Wampler Paisley Pedal Initial Thoughts and a quick demo!

November 9, 2010

I wrote the following about it yesterday after playing around with it for awhile:

Got mine in today. I’ve run it alongside about ten other pedals today in my own examination and it’s definitely a high quality overdrive with a clear, responsive drive character. It plays nicely with others that deserve the accolade of “a great overdrive” – it and the Tim/Timmy, for example, are a great pair, and it sounds awesome with the Barber UnLimiTeD (or, to stay somewhat more topically relevant, any of the Wampler amp-in-a-box designs I own: Plexidrive, Plextortion, Super Plextortion, Black ’65, and to a lesser extent the Tripe Wreck… the latter doesn’t really need or benefit much from an overdrive, it has plenty of dirt on its own and can inherently sound “boosted” with a bit of tweaking).

It also puts some pedals to shame; plugging it in alongside the Bad Monkey is not flattering to that inexpensive pedal. Though I do respect the BM’s sound and features for the price it just can’t compare sound-wise anywhere on its gain knob. It walks on the MXR Zakk Wylde OD, which is a nice sounding, well-modded SD-1, so I’m going to presume it’d hold up great against any close Tubescreamer variant as well. I don’t know, I don’t like “shoot-outs,” they get people worked up to pick a definite winner or loser when sometimes that’s not the point, but it’s got a sound that does seem just better than several of the ODs I’ve thought were pretty okay.

As far as versatility goes, definitely a lot going on. It sounds great into pretty much any amp model I’ve got, and into my physical amps as well. I still need to do more testing but I don’t play anything like Paisley’s material and this pedal still fills a serious OD need for me. It does low gain to hefty crunch without having to adjust your guitar’s volume, very responsive to your picking/plucking dynamics; I can see why someone with Paisley’s playing style would dig it. It really retains the attack regardless of how hard you dig in, too, so chords don’t sound like a compressed “wall,” they sound like a bunch of notes together to make a whole.

I’d like to hear other recipients’ comments on whether they think it’s got any kind of a “Dr. Z in a box” sound. I am a little hesitant to apply amp-in-a-box if the builder isn’t specifically aiming at that kind of thing, especially since a heck of a lot of that depends on what kind of actual amp you’re running it into (that is, a tubescreamer can sound pretty amp-like when it’s run into a nice amp; it takes something special on the design end of things to make anything sound like a specific amp or convey the general tonal signature of this or that amp). Into my THD Univalve, it kills. Thick, but with great definition, plenty of sustain without ever sacrificing the attack. It’s a sophisticated and great sounding design, but I’m not sure if it was intended to be a “Dr. Z in a box,” so much as just a really nice, natural sounding overdrive. It definitely can be adjusted to emphasize different frequencies more or less, maybe even frequencies that a particular amp would have more to do with than others. I want more input, though, I don’t feel comfortable calling that one.

Lastly, I’ll echo the sentiment that the clips on the site aren’t telling any lies. If you like what you hear, you’ll like it in person. I hope to have some clips recorded and posted by tomorrow evening. I want to do at least two, one to convey a single setting I find really nice that responds well to my playing, and another to show how it sounds when you muck about with the controls. There’s a lot of range in it thanks to the two switches, the difference in sound with the presence off or on is pretty big but the mid contour switch has a huuuuge impact on the overall sound.

A simple three knob pedal it ain’t. But it sure pulls off some great tones. More to come in the days ahead.

Annnnd here’s a clip!

I plan to do at least one more. I had some issues with remembering to, uh, talk into the mic consistently, so at one point I’m kind of half canted and of course with the polar pattern it made it sound a little different from the rest. Oops. Hopefully what really matters, the sound of the pedal, comes through just fine.

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Wampler Black ’65 Demo

October 8, 2010

In an effort to A.) make use of some recording gear I have lying around, B.) introduce everyone to my bizarro accent that I got from moving around all over as a kid and living in the south, and C.) cut down on the MASSIVE FRIGGIN’ WALL OF TEXT I usually have to write to explain my clips, I decided to actually record a demo where I talk about what I’m doing in the clip. Hooray.

Also, kill me, I said “throaty” to describe a sound. I hate tone words, what have I done? 😦

Catalinbread’s DLS is often described as a pedal to get your baseline sound. Run other stuff into it to get heavier tones, etc., but it’s there to provide the fundamental sound shaping in a Marshall direction. I think the Black ’65 works really well like that, too, except instead of Marshall, it’s Fender.

