Warming Up

Warming Up

Monday, January 10, 2011


A few weeks ago a friend of mine, guitarist Richard Somerville kindly let me borrow (on long-term loan) his old Roland GP-8, a multi-effects processor.  It took me a while – so hard to find time these days – but on Saturday I finally sat down with the thing, hooked it up through a microphone and my Roland keyboard amp and spent a few hours playing around with the 128 possible combinations of effects.  Here’s a quick description of the unit:

Roland GP-8 Guitar Effects Processor is one of the earliest multi-effectors with 8 effect blocks, serially chained. The effects are: Dynamic Filter, Compressor, Over Drive, Distortion, Phaser, Equalizer, Digital Delay and Digital Chorus. The digital delay and chorus are both 12-bit. MIDI SysEx editing and Foot Pedal modulation is supported.

I have waited years for this.  Since I was 13 I have been a total freak for Jimi Hendrix and I’ve always secretly wished that I could play guitar and could play with all of those effects that were integral to Hendrix’s sound.  And whenever I’ve heard trumpet players using effects I would get kind of excited.  Miles Davis and the wah wah.  Clark Terry with the Varitone.  Don Ellis with the Echoplex and the ring modulator.  Jon Hassell and the harmonizer.  Nils Petter Molvaer and the distortion and his take on the harmonizer.  Toshinori Kondo and his mix of reverb and distortion.  So cool.  Don’t get me wrong, I really love the sound of the trumpet and I’ve worked pretty diligently to get a good trumpet sound, but sometimes I just really love it when players can make the trumpet not sound like a trumpet.  Jazz trumpet players have been getting different sounds out of the trumpet since the beginning of the music and that tradition of exploration is of course still thriving today with players getting all kinds of sounds out of the horn besides just a beautiful brass sound – half-valve smears, rips, squeaks, pedal tones, multiphonics, growls, air sounds, tonguing effects, various mute techniques, etc.  These techniques and sounds are all things that I am really into.  And sometimes when playing around with these sounds I like to feel like I am not a trumpet player any more.  But I’ve still really wanted to explore electronic effects for years.  Three kids and a house and tons of other factors (I’m also pretty ignorant when it comes to certain technologies) have kept me from investing in some basic equipment and a few effects pedals.  But the time has come.  And I really had a blast fooling around with various effects on the GP-8.  Some obviously work better than others with the trumpet, but man, what a gas it was getting some crazy sounds.  The boys came upstairs and we had a pretty sweet jam session.  Julian on drums, Miles on guitar, and Gabriel on keyboard, percussion, and insane vocals.  It was awesome!  Even my neighbor, Mike dug it: “you guys sounded good up there!”  If you are a musician then you know that you never underestimate the good fortune of having a tolerant neighbor! 

So I’m already trying to figure what performance contexts I play in where I can bust out the GP-8.  There are a few groups I play in where an effected trumpet could work.  I think the first time I’ll use it in public will be the (see my Inaugural Post) Fathead reunion show at the Northstar Bar on Friday, January 28th.  And I’m also thinking about what else I’ll want to acquire at some point for further experimentation – probably a ring modulator and definitely a looper.  Definitely gonna need an expression pedal too for some of the GP-8 effects.  I plan on making the work with these effects a regular part of my practicing.  I’m sure it won’t take the place of good old-fashioned slurs, scales, tonguing exercises, etudes, and learning jazz tunes.  But I’ll definitely be slowly working my way towards getting some of that Hendrix in my sound.  I can’t wait.

Hey Richard – Thanks for Caring, Thanks for Sharing.

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