Things I Could Find Without My Board in the Way

Plugged straight in tonight. I could have posted later tomorrow after the rest of our services, but I don’t feel like blogging tomorrow. Man, this honesty is going to kill me.

  • Forgot I was also leading. Effects are very useful when you’re leading. Allows you to do less and focus on the vocals. Usually when I do this, I’m not also singing. So, that was bad.
  • Actually tested my guitar straight into a direct box. Actually, not bad. Helped solidify my theory that the guitar is the most important part of the tonal equation. But then, I plugged into my amp. And…
  • Mmmm. Matchless are amazing. So surprised at their versatility and responsiveness. EL84’s shouldn’t be able to go from crystalline and indie to warm and bluesy with the flick of the pickup selector. Or maybe they don’t, and I just hear what I want to hear. I mean, the amp you currently own is always ‘hands down’ the best sounding amp ever conceived by living beings, right? Oh ya, and ‘nails’, ‘tone for days’, ‘for the win’, ‘no contest’, and all the other ultra-un-humble adjectives we guitarists are known for when describing our own gear.
  • Speaking of responsiveness, throughout practice, I found myself turning up the amp higher and higher. Not to be louder, but to give myself more play for finger and picking dynamics. Made a huge difference, and something I need to remember with an effects board as well.
  • Rock.
  • I didn’t even plug into my tuner. Well, pre-service ya, but not during. That’ll make you feel very naked, very fast. Like, ‘riding-your-bike-through-the-school-locker-hall-oh-blast-there’s-the-girl-I-like-maybe-she-won’t-notice-nope-she’s-laughing dream’ naked.
  • Played more intricate riffs than I’ve played in a while. Kind of fun, but I think I was bordering on being distracting. (And intricate for me is…well. Let’s just say I’m not Eric Johnson up there.)
  • But at the same time, man it’s fun to plug straight in, switch to the neck pickup and pretend you’ve got more soul than you do!
  • ‘This ain’t no place for the weary kind.’ Nothing to do with anything whatsoever, but I am stuck on that song so much right now. And, as you’ve probably noticed, my computer doesn’t seem to have a delete key.
  • Contrary to what you might think, I actually thought about harmonies and theory less, because I didn’t have to worry about where delayed notes were falling rhythmically or into the next chord, or which effects to turn on to blend over a certain chord progression, or how the harmonics in an overdrive were sitting. It was actually easier.
  • And then, at the same time, it was harder. Because, let’s face it…I’m a much better soundscape artist than I am a riff artist. (‘Better’ being the operative word there. Just because you do one thing ‘better’ than another, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re ‘good’ at either. Unfortunately. Like, I am ‘better’ at being long-winded, than I am at getting to the point. Wait…that one’s different. Let’s stop.) But that’s why it’s nice to practice both.
  • It would have been awesome had I remembered to turn the right side of the house speakers on.
  • I did learn that sometimes it’s cool not to have this awesomely decaying delayed tone, filling everything up. Just strumming a chord and letting it decay naturally, mixed well with the other instruments. Gave them a chance to come forward more.
  • I do think it’s time to try Scumbacks.
  • Floor monitors are highly underrated.
  • People dig country.
  • There’s very little feeling like feeling the stage sink into the ground and then you’re just all singing together. (That’s metaphorical…our stage doesn’t literally sink.)
  • A chord can go a long way.
  • Do I really have to lose an hour of my life tonight? This seems highly unfair.

Overall, effects are good. And usually, very necessary. But so is feel. A lot. Every time I do this, I end up incorporating a new level of feel into my playing with an effects board, which in turn helps my sound immensely. Also, turning on a delay pedal.


16 thoughts on “Things I Could Find Without My Board in the Way

  1. Karl – I’m glad it went well. There is something to just using a guitar and amp. It really changes how/what you play.

    A natural decaying (correctly played) clean chord through a good amp is greatness.

    As far as “People dig country.” goes – Friends don’t let friends do country. 🙂

    Off to service, I hope it goes better than last night …

  2. It seems your last two posts are more about doing something different that causes you to realize what you can do different with the “regular way” you play rather than about which is better, plugging straight into your amp or through effects. Wow, that sentence is a humdinger.
    Anyway, thanks for the posts. We can all learn something about how to play better if we try playing in a way we normally don’t. Straight v. through effects. Acoustic v. electric. Finger v. pick. Humbucker v. single coil. Delay v. Delay. 🙂 The list can, and should, go on!
    The key is trying something different and being open to those differences. It’s different, not weird.

  3. TimH–definitely. 🙂 And I actually like country…real country, mostly. But with the pop country stuff, it certainly is relevant to the congregation down here in Southern California. Not my style particularly, but they love it. hehe

    And did your service not go so great last night?

    Gtr1ab–absolutely, bro. You hit the nail on the head as far as my last few posts. It’s about versatility, learning from changing it up, and and not thinking that the way we do it is the only way. Great comment, brother!

