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.