The stage and sound techs that can make or break every gig you do.
No two people tune the same, so to avoid a possible tuning discrepancy with your guitar tech, be sure you’re both using the same style of tuner. My personal preference is the TC Electronic Polytune.
Welcome to Tone Tips! This month’s column is all about working with others effectively, but I’m not talking about your bandmates. I’m talking about the stage and sound techs that can make or break every gig you do. With the advent of in-ear monitoring and the trend towards quieter stages, it’s more important than ever to develop good working relationships with the sound techs that have so much control over what the audience hears, and what you hear. When it comes to guitar techs, trust me when I say that having a good working relationship with yours is so important to your effectiveness and sanity when touring. I’m lucky to have worked with some amazing techs over the years, and I’ve finally learned how to communicate what my needs are so I can concentrate on playing well and putting on a good show.
In previous columns, I’ve addressed how to choose the right rig for each gig you do. And if you read those columns, you’ll remember that part of choosing the right rig is taking techs into account. When you share a stage tech with other musicians in the band, it’s important to consider the tech’s overall workload when assembling your rig. If your tech is also taking care of the drummer and bassist, it’s wise to tour with a simple, small rig that you can quickly troubleshoot yourself.
I try and make it easy on my techs by making sure my pedalboards are built professionally, and that my guitars and amps are well maintained. My gear is tight and rock solid when it shows up at rehearsal, because rehearsals are not a good place to put your pedalboard together. I’ve seen guys go into rehearsal with the expectation that their tech is going to assemble their pedalboard and do fairly extensive maintenance on their guitars and amps. This might be okay for famous rockstar guitarists, but us touring sidemen should show up prepared.
Your tech will appreciate it if your rig is in good condition, but it is usually their job to set it up, tear it down, and maintain it while on tour. That said, it’s important to spend some time going over how it works, how it’s hooked up, and how it should sound. Most tour rehearsals will start with a load-in and set-up day, which will give you some time to run through these details with your tech to make sure everything’s working properly. This is also a good time to go take an inventory of all your gear by writing down serial numbers for everything, as you’ll need this information for insurance and carnet purposes. (Carnets are documents that simplify customs procedures when touring internationally.)
Tuning is of paramount importance to me and I’ve learned to always allow time to go over tuning with your tech. In the bands I play in, guitar changes often happen quickly, which means I don’t always have time to double-check the tuning of a guitar that’s just been handed to me. Tuning is such a personal thing—just like no two players play exactly the same, I’ve found that no two people tune the same.
It’s not uncommon for a tech to tune a guitar that sounds perfectly in tune when he plays it, but once in my hands, the tuning will seem out. This scenario can be due to your tech using a different type of tuner, right-hand technique, left-hand pressure, or even the angle at which your tech holds the guitar. So I recommend that you ask your tech to try and copy your pick attack, technique, pressure, etc. when tuning. This will go a long way toward alleviating any discrepancies between your tuning techniques. I also certainly recommend that you and your tech always use the same type of tuner. My personal favorite is the TC Electronic Polytune: I like how accurate it is, how stable and fast it responds, and its bright, easy-to-read display.
Remember that techs and sound personnel are not mind readers. If you want or need something, respectfully asking for it at the right time will help your cause. I’ve seen musicians blow up in anger at their crew, usually over things that could’ve been handled easily with better communication. Never lose sight of the fact that your tech is there to help you, and you’re both important to the show. Treat them with respect, and you will be rewarded with respect in return.
Monitors and FOH
Developing a good rapport with your sound techs is vital. The monitor engineer can make or break your show, especially if you are using in-ear monitoring. And the front-of-house (FOH) engineer basically has total control over your tone as the audience hears it. While I like to be as hands-on as possible, I always respect that these people are pros who have the final say in their department.
When it comes to FOH, I like to walk out into the house at soundcheck while the band is playing (I use a wireless system, so this is pretty easy). I listen closely to my guitar in the PA to make sure my tone is translating in the house, and also make sure my volume isn’t too loud coming off the stage. If my guitar seems bright or dark in the PA, I may ask if I can move the mics on my cabinet, instead of changing the amp settings. Most sound engineers are happy to accommodate, but the mics onstage are their world, so it’s important to ask permission before making changes.
