for a long time (and put up with the Black Eyed Peas).
    Enjoy the show on Sunday. I plan on watching it on YouTube since they will be streaming the show live.

  12. Shane–thanks, brother! Ya, I’ve heard a ton about these pedals, and now with your review…I’m gonna check ’em out. Cheers!

    Jonathan M–ah brother, thanks for the tips! Ya, I’m sure it’s gonna be crazy, so anything to save us time getting into the inner circle is huge. And yes. We’ve already mentally prepared ourselves for standing front and center through ‘my lovely lady humps.’ Yikes. How did you surive? hehe

    And ya! Look for us on youtube on Sunday. We’ll be easy to spot. Just look for the hands reaching up desperately to try to touch the Edge. 🙂

  13. I wasn’t a Black Eyed Peas fan going into the show, and I am now even less of one. It is frustrating that there show is just pushing sex, sex, sex. Is it too much to ask for a little more substance? 🙂

    And the Edge was definitely a mere 2 feet above my head when the bridge moved that he was on. He was wearing Converse in case you are interested. 🙂

  14. Shane–hehe And I’ll definitely have to do one. It’s part of how I justify in my mind the buying of more pedals. hehehe 😉

    Jonathan M–haha Seriously. And in such a cheesey way, too. You’re totally right…it’s not so much the music, even though it’s not exactly my style; it’s the fact that they really, really think they are very hot, and they don’t mind telling us. haha

    2 feet from Edge?! Oh man, that is awesome. And actually, sadly, it does interest me to know he was wearing Converse. haha

  15. By the way, I think you should add the lightning bolt guitar to your gear wishlist. You’ll know what I mean when you see the Peas. It is awesome. And by awesome I mean completely hideous.

  16. I think I’m gonna make this video my Facebook status. I really like their song “White Winter Hymnal,” but this one’s kind of a fun intimate look at them creating joy.

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