Shimmer. That synthy, symphonic reverb sound that plays secondarily in the background off of whatever you’re playing. Nearly impossible to obtain, and the holy grail of using effects on guitar.

This is all true. If you’re living in 1985. Which sometimes I am. (That also means I’d be one year old, but don’t bother me with logistics.)

The truth is, you really don’t need a shimmer demo. All you need to do is buy a Line 6 Verbzilla. Or an Eventide Pitchfactor. Or a Roland UD-Stomp. Digitech Timebender. Lexicon reverb. Line 6 M13. M9. There are inventions now that allow you to get shimmer by pushing a button. Inventions that allow you to not be me. See, I have convinced myself that none of those shimmer effects sound good enough. Or that it really is 1985 and none of those shimmer effects have been invented yet. And I’ve created my own. Never mind that it takes 3 pedals, 3 power supplies, 4 cables, and enough pedalboard real estate (don’t you hate it when people refer to the pedalboards as if they’re beachfront property being sold on Glengary Glen Ross? Oh! Or what is infinitely worse…Boiler Room? Gotta love Vin Diesel. Except that you don’t…) to fit 3 Varidrives. It’s that whole lego thing for me again. Why build what’s on the box?

So I humbly submit to you this demo, for those of you of which whom (stupid grammar) the madness has overtaken as much as it has me. The sound here is a little less crystalline, and a little more earthy. I’m trying to get the desired effect of washy beauty underneath everything you play, without completely ripping off the pristine crystal-sounding ‘shimmer’ that Edge pioneered. (Stupid Edge and his pioneering. Leave something for the rest of us!) Which is difficult because I love him so much. But in general, I love the feelings his sound brings, and would like my sound to bring those same feelings, but while ‘sounding’ different. Which is probably a good rule in general for heros. And I tend to like a bit more of an earthy (sorry, trying really hard not to use the word ‘organic’) tone.

The Pedals for shimmer

–Dan Burgess (This1smyne) parallel looper
(–>Boss RV3–>EH POG–>

All hooked up as the last thing in the effects chain before the amp.

Other Pedals (on at various times)

–Hartman germanium fuzz
–Hermida Mosferatu
–Damage Control Timeline’s
–Diamond Memory Lane
–Arion SAD-1

Clean Tone

Prairiewood Les Paul–>
VHT Valvulator (JJ gold pin, hehe)–>
Matchless HC30

Gotta mention the Valvulator, as in order to show a demo of how effects react to other effects, you should probably run through your whole board. :)

And the Demo (this one’s edited a bit, as I was even more mumblier and long-winded than usual…hard to believe, I know):

So the keys, for me, are having a parallel looper so that I can have a separate wet/dry mix so that I can 1) keep my dry signal untouched should I wish, and 2) be able to run the reverb at full mix for that slow gear/delayed attack effect. It also helps that I can mix it to taste on the fly with my foot. And it really helps to have something like the POG, which can do two octaves up, instead of only one. It keeps a lot of distance between what you’re playing, and between the shimmer effect, which helps maintain clarity while still getting some ambient warmth. The RV3 was my choice for reverb, because I don’t really like it as a reverb. But it leaves these weird digitally artifacts in its decay, that I really dig for the shimmery, crystalline decay. Oh, and you really need to run the reverb before the POG, so that the delayed attack is what’s hitting the octaves.

The POG also holds up very well to overdrive being fed into it. I’m sure that’s partly helped by the diffusion of a full mix reverb before it in the chain. But that was my main worry about all this was that it would only work with clean tone. But it does actually work when driven, and even takes on a different character sometimes that may even be more desirable than when run clean.

I have gotten questions asking if there is a reason I chose the POG over the POG2. And yes. Yes, there is. I could not afford a POG2. The used prices on those things are still not far enough below retail to justify that. And, since they are so popular, people are basically giving away these original POG’s. So, for now, it’s the original POG for me. I mean…um…the original silver box version has the old military grade clipping diodes that are nearly impossible to find now. The silver box POG’s sound way better, and will retain their value more. There we go. Now that’s on the internet, and I can sell my original silver box version POG for $1250 in a couple years.

So that’s my version of shimmer. I like to call it the warmer, weightier, more transparent, better version. Others might call it the why-on-earth-would-you-go-through-all-that-trouble-you-loser version. Eh, either one. Whichever works best for you. ;)

Oh ya. And then blasted Strymon came out with the Blue Sky reverb with what sounds like an incredible and tweakable shimmer mode, right as I was in the middle of putting all this together. And I have their compressor, and it’s quite fantastic. Strymon, you’re making it really hard for me to keep the musical side of my brain still thinking it’s 1985.

Oh, and because it’s awesome (meaning, not very much at all):

Mr. Diesel in Boiler Room. That man, in that movie, almost made Ben Affleck look like he can act. Almost. And my other favorite actor, Giovanni Ribisi, also cries and mumbles his way through this movie, but I figured I’d give him a reprieve since I just watched a Friends episode with him in it, and he is very funny in that. And yes…I do watch, and thoroughly enjoy, Friends. I know, now you can’t take any of my movie criticisms seriously. But let’s face it…did you really before? I’m gonna guess no. hehehe Vin is funny.

Splendid.
Karl.