  4. Karl – Yeah the gremlins were out last night. We did great both times this morning, but last night was a beatdown.

    It was our first weekend with a drum enclosure and the whole stage vibe changed drastically. Too many issues to list. The wave upon wave of tech grief just never ended.

    This morning we prayed “God throw us a bone after last night” and he did! Love it. 🙂

  5. enjoyed your blog. Getting back to some fundamentals of playing straight into the amp, remind us why we like the sound of the guitar in the first place.

  6. K-

    Would you rather play a show with a $150 guitar and a really great amp, or with your Prairiewood and $150 solid state amp?

    Personally, I’d go with the nice amp all the way, so long as I had a swiss army knife and a few minutes to make some adjustments to the cheap guitar. You can always dirty it up and go for professional chaos (works for Jack White). I honestly don’t know how you make a cheap solid state amp sound professional. Put a Klon in front of it…maybe some delay? (Just joking. Or am I?)

    You’ve honestly got your priorities gear straight (and by “straight,” I mean you’ve figured out that owning a Matchless is TOTALLY WORTH having to subsist on ramen noodles for a month or 3). But it seems like amps are too often the neglected part of the signal chain with a lot of players. I’ve long enjoyed reading Harmony Central reviews where the guy is like, “I can’t get the Fulldrive / Rat / Choral Flange / Uni-Vibe / Klon / SDD-3000 to sound good at all through my 35 watt solid state Crate practice amp!?!?” You don’t say?

    Jazz players seem to be particularly weird about this. They seem to think nothing of playing an $8000 custom hollow body through a 25w Roland amp the size of a lunchbox. But when you’re trying to sound like you’re playing under a mattress anyway…

    Whenever I meet a new player, I tell them to go on eBay and buy a silverface Fender Champ for 25-300 bucks. Those things are an absolute steal, and they sound incredible. Everybody should have one. Including you, Karl.

  7. hey, some good comments here, the main one being about the level and dynamics of your AMP, this is most important in the tone equation and something to base everything else off of.

    I typically take time off from efx primarily for the reason to question “Am I using this like it should be used or could i use it better?”

    An example would be my previous way of playing and always having delay in efx loop. Then when i didn’t have one for a while (unheard of i know) i went back to the old amp i use to use and now can’t use anything but “in front” of the amp.

  8. TimH–lol at the throw us a bone comment. hehe

    And we’re actually getting rid of our shield tomorrow, and putting up a whole new isolation enclosure, too. Guess I should be prepared. 🙂

    T–glad you’re enjoying it! And good comment. Ya, kind of like, ‘Hey! I do like the sound of my guitar.’ 🙂

    Hippie Killer–oh, that’s a tough one. My standard answer is, ‘Just get both.’ haha Because you’re right; as long as you have some tools on hand, you can get almost any cheapo guitar to play decent…especially through a very warm tube amp. However, at the same time, I’ve also heard guitars that just have horrible wood, and sound like plastic through any amp you throw at ’em. And I’ve heard guitars with beautiful wood sound maddeningly good plugged straight into a PA. hehe So, for me, I would definitely say both. And if you absolutely had to choose one or the other, I’d err just slightly on the side of a good guitar.

    And most people it seems, would disagree with me on that. Just for the record.

    Also, I love what you said about effects. That absolutely kills me when people do that, because I used to do that. I used to have a junkie, $200 amp, and then would spend $250 after $250 on all these effects pedals trying to get the amp to sound good. And finally it was like, ‘Whoa. I could have bought like, 4 Top Hat’s by now.’ hehe Ya, guitar, amp, and then pedals waaaay after. 😀

    Jay–wow, nice comment. Ya, I think sometimes you need the simplicity to jump-start our brains, and then we can add things back in while still retaining what we just learned.

    And ya…the level of the amp was a cool phenomenon. Hopefully that can help my tone. And no delay pedal for a while? They let you do that?! 😉

    Mike–nice. Another vote for. I’ve got a Weber in my second amp, and that sounded so much better than a Jensen, that I really have been wanting to now AB Celestion Alnico’s with Scumback Alnico’s. But I’ve been looking for the right deal on a duplicate 65 cab that I can resell later, so that I can do a straight shootout with all the elements the same. I’m hoping real soon. What models are you using?

  9. Karl,

    anytime you want, you can try my avatar 2×12 with a scumnico and scumback h75 if you want to drive to beaumont…


  10. Really? Thanks a ton, brother! I may just have to take you up on it. We could do a joint shootout, use different heads…it could be rad. 😀

  11. thought i would share my current facebook status here (im 19, cu me some slack, social networking is like oxygen) with some people that would appreciate it. keep the great posts coming karl!

    ” my 3 AM craigslist guitar search led to an add that read ‘selling for engagement ring many guitars out there only 1 girl for me’ genuinely happy for him. sacrifice is a beautiful thing. sacrifice for love is the most beautiful. not at that place in my life, ha so let me know if your selling a guitar w/ P90 pickups, my tele felt thin during worship tonight”

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