Guitars are beautiful instruments. Second from the left is my 1976 Gibson Les Paul. Despite being over 40 years old, that guitar still plays like new. And it looks great for its age. I never really appreciated just how complex a job it is to build a Les Paul style guitar until I came across this video.
A bit long at roughly 23 minutes, I nonetheless watched it in one sitting, amazed at the luthier’s skill.
This thread on apartment guitar rigs was trending on The Gear Page. Most players seemed to be using their amps in their apartments.
Very challenging to get great tone from an amp at low volume levels. I tried. I bought this amazing Swart STR Tremolo:
Love this amp. Rated at 5 watts, it is still way too loud in small spaces. It is way too loud even on smaller stages. And most of my playing takes place on silent stages these days. So I switched to digital a few years back — Kemper, Fractal and Helix.
My indoor rig? The Helix paired with AKG K702 studio headphones. I can play at levels that would never bother anyone although I try to be careful not to damage my hearing by playing too loud.
The K702’s are reference, open, over-ear studio headphones for precision listening, mixing and mastering. They combine an extremely accurate response with agility and spaciousness. This is achieved by using revolutionary flat-wire voice coils and a patented Varimotion two-layer diaphragm. A totally open design and a high-performance cable complete these reference headphones. The K702’s comfortable, specially shaped 3D-foam ear pads and a genuine-leather headband ensure a perfect fit. They provide a professional mini XLR connector for quick replacement of the cable. The K702s are individually tested and serial-numbered.
For tuning presets on the Helix, I find that I need to have an accurate playback system and I have to be able to get the levels up. The 702s are perfect for this application. I can play for hours without listening fatigue and I know that what I am hearing is what I will get when I use the preset live. I carry a pair of Genelec studio monitors with me but I prefer the 702s for personal practice. Less intrusive to those around me particularly when I practice the same set of songs over and over. I can also mix in other sound sources making it easy to play along with the rehearsal tracks without troubling those around me.
I can’t imagine using a small amp in an apartment setting unless the sound isolation between units was really effective. Even at low volume levels, the sound of a guitar can travel easily between most walls.
Delays. An integral part of the Praise and Worship sound. Jordan Holt does a great job walking through the process of dialing in delay pedal regardless of genre. Some good tips.
Haven’t ever used one. I’ve worked on all sorts of consoles over the years, from the big SSL and Neve desks all the way down to the small Soundcraft and Mackie mixers.
On the digital side, many churches install the Behringer X32 console. Decent board, easy to navigate.
I have only just started seeing the GLD-80 in churches. It is being used in the church I attend down in Florida and at the church I attend in Canada. I don’t have any data points to determine the relative popularity of the GLD over the X32 consoles in churches so it could well be that I haven’t been attending the right churches!
I’ll get to work with it in early July for a week.
To get familiar with the console, I downloaded the GLD editor, a software app that mimics the functionality of the board very closely.
Aside from the routing, which would vary considerably from site to site, the basics are conceptually similar to most any digital console. The workflow looks pretty straightforward as well. The installation uses an L-C-R system design, not all that common in live sound, and that will be a fun environment in which to mix.
It was only a matter of time before Kemper profiles would find their way on multitracks.com. Somewhat expensive though. Nigel’s profiles are priced out at $30 USD each. Not sure why this hadn’t happened earlier. I wonder if they will do the same for Helix or leave that part of the market to Worship Tutorials.
The preset market, whether for Kemper or Helix, is still largely a cottage industry, typically run on a best effort basis by the passion of the individual preset creator.
Bringing this part of the market into commercial sites like multitracks.com signals a pretty interesting shift in how churches can equip musicians. I can see a scenario where a worship leader not only sets the parts for a guitarist but integrates a link to the specific preset for the song to download straight into a Kemper of Helix. No more worries about how the guitar rig might sound on a Sunday. Might still have to worry about the talent of the player.
I am a big fan of Tim Pierce. Not only is he a great player, Tim is a great contributor to the guitar community. I’ve learned a lot from his YouTube channel.