When I ask monitor engineers for an instrument to be turned up or down, I often find that they make either bigger or smaller changes than I need. That’s why this is something I always address with engineers at a soundcheck, since my version of “a little more snare drum” might be different than theirs. It’s usually pretty easy to iron this out. If you’re using in-ears, and your monitor engineer is really cool, you might be able to talk him into letting you tweak your own mix at a soundcheck while the rest of the band is playing. Rather than trying to explain every single thing you want, it’s sometimes quicker and easier doing it this way. But again, the monitor desk is their world, so don’t forget to ask nicely.
Good luck out there, keep on jamming, and see you next month!
Peter Thorn is an L.A.-based guitarist, currently touring with Melissa Etheridge. His solo album, Guitar Nerd, is available through iTunes and cdbaby.com. Read more about his career at peterthorn.com.
Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
Looking for a compact, “noiseless” way to plug in and play guitar? Check out the brand-new Gibson Digital Amp, available only in the Gibson App.
The new Gibson App simplifies the learning process and brings guitar playing to life for the current and next generation of guitarists in a modern, comprehensive, and intuitive way. The Gibson App is the place to take your guitar playing to the next level. New to the Gibson App is the Gibson Digital Amp, the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediate players and pros to get their sound anywhere. The Gibson Digital Amp is an accessible amplifier for both acoustic and electric guitars, and is currently available for Apple/iOS users--an Android version will debut next year.
Use the Gibson Digital Amp’s jamming guide to get started and transform your sound with built-in effects and pedals, jam to backing tracks, or use it in lessons and songs. The Gibson Digital Amp only requires your phone, and wired headphones for the best playing experience, no cables are needed. The amp features 3 acoustic mic presets, 4 electric amp presets, and 6 effects pedals.
The Gibson Digital Amp is the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediates and pros.
The Gibson App uses a unique two-way, interactive platform to teach guitar students how to do everything from playing their first note to shredding loads of songs. The Gibson App features interactive lessons with thousands of lessons and songs. Learn the songs step-by-step with video tutorials from superstar artists and pro guitarists in the “Gibson App Guide.” The Gibson App also includes the new Digital Amp, a built-in tuner, a metronome, Gibson TV, and new songs are added every week. New Gibson App Guides are added regularly and include Tommy “Spaceman” Thayer’s favorite iconic KISS guitar solos, Richie Faulkner’s (Judas Priest) “Guide to Metal,” Jared James Nichols’ “Guide to Blues,” CELISSE’s “Guide to Songwriting,” and more.
The Gibson App uses “audio augmented reality” to provide dynamic feedback to students as they learn and play. As you pluck a note or strum a chord, the Gibson App listens to your guitar and gives you real-time feedback on your playing. It also gives students a more contextual learning experience: Instead of learning chords and scales in a vacuum, you’re able to practice on a scrolling tablature that lets you hear how you sound with the backing of a virtual band. That means you can load up “Hurt” by Johnny Cash, “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison, “American Girl" by Tom Petty, “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica, “Where is My Mind" by Pixies, “Country Roads” by John Denver, “I Hate Myself For Loving You" by Joan Jett, “Heaven” by Kane Brown, “Shape Of You” by Ed Sheeran, “Killer Queen” by Queen,“ Sweet Child O’ Mine,” by Guns ‘N Roses, “Run to the Hills” by Iron Maiden, “Roxanne” by The Police, and “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “The Man Who Sold the World” by Nirvana, “Are You Gonna Go My Way” by Lenny Kravitz, and “Don't Look Back In Anger” by Oasis and hundreds more songs in a wide range of genres, to see how your play matches up with such seminal tracks.
As you’re playing, the Gibson App gives you feedback on timing and tone, ensuring that students are getting active input on how their play is developing. The Gibson App appeals to players of all levels, it’s not just for beginners looking to learn a few chords; the app can assist seasoned guitarists who are working their way through difficult riffs, want to learn their favorite songs, or polish their advanced techniques.
Players can also challenge themselves by speeding up or slowing the tabs. Like having a full-time guitar teacher, the Gibson App keeps track of all your progress and adjusts lesson plans accordingly. The Gibson App released a “backing track mode” which supports both lesson and song playback without headphones, so users can self-select what works best for their current environment. And that’s not all: the Gibson App also packs in a fully-featured digital tuner for guitar first-timers, there’s even a detailed lesson on how to tune your instrument, a multi-function metronome, players can connect to free one-on-one consultations with Gibson’s Virtual Guitar Tech team, and to direct links to the Gibson, Epiphone, and Kramer online stores for easy shopping for guitars, gear, apparel, and accessories.
