The Pilgrimage: John Mayer Concert Review, Heat, Usual Suspects, Matchless Independence, & for Some Reason Orlando Bloom

This is the account of the next concert pilgrimage. Edge Watch 2009 was gorgeous, and as we wait for June to bring Edge Watch 2010: the Continued Quest to Express my Love for Edge’s Tone in a Way He Can’t Deny and Might Even be a Little Frightened by, we had to pacify ourselves with John Mayer. He’s an okay guitarist…I guess. ;) For those of you who don’t know, I am married…which is quite amazing, considering my ongoing love affair with tone; who is herself, a very harsh and unforgiving mistress. (Much like gravity…and if you can name that one, ya. I’m seriously going to give you…well, bonus points for an imaginary tally.) So my wife must be pretty rad. And she is. U2 for my last birthday, and John Mayer for this one. Like, concerts. She’s not actually wrapping up Edge and John Mayer for me as gifts like Christmas Vacation or anything. And I choose not to say whether or not I would be pleased by that. So this is the concert review, and the pilgrimage review. For those of you who come here just for the pictures, you’ll enjoy this one. For those of you who come here actually hoping I reviewed another amp for once…well…that’s in here too, but you’ll have to dig. So I suggest, that like tone, you just enjoy the journey. I mean, if you didn’t, you probably wouldn’t be here. My whole inside of my head is a journey most of the time.

So…Disneyland first. The nice thing about living in Southern California is that you get to see all the shows, go to Hollywood, Disneyland, Malibu…whenever you want. The bad thing about living in Southern California is this:

And that’s still in Corona, people. It should take us 25 minutes to get from our apartment to Anaheim. Every single back road was jacked like this, because of 3 accidents on the 91. Took us 3 hours. Luckily, Jamianne had the Kevin & Bean St. Patrick’s Day podcast on her iPod, so we got to listen to them play clips from all 6 Leprechaun movies, including ‘Leprechaun 6: Back 2 the Hood.’ That’s a real movie. As in they wrote a script, filmed actor’s playing the script, and put it on a dvd. All the while with the knowledge that they were doing all this for a movie called ‘Leprechaun 6: Back 2 the Hood.’ The world is dying.

We all know what Disneyland is like, so I won’t bore you with that. Plus, it means a lot to Jamianne and I, so I definitely won’t bore you with that. But we had a good time. And hidden mickey’s? So real:

Alright, already! Calm down. (Don’t know who I’m metaphorically talking to right now.) John Mayer is next. Almost. See, he was playing at the Staples Center, and as we were hanging out before the concert, whom should we see…but… Okay. If there were one person in the whole world whom you’d think you’d never see, not because he was so famous, but because your brain had forgotten he even existed, who would it be? Correct. AC Slater.

Doing some sort of ESPN spot. Hmm…maybe KCAL 9 or something. Saved by the Bell & Animal Planet don’t usually mean free pass to ESPN.

Still needed bodyguards, though. Never underestimate the fame that is Saved by the Bell.

Okay, okay! I just spent 3 pictures on Mario Lopez. Apologies. I think I was just excited to find that I was taller than Bayside’s buffest cat. (Yep, that’s how I chose to word that sentence.) On to John Mayer.

I got excited for a second that maybe we had missed that there would be a special guest with John Mayer, but then Jamianne explained to me how the seating signs worked.

I wanted to just enjoy the concert, so no pictures or low quality video footage. hehe So for you musicians out there, this is the meat of the post. The things I learned from John Mayer:

