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SMSMS - Lockdown Effects

Updated: Sep 16, 2020’s only a matter of time before they buy another pedal in the endless search for the perfect sound...

That old thing cropped up again the other day. As a singer, one of the things you studiously try and avoid is that time before a rehearsal when two guitarists start talking about their sound. When they start, it’s best to go and put the kettle on, go to the toilet, get your pen out and doodle some profound words, or just stand there and drum your fingers on the microphone stand and look at your watch. If you’re lucky, the drummer will start a rock steady (and very loud) groove and their instincts will force them into abandoning the chat and playing some notes.

Of course, COVID19 has come along and suspended rehearsals - well it’s suspended everything hasn’t it, really? Whilst we should have been out there gigging by now, we’re having Zoom calls and exploring the possibilities of the first tentative steps back to getting together. There’s an album to be mixed as well. To be completely fair, credit is due to both guitarists and bassist for resisting the temptation to talk about their ‘sound’ on a Zoom call. Let’s be honest, it’s far better to do that when you can demonstrate (loudly), axe in hand, the difference between Sound A with pre-amp C and Sound D with this chorus pedal and that delay pedal (as opposed to that one and this one). That’s all to the good, but I digress...

Here’s the question - If a guitarist goes into lockdown, does his or her craving for the perfect sound diminish? Does he or she resign themselves to glumly settling for what they’ve got, and never thinking about another effects pedal until the day before the diminishing global pandemic finally allows them to bound onto the stage? I doubt it. In fact I’d wager that pretty much every guitarist I know, professional or otherwise will be taking this time to work on their sound, to tweak and fuss and twiddle and click themselves towards sonic nirvana. It’s what they do.

To believe otherwise would mean for me that, one, a psyche that is so indelibly ingrained into guitarists has been excavated and tossed away with ease by a nasty virus, and two, that axeman and axewomen believe they will never go into a recording studio or onto a stage, ever again. I’m afraid, from my extensive experience of rehearsing, recording and performing with guitarists, neither of these possibilities has an iota of truth. The search for the perfect sound will have been accelerated in recent months. More time on the hands. More time to get ready to burst back on the scene with a tone to make the front row weep with joy...

One day, I’m going to work with an electronics engineer to develop an effects pedal called ‘ The Perfect Sound’. When the guitarist plugs it in, he or she will trigger a switch which releases an invisible gas that works on the part of the brain that compels them to collect every pedal available on the market. By over-riding that compulsion, the player will be content with what they have. Put ‘The Perfect Sound’ pedal at the beginning of their existing chain and Voila!

Until my new unit is developed, guitar players will carry on ‘needing’ new effects pedals. They will buy them in lockdown, out of lockdown, in villages, in great cities, to play on stage, to play in their bedrooms, to emulate their heroes, to record their genius. They will never stop and they ALWAYS want to hear about the next best thing. For a guitarist, it is only matter of time before they buy another pedal. FACT.

Note the guitarists...what are they looking at? That’s right...they’re looking for space on their pedal boards...

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