Learn Guitar With The Gibson App
The Gibson App is more than a pocket-sized guitar teacher, it’s loaded with an archive of exclusive content and original programming from its premium and accessible award-winning online network, Gibson TV, featuring music icons telling their best guitar stories, with more episodes and installments added regularly. Users can watch Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi share insights and tales from his decades-long career on the series “Icons,” dive into Joe Bonamassa’s assortment of legendary Les Paul guitars on “The Collection,” or see how Gibson’s iconic instruments are made in their Nashville factory from body to binding on “The Process.” There’s even a series called “The Scene” that focuses on backstage stories from hallowed music venues from coast to coast like The Troubadour and Grand Ole Opry.
The Gibson App free version features a few lessons a day; the premium version of the Gibson App offers full access and a 14-day free trial, then costs $19.99/£16.49 monthly or $119.99/£98.99 yearly.
For more information, please visit gibson.com.
This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
Belltone Guitars, as part of their Custom-Select System curated offering of pickups, has partnered McNelly pickups to create a one-of-a-kind retro-vibe P-90 pickup in the standard Filtertron size format. This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl, and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
The McNelly P-90 Foil-Coil comes housed in a ‘raw’ nickel outer casing with a dull nickel foil face with metal mount screw gromets to complete the ‘new-vintage’ aesthetic, making it a perfect choice for your signature Belltone custom build. Available exclusively through Belltone Guitars.
Check out the Custom-Select System belltoneguitars.com to preview the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons and all our standard and selectable components available to create your own signature Belltone. Then visit the Dream Lab on our website and select either model B-Classic ONE with its top binding or B-Classic TWO with its arm and body contours select your body color from our wide range of offerings, select your neck profile of either standard ‘C’ or thicker ’59 Round Back and either Maple or Rosewood fingerboard followed by your tuners, pickguard, and strings. Finally, review our curated custom-designed, and unique pickup selection to locate the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons to complete your signature build.
Builds start at just over $2,300.00 with a custom case and shipping included.
For more information, please visit belltoneguitars.com.
McNelly P 90 Foil Tron video Sep27
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the release of the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses. The new Relentless P and Relentless J series pickups feature the Relentless cover designed in collaboration with Billy Sheehan.
As with the Relentless pickups, we removed all the hard edges from the standard P Bass and standard J Basspickups, and added an arch to the top of the pickups to bring the sensing coils and pole pieces closer to the strings. These improvements increase the dynamic range and make active circuitry unnecessary.
The Relentless P and Relentless J pickups incorporate Neodymium magnets and produce 70 percent more output than traditional passive pickups, and they’re dead quiet due to the incorporation of metal covers and foil-shielded cables. To dial in (or fine-tune) the individual string output, the Relentless P and Relentless J include eight adjustable pole pieces. These pickups also have a broad magnetic field so you can even bend notes without volume dropout.
DiMarzio’s extra shielding makes the Relentless P and Relentless J better for both recording and stage performances. We’ve mounted them onto robust .09375” thick circuit board base plates to eliminate the annoying protruding mounting screws — ultimately creating a more comfortable and consistent foundation to rest your fingers on.
The new Relentless P steps beyond the traditional P-Bass sound and can only be described as massive. It has more of everything: more volume, beefier lows, a growling midrange, and crispy highs with better individual string definition.
The Relentless J incorporates a new invention, (patent pending) parallelogram-shaped coils, offering an expanded mid-range punch, snappy highs, precise lows, and a new dimension to the sound of the Relentless series pickups.
Relentless P and Relentless J pickups will breathe new life into any bass, increase playability, and work well for any style of music from Motown to metal.
DiMarzio’s Relentless P, Relentless J Bridge, Relentless J Neck, and Relentless J pair are made in the U.S.A. and may now be ordered for immediate delivery.
Suggested List Price for the Relentless P is $169.00 (MAP $119.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Bridge and Relentless J neck is $155.00 (MAP $109.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Pair is $296.00 (MAP 209.99).
For more information, please visit our website at dimarzio.com.