  • His tone is crying good. And you can tell a lot of it comes from his finger attack, both on acoustic and electric. Very soulful player, and that seems to come through on his touch, too.
  • For those of you who don’t like John Mayer, you’ve got to see him live. It’s like an improvised blues concert over some themes that may have once been John Mayer radio songs. Really awesome stuff, and it appears he does the songs differently each night. Great musicianship there to do that, both from him and his team.
  • His drummer, Steve Jordan, did the best and most tasteful drum solo I have ever heard……on just a kick, snare, and hi-hat. It was like hearing music for the first time.
  • Somehow…and I mean somehow…John Mayer finds a way to be tasteful and soulful while playing too many notes. I mean, technically, he plays way too much! But it still sounds good, which is the ultimate point. I’m kind of a little bit impressed by him right now. I have been for a while, after seeing the Where the Light is dvd where he opens for himself twice, on acoustic and with a blues trio; but actually being there, was pretty spectacular.
  • Okay, get this. Both John Mayer and the guitarist for the opening band used dotted eighth and dotted quarter delay. Splendid. Just goes to show you that it’s a tool, and when used sparingly, can enhance songs without necessarily conjuring up thoughts about U2. I mean, sure, if you’re going to play a fast song with a pulsing kick beat, and the same chords as Streets, and you use it, then maybe people will hear U2. But just as a tool? Especially lower in the mix, or on dotted quarters with more repeats? Hey, pop star and blues guitarist John Mayer just got away with it.
  • And speaking of the opening band, they were actually decent. Michael Franti & Spearhead. Great stage presence from the singer (I’m guessing Michael Franti), and he even did a song on acoustic and walked around the whole place while singing it, taking time to dance with a couple exuberant fans. I thought that was way cool.
  • Only bad thing about the opening band was that they tended to drag out the ends of songs. Like a lot. So you went from, ‘Cool!’ to ‘Alright, good song’ to ‘For the love of everything that’s good in this world, are you going to sing another chorus?’ Definitely something to remember for worship music. By chorus 33, and build-back-in 5, it might be crossing into the land of self-indulgence now, not leading of the Spirit. Just a thought.
  • John Mayer also had backup singers. They were funny. Tight harmonies; but they danced. Reminded me of Sister Act.
  • He played electric most of the night. And so did his two other guitarists, Robbie McIntosh, and David Ryan Harris. And they orchestrated themselves so well, it rarely became too much.
  • Speaking of Robbie McIntosh, he was playing a little 2×12 amp sitting on the ground, a couple pedals, and one guitar. And then a tangled mess of wires connecting it all up. Pretty cool to see that type of rig in front of 40,000 people, instead of the usual ultra-clean midi/rackmount setup. The boutique gearhead in me dug it a lot!
  • John Mayer didn’t talk!! He just played!! Best part of the night. See, he likes himself. A lot. And I can’t stand it when he opens his mouth to do anything but sing. But after his recent, uh…’racially provocative’ comments, I think he has finally realized that rockstars, no matter how famous, are not untouchable. In fact, they are usually only a few poorly placed comments away from the public losing interest and skipping the concert to see Clash of the Titans (oh dear sweet mercy, please no) instead. So, it was a much more gracious and unassuming John Mayer than I have ever seen. Quite refreshing.
  • Slow Dancing in a Burning Room almost killed me. In the most wonderful way possible.

And lastly…and here’s where the concert changed me personally…I think I’m going to start to institute a little thing called practice. I’m learning that I kind of feel somewhere in my mind, that if I practice too much, I’m going to lose soul and heart in my playing. Mr. Mayer is proving that this is not the case. And my chops definitely need to improve. Not so that I can solo more during worship or any type of gig, but so that I can choose better notes, and make those few notes sound better. And perhaps some better and more technical technique can be used for certain new textures, while still not drawing attention to itself.

This was especially evident this last weekend, as for some reason, I decided to play guitar for a Sunday evening service, on top of the 6 services I’d led at my home church that weekend. (We’re not that big of a church, we just have a small worship center. haha) I normally play for that church on Sunday nights, and it’s not a problem. But it’s also not normally Easter…with 6 services. And I have this bad habit of over-estimating myself. And then my body just stops and says, ‘What are you doing?’ So I’m leading this song over there on guitar, and dear sweet mercy. I felt so bad for the singer trying to sing over me fumbling through it like Nicolas Cage reading his lines off of cue cards in ‘Bad Lieutenant.’ (Yep, that’s the name of the movie. As in, ‘What is this movie about?’ ‘Well, it’s about a bad lieutenant…’ and then they called it that. I’m getting the feeling that the movie studios are now just throwing Nic Cage the dumbest movies they can think of, and then taking bets as to when he will finally realize it and turn a script down. I mean, it’s the only possible explanation for Bad Lieutenant. Bangkok Dangerous. National Treasure 2. Drive Angry. Those are real titles! Giving Leprechaun 6: Back 2 the Hood, a run for its money. Okay, where was I? Oh ya! Being a terrible guitar player.) So, my guitar playing sounded like Nicolas Cage. That’s what I’m trying to say. It was awful. And all that to say, more practice is never a bad thing. Because I’m sitting there watching John Mayer, and I’m thinking, ‘Ya. So, I don’t even play the guitar.’

And if you’ve never seen him live, here’s a clip. Gorgeous.

Oh, and here is the one picture I took of the John Mayer concert.

They projected lights and images on that mosquito screen around the stage for the first song, before pulling it back. But I think it was really just protection for the Dumble.

And, because I can’t seem to help myself:

Sorry, I had to put that in. If that doesn’t make you want to hurt your own face, then…well, there is no then. It does make you want to hurt your own face. That is the only possible answer.

So, after John Mayer redefined my life, the pilgrimage began.

For those of you who have read this blog for a while, you’ll recognize this place. Because I have an unhealthy obsession with the film Heat. Very much so. So every so often, I feel the need to um, recreate it for some reason. And my wife? She actually enjoys this stuff, too. If ever there was a match made in Heaven…

That’s me. Right where this happened:

Awesomest birthday ever. And see that guy in the background? That’s the fuzz. Told us we couldn’t take pictures there. Guess I was a little too convincing with my Kilmer and DeNiro impressions, and he thought we were doing recon work for a caper. Yep.

