Monday, April 18, 2011

The Worship Pre-Amp

Since I am sick and cannot sleep, I have little else to do at 4:30 am besides get creative.

I was reading through some of Hillsong's blogs about creativity and musicianship and thought it would be nice to have something like that within our church, where we can share with and learn from each other, as God has gifted us each differently. Being my first attempt at this, I thought I would share something small about a little of my approach to playing guitar for a worship team, hopefully without the pretense that I do it the "right" way. Hopefully this will inspire or encourage someone!

The multi-effects pedal. Its what pretty much all the guitarists at LifePoint use. The POD is pretty popular, but we also see Boss, AXE-FX, and Digitech in the mix too. I can't really talk about the POD or Digitech at all, since I use a Boss, but I hope the sounds I talk about will be familiar to everyone else. I'll just talk about one right now.

Picking a pre-amp is the most important part, in my opinion. Using pre-amp with too much fuzz or too little power will corrupt your sound. I always have my pre-amp effect active when I'm playing on stage, so its easy to see why I think its most important. The particular effect I use is a BG Lead amplifier modeler. I messed with this particular effect by itself for a while to get the sound I have.
When using the Aviom mixers, the way your guitar sounds is completely different in the earphones than how it sounds going through the speakers. This being the case, when I started playing, I had way too much drive on the pre-amp. I was using overdrive all the time. It sounded great in my earphones, but then one day, Jeff Richards and Gary Floto came up to me and told me that since I had so much drive in my effect, they had to keep the high frequencies on my channel low. Low enough that it wouldn't have the desired punch of a good electric sound.

What I did was got a pre-amp effect that sounded so clean that it would sound like playing dry. I turned the drive down to 0 and the BG Lead modeler sounded like a clean tube amp. Then I turned up the drive maybe 10-15% (not a lot, some days I'm at 5). At first, it sounded kind of lame because it didn't have that heavy distortion that makes the guitar rock more. It sounded almost completely clean. But in reality, its not. When it goes through the speakers or my amplifier, the volume alone gives it that epic, mad powerful punch you want.

So don't over-effect your ax. The bottom line is that with a good, clear toned amp model, you will sound much better than running with a bunch of drive and overdrive effects on. Try messing with it sometime, the sound guys might be very grateful if you get a sold tone they can crank!

Drop some feedback or differing opinions on what you do, I'd love to hear from you. I'll talk about other effects later.

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