You can learn more about Tim at his website over here.
He recently posted a video on pedalboards. I found it interesting to see how some of the big name players are outfitting their tone. Dave Phillips and Tim walk through the setup of two pedalboards, one for Joe Perry and the other for Neal Giraldo. And Tim plays through a third pedalboard. Dave is from L.A. Sound Design.
Take a look.
Making far more use of in-ear systems for monitoring. I suspect the days of playing live with wedges on stage will be behind me for the most part. Most of my playing will be on silent stages. Earphones become significantly more important in this context.
I had a pair of Shure SE425 earphones. They were okay. Not great. Just okay. For me. I decided it was time to update the earphones. I went wandering about the web and came across a number of great options.
Expensive though. Professional quality earphones for musicians are not cheap. I opted to stay with universals. I am not all that keen on the custom units. Just a personal preference. I can get pretty close to a custom fit with a decent pair of silicon universals.
I landed on the Empire Ears ESR Universals. A bit pricey at around $1,100 CAD although positioned at the mid-tier pricing level for this class of technology. You could easily spend two or three thousand on a pair.
I’ve been breaking them in. Spent most of last week playing with them on and I really love the sound. Very linear. Which is what I am used to hearing through studio monitors and studio headphones. These are not the earphones for you if you are looking for some hyped bass, strong midrange or sizzling highs.
As a musician, I prefer earphones that convey a realistic sound field. These ones really rock!
Empire describes them this way:
The ESR features a powerful 4-way synX crossover network with 3 proprietary drivers to reproduce the sonic transparency and critical details needed for mixing and mastering.
The ESR is Empire’s flattest in-ear monitor and it delivers uncompromising dynamics, ultra-fast transient response, and wide dispersion for use in studios and on stage.
This video review provides more insight into the company and their earphones.
I have played in churches since I was 16 years old. Almost 50 years now. Hard to believe. Back when I started, electric guitar players were not necessarily the most popular member of a praise and worship team. There was a fair stretch of time, almost ten years, when I served only on bass guitar as electric guitar was not to be played at church.
Then came a new generation of worship music and worship leaders. Contemporary Christian music evolved to become the mainstream style of worship music for many evangelical churches. And it opened up opportunities to serve on electric guitar.
When I retired last year and moved away, I was really concerned about whether there would still be opportunities to continue serving a church in music.
I am so thankful to have found churches in both the United States and Canada that have welcomed me into their worship ministries.
We just came back to Canada on May 1st and I am already fully engaged at our new church home, Harvest Barrie.
A little apprehensive as I will be doing a number of firsts for this coming weekend. First time out with a new team of players. First time out on a new stage. First time out with a new guitar. First time playing through a new (to me) sound system.
Our church provides a silent stage so I will be playing through my Helix. I have to have 8 songs memorized for Sunday. No music stands. And the monitoring system is all in-ear with the band playing to a click track.
I have a bunch of resources that I use to help me prepare. These include:
Planning Center Online – this is where the worship leader posts the songs and the charts
Worship Artistry – I have been a long-time subscriber to this service. I find it is a quick way to get at the various guitar parts in worship song. Many of the songs we use feature a variety of guitar parts with specific hooks, tones, arpeggios that need to be learned
Worship Online – Similar to worship artistry. Handy if the worship team is going to have a second electric guitar
Rehearsal Mix – a life-saver for me. Often the keys are different from the original cover and it is very helpful when memorizing the tunes to groove in the muscle memory in the correct key
For the Helix, I have used presets from Worship Tutorials, Alex.guitars and Guitar For His Glory. And I have acquired numerous IRs for the cabs on the Helix. But, what winds up happening now, is I build my own presets. A preset for each song with multiple snapshots depending on how the tones need to change for that song (e.g., intros, verses, choruses).
I have the time to really nail the tunes now and it has been a lot of fun getting the fingers stronger and getting into the finer aspects of tuning the Helix platform. I continue to be impressed with what the Helix can do.