Monthly Archives: November 2011

Rig Building

A hot topic of conversation whenever two guitarists meet are their Rigs. “What Rig?” I hear you ask – the guitar rig of course! The combination of instrument, effects and effects pedals and amplifiers. The Rig is a source of constant joy, irritation, hard work and worry.

Joy, for all the wonderful noises it can make and the potential for artistic expression it holds.

Irritation, for when something stops working and the sometimes very long signal chain has to be gone through. Again.

Hard work, because with guitars, pedalboard, amplifier or indeed amplifers, possibly an effects rack and all the wiring the weight of the Rig grows exponentially.

Lastly worry, because the conservatism in the guitar world is absolutely monumental. “If it was good enough for Jimi, it’s good enough for me” is something you come across more often than I care to think about. This leads many to worry constantly about keeping their tone “pure” and can cause a certain amount of machismo bullshit – “look at me, I don’t need all that stuff to sound good, I just play and sound good”. Not a very useful attitude when you are doing U2 covers let me tell you.

Obviously things can get out of hand (for one high profile example, see John Frusciante’s 2006-2007 pedal boards on this page) but I think the important thing to remember is that there is nothing inherently bad – or good – with guitar effects pedals. It is entirely up to how, and when, you use them.

This all leads me to the topic of my own rig, as if by pure coincidence! I have been working on it in earnest for a few months now, and it is really starting to come together. Generally my approach is that if it sounds good, it is good. I do not have an unlimited budget and my pedalboard is quite small so I am forced to consider any additions carefully.

The guitar is still just my trusty Hagström Swede. It is entirely stock right now, but next week I am having the electronics replaced and the neck looked at by my friendly neighbourhood luthier at Gitarrist. While the pickups and the general quality is very good for the price this guitar really shows its price point in the volume and controls: they are pretty much rubbish at anything but full on. The truss rod (controls the curve of the neck) has become stuck, making seasonal adjustments impossible – wood moves with the change of seasons!

On my pedalboard sit, in order of signal path, a Moody Fuzz, a Way Huge Pork Loin, a Subdecay Liquid Sunshine and an old 18v version Danelectro Cool Cat. These are all powered by a T-Rex Fuel Tank Chameleon.

The signal is fed into a Vox AC15C1 amplifier. I usually play through the Top Boost channel on a clean setting and set the master volume about halfway up – I get a very dynamic sound that I really enjoy, but I could still use a little bit more push. The reverb and tremolo are controlled by a Lead Foot FS2 that sits on the pedalboard. I have a Stonecastle amp cover for protection/amp stand.

Plans for the future? A new guitar – more on that next year, hehehe! -, standalone reverb and tremolo pedals as well as delay and volume pedals. I have an interesting solution to the amplifier situation.

More on this subject as budget allows!

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The Future of Music?

There has been a lot of hoopla regarding Spotify and its various competitors like the iTunes Store the last few years and it has been called “the future of music” and other exciting things. Well, it is not exciting in the way one might think.

Have a look at this chart titled “How Much Do Artists Earn Online?”. It is not a boring chart, like most charts, but a heartbreaking one.

Have a look here at an article on who owns Spotify. Hint: the market value of Spotify has not decreased since the article was written.

Also, did you think Grooveshark was a good thing? Not so much. From Digital Music News:

King Crimson can’t get their music off Grooveshark

This Morning, Grooveshark Sent Us This Angry Email

Grooveshark Now Has Another Problem: The Eagles…

For further reading, see Robert Fripp’s online diary since ca mid-August of 2011.

In essence, it is business as usual with a slightly worse situation for artists. It is worth noting though that this mainly concerns indie/non-major-signed artists. Well – in theory… Universal Music Keeps Trying To Claim Zoe Keating’s Royalty Checks, Despite Having Nothing To Do With Her (Techdirt.com).

Update 19/11 2011! In a instance of not insignificant irony UMG is now also suing Grooveshark. In their material, one thing they point to is a comment in one of the articles on Digital Music News I have linked to above. The irony? King Crimson/Robert Fripp have been in an ongoing battle with UMG over rights infringements for several years now… The hilarity, and tragedy, is considerable.

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