This demo doesn’t even get into the range of the pedal, it’s just one particular usage of it that I really, really like. There are a ton more sounds. When I write a full review I’m going to have to record at least two extra clips to try to show what it can do.

Feedback is appreciated on this different kind of demo I’m doing here – you like it better than just typin’ a bunch, with the clip being nothing but playing? Or does talking about the product help (but keeping it focused to relevant details, I’m not trying to go all Gearwire here)?

Quick update – I recorded a second demo on request from a dude at TGP who wanted to know how it might sound into a Vox AC15/AC30.

I tried to keep the talky information concise and get it out of the way at the front more quickly, and, this time, play a bit of the clean tone before the pedal kicks in at every point to keep the sound context present. I also changed the settings on the pedal, because A.) didn’t sound right into a totally different amp setup with the previous settings, and B.) variety is awesome!

What do you think, better than the first one in terms of the actual structure of it or worse? Still just trying to feel out this different demo format, not sure if I’ll stick with it or not. It is nice not to have to type a bunch of stuff that I don’t think people read to explain straightforward things in the clip.

Quick note: I used the GS-201 Roland Space Echo RE-201 sim, and Overloud SpringAge on both of these clips. The amp sounds were provided by Amplitube 3.


Rig Kontrol 3 as an easy-to-use general MIDI controller for anything

May 29, 2010

In the process of preparing a review for Native Instruments Guitar Rig 4: Kontrol Edition, I put the controller through the paces pretty heavily. It’s had a fair bit of improvement via software since its launch as the original Rig Kontrol 3. Now, instead of just controlling Guitar Rig software, it interfaces with any DAW or standalone app that can accept MIDI thanks to Native’s Controller Editor program. Below I’ve included a brief walkthrough of how to get it to work with Amplitube 3 via REAPER’s Automation. The images are larger than the blog will natively display, but making them smaller obscures the text substantially! So, please click on the image and use your browser’s “view image” function to see the image without any cropping or oddness.

The first thing you need to do is to open up the Controller Editor so that Rig Kontrol 3 switches into “con” mode on its red LED display. That just makes it capable of sending MIDI control data via USB along with audio. From there, here’s what you need to do to have it actually control a value in Amplitube 3 in REAPER.

Step 1:
In Reaper, you enable it as an input device, like so:

Step 2:
In Amplitube 3, you need to assign the thing you want to control to a DAW Automation slot. Click on the “Auto” button down at the bottom there. From there, browse to the thing you want to be controlled as Parameter 1 (Amplitube 3 allows a DAW limited parameters to control, so choose what you need control over pretty carefully if you’ve got a complex signal chain). In this case, though I loaded an Overscream, I set it to control the bypass on a Distortion. Which is just a goof on my part because I’m tired. What it does is makes it so that a Distortion loaded in Stomp module section 1 will be assigned to AT3’s DAW Parameter 1. Make sure to hit “Ok” afterward; it’s sort of like “apply,” and if you don’t hit it, it won’t save the changes you’ve made.

Step 3:
From there, it’s just a matter of going into REAPER’s automation menu for the track (the button labeled “env” by default, right after “io”). From there, set the mode to at least “Touch” or greater so that it will have an effect on the parameter (otherwise it won’t). A second ago we set Parameter 1 to control the Bypass on a Distortion in Stomp Module 1. So, make sure to Arm parameter 1 so that it can receive control input. Then, click the “Learn” button, and hit the switch you want to control the bypass. Now, when you have the “Distortion” pedal in the first Stomp Box section of AT3, that button will control the bypass.

The principle is the same for anything. The easiest things to assign are on/off switches, but you can set a switch to do any number of things, including switch between two different parameter values if, for example, you wanted to have a chorus with two modulation speeds or depths (or both) in a song with the ability to switch between them, or if you wanted to be able to switch between your preamp gain set lower or higher.