(There was also another movie filmed here…for like, 2 seconds. Bonus points for the imaginary tally if you can name that one.)

Now, there is also a scene where Pacino and DeNiro sit down for ‘a cup of coffee.’ ‘Ya. Sure.’ Because Pacino doesn’t have enough evidence against DeNiro yet, but he still knows he did it! But there’s respect there, so does he really want to arrest him?! It’s amazing! Such is the glory of Heat.  So we went to Kate Mantlini’s for dinner, where they have this giant photo on their wall, commemorating the moment when time for that restaurant stood still:

Right there:


You have never seen me happier:

They even asked who wanted to be Pacino and who wanted to be DeNiro for this photo. I love Kate Mantilini’s. And my wife…who has to put up with…well, me.

And then, what LA trip is complete without Matchless? So off to Guitar Center Hollywood.

Matchless Independence.

  • Playing an R8 Gibson through it. Good feeling guitar, and decent tone…little raspy.
  • Clean channel on the Independence was better than I ever thought EL34′s could deliver. Whoa.
  • Two separate gain channels, footswitchable. Very cool.
  • Gain on EL34′s is not really my style, though. So Marhsall-y. However, really good, throaty, moving Marshall-y through this thing.
  • As always, I highly suggest Matchless. Sell pedals to get a Matchless. That’s how seriously I adore them. And that is very serious. :)

To Hugo’s for lunch. Jamianne is gluten-free, source, and vegan. I am…trying. But the nice thing about the vegan places? You get to see Christoph Waltz:

Ya! Covert ops picture. We would have said hi, but he was engrossed in some type of legal conversation. Plus, we’d be put in the awkward position of having to say, ‘Mr. Waltz! We love your work! You’re amazing. Just plain inspirational. Oh, and uh…hi, Orlando.’

Yep, Orlando Bloom. Not…well…not… Okay. I’m not a huge fan. But it was cool to eat lunch next to Legolas. And ya, I know you can’t tell from the pictures that it’s them. I couldn’t use the camera because I had to pretend I was too cool to care that there were celebrities in the restaurant, and that I was just texting people, of course. At times like these, I actually do wish I had an iPhone. And that lady was a lawyer, or personal assistant or something. She was having the time of her life, and kept saying ‘Orlando.’ hehe

And lastly, because San Pedro is just a 20 mile, 3 hour drive away from Hugo’s on Santa Monica, you’ve got to go Usual Suspects, too:

Thrilling just to be there. I have issues, but this is not the point.

There they are! We stood where Verbal stood. Amazing.

Benicio Del Toro did this there, so of course I had to:

And if you’ve seen the film, it’s really frightening how well my wife does her Gabriel Byrne impression from this scene, hair blowing in the wind and all:

She is the best. :)

And in the vein of not taking yourself seriously, here is the most awkward photo you can imagine. We tried to think of how Michael Scott from The Office would pose, and then…well…

There is no reason you can give me for why I should ever be allowed to do that. But I figure, if I’m gonna rip on Nicolas Cage and Orlando Bloom, I gotta make some fun of myself as well. ;) So now every time you hear me flub a note in a demo video, you can just think of this picture and go, ‘Ah. Well that makes sense.’

So I hope this journey has been enjoyable, perhaps insightful, and definitely a little awkward. Just like tone. Except that with tone, that last picture would be just a tad more beautiful, and with just a tad less ‘Um…’

Oh, and we take the leather off when we go into the vegan places.


62 thoughts on “The Pilgrimage: John Mayer Concert Review, Heat, Usual Suspects, Matchless Independence, & for Some Reason Orlando Bloom

  1. Probably your best post ever. Amid the hilarity were some gems.

    1. The neverending song. The question is, when does the spirit lead you into a new chorus, and when are you just boring the living daylights out of the first tens rows of pews.

    2. John Mayer’s playing. I think what inspires me, is he’s really a singer songwriter. His playing is rhythm mostly, but he fits in leads and fills to support the song. All while keeping the rhythm going. It really is awesome, and I’d love to see him in concert.

    You really need to post some video of you leading worship Karl. I know I’d love to see how you fit in all of the guitar elements you have into a worship set.


