August 14, 2013 Patrick DeCoste

But Will The Audience Care?

Tone (noun \ˈtōn\): vocal or musical sound of a specific quality; especially : musical sound with respect to timbre and manner of expression

Tone can make or break a show. Venues get a bad rap if someone thinks a guitarist’s sound was sub-par when, in reality, it was the artist’s fault. Blown tubes, over-saturated distortions, too much bass/ treble and cheap cables may all be grounds for putting on a bad show.

If you’re an artist, the question becomes: if you go all out on your gear spending thousands while lugging hundreds of pounds worth of gear (think amp heads, pedalboards, amp cabinets, combo amps, etc.), will the audience care?

It’s said tone comes from the hands. If I were to plug in to the Edge‘s gear, I wouldn’t sound like U2. John Mayer would still sound like John Mayer if plugged into Angus Young‘s rig. To think with all guitarists in the world today we all have our own unique set-up is amazing.

From the guitarist’s hands comes the rest of the deciding factors: guitars (inclusive of string choice), pick choice (thickness, material, shape, etc.), cabling, pedals (inclusive of FX Loop and and how they’re routed) and amplifier/ DI options. Should two guitarists share the same set-up, will their pedal/ amp settings be identical? Probably not. But will the audience care?

With technology rapidly advancing, we may not be far from an amp modeler emulating a boutique amp with undeniable precision – we may be there already with such devices as the Axe FX II and the Kemper Profiler. In 2004, when Inside The Unsaid was being mastered, engineer Larry DeVivo was able to recite back exactly the amps, effects and guitars (including their model numbers) I used on the CD within seconds of listening.

But, again, will the audience care? Of course, there will always be gearheads and tone chasers looking for the next big thing while nitpicking the sounds of others. One of the first things I do at a show is checkout everyone’s set-up. Especially in the instrumental genre where the guitar is our voice, we better be comfortable with the sounds we’re putting out there.

That being said, yes, the audience will care about how you sound if you’re not satisfied with your sound. The audience will care if you clearly don’t. The goal of the artist is to put forward their best show with the most important part of that show being what you’re playing for them.

Of course, you can always pretend like you’re playing through certain gear when you’re actually not. It sure doesn’t seem like this audience cares those amps are fake:

blackveilbrideswarpedamps2

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Comments (3)

  1. Jim Dyer

    in desperation, i snooped around the net looking for someone who used the gnx4 and your site came up. i noticed immediately that you’re no longer using the gnx4, but a complex combination of the 500, ab-switch, separate looper, etc., so first, i’m wondering why you dropped the gnx4. i’ve had lots and lots of pedals and combinations and the more combinations i try, the more frustrated i get, so i keep returning to the gnx4 which — at least on paper, and generally what i’ve found — has the best “one-stop-shop” solution to live performances. i keep running into seemingly unsolvable problems, so you may have already concluded the same. something simple, like getting rid of reverb, seems impossible. i can pick “direct” for amps a & b, turn off reverb wherever i find it and it still sounds like i’m playing in the shower. is it the machine, or is it me? thanks for any help. i suspect you’re busy gigging, but somehow i’ve got to get to the bottom of my list of things to solve on the gnx4 (because, darn it, it STILL gets ALL the jobs done that i want). it just seems uncontrollable.

    • Hi Jim,

      I loved the GNX4 but since moved to the RP1000. I’ve never had the reverb problem you mentioned. Digitech/ Lexicon units have the best reverb which is one of many reasons for their units are great. I found when using delays, I may not need reverb but always use delay. Some distortion/ amp patches sound like they have reverb attached to them but I assume its modeling the mic/ cabinet set-up.

      Any rig you have will come with pros & cons. I, like you, found what works best for me. Ideally, my preference is for reverb to come from the amp but like what comes from my RP1000 better so go with that. Hope this helps.

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