Posted by: worshipguitarguy | August 15, 2008

Q&A 1:Boss Metal Zone, Delay and Reverb

Q:  Um…I have a question about the MT-2 metal zone pedal. Is it too strong for worship music? because I’ve seen other youthgroups using it.  -Emily

A:  Good question Emily.  Alot of young guitar players like the Metal Zone because it gives you that real heavy distorted guitar sound.  The thing is that sound is really the only one the Metal Zone does, it can’t create a variety of different distortion sounds.

For most modern worship music, you want more overdrive/distortion options to work with.  Even many “harder” bands often use less distortion than people realize.  For more variety, here are two good pedals to look at:

Visual Sound Route 66:  If you want an overdrive pedal with variety, the Route 66 is a good choice.  The Route 66 is two effects in one: it’s both a compressor and an overdrive.  The compressor side warms up your sound, giving it more sustain (meaning your notes will ring out longer.)  And the overdrive side on the Route 66 can go from a mildly clean sound to a slightly distorted tone.  I had the Route 66 on my board for quite a while before replacing it with some custom pedals.

The Route 66 pedal retailed for $150, which may seem expensive, but I’ve seen them go on ebay for much less.  You can probably get one for about the same price as a new Metal Zone

(Note, the original Route 66 has been discontinued and replaced by the V2 Route 66 Model)

ProCo Rat:  For a bit heavier of a sound “The Rat” is one of the most popular distortion pedals that I’ve seen.  In fact, I added one to my board a few months ago.  I actually know some blues and country players who also use them because of their sonic diversity.  And the best thing is it costs about the same as a new Boss pedal.

For all of you looking for even more options (hint $$$), you can check out the Visual Sound Jekyll and Hyde, the Fulltone OCD, and the Barber Burn Unit.

Q:  How do I dial in a good amount of reverb but not too much?  When should/shouldn’t you use reverb on a guitar?  And what about delay patterns? -blogsology

I second the delay/reverb topic. I need to buy a few pedals for my guitar and am thinking about the verbzilla for atmospheric effects, and the dd-20 for delay. -Chad

A:  Reverb is an awesome effect that’s not always noticed, but it adds so much to your sound.  There are a couple basic reverb types that many guitar players are familiar with:

Spring:  This is a mild and tasty reverb found on Fender Twin amps.  Many guitar players (including me) feel that the Fender spring reverb is one of the best sounding reverbs available. To get a good feel for it, listen to “surf guitar” music from the 60’s.

Plate:  Plate reverb is slightly different than it’s spring cousin, but it’s still a vintage sounding reverb.  The plate sound is all over rock recordings from the late 50’s and early 60’s.

Chamber, Large Hall, Cavernous:  These reverbs tend to be the thickest.  They recreate the ambience of sound waves bouncing around large open spaces. (A good example of this thicker reverb is the late ’80’s Chris Isaak song “Wicked Game”)

Things to consider when using Reverb:

A little bit is always good:  Reverb brings life and presence to a dry guitar signal.  Putting a little bit on at all times is usually not a bad idea.

Be careful mixing digital delays and reverb:  If you want that distinct “pinging” effect of a digital delay in a song, be careful about how much reverb you add.  Heavy reverb masks or muddies up the distinct repeats, washing out the effect you are looking for.

Also, watch your reverb and delay levels if strumming:  Many popular worship songs today have minimalist verses but driving choruses.  A style that’s really the rage right now is to play choruses or bridges with “percussive” eighth note down strokes.  If you are doing this, make sure your delay and reverb levels are set low enough so the strumming effect is still there.  Some guitar players I know, (including myself) will kill heavy delays or reverbs when we get to those chorus parts then turn them back on when we get to the verses.

Look at the room you’re in before adding reverb:  This is something few guitarists consider.  If you are in a large square or rectangular room with hard walls and floor, (i.e. a gymnasium or cafeteria) you may have a ton of natural reverb within the room itself.  It’s easy to go overkill and add too much electronically in a room like this.  If there’s alot of natural echo in a room, take your reverb down from the level you may normally run it at.