  2. You are a very very lucky man. I hope to find a wife who will also buy me U2 and John Mayer tickets for my birthday :P Also does gravity being a harsh mistress refer to futurama? “Argh, the laws of science be a harsh mistress” – Bender

  3. This is the one that did it for me! I heard this song, then watched it, and said… I know nothing about guitar and I have no idea how he makes it sound so good…


  4. Nate–haha Thanks, bro. And I agree on the never-ending song. We gotta remember that as the ones playing the song, we’re going to get bored slower than everyone else. hehe

    And great point about him being a rhythmic player, playing lead. I never thought about it that way, but you’re totally right. :)

    As for videos of me leading worship, I’ll see if I have some. For all my talk here, I’m afraid I’m still pretty poor at it. Got a comment this week that I looked like Ray Charles when I was trying to get into a song. Since I am neither African-American nor blind, nor having nearly as much soul as he did, I’m guessing this is a bad thing. hehe

    Joe–absolutely. Don’t know why I’m that lucky, but I’m not arguing! And lol. I didn’t know Futurama said that. It’s actually not from there, but same vein of comedy…just pre-dating it a bit…I think.

    Ben G–bro! That was my second choice for songs to post from that concert. Nice! Such a beautiful song…I love the ache in the lyrics, and how the guitar just balances that up.

  5. ahhh… mayer. just amazing. When i first started trying to play his chord structures to do some covers i realized how much he uses his thumb to play bass notes – my hands just arent big enough!! he has massive hands, or at least thats what i figure from seeing how easily he makes those shapes…. maybe i need to practice more too….

  6. Awesome post Karl. But…the coffee shop scene was right before they robbed the bank, not after.

    And you’re absolutely right about Mayer. Album=yawn. Live=blow your socks off.


  7. …and how good is the bass in “who did you think i was”?… wow – pino palladino! great work… so many notes, but so fitting!

  8. Cam–great point! Ya, really well-voiced chord structures. And maybe that’s why he uses mostly strats? For the smaller necks so his thumb can fit over the top? Interesting point, bro.

    Scott–ah! You’re totally right! :) Just fixed that as I was proof-reading. I stand subject to your Heat knowledge, my friend!! :D

    Cam–oh ya! Great song, too. :)

  9. Karl you are truly blessed to have a wife like yours. The vid of Mayer was a surprise to me when he broke into “Power of Love” an old Band of Gypsy’s tune with Hendrix on guitar, which actually is one of my top 5 guitar tunes.

    The rhythmic playing style is quite common amongst R&B players and became popular as the blues players like Hendrix started infusing it into their style… Stevie Ray, Kenny Wayne, John Mayer… you get the idea. Heck it is one of my favorite ways to play. I mean who cant get off on a I-IV-V with some 16th rhythm strumming and keeping the strumming the same for both chords and lead? Chords mixed with a lot of double stops=bliss.

  10. Sal, I knew you’d dig this post! :) And ya…Mayer does seem to be a throwback to some of those rhythmic blues guitarists, before ‘lead guitar’ became synonymous with ‘glam metal.’

    And my wife is pretty rad, I agree. :)

  11. epic post is epic. looking hot too, slater’s got nothing on you

    a) bang on mayer analysis. killer guitarist, questionable person. even more questionable hair. great tone too, thanks to all those fragile harmonics
    b) slow dancing is a great, great song. well written too. easy to play, but VERY hard to play well
    c) if you think mayer plays too fast, well…don’t listen to adam rogers. except do, cause he will melt your face
    d) there are very few people who plug an R8 into a matchless and think ‘decent tone…little raspy’ but i love that you are one of them
    e) clearly, wife=awesome

    that is all

  12. Sorry guys I know this is off topic but this community is amazing and Karl is like my idol as far as worship guitar goes ;-) and I NEED YOUR HELP!! I play at a “megachurch” in Eastern Washington called Bethel. I just finished up our practice for this weeks service and my leader (who is also primarily an electric guitarist) said my tone was too “brittle” and that he wanted a Jesus Culture-y sound.

    My chain was Standard Strat -> TU2 > heavily modded crybaby > SD-1 > BD-2 (set to be a > VP Jr > Dan Echo (set to mild analog, borderline slapback) > DD-7 (set with ext tap tempo for longer digital delays, usually quarters or dotted 8ths) > DD-7 (lots of volume and feedback with a short delay time, modulated. To drench it in delay from time to time because I’m a shoegazer ;) )

    anyway he wanted a smoother, more mid heavy tone that he described as Jesus Culture or Hillsong esque. Naturally at first I was incredibly offended but iv since cooled off and I’m trying to figure out how I can get that tone by Sunday.

    He replaced my BD-2 in the chain with a TS9DX, which essentially means I’m using two tubescreamers. (SD-1 uses 99% a TS808′s circuit). It was ridiculously mid heavy and sounded kinda muddy. Totally blurred my picking attack (which is fine when I’m using all 3 delay pedals but the rest of the time it’s annoying). But, Jesus culture and hillsong AU’s lead guitarists both use blues drivers and JC uses a tubescreamer too? As does the edge?

