Here is the maestro as a youngster at the beginning of his tenure with the greatest musical aggregation I have ever seen. A year before this concert, he came into Rudy’s Music in New York, where I worked. He had a Gibson SG Junior and wasn’t happy with the noise from its single-coil P-90. For my sins, I convinced him to replace it with a Seymour Duncan JB and arranged for the installation. He must have also had this regular SG or purchased it later.
Cut to 1991—Bill was celebrating his 40th birthday playing with Robin Holcomb at the Great American Musical Hall in SF. I had lobbied hard for the opening slot with my band because I knew Bill would be in Robin’s band. Bill had a cold that night and wasn’t having the best birthday, nevertheless he was kind enough to help me carry my gear to my car. He is not only one of the all-time guitar greats, he is a helluva guy. Happy Birthday Bill.
If anyone were to be into pedals it would be the modern guitarist. Granted there are a few who play only acoustic, and even fewer who exclusively play plugged straight into the amplifier, but the majority of modern guitarists are to some extent looking to find new sounds in the electric realm and pedals help them go there. The firmament of modern guitar heaven is filled with gods who use a plethora of stompboxes in their quest for sonic freshness. Adrian Belew, Nels Cline, Eivind Aarset, Stian Westerhus, David Torn, Nick Reinhardt, and others employ effect pedals as an essential part of their artistry.
For them, and guitarists of all stripes, this year has seen the release of, not one, but two books (actually three) devoted to these playable, collectable, fetish-encouraging devices.
A few years ago, a new effects company from Latvia debuted the Plus Pedal at NAMM. It seemed to create a similar effect to the Electro-Harmonix Superego pedal. If you have been wondering about how the pedals compare, here is a great video from loopop.
At NAMM 2020 back in January, the worst thing you had to worry about was getting NAMMthrax (or NAMMonia), that is, a bad cold from shaking all those hands. We live in different times now; hope you and yours are healthy.
What this year’s winter show lacked in number of interesting product debuts it made up for in decibels. Complaints were constant about being unable to hear the gear, or talk to the vendors. (You can experience this in some of the videos). That said, there were a few cool releases that should appeal to the modern guitarist. If April seems late for the roundup, consider that many of these products are just now shipping.
In Part I Dither co-founder Taylor Levine and I discussed the quartet’s origin and the concept of “good” guitar tone in a New Music/Modern Classical context. Here we delve deeper into the record, Potential Differences, guitarist’s process and gear, as well as some other projects of which he is part.