INFLUENCES - GUITARISTS
The pedals I build are based on music and sounds that I like to make and hear. Since the entirety of our product lineup is based on what our musical preferences are, a list of what we're into may be helpful to those wondering what "kind" of sounds I lean towards when I design a guitar pedal.
Like most guitar players that like modern rock-based music I have a couple/few of them that have actually influence what I like to reproduce (in the manner of sound .. playing style is an entirely different subject). What may surprise you is that you won't find players like Jimmy Page, Hendrix, Clapton, Rolling Stones and all of the other "obvious names" that are out there. When I was young anything mainstream or common was to be avoided at all costs. So when I heard all of the "kewl kidz" going on and on about Led Zepplin (or whoever), I went straight to bands like Emerson Lake and Palmer simply to contrast the cliche-crap that the mindless sheep glommed on too. The problem with that is that I didn't allow myself to hear some of those great players simply because of my own snobbery. On the good side of that same coin it DID get me exposed to a much broader set of musicians that weren't as pop-approved.
I totally prefer more dynamic sounds to the more compressed guitar sounds. Satriani is an excellent technician, but his highly compressed distortion sounds don't do much for me. Same with the likes of Steve Vai, and others that use really compressed guitar sounds. When you watch Jeff Beck live at Ronnie's Place your ears get attuned to his style, and the dynamics he uses. Along comes Eric Clapton on a "sit-in" and the playing styles become glaringly obvious. Clapton's sound is so compressed and ~held back~ while Jeff Beck's is so open and dynamic. I think that it takes a ~better~ player and a more disciplined hand to handle a more dynamic guitar tone than it does with a heavily compressed tone. But then again .. that's a lot of that "anti-kewl" punk talking for me that still owns a hunk of real estate staked out in my mind.
Who and What I like tho hear:
- Angus Young. Plain and simple he's got some of the most raw "Marshall Tone" in the business. Nice, granular, crunch ... plenty of natural sustain ... and excellent sound. He definitely gets the point across.
- Jeff Beck. So let's swing the pendulum to the extreme opposite end of the players' spectrum. Jeff Beck is easily my "player's player". His range of sounds is very exciting, and his playing style and viewable technique is really cool. Going from fingerstyle to using a pick, I love the guy's imagination and musical head. I like a lot of Jeff Beck's older stuff too .. like with Jan Hammer. I saw that recent TV special with Jeff Beck live at Ronnie's Place. WOW! Wonderful perfomance, great sounds and great music. Nice small venue ... perfect! The contrast between this modern and contemporary show and his older live stuff is pretty cool.
- Alex Lifeson. I'm a huge Rush fan, as long as we all agree that Rush was killed in a bus wreck just before "Roll The Bones" came out. Thus, the last album the band that I call Rush put out was Hold Your Fire. Moving Pictures was in my casset player nonstop for about six months while I was in the military. Then Power Windows came out and I was very much into this "new sound" of theirs. Very much in tune with the early 1980s and the way we .. as young folks .. felt about the world around us. Peart is one hell of a lyricist. Lifeson's guitar work on all of that early stuff is phenomenal. Grace Under Pressure showed us his darker side as well as his regae side. Dark sounds and bright cheery tones as well. Lifeson's arpeggio technique is just entirely too cool by the time Power Windows comes around. Missi and I saw them in Tucson in 1982.