    I guess what I’m asking is how do I use a TS9, SD-1, or Hardwire OD with a BD-2 to get a “Jesus Culture / Hillsong” tone? I’m so lost…

  13. All I know is he can’t keep me from doing my signature “stack your ODs and three delays and strum modified octave chords while resting/holding the whammy bar with your other three fingers subtly applying rhythmic pressure to make it sound like a cassette tape quivering (ever so subtly slowing down and speeding up) because you listen to waaaay to much My Bloody Valentine” thing on the chorus of “Yes You Have” and “Reign In Us” hahahaha

    • Andrew,

      Do you have (or could you create) an *.MP3 file of technique you described (“stack your ODs and three delays and strum modified octave chords while resting/holding the whammy bar with your other three fingers…”). I like learning new things and I’d love to hear how that sounds.

      Thanks! :) — Mike Oliver

      • Haha yeah it’s called “every single song on the album ‘Loveless’ by My Bloody Valenine”

        I heard a lot of good things about the album, so I decided just to buy it on iTunes. At first I thought it was really weird but the more I listened to it the more I fell in love with it.

        Listen to the songs (or iTunes previews) “Loomer” and “Soon” he uses that technique followed by some fuzz from two JCM800s facing each other, about an inch and a half apart haha. Also plenty of delay and a little bit of lexicon reverse reverb from a Yamaha SPX90 rack verb.

        You don’t need all that though. I just like using at least two feedbacky delays at different times.

  14. Sorry about all the long posts, but I really look up to you guys and value your opinion.

    If you need a better idea of my playing styles, my two biggest influences are Jack White (since before It Might Get Loud, mind you ;) ) and some guy on YouTube who’s username is just Tubescreamer. Check out his video “Ambient Song 8″ and “Ambient Song 4″ for some truly beautiful guitar work.

  15. Paul–lol I think he could beat me up if he wanted. hehe

    a) totally agree. And nice Dumble reference. ;)

    b) yep. Hard to get that soul.

    c) hehehe Well, I’m not much of a face-melter, but I’ll brave it. ;) Heading to youtube!

    d) lol I might be hearing with my eyes on that one. But I just can’t reconcile the pricetag on those R8′s with the build quality and three pieces of wood I see in the guitar.

    e) absolutely. I’m extremely lucky. :)

    Andrew–hmm…that’s a tough one. To help get more of a reference:

    1) Was the worship leader referring to the tone he was hearing directly from your amp, through a monitor, through his in-ears, or from a recording of a previous week?

    2) What gear does the worship leader play? I know it sounds silly, but part of our job as worship musicians sometimes includes keeping the worship leader happy, so that they can focus on just following the Spirit and leading the congregation. So knowing what type of gear he plays will help me get a reference for what type of tone his ears go for.

    3) How do you feel about your tone personally?

    And if your main drive is coming from the SD-1, and you’re using the BD2 as more of clean boost/tone shaper, then putting a stock TS9 in there is probably going to do the opposite of making your tone less brittle; because like you said, the circuit for the TS9 and the SD-1 are almost identical.

    My first inclination would be to sell the Hot Rod, and then buy a Blues Junior…and change the tubes to JJ’s, and the speaker to a Celestion V30. You probably will spend just what you sold the Hot Rod for after those upgrades. That’ll get you more into the Hillsong territory, but still give you a good palette for post-rock/shoegazer stuff.

    But again, once I know a little more about the situation, I’ll be able to give better advise. :) Hope that helps a bit! Your humility is awesome, bro. Man, I get livid for like a whole day whenever someone says they don’t like my tone! lol You seem to be taking it much better than I do. :)

  16. karl, that adam rogers ref just slipped out. nothing to do with worship guitar. no delay even. killer funk-jazz player (chris potters quartet) but not relevant. remove from your memory. i agree on the R8 i think (though i’ve never played one). i’d rather have your lp. ok, i’d rather have your whole rig.

    andrew, fwiw, although karl’s advice is really good, it should be possible to get a pretty decent worship tone out of the hot rod. i think jesus culture has even had one on stage in some of their videos. also, hillsong guys often have 2 or 3 screamers on their boards, although stacking requires careful settings.

    the problem might be just an issue of careful setup. is your leader hearing his in-ears or your amp speaker? how do you have the amp eq set? how is it mic’d? i am stuck with an hrd at church a lot, and you can get hillsong-esque with it, given careful mic placement, tone settings and pickup choice. even with the BD-2.

  17. Karl

    1 he was hearing it through his in ears (our personal mixers don’t take much distortion before they start to clip.)

    2- he plays an American tele into a TU2, a Bad Monkey, a TS9, a DS-1 (??!?!!?!?!) and a DD-7 into a new AC-15. Talk about an icepick of trebly treble…

    3- I kinda dug it, but it didn’t quite feel right. That’s just because I’m still trying to get used to my new strat though. It’s my first. Haha.

