[i have to fill this annoying gap on this page. that’s my excuse for writing this, anyway. currently listening to silverchair’s slave whilst transferring led zep’s disc 2 of their bbc sesh onto my notebook’s hard disk (my version of the iPod).]

to be truthful, i’ve not played my guitar for a while. actually, i do play it (them) from time to time. just not as religiously. work, amongst other issues, is my main excuse for not playing. i miss the days when there were more of us around to jam in the weekends (and the occasional weekday). the last of our kind (hah!) has left for the reality that is working life in kl last september. probably another reason for the ennui. i still have my pearl jam dvd’s to jam with anyday. see what i have been reduced to?

i remembered how i struggled to achieve that elusive tone from a guitar. despite the adage that says it’s all in the fingers, i opted to cop out by trying out various pickup setups and effects units. my first venture into the world of multi-effects was one yamaha unit (for the life of me, i can’t remember which, but it belonged to a mate of mine). i then went on to the boss me30 which served me well in a couple of gigs. the thing was, at that point in time, i thought i nailed the tone that i needed. in actual fact, i never did. that’s the problem when one analyses everything with the retrospectoscope. i was in mookie, a pearl jam tribute band made up of a bunch of other friends from leamington spa, and during rehearsals, i always thought i’d gotten it. then i’ll hook up to the half-stack at the rehearsal room only to find that it’s too trebly or too loud. as they say, it’s always hit-and-miss when it comes to using your own effects unit with different amp types (a very good reason why every musician worth his salt should have his own gear on the road!). the me30 was a good unit, and it wasn’t until after performing this megadeth set in sheffield, my brother told me i had to have the amp simulator on. aaargh. now i know why all this while my pseudo-mesa boogie distortion had this zzzzhnngg zzzzhngggg (like a certain band who claimed that they were aiming for a heavy sound, only to fail miserably… mastering the songs in australia won’t help! *evil*) sound. also, being the unadventurous/unimaginative person that i can be, i never thought of tweaking the volume and tone knobs and fully utilising the pickups i had installed. and there i was, watching the sheffield gig video, going, “… why does the clean sound during foreclosure of a dream went twang twang twang aah?”. silly boy, use the neck pickup lah next time. now i know. that’s my lot in life, always getting to know the tricks after a gig.

as far as experimenting goes, eventually i’d done quite well, after getting my current multi-effects unit, the gt-3. i know, i know. i still haven’t learnt from the aforementioned adage of the fingers+brain=tone thingy (heck, ajie of acidiz uses just an me33 when i saw them perform with sheila majid at planet hollywood a couple of years back!). before you analogue aficionados start heckling, i have to say the tones that come from the gt-3 are quite good. hey, a certain producer we all know has testified that it’s not far off from the pod (sekarang awak boleh bayar saya lima ratus paun!). as long you take time to tweak them. i also noticed that the tone does change with the guitar. the gibson(s) are absolutely spot on, but the epi and the fender (*a-CHINA SQUIER!!-hem*) strat would vary. in fact, these days, i can simply could do without the gt-3 when i play the les paul or the tele. there is a reason why you have to pay good money for these babies!

so, whenever i play, say, the strat, i’d just have to use specific patches which boost certain frequencies not otherwise available (god knows what kayu the chinese factory used on that strat… at least it’s a proper solid block of wood, as opposed to my plywood epi strat copy…*sob*). i would never part with any of my guitars, no matter how cekai. i’d upgrade the pickups or any piece of hardware to optimise whatever character they have. the clean tone on the fender, for example, is lovely, in my opinion. that doesn’t mean i won’t buy an american/mexican 70’s strat in the (?near) future. lalalalala. also, my brother gave (gave, kan, not lent? hehe) me his 7-band eq pedal which does wonders, especially for the kering sounds of my strat.

so, now what i do have are tools to make sure the guitars would sound just as good, regardless of their make. of course, playability differs (gibsons are like soooo easy to play) but at least, none of my guitars are di anak tirikan. i have also recently acquired the ibanez ts-9 (only to be upstaged by king kiasu’s ts-808, but what is new, eh? *evil, again*) which i use during (any little) solos that i have to play. i also read that by switching on the ts-9 with the drive at 0 would still boost the guitar volume nicely (SRV does did this apparently). i still have my gt-3 linked in the effects chain, its main function being an amp simulator, volume pedal, tuner and the occasional time-based effects unit. i have also resurrected my dunlop crybaby wah pedal (i have it before the ts-9… i like it that way) which was collecting dust. my effects chain is by no way original, as thanks to guitargeek and synergy, i got to see how stone gossard’s set up is like. the neon was kind enough to give me his dd-3 as a souvenir and that made my day. now all i need is the diaz tremodillo, a univibe and a sal trentino amp. hahaha. i wish. well, before i have further delusions of grandeur, i better sort out how i’d like to add the dd-3 to the chain. after the gt-3 or have it in the marshall’s effects loop? we’ll see.

i have learnt so much now, and i’m sure there’s still so much more to learn, when it comes to achieving tonal nirvana. i can (so far) now play happily with one setup and tweak the tone knobs and pickup positions to achieve (roughly) what i need. now all i need is a chance to play live again. whenever/wherever that’ll be.