Again, it works with any MIDI capable software, sending the MIDI control data over USB alongside audio if you prefer to use it as your audio interface. StealthPedal didn’t used to have any competition in this regard, but now it does, and the Rig Kontrol 3 is a very respectable competitor indeed, with a multitude of included switches and the expression pedal. For Windows users, it’s also nice that its drivers allow for it to be used as a general audio device – for a budget studio, having one audio device that can handle all of your needs might tip the balance in its favor. Of course Mac users with Core Audio see no difference either way since they have audio output built-in without the nightmare of drivers we Windows folks have to put up with 🙂


The Sword’s “Freya” sound-alike with Amplitube 3

April 9, 2010

Alright, here we go. I left in my little count-in on the left at the beginning, because it might help you understand why it’s a bit sloppy on the doubling – I foolishly decided “feh, who needs a metronome when playing metal?” I didn’t want to take the time to whip up a drum track for it because I lack the midi cables I need for the drum controller I got recently, and I’m sick of piano roll drums. So, sorry for the slop. Also, this was just by ear, and I know for a fact the rhythm has a part I’m not playing because a guitar would actually have to be tuned in C in order to play it, and I kept mine in standard. But, anyway, Freya:

And the two patches involved:

1. For the intro and the solo (I didn’t play the solo, but it’ll work there too): Megaupload link

2. For the rhythm part, Megaupload link

What I did here to avoid retuning my guitar is for the intro I used AT3’s pitch shifter. While -4 would make the root of a guitar tuned to standard become fake C, I wanted more control over the dynamics and playing, so I went with -6. That turned the second fret into fake C, and gave me the ability to do vibrato and more easily mute non-played strings. It also helped accomplish some of the “sloppy” sound that the guitarists intentionally go for as part of their sound.

The rhythm part I played without any pitch shifter, because polyphonic pitch shifting sounds worse and worse the lower you take it. By -4, chords bigger than two notes start to sound a little glitchy. So, rather than do that I just stayed in standard and played what my range allowed, using a couple tricks to help get the low sound without actually being tuned really low. Throw a bass under it and it’d sound like I was tuned in C, I think. I might do that later, but I probably won’t.

As for the sound itself, tricks and such aside, I know that The Sword uses Orange amps with distortion pedals. One of them is a EHX Metal Muff. Well, the Metal Muff is based on the Boss Metalzone – different tone shaping stuff and not totally identical, but really close (close enough to be obviously derived from it) so while I’d probably not choose a Metalzone in the physical world, I figured it’d be my best shot at getting as close to the sound as possible in AT3 alone. I spent a lot of time adjusting the pedal and the amp, going back and forth between them until I had the balance that I wanted. The Orange model in AT3 is killer, it has a great sound on its own and the way the controls work makes them very reactive to one another (in a good way). While it’s said that the band uses pedals into Orange amps set clean, I found the closest approximation of the sound came from getting a little bit of grit going on the amp and then hitting it with the pedal. I used mic choices and positioning rather carefully to hit the right spots in the sound that I wanted, and then applied EQ in the rack section using the parametric EQ. For the intro bit I did a rudimentary lowpass with a second Parametric EQ; for the rhythm I made sure the sound would have balls even though it had a lot less gain by using the Tube Compressor.

I didn’t do anything at all in post. I just normalized the tracks, hand-adjusted the levels to match (the doubling meant that the normalization wasn’t 100% even, and I’m a little persnickety about levels), and rendered it out. No effects or compressors, just AT3 doing its thing.

So, there you go, a clip, two patches, and an explanation of what I did. Questions and feedback are, as always, welcome.


Filling some clip requests today. First, Opeth.

March 11, 2010

Here’s one I did on request at the SA Musicians Lounge forum, just trying to get close to Opeth’s high-gain sound from the track Master’s Apprentices.

I could get even closer if I did some studio magic post processing (and, really, it would still be fair since the engineer on their Deliverance album is a legendary metal producer with an enormous bag of tricks), but I wanted this to just be the sound of the software alone and see how close I could get.

If you want to mess around with the patch, be my guest:

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=TIO6HF94

Update:

On second listen, I think the first Master’s Apprentices is a bit too roomy. Got a bit of phase to it that I’m not digging. Try this one instead:

And the new patch:

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=PP8AJV8T


Review of AmpliTube 3 published over at FrugalGuitarist.com, check it out!

March 1, 2010

Alright, my review (I believe the first in the press, in fact) has been published, have a read here if you’re interested. Now to record some clips to show off what it can do. If there are any requests, I’ll be happy to fill them, otherwise it’ll just be up to my imagination. If you have anything you’re curious about, now’s the time to have your say and I’ll try to accommodate anything!


Well, the AT3 Demo is up for ALL to download! Go get it!

February 26, 2010

http://www.ikmultimedia.com/amplitube/download/

Have fun 🙂 Report back what you think?