    The hot rod is the churches. I agree, I’d MUCH rather run stereo into an AC-30 and a Blues Junior or Deville 4×10 but I’m pretty sure our soundguys would stab me in the face. Plus I don’t have that kinda money haha. I’m in high school. Been playing since I was about ten. I’m 17 now. My amp is a Fender Frontman 212 Reverb. Price point and massive volume aside, it is by far the cleanest amp I have ever heard and takes pedals veeeery well. Soundguys won’t let me mic it because it’s too loud and well, apparently they have something against the idea of micing a 2×12. I don’t understand so I’ll just trust em.

    I almost feel like me leader wants me to pretend I’m using a zendrive And a dumble or something. Don’t take this the wrong way but I can’t stand zendrives and klons and such, and it’s not just cause I can’t pay for em haha. They just feel too… Lifeless? To me. Something about them just feels… Uninspired I guess. For what i play anyway. I know for a fact they work great for other stuff cause so many ppl love em and I respect that. Idk. I’m a blues man at heart, no matter how young and white i am or how much I gravitate towards shoegaze :)

    I can’t thank you enough for the support on this man!! :D thank you!

  18. Btw hot rod is backstage, soundproofed and micd a half inch from the grill pointed straight at it, just outside the center of the cone, and I think it’s an SM58? whatever that standard “amp micing shure mic” is hahaha

  19. Paul–haha Alright. Well, I’ll check him out tomorrow when I can crank the speakers. ;) And glad you agree on the R8…sometimes I feel alone in that mindset! hehe

    And great advice too, by the way. :)

    Andrew–killer blog and blog name, bro! :)

    You know, if he was hearing it just through his in-ears, I might consider politely asking him if he wouldn’t mind critiquing it as it sounds through the house speakers. In my humble experiences with in-ears, it is very difficult to accurately hear tone through them. So, the brittleness he may have been hearing in your tone through the in-ears was more than likely the drivers in the in-ear speakers fritzing out because you were pushing so much delay through them. (Nothing wrong with delay, hehe, but it’s tough on speakers because they ebb, and the smaller the speaker, the less it can handle.)

    So that’s my guess. Because, like Paul said, though I still much prefer a Blues Junior, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to get a decent tone through a Hot Rod. I don’t know the whole situation, but maybe it’s possible that your worship leader was just having a bad night, and grasped at the first thing he could, which happened to be your tone distorting the in-ears. Maybe he’ll never remember it, and even compliment your tone in the future. But if not, and it’s an ongoing issue, it might not be a bad idea to take him to lunch, and explain that you really want to improve in your tone; but that since the in-ears are not an accurate representation of how things are sounding to the congregation, if he might be able to schedule a time where you could both work on your tone together during the week, out in front of the house speakers. This way, if your tone is good, he’ll be able to know right away. And if he still feels the same way, well at least now you can work on it from a real reference point, rather than chasing your tail trying to adjust tone to get it to sound good in the in-ears. I can almost guarantee that a good sound in the in-ears will sound muddy and gutless in the house. Depending on what in-ears you’re using.

    That’s just from my limited and humble experiences with things of this nature. Keep us posted!! Cheers, bro!

  20. Andrew,

    It’s great that you’re committed both to sounding good and to making things work with your leader. That’s more rare in a guitarist than it should be.

    Karl’s probably right, it may just be one bad night, frustration, etc. Or, an issue with monitoring (which would be my guess too). If he’s going to lengths to replace your pedals with his, you might (politely) suggest he step offstage and listen to your tone in the mains.

    With respect to the gear you are using, I would just say this: it’s easy to get a brittle sound on the bridge pickup of a strat into a BD-2 with the tone dimed and a Fender amp with the treble / presence hot and an SM57 right on the cone. You certainly don’t have to though.

    For the songs in question, maybe use a different pickup, use the SD-1 or use the BD-2 set for a bit of highs rolled off (or at least flat). Use the tone knob on your guitar. Be careful with how you eq the amp. If you can, put your ear right where the mic will sit when you set it up. That’s what the mic hears. Consider moving the mic a bit more off axis. Ask the sound guy what he thinks. He probably has good ears, knows a fair bit and would appreciate being asked. He is also your best ally in getting good live tone.

    good luck

    • i was going to suggest the pickup position would also help … or maybe play around with the tone knob a little bit when on the bridge.

      one suggestion i would have is to ask him to try to play with your rig. let him play around with the settings on your amp/pedals. once he’s happy, at least you have an idea of what he’s looking for specifically.

      then, of course, change it all up so that it also fits your taste but close enough to what he thinks ;)

  21. Karl- thanks! I haven’t posted or done anything to it yet but Ill get around to it :) I’m sorry tho. I need to be more specific, he heard it in the house as well, and went to go fiddle with my amp, and he heard it there too.

