Gear

Current live looping setup

My son bought me a Boss GT-1 for my 60th, so this is now both my primary tone source as well as providing a USB/audio interface. The amp modelling plugins just weren’t hacking it and were consuming valuable knob-real-estate. A decision not use keyboards live means the midisport was redundant so the old USB /midi interface connects the FCB1010 to the laptop.My 3 USB slots on the lappy are now taken, so any additions will require a powered USB hub.

It gets simpler each time, which is my main aim in life – quicker setup time, less to go wrong. Ableton is pretty stable on the laptop, so it’s just down to remembering what control handles what! Now if only I could build a smaller midi control pedal….

Here was my previous setup

rig3

I plug the FCB1010 into the Behringer BCR2000 using a midi cable – the output is transparently passed on to a USB socket by the Midisport (which allows me to plug a keyboard in as well). When looping, two banks of the FCB control the loop operations, with the pedals control feedback and pitch of the loop. Another bank toggles FX within ableton and each pedal has seperate continuous controllers for 2 aspects of that effect. The guitar goes through a free amp plugin from Igniteamps). The Launchcontrol XL controls all aspects of ableton.

Here is some general info about gear I have used when I was using hardware solutions.

The Lexicon Jamman was bought from a wonderful looping guitarist called David Allison. This has the full (32 seconds) of memory and allows both looping and echo. I upgraded it using a Bob Sellon chip, to offer a few extra features, including seamless transition from loop to echo. It comes with 2 footswitches for controlling the basic features, but to get real control, you need a midi controller – I use a behringer FCB1010 or a rolls midi pedal.

jamman

To add some zing to the final mix, I picked up a very cheap zoom reverb unit, the studio 2100. This is run from the effects send of the mixer, either a tiny Phonic MM1002, or the mixer of my Yamaha MD8 midi-disk recorder. The bonus of the latter is the ability to tape the gig without faffing about with microphones, although I regularly manage to hit a button pausing or canceling the recording.

Another rack addition is an Alesis Akira – multi-fx with amazing pitch & mod settings. If only you could combine patches…

akira

A frankly wonderful device is the Zoom G2. The latest in a series of Zoom pedals, this one finally seems to have all a looper could reasonably require. Firstly, you get 5 seconds worth of ping pong, tape echo or delay, each of which can be frozen using a non-latching footswitch. Longer review here.

Another natty device is the Alesis AirFX, which allows you to control three parameters by waving your hands over the device, kind of like a theremin. Sadly, no midi or foot control options are available. Although everything is preset, the interaction of the effects is sensibly chosen and allows you to inject some welcome real-time variation to loops. It’s currently sitting between the powertran and the mixer, usefully converting a mono feed into a stereo’d signal.

Power (if needed) comes from a marshall 2020 power amp into a stereo Marshall cab, or a pair of mini PA speakers on stands – perfect for churches etc where I want decent stereo projection. An awful lot of volume available from a relatively lightweight amp. I’m never short of volume! One side of the amp did die on me, but I suspect the speaker cables had been shorting slightly. new cables, new transformer, it’s been right as ninepence since.

Another fascinating unit is the Red Federation FX Pro – an amazing piece of discontinued gear. It has 4 sections – echo, flange/filter, pan and cut (gate) which can be beat-synced to incoming music. Needless to say, there’s not much discernable beat in mine, so I tap the tempo. I’ve not really got it under control, but this means there’s a welcome element of randomness in using it. It has presets, but I’ve not started used them yet. A joystick in the centre allows me to fade between the effects and each can be switched off. The effects it provides are subtle, but moving 😉

I cannot find a perfect sound, so every few months I try a new combination. Since my early days, there has only been one guitar, the Strat. Anything without a tremolo arm seems half a guitar. My long-term love is a white Strat with a rosewood neck. I’ve retro-fitted lace sensor pickups and some replacement “low friction” saddles, since which I’ve yet to break a string. It also has orange knobs, since I was in a band called “Satsuma”!

Here are some earlier looping rigs, before I went down the laptop route.

guitar-routing


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