In advance of our performance playing support for OM at the Rainbow Warehouse in Digbeth, here’s some proper effects-geekery which may be of marginal interest to folks who enjoy making a racket with amplified tubas. Of which there aren’t all that many. Hey ho.
I’ve recently made some changes to my live setup to remove some kit that wasn’t, in the final analysis, working too well. The Danelectro “Reel Echo” tape delay simulator I’ve used previously may come back into play at some point if we can find a way of stopping it from clicking when brought into the circuit.
Also gone is the Bass Big Muff. Amazingly, despite how good it is with electric bass, it simply doesn’t give a meaty enough distorted sound with tuba when used with settings that prevent constant howling feedback. At higher gain, it’s OK, but then there’s all the screeching, and The Jesus and Mary Chain we are not.
My biggest recent revelation was my discovery of Blackstar equipment. If you don’t already know, Blackstar comprises various folks who used to work at Marshall, and are dedicated to producing high-end valve-based gear. Buying the HT-DIST (HT stands for high tension – because they come with a step-up transformer to give you the necessary voltage) was a bit of a gamble, because you can’t try pedals out with a tuba in a guitar shop. BUT the gamble paid off. This thing is magnificent with tuba. It preserves all the low end and you get a fabulous warm, rich, distorted sound.
In place of delay I’ve added my EHX “Ravish Sitar” pedal. It not only processes the signal to give a sitar-like lead sound (which I turn right down to get the dry signal only) but has a second output which gives sympathetic resonance, just like having loads of sympathetic strings on an Indian classical instrument, without quite so much faff in tuning them. It allows you to select the scale you want – tonight, Matthew, I’ll be using an Eb Raga Bhairav scale, and even program in custom ones. Appropriately enough, it has a nice “om” symbol on it, too.