- Billy Gibbons. I was in High School when the single La Grange hit AM Radio. ZZ Top started getting my attention then. Then, a few years later (1979 to 1983) my years in the military really exposed me to a lot of "new" (for me) music. All of these guys from all over the USA were all gathered into dormatories and were forced to share musical tastes. I learned a lot about other bands and other music from these "other people" I met from .. of course ... other places in the US. ZZ Top was one of these "other exposures" that I was allowed while I was in the military. (It's also when I got turned on to Frank Zappa). In any case, Billy Gibbons really got attention when Eliminator was released. Easily my very favorite ZZ Top album so far. Gibbons tone on that album was a departure from his "normal" sound .. and I took to it right away. I just love that ~transistorized distortion~ that is so prominent in that album. I've read every "fable and myth" written on the web about how Gibbons obtained "that sound" and to be honest I'm not sure I believe a single one of those tall tails. One thing I am convinced of is that those sounds are made from overdriving the hell out of some type of SOLID STATE system. Don't be too shocked by this opinion ... solid state distortion is actually preferred by most people that like *rock* music. If it weren't then pedalshops like mine would be totally out of business. There are some folks that *insist* that Gibbons' sounds on Eliminator are some oddball concoction (aren't they all?) of some impossible to find Gibson hybrid amplifer driven into "please sir, have mercy upon me" levels. There may actually be some crediblity to this idea .. becasue as I've said here that sound sure sounds solid state to me. Aside from Gibbons sounds, his style is attractive as well. Lots of slide tunings, lots of slide work, and loads of distortion voiced and driven the ~proper~ way to obtain those results. Much of what is perceived as "sound" is actually more of his playing style. You use a slide the right way and you can throw some detuning into chords .. that "detuned" issue is what makes many of those distorted dissonant sounds he gets with apparant ease.
- Rick Neilson. I saw Cheap Trick 3 times inside of a couple of months in 1979. I've been a fan of their earliest work ever since then. I'm totally not into "The Flame" and all of those syrupy ballads, but their raw, less produced stuff sortof ending with Heaven Tonight. The spread of basic rock type guitar sounds he uses in that album are pretty cool. Heavy flanging, echos (from a day before the word "delays" was common within the popular lexicon), and other tricks make him one of my more favorite fearless guitarists.
- Older Sammy Hagar. Oh yes, the Red Rocker ... waaay before his Van Halen days. The sounds he gets on albums such as VOA and Standing Hampton are really nice! Got those Dean MLs going for him (just like Gibbons did on Eliminator). I saw him with Boston in 1978 at The Summit in Houston Texas. What a show. Everything on the stage was friggin RED.
- Robin Trower. The first time I heard the song "Bridge of Sighs" in the late 1970s I just had to have that album. I have other Trower albums, but Bridge Of Sighs is a classic. Classic sounds, playing, and just a plain old "must have" recording for anyone that claims to love blues oriented rock music.
- Boston. Not just Tom .. but the entire huge sounds used on the first two albums. The third album is a total throwout only produced to satisfy a contractual obligation. Complete pop crap. But the first album and Don't Look Back have some insanely cool guitar sounds. The way Tom and Sid work together on those melodies and lead lines sounds AMAZING. It's what happens when you combine a slide-played Les Paul with a non-slide played Les Paul and play them in unison .... wow. Talk about f.a.t. Just listen to those double/triple tracked dual lead lines ... Holy Radioactive Coyotes, Batman! I know full well that a lot of it is "produced" but I gotta say that when I saw them in 1978 in Houston their live sound was enormous! In any case it doesn't matter how ~produced~ it is, or how much of it is post-production .. it still sounds insanely huge. Oh and ~kudos~ (sarcasm alert) to Tom for the huge middle finger to his adoring fans for putting out crap like The Third Stage just to spite the record company. We get your angst Tom, but did you have to make us suffer because you were pissed off at CBS?
- Tommy Bolin from the album Private Eyes.
- EVH's early stuff. The first Van Halen album was a turning point for rock in general.
- Pat Traver's Band. I love his older live work.
- Lindsey Buckingham. One of the "self taught" guitarists out there that are realy good players and writers.
- Brian May. I'm not a big Queen fan but I do like hearing Brian May do his thing.
Aside from those guys .. I have a list of them that is pretty "average" I'd have to say. A stroll through my CD/MP3 collection won't turn up anything too out-there. I mean other than a few things like some Shriekback, Fripp and Eno's "No Pussyfooting" LP (if you want to totally "70's out" some time ... burn a pinner and put this record on ... guaranteed excellent head trip). This album is more Pink Floyd than Pink Floyd ever dreamed of. One guitar and a ton of reel-to-reel recording gear. Robert Fripp put to it by Brian Eno. King Crimson meets Roxy Music.
To be announced.