Sunday, July 20, 2008
Friday, July 4, 2008
As one might expect, a wide smile spread across my face when I read Guitar Player's May 2007 issue, and saw that Warren had garnered a lion's share of the hardware in ther annual Reader's Choice Awards survey. Indeed, a most deserving tribute to a fine guitarist, musician, and vocalist. I might also add that it's quite refreshing to see a player of Haynes' style /caliber achieving success the old-fashioned way - by letting his music do the talking. Certainly, it's not the norm amidst the image-conscious, mass-marketed, genre-based pablum the recording industry has been spoon-feeding us for the last twenty years or so (*thank heavens for XM!)
Although the "secret" might now just be fully surfacing, fans and players "in the know" have reveled in Haynes' creative genius for many years. From the searing slidework / solos that are a mainstay of the Allman Brothers' timeless sound, to the incendiary playing and vocal work in Gov't Mule, to the occasional sideman jaunts with The Dead, Phil Lesch & Friends, and the Derek Trucks Band (to name just a few), to writing / playing on a myriad of albums for high profile artists of all musical genres - Warren completely exemplifies the "workhorse" attitude of his band's own namesake. Incessant touring, an honest, blue-collar style; stop-you-in-your-tracks guitar tone; and a reputation as a generous and highly-capable collaborator have made him one of most widely respected and sought-after guitarists in today's music scene. Personally, I couldn't be happier, because as fans - we are truly the beneficiaries.
There are plenty of reviews to be found on the internet, so, rather than bore you with all of the details, I'll cut right to the chase. T21 advertises that this pedal can cop the tonal guise of three primary amps: 1.) a Marshall Bluesbreaker combo (JTM-45); 2.) vintage JCM / Plexi series amps; and 3.) Modern Metalface / high-gain amps. The bottom line: this pedal does what it says it'll do - from the gutteral, bluesy grind of a JTM-45 combo, to the volumptuous, mid-range thunk of a JCM-800, to the searing, high-gain wallop of a modern-era Metalface - what's here smells and tastes like the real thing. The primary amp tones are accessed via the sweep of the pedal's rotary "character" knob, and can be further adjusted using the EQ (3) and gain (1) knobs. The sample settings T21 includes in the package provide an excellent base to work from, so right out of the box, you'll have a few "bullets" in your holster. Stops in-between the primary tone ranges can yield some interesting "hybrid" tones - so by all means, tweak & experiment. As an example, I was goofing around with the Brit one night using my 3TS Strat. To my surprise, I dialed in a very tasty, Bassman-esque Texas boogie tone in-between the Bluesbreaker and JCM ranges. Not quite as spanky as the classic SRV flavor - but every bit as tight and punchy, with a tad more growl. I wrote those settings down on the spot.
Over the past two months, I've had ample opportunity to play the pedal in all of its primary use configurations: 1.) A stand-alone pre-amp - here I'm running the pedal directly into a Tech 21 Power Engine (*basically a powered, flat-response monitor housed in a guitar cabinet; a highly-effective tool for modelers); 2.) A front-end pedal - While it can be used like a traditional pedal, it's most effective running through an effects loop, where its tone won't be "colored" by pre-amp processing; and 3.) A line-direct pre-amp / recording device. The pedal performed admirably in all configurations, though its line-direct feature has proven to be the most useful in my own recording / playing activities. A few of you might remember the tone sample I sent out a month or so ago for "Valley of the Kings" - one of my own originals. That was recorded line-direct, with nothing more than a light EQ and a bit of reverb added.
Overall, the Brit's "Marshall-ness" is quite impressive - a nice, fat bottom end; crunchy, agressive mid-order harmonics; and soaring high's for lead work. Everything you'd expect in a Marshall - - but without the mortgage. Bravo Tech 21!
If you'd like to hear some samples of the pedal in action, here's a few Box.Net links with clips. All were recorded direct through a Zoom MRS-8, with only light EQ'ing and reverb added. Samples #1 & #2 are a old jam favorites of mine; #3 & #4 are JN originals - in case you were wondering. Crank 'em up. - J.