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Re: (To Synth or not to Synth)

I'll throw in my 2 cents - I love the guitar synth.

Not all that long ago, I was strictly playing an old deep body Ovation 12-string, in a loud (yet primarily acoustic) rock band. This was great fun - for a while.

When I wanted to make more unusual sounds, I started acquiring a ton of devices and ended up with one of the most convoluted guitar rigs you can imagine. What didn't work for me with that arrangement, was the hand manipulation that was required to change sounds. Since I'm a fairly busy rhythm guitar player (in the band context) there was not enough opportunity to adjust sounds on the fly - other than ON or OFF. Not to mention the blessing/opportunity for disaster that twisting knobs delivers. So I sold a bunch of stuff on ebay, including my Vortex, and adjusted. (It's worth noting that the ebay sell-off was a wash for a GR-33 and Eventide)

The rig is still convoluted, but in a different way. Now, there's a tube path (Brian Moore guitar > Triaxis > (sometimes, there's an Air Synth and Air FX in this position) > Line 6 Filter Pro > Eventide Eclipse > Mesa 20/20 > 2 Mesa 2x12 wedges), a piezo path (Brian Moore guitar > TC M-one > Behringer 1 spc. rack mixer > Giga-Delay > 2 keyboard amps) and the midi note path (Brian Moore guitar > GR-33(used as a trigger only) > Novation Supernova II Rack module and a Kurzweil K2000R rack module > same mixer > same Giga Delay > same keyboard amps). I keep the 'tube' and 'midi note' paths in different racks, for the sake of my back.
With this ridiculous (and admittedly portability-challenged) rig, I'm able to generate all the types of sounds I have ever wanted. The variety of sounds/parameters that are available are a never ending source of inspiration - even if getting back to that place is a matter of selecting a preset. An element of hazard still exists while looping in the loops themselves, especially if I go with the "semi-random spin of the big knob patch selection method". So I don't feel like too much of a wimp, even if I'm not a purist.

In regards to guitar-synths, specifically.
Latency/tracking: generally, I prefer my guitar synth sounds to have a slower-than-guitar attack – so perceptible latency is entirely not an issue for me. The different modules react to "superfluous note data" differently, and in the case of the Kurzweil, every patch behaves differently. Most patches are glitch-less. Also, I was (originally annoyed but) later happy to be provided the incentive to clean up my playing.

Sounds: I generally look for weirdness out of the guitar synth. A little creative license with Pitch Bend parameters provides a lot of opportunity that a wammy pedal does not, for example. I like some of my sounds to modify parameters based on velocity - I haven't been able to achieve that result to the same degree without the synths. There are many other examples, and I think these opportunities are simply more colors of paint for your sonic palette. What could be wrong with that? You could argue that you can get any color out of red, yellow, blue (and white and black) - but to me the extra effort required only provides ... extra effort.
I never really intended to use the GR-33 for sound generation, so when I ran through the presets and then tried to modify them, I wasn't too disappointed that the results were unspectacular. The Novation rack module covers all the unnatural/electronic/synthy sounds I want , and the Kurzweil covers all the natural/unreal-natural/modified-natural/etc sounds I want.

It's all about having tools that inspire you and meet your needs, and for me, the guitar synth approach (especially in combination with the guitar and eclipse) does both.

Life is good. The resources are at hand. Now I'll go make some noise.

Jeff Evans

P.S. I appreciate your patience - you should have seen how long that was going to be!


On Nov 28, 2004, at 7:08 PM, samba - wrote:

.... not alone in prefering synth tones and patches that aremore organic sounding.
But NOT when it's a badimitation of an acoustic instrument. Many of the
clichéd early 80's digi-synth sounds really rub me the
wrong way.

I want synths for making sounds I can't make acoustically. Though I love sampling "natural" sounds and decontextualizing them. I always felt it was unfortunate that commercial synth were almost all keyboard controllers,and usually locked into 12 tone tempered scales-even when playing other scales one was/is still locked into keyboard technique,or lack thereof in my case. ( being able to tweak touch response etc is nice though) I'm really glad this has finally changed,and there are so many interesting options for controllers and processors.One can now do synthesis in a much broader sense.