march 2015

John Bohlinger—Lee Brice sideman and PG Rig Rundown and Review Demo badass—deconstructs the simple techniques he uses to sound great when playing slide in standard tuning.

Premier Guitar’s John Bohlinger reveals his personal playing tips and tricks in short, bite-sized lessons. In this clip, he shows you some techniques to use when you’re playing slide guitar in standard tuning.

A powerful pitch-shifter that offers both octaves and fifths.

While octave effects have been around since the late ’60s (see: “Purple Haze”), they seem to be enjoying a resurgence, often with the promise of faux-organ and 12-string simulations. One recent option is the Quint Machine from Denmark’s T-Rex, which provides not only octave-up and octave-down transpositions, but harmonized fifths as well, enabling crunch power chords via a single finger on the fretboard.

The Great Divider
T-Rex’s Quint Machine resides in a compact enclosure decorated in purple-on-purple Cheshire Cat stripes. There are separate level knobs for the three available transpositions, plus a global wet/dry mix control. Just one concern about the enclosure: Opening it requires a star wrench, which T-Rex provides in the package. You’d better remember to take it to the gig in case you need a fresh battery mid-show. The input and output jacks are top-mounted.

Ratings

Doing the Splits
I auditioned the Quint Machine with a full band, playing a Fender Stratocaster through an Orange OR50. I found usable settings with just a few knob-twists, notably a nice faux-12-string sound with the -1 octave knob at 10 o’clock and +1 octave and mix around noon. Using the Strat’s bridge position heightened the effect.

With help from an upstream distortion pedal, the Quint Machine does the White Stripes thing fairly well. I happened to have a NYC Big Muff around, and combining its chunky crunch with the right Quint setting (-1 octave at noon, +1 octave maxed, and mix around 3 o’clock) conjured the sound of J. White’s “Blue Orchid” riffage. Listening to the Quint alongside another pitch-shift effect (an original EHX POG) I found the T-Rex pedal markedly quieter and brighter.

I set out to see if I could capture a more classic rock-style octave effect with the Quint. I got the best results with Quint running after the fuzz with mix at noon and +1 octave around 10 or 11 o’clock. But I wasn’t able to capture the sputtering sustain and magic that defines, say, Hendrix’s Octavia tone.

Playing root-fifth and root-fifth-octave power chords using single notes sounds less organic with the Quint than playing the individual notes yourself, but that’s true with most octave dividers, Still, I like the way the effect generates cool harmonies with a quasi-synth tone. This can sound absolutely massive in a single-guitar band, giving the impression of two axes in tandem. Playing a Les Paul, I found my favorite lead tone with +1 fifth pushed to 2 o’clock and mix at 11 o’clock. Coupled with a favorite fuzz, both single notes and complex chords had crushing presence that any caveman could love.

The Verdict
When considering choosing an octave divider, consider your needs. The Quint Machine might not provide the maximum number of pitches to twiddle with, but the ones it has sound excellent with all sorts of pickups. Another factor is the $249 price tag—for that kind of cash you can purchase something with more pitches to control. That said, the T-Rex tracks better than much of the competition, and the ability to blend the three pitches can help you discover new tones. The Quint Machine covers the basics and provides plenty of room to grow.

Watch the Review Demo:

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A petite and powerfully tweakable chorus offering Tone Print technology.

Mini pedals seem to be spreading like a plague of mice these days. But where many manufacturers use the mini-pedal platform to simply stuff a simplified, more compact digital circuit into a matchbox-sized enclosure, TC Electronic has adapted their Tone Print parameter editing-and-uploading technology to the super-compact pedal format.

Those who play the Corona Mini without dabbling in Tone Print tricks will find the pedal capable and musical. It’s great for ’80s-vintage Johnny Marr tones, and I particularly enjoyed the Leslie-style sounds at faster speeds and depths. The real fun of the Corona and its other mini siblings (there are mini versions of the Flashback delay, Shaker vibrato, HOF reverb, and Vortex flanger, among others) is the Tone Print capability. You can download plenty of existing artist-created Tone Prints that will add, say, additional thickness or warble to the default settings. But if you really want to reshape the Corona to suit your playing, the Tone Print editor is both fun and a genuinely powerful tool for tailoring sounds. The editor is intuitive—especially after a little practice—and the adjustments can be surprisingly transformative, particularly with more aggressive depth settings. Whether you use Tone Print or not, the Corona Mini is an impressive little chorus. But the combination of compact convenience and Tone Print flexibility set the Corona apart in the now-burgeoning mini-pedal marketplace.

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