Many people have been asking for sometime for a description of my on stage tech set up. Whilst it does vary slightly from tour to tour depending on what ideas I might be playing with creatively there is a basic set up that stays the same gig after gig. No matter where I’m playing, UK or abroad I always try to take certain gear with me that gives me the consistent sound and flexibility I like.
The first, and probably the most important bit of gear is my Orchid Acoustic Pre amp which fasten to the side of my Mic stand. This has lovely warm EQ so I can remove the harsh mid range that is the enemy of a decent DI’d acoustic guitar sound. It also lets me change the volume at any time should I need to do so. It runs on phantom power from the sound desk so I don’t need to worry about batteries going down and has a mute button on the top, which means I can change guitars quickly in between songs. Whilst on the subject of changing guitars, which sometimes I like to do quickly so as to seamlessly run into another song, I use a Sennheiser wireless pack which helps in this process. Because the wireless cord is attached to me as such I can easily mute, pick up the new guitar and plug it in a lot quicker than if I was using a standard chord. Playing wirelessly gives me the freedom to move anywhere I like on the stage and that plays its part in the creativity of the night for me for as many of you know I like to wander around!
The basis of my pedal board is as follows. I use a Roland Boss DD-20 Giga delay- this provides with me the subtle delay effects I use which I customise to the rhythm of certain songs, though the one I use the most is the second pre set which has a beautiful gentle echo that almost sounds like distant reverb and gives the sound a gentle expansion without getting in the way. For general reverb I use the Boss RV5 pedal and usually have it on the room setting. Not too much just enough to give a small amount of width especially when Im using a thumping rhythm feel. Many times I’m asked how I get the low end bass sound that appears on some of the songs. I use a Boss OC3 Super Octave Pedal for this effect, though it takes some time and practice to find the right technique. You have to think like a bass player for the lower strings and it doesn’t really work for strumming. Occasionally I use a tremolo effect and that is provided by a Boss TR2. I also carry an additional smaller Delay pedal, the Boss DD3. That’s the basic rig though I do add pedals occasionally like a loop station if I want to do a bit of that stuff.
In the last year I have used a stomp box on stage which produces the sound of a kick drum when I tap it with my foot. I have tried a number of different models that do this but the best by far is made by an American company called Porch Board (poracgboard.com). The Porch Board Micro Floor Bass is the model I use. It doesn’t need a lot of extra EQ either, just plug it in and kick away!
Vocal Mic is always an SM58. I have tried others through the years but nothing has yet sounded better for my voice.
The beauty of it all is that it gives me control of the sound. At festivals or in the US/Canada, where I’m relaying on in house engineers and don’t have my own sound guy, I know that I’m giving them a good sound from source and don’t need to rely on that being done from a sound desk out front. The tone of my guitar is so important to me and something that I work very hard at achieving. As long as I know I the sound is good I can concentrate on communicating and not be distracted by anything else.