Site powered by Weebly. Managed by iDotz.Net
No cables, no power… Believe!
A few months ago I was excited to post the latest updates to my guitar pedalboard rigs both based around Quilter Superblock amplifiers.
As to be expected, they have changed… again! After taking out the “Big Rig” at the end of July and being very happy with its performance I still felt there could be room for a little more improvement. I also came to a few conclusions that I hope will help me dial things in better without having to redesign everything or invest in new equipment.
The Big Rig is based around the Quilter Superblock US. The elements I use on this board, which is a combination of analogue gain and digital modelling seem to work better with the Superblock US than they do with the Superblock UK. At least to my ears anyway.
Here, the improved version has had a complete overhaul of the DI signal path to make it sound as splendid as possible into the PA system, whilst the amplifier signal chain has had some improvements in balancing the gain settings and added effects options.
The Precision Drive has given way to a Mosky MM Silver (Timmy clone) for the extra drive option. The Precision Drive was great for soloing, but I favor a fuzz solo tone on this board, so the Precision Drive was redundant because I didn’t like its dominant midrange compared to the rhythm sounds of this rig. Overall this setup provides plenty of clarity and openness to the overall tone, except the fuzz lead tone, which just adds sustain… lots of sustain.
I also changed the NUX Ukiyo-E chorus for my old, cheap Donner Tutti Love (A Boss CE2 clone). It’s nice and simple and sounds great in front of the amp rather than in the FX loop. Now I also have an extra, switchable reverb by squeezing in my Nux Atlantic (in the FX loop and after the noise gate), which provides both delay and reverb. I generally like to use delay in a rhythmic way that I tap in and so I set it loud and proud. Never very subtle. The Atlantic does all the above very well in a small enough footprint.
The DI section is where there has been quite a rebuild. The Atlantic delay has two outputs, so one goes to the amp FX return and comes out through my speaker cab on stage. The second output of the Atlantic goes straight to the Sonicake Sonic IR loader where I have a selection of IRs that I have made from my own speakers (to match the cab I’m using on stage normally).
From there the IR signal goes into a DemonFX Cali76 (yes a copy of a much more expensive compressor pedal) and then out to the PA. For easy access and signal reception I have rigged up the output of the compressor to a box with an XLR socket on top of the amp. This is so I can use my XLR wireless device to send this processed DI signal to the PA. At the last gig I used this wireless and it was perfect. More on that later.
In front of the amp the signal chain is what I’d call a hybrid one. Plenty of analogue, old-school goodness combined with some digital trickery with presets.
Wireless into an always-on germanium fuzz, via an un-buffer device and a switchable volume control. Here I can switch from rhythm to lead as if I was rolling down the volume control on my guitar. The wireless stops the magic of the guitar volume control interaction happening, but the passive volume control/un-buffer gets most of that back, enough to keep me satisfied.
After the fuzz stuff comes a Mooer P1 Prime. A tiny amp modeller/multi FX unit (self-powered) that I can switch presets on with a Bluetooth foot switch. I use the P1 Prime for three stages of gain using just a couple of the pedal FX models. I don’t need to use any amp or cab models in this rig. The presets give me Clean (well cleanest), Normal and Drive with the 4th being normal plus tremolo or vibrato (depends on what bank I select). The stages of gain are dialed in to sound as close as possible to what would happen if I just had the gain of the amp set from lower to higher rather than being drastically different in tone from one another.
After the P1 is a Mosky MM Silver (Timmy clone) for extra crunch and drive and an always-on Mosky BP Booster (EP Booster clone), which glues everything together before going into the amplifier input. The gain on the Superblock US is set to about 4 o’clock on the ’57 voice with the limiter set to 2 o’clock or above.
At the last gig I used my Eminence TF1250 1x12 cab and corresponding IR. It sounded good, but at times I wanted it to be a little bit less spiky-sounding. For the next gig I am going to take my Tonetubby 1x10, which I have now housed in a closed-back cab (a converted cabinet from an old Fender Frontman 25R amplifier. After a long period of dis-satisfaction with the Tonetubby alnico red, which I’ve had since 2002 I am finding myself liking it again.
It is now more apparent than ever to me that the Tonetubby opens up greatly at stage volume and allows you to crank the treble more on the amp. Cranking the treble (to my ears) brings out a lot of the character of the amp with all those upper harmonics being let loose. If you have a warm-sounding speaker like this Tonetubby then it doesn’t get shrill, it reveals a lot of great tone!
It’s very similar with the IR I’ve made of the same speaker. Through the PA at louder volumes than I get to test at home or on my studio monitors, it gets far less ear piercing than any of my other speakers. Being a 10” speaker it also gets less boomy in the low frequencies.
Also the experience from the last gig resulted in an aspect that I am absolutely stoked about! I recently acquired a used Avatar SD301 electronic drum kit. What’s cool about it is that it looks very similar to an acoustic drum kit. The pads are actually shells with metal rims, just like an acoustic drum kit with a sparkle finish to boot, but they are smaller in size and have mesh heads, as you would expect from any other electronic drum kit.
What’s also cool about this is that they are silent on stage and as a result I am able to run my Quilter Superblock at 1 watt, powered by my power bank along with all the pedals. This means that my guitar rig is 100% cable free (except for the speaker cab and patch cables on the board): Wireless from guitar to board, wireless from DI output to PA and no power cable to power the amp. The battery lasts for a long time and if I need to make a quick exit off stage to save my rig for a sudden change in weather (which happens a lot when playing outside) I can just pick it up and run for cover!
So all-in-all this Big Rig is now ready to take on anything. Most of the music I’m playing at the moment has an old-school flavor and attitude and this setup delivers just what I need. It’s also great to know that an affordable, modern piece of digital gear that some players may consider a toy or a gimmick contributes very positively to delivering that old-school vibe!
Long live the Big Rig. At least long enough to get me through several gigs instead of just the next one!