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Thread May 14, 2016 editorial: comments

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1 May 14, 2016 editorial: comments

Friday the 13th Wisdom

As I’m writing this, it’s Saturday, May 14. Which means, of course, that yesterday was Friday the 13th. Now I’m not generally the superstitious type, but I played a gig last night where I definitely ran into some bad luck. First, it was raining. Granted, it’s a little hard to tie that to Friday the 13th, as it does rain on plenty of other days of the month. But, as a result of the rain, the traffic into New York slowed to a crawl. Again, a normal consequence, so probably not Friday the 13th-related either.

But then, at the gig, my pedalboard power supply cut out on me inexplicably in the middle of the first set. Later, at the break, I checked it, and everything was working fine. I couldn’t even get it to repeat the problem. Now that…

Superstitious stuff aside, when the power supply went out, I had no choice but to plug my guitar directly into my amp to finish the set, and although I felt somewhat constricted without my effects, it sounded really good. In fact, I had several people come up to me after that set tell me that my guitar never sounded better.

I was thinking about it later, and it occurred to me that having no effects forced me to concentrate harder on what I was playing — I had to rely more on technique to get the parts across. I’m not about to abandon my pedalboard, but it was a good experience to have to play without it. Maybe Friday the 13th wasn’t so unlucky after all.

My experience from last night is a good example of how despite all the gear we have, it’s our musicianship that’s the most important thing. A similar point was made by producer Michael Beinhorn in our interview with him that we published this week. He said: “There are so many tools to make music now and people blame the tools for the shitty music! It’s not the tools that are making the shitty music, it’s the people using the tools that are making the shitty music! If you wanna make great music with the tools, you have to use your brain, and you have to use your heart.” It’s a cool interview (done by one of the writers from the French version of Audiofanzine), and I highly recommend it.

2
Well, my Friday 13th started with my email being down, from 5 AM until nearly 10, 7 9 is my best time for email, before the day gets going. Bummer. Then at the gig the performer's plugin box had a dead power supply, frayed wires haninging out, and the battery didn't make it work. His bummer!

After that it was all smooth sailing...
3
Quote:
Then at the gig the performer's plugin box had a dead power supply, frayed wires haninging out, and the battery didn't make it work. His bummer!


Dang. Maybe there is something to this Friday the 13th stuff. ;)
4
I've been mixing for awhile now and over the past few months I kept thinking less was more
and the whole "electronic in the box" mixing scam is just that...a scam. So yes we need
to pull out frequency 240mZ or whatever so all those thousands listening don't just fall
down while they are riding their skateboards listening to our songs on their mini MP3 players.
I'm sure if that frequency was not pulled down they would just freak out and stop riding the board!!!
I think mixers love to nit pick about stuff that most could care less about. Given the fact
you can tweak the music you're making in a gazillion different ways electronically now people are
lost in the tweaking. If the music is recorded and arranged well and is a good song, the processing will be minimal. And in the end it will be popular. Personally, I think we are processing too much and should
get back to the basics, like trying to play thru an amp once in awhile instead of board. If you are
a skilled player whether you play thru a board or thru you amp should make no difference.
5
Exactly why you must unplug your pedals! All that distortion and phaser/wha wha sound can really gloss over the fact that the guitar signal can be pure and simple and let the strings/amp/feelings shine through! I am glad you wrote about this, seems Derek Trucks and similar blues artists have been flaunting this sound for years. Sure SRV and Jimi had theirs, though they used it to tastefully produce a sound, but sometimes we get lost in that distortion that covers up our mistakes and we forget that there is something in our hands that is personal to us, and that has its own unique sound! Great little reminder!
Keep on shining!
Johnne in Seattle/Everett WA
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Quote:
If the music is recorded and arranged well and is a good song, the processing will be minimal.

Absolutely true. Great point! :bravo:

[ Post last edited on 05/16/2016 at 05:57:45 ]

7
Quote:
we get lost in that distortion that covers up our mistakes and we forget that there is something in our hands that is personal to us, and that has its own unique sound!

Indeed. It's easy to get lost in all the pedals and effects (I certainly did), but when it comes down to it, the most important thing is the playing. :bravo:
8
another great column, a lesson to all of us who learn to lean on effects, electronics, computers, Google, whatever. I am a writer, would not want to go back to the typewriter and toss the word processor, but purity of essence, getting down to basics, is a great thing to be reminded of on Friday the 13th or any other day.
9
Quote:
getting down to basics, is a great thing to be reminded of on Friday the 13th or any other day.

Agreed! :bravo:It was a real eye opener for me to have to play straight into the amp. I'm glad it happened, as it gave me some useful perspective.