Abandoned Tone Ideas

Something triggered this in my head the other day; and I started thinking of all the tone ideas that I have abandoned over the years. And how fortunate that abandonment has been for the world as a whole. See, my natural tendency is to think that, if it’s an idea that’s been thought of before, it’s not good enough. And so I’m always trying to push the envelope for new and innovative ways to do the ultimate end of all life. Which is tone. (Just in case there was any doubt. ;) ) However, for every one thing I’ve come up with that I actually end up instigating (that word might not go there) in my rig, there have been like, a hundred other abandoned concepts. Some, fortunately, before they were ever put into place; and others, quite unfortunately, after a good many people heard them live.

So, of course, my next thought is, ‘I should post my stupidity on the internet.’ I don’t know why that is always my next thought……I’m probably just hoping to get some kind of confirmation that I’m not alone. Oh, I hope I’m not alone in some of these. And please note that, yes…they are all completely true. And though most of them happened 5 or 6 years ago, as a 19-year-old just cutting his teeth on tone, a couple of them were…uh…not so long ago.

  • In the search for warmth, I went a while with the reverb on a Peavey Classic 100 (really wet, good sounding reverb) at 10. All the time. That was the homebase setting for my ‘tonal warmth.’ This one would have lasted a while, had it not been for fate mercifully stepping in and letting me read an article saying that Edge never used amp reverb. 
  • I’ve had a germanium fuzz and a tube preamp with the bass cranked, together in one loop, for ‘cello tone.’ I had to be sat down and talked to by a couple people about this one. They said that while I was playing my cello, no one could hear anything else. I said that they didn’t understand innovative tonal ideas. Then I think I went home and cried in my pillow, and then pretended that one of those pedals ‘broke’, so that I was ‘unable’ to play my cello, rather than giving in to ‘the man.’
  • After watching the special features on the Lord of the Rings, and finding out that they made the tree’s voice sound all warm and woody and natural by creating a series of wooden tunnels which the actor spoke into, and then mic’ing the end of the tunnel, I naturally decided to build a series of wooden tunnels that would stand in front of my amp’s speakers, and then travel through ten feet of tunnels to where it would be mic’d at the opening. Thankfully, I never got around to building it.
  • I used a dime for a couple weeks, rather than a pick. I can’t remember why. But it wasn’t because I ran out of picks.
  • For awhile, I had an analog delay with mix all the way up, and about 16 repeats on it, always on. Always on. This one took a…uh…a good long time to be abandoned.
  • Somewhere, I read that speaker coverage was louder than actual wattage (?). So I placed my Orange AD30 on top of a 4×12 cab, loaded the Orange’s 2 speakers and the cab’s 4 speakers with 75 watt Eminence Governors, and then plugged the cab into the Orange’s external speaker jack. So now I’ve got 30 watts running into 6, 75-watt speakers. That’s 30 watts trying to push speakers ready to handle 450 watts. And I wondered why my tone sounded so mousy. Sound techs were amazed at the fantastically anti-climactic sound from my ‘full stack.’ Thankfully, this one only lasted a couple weeks.
  • After coming out of my digital Boss GT6 amp modeling phase, digital was now the enemy. As a result, I played for a while all my Edge rip-offs with 300 millisecond analog delay pedals. (I didn’t have the money for a longer timed one like the Maxon or Moog, and Diamond Pedals had yet to come out with their analog tap tempo/dotted 8th Memory Lane.) In order to get the Edge dotted eighth effect, I set the delays to time their quarter notes with the music. And then I got the dotted eighth effect with my ‘pick attack.’ I’m quite sure it sounded nothing like the Edge. This went on a while, too.
  • At one time, I wanted to have a Line 6 pedal on my board. Whew! Thank goodness that’s over. (Just kidding! Just kidding!! :) )
  • After listening to some Irish music with sounds of rivers in the background, I decided to build a small cascading waterfall that would sit in front of my speaker grill, and then the mic would sit in front of that, so as to pick up my guitar sound through the sound of flowing water. The ultimate organic. Only thing would be that I would now not just need an electrical outlet for my rig, but a water spigot. It was while at Home Depot looking for a garden hose for my rig that I was like, ‘Wait. I’m looking for a garden hose for my rig.’
  • I used to split my signal after my overdrives and before my effects using a stereo delay pedal. The second signal went to a second pedalboard, loaded with delays and phasers, and going to a second amp…so that I could have washy pad sounds beneath everything I did. Though not a bad idea in and of itself, this was back in my ‘analog only/vintage only’ stage; so there were like 6 vintage Small Stone phasers and three DOD 680 analog delays. So I had my guitar sound from one amp, and then an indistinguishable mush from the second. I thought it sounded fantastic. This was abandoned however, when a sound guy told me how cool it was to have the two different sounds, and had been alternating between the two during solos.
  • Mic’ing my amp with a kick drum mic. Thankfully, this never saw the light of day.
  • Wanting a Leslie as an extension cab. This one is current. ;)
  • My very first pedalboard was circular. With a welcome mat stapled to it instead of carpet. (Still don’t remember what the welcome mat was all about…I think it had some green vines portrayed on it, so it looked more Irish and ‘organic tone’ than just plain carpet.) The idea with the circular boards was, as I added pedals, to add boards, and then eventually, like 8 of them would fit together in a complete circle around me. And then I could not only step forwards to turn on effects, but backwards, and sideways as well. This concept was abandoned after only two circular pedalboards, as Dance Dance Revolution premiered on Sony Playstation, and I realized that jumping forwards, backwards, and sideways to step on buttons looked far less rockstar than I had originally anticipated. 