    Paul- Amp EQ was: Bass at 3.5oclock Mids at 5oclock and Treble at 2oclock and I was using my Neck Pickup the whole time.

    Again I’m sorry for getting his whole thing off topic but I really really appreciate it and I’m sure my leader will too :-) but really, thank you guys so much for the help it’s really cool :)

  22. hey guys. im sure some of you have seen this but this is a video of robbie mcintosh playing a jackson ampworks amp. (the amp he’s using for this JM tour)
    No DC30s this time around.
    and on a side note karl, im headed down to matchless this morning to check out a 1×12 spitfire combo to have for smalller gigs. and im getting concerned because im not sure there is anyway of me not buying it. crap.

  23. Mike Oliver–hear hear! :)

    Sam–thanks, brother!

    Hippie Killer–lol Don’t want to risk the wrath of Gear Page! haha

    Paul–good point on the pickups, and great point on the sound tech!

    Rhoy–nice. Ya, letting him play your rig can help a ton to get an idea in your head of what he’s looking for.

    Andrew–oh, gotcha. Ya, then the meeting is probably the best idea. Here’s a couple other thoughts to kick around:

    –house amps can be terrible. They get kicked around, turned on and off constantly, etc. I’d plug your rig into his Vox, and see how that sounds. If he digs it, maybe see if the church will pay for a new house amp, or at least a tube and speaker upgrade for their current one.

    –change strings if it’s been a while.

    –are you using an American strat, Mexican strat, or Japanese strat? Sometimes you just don’t have the right guitar. If it comes to that, I’d recommend searching for a used Brawley…great guitars for really cheap. Or, a Mexican strat with sunburst finish, so you can search hard and find one that’s one solid piece of wood. And then maybe get some Fralin pickups put into it.

    –all Boss pedals are buffered, so you may have too many buffers running into each other, creating a false treble sound.

    hehehe The possibilities are endless! Hopefully though, your tone is awesome, and you guys are just having differences of opinion. If you do nothing else though, I’d change strings and see if the church will spring to replace the tubes and speaker in that Hot Rod. :)

    And no worries on de-railing. My blog doesn’t really have set topics. lol

    RyanJ–nice! You know, that looks like it might have been the amp he was playing that night. And yes!! Another Matchless?! What an awesome day!! ;)

  24. Karl, I saw JM a couple of weeks ago when he was up here in Norcal. The guy is an insane guitarist, and like someone else already pointed out, sooo good at rhythm.

    And Steve Jordan was ridiculous. What an unbelievable drum solo. One of the highlights of the show.

    Unfortunately, JM opened his big narcissistic mouth more than once to talk about how awesome he is. Like nails on a chalkboard after listening to him jam. You luckily missed that at your show.

    Robbie was definitely playing the Jackson amp. He rocked a Duesenberg guitar, too (looked like a Double Cat if memory serves correct).

    And as for Matchless, I just got my Spitfire clone head last week. It’s dead nuts Spitfire save a SS rectifier. I’m running it into a G12H30 1×12 cab, and man it sounds sooooooo good. I’m hooked!

  25. John–right on about the Spitfire! Good times, brother. :)

    And was it a Duesenberg? Awesome. It’s so rad to see famous guys who are toneheads, too.

    Bummer that Mayer actually spoke at yours. He seemed to be having a humble night at ours. haha

    Andrew–awesome! Then I’d narrow it down to pickups, tubes, or speakers. If nothing else, just do the preamp tubes in the Hot Rod. The first time I ever changed tubes, it was just the preamp in my Classic 100, and the difference was unbelievable…simply because the originals were so old, and were the no-name Chinese brand.

    Of course there’s always, cables, buffers, bypass loopers, picks, delay mods for hi-cut, etc. Isn’t tone grand? hehehe Keep us posted! :)

  26. Hey Karl, what is your opinion of the Paul Cochrane Timmy OD pedal? Do you have a post about it? I couldn’t find anything.

    • I heard one better…. The guitar player for the Ranch Rockers had it custom built. I think there only two of them. Ask Gwynn to get the name of it for you…

  27. UPDATE

    so actually the hot rod DID have a green back and JJs!

    I (after two hours of experimenting) ended up just EQing the amp better, leaving it juuuuust at the point of breakup, and increasing the presence. For pedals, I ended up switching the SD-1 and the BD-2 around and diming their levels, and minimizing their gain. Left the BD a bet warmer, SD a bit brighter. Main OD came from SD and was very light and responded fabulously to my picking dynamic, and BD kicked me into medium gain territory, which, when coupled with three delays (and the first delay in that chain, the Dan Echo, HAS a high cut knob. Freakin thing sounds like an ss echoplex. Love it) made the whole thin sound beautiful.