Another note about playing in gyms, etc.  “Live” rooms usually amplify low midrange EQ frequencies, meaning those frequencies “hang on” or naturally reverberate much longer than high frequencies.  The problem is that high levels of low mids drown out the clarity of vocals and lead parts.  So if you find yourself playing in a box, work with your team to keep those frequencies under control.  (Instruments that also add to this problem include the drums, and a bass that isn’t tightly EQ’ed.) 

For delays, I’ll have to revisit that in another post.  I’ve changed my approach to using delays some in the past year, by introducing more tonal variety in what I do.  One thing I have found that helps tremendously is when I’m playing a digital dotted eighth effect in a band, I’ll usually become the “timekeeper” for the band instead of the drummer.  Because keeping in time with the delay is critical, it’s alot easier to stick with the guitarist if there’s no click track for everyone.

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Responses

  1. 10 years back, the first pedal I bought was an MT-2 and I thought it was great. later on, i realized that the sound is just too heavy for praise/worship setting. I sold it and a guy much younger than me happily picked it up because he thought it was great!

    and i agree with your delay as a “timekeeper”. but by losing the ability of having dotted 8ths, i have since changed my delay usage to something more ambient.

    btw, welcome back!

  2. Thanks for posting!

    I don’t know that the RAT is really a great pedal anymore. Proco just moved their production to China and the result has been a now infamous drop in quality. I have a Keeley-modded RAT and it’s amazing – I’m just not sure that the current production quality is up to much…

    I think you’re right on that you want almost no reverb on when you’re playing full-strumming rhythm. Did I get that right? I use it for picking and more spacious strumming patterns. The Line 6 Verbzilla is also my favorite, just because of the “Octo” setting!

    You totally enlightened me about making adjustments in “box-y” rooms. Thanks for hte priceless knowledge.

    I’m looking forward to your post on delay settings. The dotted-8th thing is insanely cool but I’d love to also learn some more about other time signatures, what works well in fast songs, what works well for solos, what works well for rhythm, what works well for picking etc.

    Thanks!

  3. I got another, HUGE request for you – it might be too much. I’ve seen a lot of cool stuff online about amp isolation cabinets and I’d love someone to do a step-by-step, highly detailed tutorial on how an average dude can build on of these things.

  4. Honestly, I’ve never built an ISO cab, so I’m not sure I’d be the best resource, but if anyone else out there has done it and wants to tell us about it, feel free to contact me!

  5. Agree with the Verbzilla— bought on a whim thanks to your post. I love putting delay into it on the hall effect– the delays are there, but just a hint muddy, making a great sweeping transcendent lead part for those slower songs.

    Ditto on the rat— they aren’t worth their salt right now. Keeley is attempting to make their own version as we speak and another modder (who is associated with DIY great Monte Allums) CMATMODS just added “THE BLACK PLAGUE” (CMATMODS.com) which is a RAT clone. In fact, the rat is soooo bad, Keeley is refusing to mod anymore of them!!
    I personally use a modded TS9, (or boss SD1 mod) by Analogman into a DS1 (by either Keeley or Analogman). The dual OD setup is the best of all the worlds. IF for some reason that sound is not up to it, i replace the DS1 with a Big Muff.

    Be sure to read WGG past post on Dual OD setup.
    and check out my discussion of effects/setup at lespaulplayerdoctor.wordpress.com 🙂
    Another cheap plug!

  6. Nice post wgg thanks for the info. I’ll keep looking for a used verbzilla I can afford then I will pick it up. I was just wondering does the verbzilla octo effect work without a volume pedal? LIke to get those atmospheric sounds without the pick attack.
    thanks

  7. You can get the Octo setting without the pick attack. You have to turn the effect level all the way up though. At 100%, there’s no pick attack signal, just the octo reverb.

  8. I just bought the Verbzilla, it’s great for strong or weak reverbs or nice ambient sounds.

  9. I’ve gotten to the point that I don’t play with any reverb and just leave it to the sound guy. He can hear how it sounds out in the room way better than I can!

    That being said, the octo setting on the verbzilla is really cool for a specialty sound. . .

  10. I think the best overdrive pedal I’ve used is the Fulldrive from http://www.fulltone.com. It’s really simple, and includes a boost feature so you can stick out when you need to. It has a built in compression, but you can also disable it.


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