Yikes. I sure wish I had made some of those up.

Splendid.
Karl.

0 thoughts on “Abandoned Tone Ideas

  1. Karl, I don’t feel so bad now. :-) I went in to a Guitar Center recently, picked up a guitar and plugged it into a 100 watt peavey head sitting on top of two 4×12 cabs ( one of those big Van Halen rigs ). Nobody else was in the store so the guy said go for it. Momma Mea !! Now that needed no garden hoses, pedals, wooden tunnels or anything else.

    I live on a street with ten acre parcels. Now if I can get my wife to approve the Van Halen rig, I could set it up on my front deck and blast any neighbors who decide to be noisy. Just kidding. She’d never approve it.

    One night some kids were having a party next door ( no adults present) and some .22 plinking was going on after my bedtime. I limbered up my WWII Russian war surplus rifle and blasted the hillside a few times. They got real quiet. Oh, I’d already called the Sheriff — they weren’t going to deal with it. Again, my wife said I was an idiot. But that rifle has TONE !

  2. I played with peso’s for about two years. My brother brought me back a bag from Mexico (I heard that Billy Gibbons used them.). I felt that it added needed punch to my tone. I quit using them when I replaced my Line6 Flextone with a real tube amp. If I would have quit using the Peso’s earlier, I could have saved up enough money for an amp sooner. Three days for a set of strings until I sawed through them. Yeah….dumb.

  3. “After watching the special features on the Lord of the Rings, and finding out that they made the tree’s voice sound all warm and woody and natural by creating a series of wooden tunnels which the actor spoke into, and then mic’ing the end of the tunnel, I naturally decided to build a series of wooden tunnels that would stand in front of my amp’s speakers, and then travel through ten feet of tunnels to where it would be mic’d at the opening. Thankfully, I never got around to building it.”

    I believe that’s called an “acoustic” guitar. Those who practice the art have been using varying types of wood to alter the sound of their instrument. In fact, the talking trees in Lord of the Rings were cut down and turned into beautiful acoustic guitars.

  4. I loved this post! I”ve tried TONS of stuff too…now, I’m getting back to some simpler basics…have some stomp boxes…no programming…efx loop on my Mesa Express…small all tube amp…good instruments. I have a tricked out Strat and an Anderson…oops, and yes, a Crowdster Plus. all good! Keep up the good work!

  5. Hey! Happy belated easter!
    I tried to think of something I’ve done tonewise to make you feel better about your um, experiments, but I honestly can’t even approach the waterfall rig idea.
    One thing I can say, James Hetfield built a tunnel sort of thing to get a heavier tone on sad but true.
    I guess this just shows your commitment to having good tone.

    I have been guilty of using 3 4×12 marshall cabs in a church service, though, cranked. That was pretty dumb.

  6. Randy–lol So then you’re subscribing to the ‘loudness=tone’ model, huh? I got no problem with that! ;)

    Mark–okay, now that is awesome. You’re making me feel a little better. haha Isn’t it amazing what we do just because we find out that the Edge–I mean, that…uh, famous guitarists do it? ;)

    Chris–hats off to you, sir. That was beautiful.

    Robin–hey, great to have you here! You’ve got an Anderson? Good times! And cool site by the way. If you don’t mind, I’m gonna add you to my blogroll.

    Rhoy–thanks, brother. Honestly, that does make me feel a lot better! haha

    Don–happy Easter to you, as well! And wait a second. Did you say 3 4×12′s in a church service? Now that is awesome. You should seriously check around at churches and see if that’s some kind of record. :)

  7. I wish I could have heard your cello tone and reverb on 10 live. I don’t have any musicians at church to talk to about Sigur Ros or MBV :)

    BTW do you have the Captive Soundtrack (music by the Edge)?

  8. haha Sigur Ros is so genius. The problem was that although my heart was in the right place, neither the cello tone of the reverb at 10 sounded much like them. I certainly thought it did…but others cleared that up for me real quick. lol

    And I borrowed that Captive soundtrack from a friend for like months, and then he actually wanted it back. haha I’ve never gotten around to actually buying it myself, but now that you mention it, ya! I really need to. I dug it a lot! Doesn’t Michael Brook do some stuff on that, too?

  9. Hey Ben,

    I really dug its cleans; creamy and chimey at the same time. However, I thought the overdrive a little harsh and raspy. Also, not much clean headroom at all. I ended up using two of them in stereo just to get cleans that would get above the drummer……well, there were probably some other issues there, too. (Such as, knowing I could never sound like Edge without running two of the same type of amp, of course. hehe ;) )

  10. Thats funny…
    thanks for the quick reply. i have an ad30 and iam thinking about selling it. just needed an opinion.
    i find that it sounds good in big rooms with some volume, but at home, it’s just too much for my room.
    thinking about a deluxe reverb

  11. Now the waterfall thing sounds like a neat studio idea, but not for live stuff. It actually kind of reminds me of something a band called The Chariot did on an album of theirs. They took a cab and put it under a grand piano, disengaged the mutes, then placed a mic above it.

  12. Ben–I hear ya. Although, the Deluxe can be plenty loud, too! :) The best for the price that I’ve come across that can be loud enough live but soft enough at home, is the Fender Blues Junior with a speaker swap and tube swap. Or, if you’re really liking the Orange, you could always get an attenuator to keep the volume low at your house.

    Colty–nice! The Chariot? I’ll have to check them out! :)

  13. They’re really heavy, but they have a strong Christian message that not all Christians are willing to hear.

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