    Thank you so much for the help you guys!!

    Btw I just today got all of John Mayers albums, because people I respect seem to rave about him soooo much. I was skeptical cause I couldn’t stand his radio stuff but GOOD LORD THAT MAN CAN PLAY!!!! I listened to the Twelve Minute live version of Come Back to Bed and I pooped mah drawers. It was legendary.

  28. Sal–awesome!

    Andrew–well then rad! Can’t say I helped you very much, though. lol Sorry about that! Glad it all worked out, and you can have tone you dig now. :)

  29. Looks like you had a fun time.
    Those movie location pictures are awesome!
    Do you ever hit Westwood Music?
    I stopped by to check out Versoul guitars a few years back and the owner was very nice.
    I like JM’s guitar playing and “self-awareness” (I might the only one on this :) )but not so much his songwriting.
    Dude is helping Fender to sell a lot of Strats!
    I had to laugh when someone on TGP shared JM’s ebay handle.

  30. I am not the proud owner of a spot on the 4-month waiting period formy very own Paul Cochrane Timmy Pedal! Saved myself like $90 just by being patient and not buying second hand :)

  31. Dan–I haven’t been there for a while. We should’ve.

    And ya, some of his songs seem a little machine-ish in the studio production. What do you mean by his ‘self-awareness?’ ;)

    And did someone do that on Gear Page? lol It seems like everyone is stalking him over there, but no one wants to admit it, so they just bag on him all the time. hehe

    Andrew–yep, that’s exactly what happened. I think he got to a place where he thought he was just pretty much above any type of consequence; and the media and public let him know pretty quick that that was not the case. hehehe

    Ben G–ya!! Right on, brother. In all seriousness, the Tim/Timmy changes people’s lives. :D

  32. Well, I’m glad to hear that. I’ve embarked on an od tone quest and I will not rest until I have succeeded in finding the perfect overdrive. I’m glad to hear that it gives your natural tube amp overdrive sound. I LOVE my ac15 sound so I’m excited to hear the outcome.

  33. Ben G–right on! Ya, it should push that AC15 right into its own natural overdrive. Hope you totally love it! :)

    Kevin–oh my. I can’t believe you just got that! I thought I was the only person on the planet who still remembered that amazing, yet ill-fated show. Rock on, brother!!

  34. Karl-I actually have The Tick on DVD and my wife and I watch it pretty often. Every time we see any of the actors in something else, they’re all referred to by their super hero names.

  35. Ben G–I’m at a little place called Life Church in the Temecula Valley. I’d love to have you come down if you’re in close proximity sometime. Just don’t expect too much. hehehe

    Ken–yes!! Right on! haha We do the same thing. Nestor Carbonell is one of the leads on Lost right now, and we always refer to him as Bat-Manuel. hehehe

  36. How big is your church Karl? My wife and I have friends in Chino Hills, La Mirada and Redlands/Yucaipa area. To tell you the truth I have no idea how far temecula is from all of those but I have heard rumors it’s like 45 minutes from La Mirada (I went to college at Biola and had friends from there).

  37. Ya, we’re about an hour south of all those places. And you went to college at Biola? Right on! I had/have some friends that went/go there. Small world. :)

  38. Hey Karl, quick question: You mentioned that guitar player opening for John Mayer used a dotted 1/4 note delay. I spent some time with that delay setting couldn’t find a practical application. I am curious how it was used.

    p.s. Ben G (see above) and I were roommates when we were at Biola. He told me about your blog a while ago and it’s been really fun to read your stuff :) In fact I played at a winter camp this past winter season up in Running Springs and we used your Ambient Pads.

  39. Wow, sounds exactly like my experience at the John Mayer concert in Grand Rapids, Michigan a few months ago, only he did talk, and what he had to say, I felt was worthy to be listened too. Told some good stories. But yeah, kinda dejavu reading this post!

  40. I really wish my singing voice sounded like John Mayers. Tone can be bought (more or less) and I know that you can get singing lessons to improve your vocal tone and range but having a cool singing voice, well, that is the magic tone that I would like to have. Guess I’ll just have to settle for playing the guitar! Haha.
    How fun would it be to lead worship with John’s voice?

  41. Ya, I really like his voice. He has really good voice control, and such. Some of the recorded falsetto tone can get a bit much for me just every once in a while, but he’s got a great voice…especially live. :) I think he should just tour the country playing live blues, and then his only albums should be recordings of his live shows. hehehe

  42. AH, someone else got it …yeah and i haven’t been on your blog lately. I know [hangs head].

    “Gravity is a harsh mistress.” The Tick. He’s looking up an elevator shaft. Hilarious.

  43. lol Yes!! Even if someone else already got it, that’s still incredibly impressive. Especially since I thought my group of friends were the only ones who ever saw that show. haha

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