Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Gear

  Guitar gear is vital for a guitarist.  Unless you're playing flamenco in a submarine, you need good electric guitar add-ons.  You can't just go out and get a Fender Squire and an amp and rock-out.  Well, you probably could if you were Joe Satriani and Ozzy's love-child aka, OzzySatan (ie. not real Satan) .. though this might be Steve Vai .. possibly.
  A lot of beginners get like, maybe 1 pedal to shove into their $10 amp they paid $100 for, and a lot of times, the first one to get is a distortion pedal.  So many to choose from, it's important to know what sort of music you're trying to emulate.  The best way is to find out what that artist used himself (or herself) and get that exact one.  Since all the musicians I admire are over 60 now (gosh, I'm old), this makes for some difficult and strategic purchases.

  Now you can get all-in-one rack units.  These are often very good sound quality machines, though run a bit high in cost.  I have the trusty Digitech 2112 (based on Rush's 1976 eponymous album) though I've upgraded the onboard chip to a 2120.  Some people get ones like the Rocktron Prophesy II, the TC Electronics G-Force, etc.  Overall, the sounds are good, but often you lose something somewhere.  I'm sure the engineers tried their best.  Dedicated effects are best, usually.  You can get a rack-unit reverb by Lexicon that's just killer, or by Eventide, though these run $7000 and up. 

  Since most guys only got $100 in their pockets or less, pickings are cheap.  A lot of guys only have the one pedal, like I've said, and what's stopping them is that they're broke and don't think they can afford any.   I've found Behringer gives a nice alternative for those going on-the-cheap.  Here's a list of Behringer pedals (aka stomp-boxes) that will simulate other pedals: Behringer comparison chart.  You'll notice a lot of these are Boss pedal similarities.  Boss used to make some fine pedals in the 70's and 80's.  Anything after that the clay they used for the resistors went on-the-cheap and sound less lush, though sometimes if you're looking for a 90's sound, it might be the way to go.  Personally, I'm for analog sounds.  Cold, digital sounds might be referred in some musical instances, such as Soundgarden, Nirvana, Green Day (nuPunk) and anything "Emo".  (not emu or emu).  These fledgling guys from the 90's could afford antique botique pedals so they went "new".
  Anyway, with Behringer, you can get these pedals for like $19.  One example is the Boss DC-2 Dimension C.  It's a freaky 4-button-only pedal you can't adjust.  I've seen them on eBay for $400 or more.  Behringer offers theirs for around $24 called the CC300.  With my critical ear, like all Behringer products, it sounds a bit thin but with some EQ tweaking it'll be very close.  Here's the 2 examples:

 I'd say they sound pretty close for a 20th the price.  They both even offer stereo-outs, which is good, though no stereo inputs, which is less good, making pedal-chain add-ons odd.  The Behringer allows you to press down 2 buttons to "mix" two effects whereas the Boss does not, making it marginally superior.  Not bad.
  Here's one more with the chorus.  The Boss CE-5 and the Behringer CO600.

 Despite the first kid fiddling too fast, it's very similar.  If you have a non-Apple computer, you can hear the difference in the lushness of the two.  Behringer tends to sound a bit cheaper (well, it is cheaper) but it's very close. 
 The idea here that I'm trying to make is that a guitarist can get 5 or 6 pedals for about $120 for the cost of one and that should get him going straight by way of on-the-cheap with Behringer.  Later they can belly-up to the big-boy table and buy that high-end chorus Behringer was trying to clone, though I suspect they won't be able to tell the difference by their ear for about 10 years or so, and even then subconsciously.  At almost 20 years of playing, I myself can pick-out the subtleties.  The folks at YouTube couldn't when I released my version of Bryan Adams' Run To You They thought it was the same, but it's pretty obvious I wasn't using a 1968 Fender Strat... well, to me anyway.

  The 6 pedals I recommend off-the-bat would be:  Distortion, Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Delay, and Reverb.  Now, you can substitute either the Phaser or Flanger for Compressor instead, because newbies find the Phaser and Flanger to sound very similar.  Use the link above by clicking the darkened-out Behringer text to see the required pedals.
  Personally, I couldn't afford a very expensive analog delay pedal, so I'm using a "Vintage Delay" Behringer VD400.  Sounds good.

  Happy shredding!

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