I don’t how I could have missed this! Session musician Bill Ruppert shows in the “Effectology” section of the Electro-Harmonix website how to create the craziest sounds out of a regular guitar and EHX pedals: synthesizers, orchestral instruments, special fx, you name it!
27 “volumes” have been published so far, here is a little selection:
Volume 25: How to Recreate the Theme from Bladerunner (originally composed and recorded using a variety of keyboards and synthesizers by Vangelis), one word: wow.
In Vol 15, Bill shows us how to recreate the sounds of Timpani and Horns, still using a regular guitar and Electro-Harmonix pedals:
In the last volume (27), the synthesizer part of Pink Floyd’s ‘On the Run’ is on the menu:
For some reason, I regularly go through phases where I obsess over the tone of one particular guitarist. I am just out of a Robben Ford phase, what a ride! Mr Ford, who has just released a new album entitled “Bringing It Back Home”, has probably one of the most sought after tones. Legions of guitarists have tried to emulate it over the year, there are even overdrive pedals more or less built to (try to) sound like him.
I have found a few great videos of Robben showing his amazing tone whether using a humbucker equipped guitar or a good old Telecaster. And before we try to pile up gear in a quest to reproduce his tone, the last video on this page shows Guthrie Govan explaining why you’ll never sound like Robben Ford. Newsflash: it’s not in the Dumble, the effects, or the guitar…
Anyway the first video of the series is from the “Blue Line” period in the early 90s. The general sound quality of this video is not great but I think Robben Ford’s amazing tone transpires:
Presumably shot in the early 90s as well, here is a video of the man himself explaining what amp and effects he’s going through. His staple at the time consisted in a Dumble amp, a TC Electronic 2290 delay and a Lexicon reverb (all very high end and very expensive). The amount of effects he uses was greatly reduced over the years to the point that he was more recently seen playing using just an overdrive pedal (A Hermida Zendrive) though rental Fender Twins. He is reportedly getting back into using effects though, that will prove to be interesting.
And now a fine example of Robben Ford’s more recent Telecaster tone going through very little effects:
Finally, Guthrie Govan explains why it’s so hard to sound like Robben Ford, classic:
Here is a cool demo of the Boss DS-1 by Paul Hanson, whom you may know as the host of the excellent Boss US Podcast.
He shows how you can use the DS-1 with a clean amp or an already overdriven one. What I particularly like about this demo is that you can hear the tone on its own as well as in the context of a song (Bohemian Rhapsody in this case). You can hear how well a DS-1 can sound in an arrangement, which goes to show you what you can do with a non boutique pedal.
The pickup market is pretty crowded these days but I think the new Steve Lukather Transition Humbucking pickups by Dimarzio are quite interesting. Known for using active electronics for years, Steve Lukather has decided to go back to good old passive pickups for is new LIII Musicman model. The Transition pickups come in a bridge and a neck model.
What I like in those pickups is the clarity, they are punchy humbuckers with some single coil DNA.
Here is Steve Lukather himself demonstrating the Transition pickups in a video (and announcing his next solo album entitled… “Transition” to be released on Jan 21):