April 2014 Update: Guitar Rig, New Album, Revival Amps, #UN1T5D
Lotta exciting things happening – first of all, Hillsong UNITED has been leaking studio shots from the beginnings of their next album, as far as I can tell codenamed #UN1T5D. I don’t know what that stands for (obviously a tie to UNITED – is this their fifth studio album?), but – needless to say – I’m very excited for it. ZION is one of my favorite albums right now.
Moving right along, those of you who’ve been keeping up will know that I’m also hugely excited for Drew Shirley’s amp company, Revival Amps. As of April 1, they’re accepting orders for new amps. I can’t wait to get my hands on a 12E1 model (12″ speaker), hopefully sometime this year. You can see and hear the amps at http://www.revivalamps.com.
Closer to home, I’m currently writing (and aiming to finish this weekend) an article for The Church Collective on amps and headroom, and how they can affect your tone and playing dynamic. Fun stuff. If you haven’t checked out The Collective, please do – it’s a great resource for worship leaders and musicians, with a lot of helpful blog articles and also preset libraries for the Eventide Timefactor and Space, Line 6 PODs, and the Strymon Timeline & BigSky. You can see it all here.
ALSO, my church in Memphis (Highpoint Church) is releasing the Live to Love [Deluxe Edition] record this Sunday, April 6. We’re all super excited. It’s a re-release of the 2012 record Live to Love with some extra features: a live recording and video of “Risen King of Glory,” as well as a stripped-down version and video of the same. I’m particularly excited because I got to play on the live version of RKOG! It was great. You can check out Highpoint Worship here, and I’ll post the link to L2L Deluxe in iTunes once it’s up. Here’s the live video:
Finally, I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about my guitar rig and how I use a lot of my pedals, so I’ll post a gear rundown here:
Right now I’m basically only using my Elliott Tonemaster and Matchless Lightning 1×12″, but I do occasionally bring out my ’63 Jazzmaster or Supro Trojan amp for different things. My pedalboard is:
Guitar > Diamond Comp > Goodrich VP > JHS Bunrunner > JHS Prestige boost > JHS Morning Glory > JHS Moonshine > JHS Superbolt > EHX Micro POG > Strymon Timeline > EHX DMMTT1100 > Menatone Pleasure Trem 5000/Malekko Vibrato > Boss tuner > Stereo WET.
The most common questions I’m getting right now are:
1. How do you like/use _______ drive pedal?
2. How do you use your Bunrunner?
3. How do you use your delays?
So I’ll just answer those right down the list.
1. I love all of my drive pedals. JHS makes absolutely great stuff, and although my drive section is (for now) all JHS, I also love pedals from Walrus Audio, Emerson Custom, and Bearfoot FX, and there are tons more that I just haven’t tried yet. So, my first “gain stage”* is the Morning Glory. It’s almost always on, just to add a little bit of grit to my tone. I run my Matchless totally clean, and use the MG to get it to “edge of breakup” or a little past that. For more gain, I’ll use either the Moonshine or Superbolt by themselves or stacked with the MG. The Moonshine is, to me, a more versatile drive, whereas the Superbolt really nails that Supro/Valco/Tweed breakup tone – and is a fantastic drive pedal by itself – but doesn’t have quite the range of tones that the Moonshine does. That’s not a downside to the Superbolt, just a difference between the two. The Moonshine is based on a TS-style overdrive sound, which is a great base overdrive tone to have, and is very shapeable in terms of its gain range and tonality – I can get anything from throaty blues to piercing ’80s rock from the Moonshine. So, I like them all and use them all in different ways that compliment what I’m playing.
*as someone pointed out on TGP recently, one pedal circuit can represent multiple gain stages within a guitar rig; however, since “gain stage” has come to refer to a pedal as one “stage” on a pedalboard, I’m going to stick with that terminology for this discussion.
2. The JHS Bunrunner is great. Yes, I bought it because I love Drew Shirley (I also got it signed by him at a meet & greet). The Bunrunner is a 2-in-1 pedal, the right side being a Tonebender clone and the left being a JHS Astro Mess fuzz – germanium and silicon, respectively. When I first got it, I absolutely loved the Tonebender side, but for the past 6 or so months I’ve been using the Astro Mess almost exclusively. The TB is more affected by temperature and humidity, so the external Bias control comes in a lot of handy when adjusting your fuzz tone. In general, I’d say the TB side is more squishy and the Astro Mess is spittier and nastier. Both great fuzzes with a wide range of applications – I tend to just cycle between which one I use the most. I’ve found that both sides react well to having the Morning Glory on after them, to fill out a little of the decay inherent in the fuzz.
3. I have two delays: the Strymon Timeline (digital) and the EHX Deluxe Memory Man Tap Tempo 1100 (analog). I always tell people that the Timeline is the “brain” of my delay sounds – digital, programmable, 100 preset banks, infinite tweak ability. For a week’s set, I’ll usually browse the Church Collective preset library to see if there’s an existing preset for the songs we’re doing (assuming they’re not Highpoint songs) and download those onto the Timeline if they require a specific delay setting. Otherwise, I’ll generally stick to a couple of my favorites: a “Worship” setting I created, which is just a simple dotted eighth digital delay with a little modulation, and the Strymon presets “EEPLEX” and “Marigold” for a nice tape sim and a big shimmery wash, respectively. Every so often, I’ll use the DMMTT as the main delay in a song (usually set either to a quarter note or dotted eighth subdivision), but its main role is just as a big washy delay in the back: low mix, med-high repeats, nice modulation. Especially when I’m trying to create ambient washes or do slide parts, I run a main delay from the Timeline into the DMMTT set like that, usually with only the Timeline set to tempo (leaving the DMMTT off tempo is a trick James Duke gave me). Additionally, I’ve got the DMMTT hooked up to a mini expression knob from This1smyne which controls the repeats, so at the twist of my foot I can send it into crazy oscillating feedback. It’s a blast.
So there you have it! I hope that clears up some questions and gives you some new ideas for guitar gear.