Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #139118  by playingdead
 Sun May 18, 2014 7:39 pm
Playing Dead played its 10th anniversary show at Showcase Live in Foxboro MA Saturday night ... a great night. We did a 3-camera multicam shoot, this is just a rough mix of the second set opener, Truckin', with the two on-stage GoPro cameras. Awaiting the big HD camera footage from FOH.

Anyway, since it was a milestone show, why not go out on a limb and change from the AxeFX Ultra I've been using since 2008 to ... the AxeFX II. I've had it sitting around for two years but finally put a new preset together, had to start from scratch as there's no way to port an Ultra patch over to the 2.

First impressions ... significant improvement over the Ultra ... its' more responsive, more liquid ... bouncier. I have some more tweaking to do, the preset I used Saturday was very clean, but I also made on that was dirtier which I will try at the next show. Same IR of my old E-120s but otherwise a bit different than before, no extra EQ curves or filter trickery, more back to basics, as the basics are quite good now. Some nice additions to the 2, as well; they modeled a Colorsound wah which I like a lot, and a lot more control over various parameters. I was able to improve on the envelope filter, as well as the octave divider. Will be an endless process, Im sure.

Fun night all the way around.
 #139119  by tcsned
 Sun May 18, 2014 8:16 pm
Wow! Your rig sounds great. I thought your tone was killer before the new rig but that was badass. Great playin' doesn't hurt either. Do you use any stomp boxes or is it all the AxeII? I'd like to hear the envelope filter.
 #139123  by playingdead
 Mon May 19, 2014 5:29 am
Not terribly loud ... but it is a big open stage with terrific monitors, and a huge flown PA above. How loud I am does not affect how the guitar sounds because it's direct to the full-range powered QSCs; we've been playing long enough together now that generally, after the first couple of songs, I never touch anything but the guitar's volume pot, or the 6 db boost I have on the Ground Control for leads (which occurs after all the effects, preamp, speaker block, etc., so it's just louder, not different tonally). So the tone is the same at bedroom levels or deafeningly loud.

No stomp boxes anymore ... I set the envelope filter frequency parameters up according to the old Mu-Tron specs and then it was just a question of adjusting the curve and ramp for the response, the overdrive is a modeled MXR Distortion +, wah is the Colorsound, phaser is based on an MXR 90 script phaser but I added extra stages to get it closer to the 100. You can really tweak every little parameter on any effect, amp, etc.

I should note that the Tiger guitar now has a DualSound in the middle position.
 #139125  by aiq
 Mon May 19, 2014 7:02 am
Very nice. And of course I have some ?'s.

My trio is coming to an end this summer sometime as I am retiring from teaching after this year and moving from DC to the Gulf Coast.

We want to get a good video and possibly do a studio single before calling it a day.

Any help on how to go about the video thing? How do they do the audio track and the editing?
 #139126  by waldo041
 Mon May 19, 2014 7:15 am
First I would like to congratulate you and your band on a pretty significant milestone, 10 years is a pretty long time for a band! Congratulations! :thewave:

Second, I would like to say your tone sounds really good from the new AxeFx, but I am wondering which era Jerry you are after?

I am not jiving on anyone's hearing, but IMHO I don't hear that tone being all that close to Jerry's. Your technique masks it all pretty well, you are one helluva exceptional player!

But yes, you get some of the splatty low note stuff, however even then Jerry was much thicker. Your tone sounds a little on the thin side on the high and low side.

Here are a couple truckin's I have compared against yours. A couple different years to try and get a gist of where you are hunting, but not really able to bite on any. You technique is amazing, so it needs to be separated from the rigs so a true comparision can be had, that is why I attached some of Jerry since some of your technique matches his, the tone can be sifted and compared.


I think your tone may be an attempt to this below in Oct 78. Here he is in about the same position at the start as you, but this tone is much thicker, no?

Dual Sounds - 78

So which year are you mimicking on the AxeFx, or are you just laying something to your own ear?


 #139129  by playingdead
 Mon May 19, 2014 8:01 am

I have kind of drifted away from trying to knock Jerry's tone, I feel I have the nuances in my hands, so I am after more of what sounds good to me, and what happens to sit well in the mix with Playing Dead, as no one else in the band is trying to sound exactly like Weir, Phil, etc. I deliberately went cleaner than before on this preset, and for more of a balanced response from the guitar. What I hear on the multitrack is much clearer and highly defined than what I hear on the audience recordings. Anyone who has played in a studio setting over headphones is familiar with that phenomenon, where it sounds impossibly thin and bright in cans, but in the room sounds great. Much like micing a guitar amp onstage and then putting it into the front wedge as well, all you hear is the emphasized high end. When I listen to well recorded audience tapes, my guitar sounds very different than it does on the multitracks -- fatter, if you will. I have learned to trust our FOH guy to make it sound good out there, and rely on what I hear over my own speakers to cut through nicely on stage, without needing to be deafeningly loud.

The touchstone I use is his isolated guitar sound from In The Dark, although it's very bright and harsh when you hear it on its own. I wanted that, but sweeter and cleaner. I feel the guitar tone meshes well with the rest of the band while leaving plenty of room for everyone else. I like how the DualSound responds to my lighter touch as well, although the Super II is the defacto standard.

I do pay attention to trying to get the effects dialed in; I am pretty happy with the overdrive sound (more from the early 80s). Will post a sample of the envelope, which is tailored how I like it, fat, very controllable and very linear from the high notes to the low notes without having it to be super open all the time the way I did with my various Mutrons and QTrons, so it would open right on the high notes, but as a result opened really too early on the low notes unless you were careful with your touch.

It is nice to have everything dialed in the moment I plug the guitar in, so I can concentrate on what I'm playing and what is happening around me, not worrying about stage sound or acoustics. As Garcia once said about live sound in the early days, I believe, "When things start sounding weird, don't go grabbing knobs."

Really, this is the very first time I have used the AxeFX II live (and I've only been messing with it for a few days before the gig), so I'm sure I will continue to refine and dial it in toward whatever sound is in my head. I did have to start from square one for this show, and I'm pretty pleased with how it sounded right out of the box. I could up the drive on the preamp stage, change the speaker resonance curves, put a Sennheiser 421 emulation in front of the JBL E-120 IR, dial in a power amp, adjust the bias on the "tubes," or even put a tone-matching curve from the In the Dark recording on there by playing exactly what Jerry played on that recording and allow the computer to do the work ... or switch the preamp to a Boogie or boutique blackface ... but at the end of the day, I just want it to sound good without worrying so much about capturing a certain era. The reality is, for me, I have no idea how it will sit with the band or sound on the tapes until I play it at a gig, so there is definitely a long back and forth process to it if I want to put the energy in. I can't tell just listening to the guitar down in my studio, it has to be in context.

For the video stuff, that's just a pair of GoPro cameras ... I used Final Cut Pro to sync them together and cut between them. Once I have that done, I take the video into Logic, sync the camera mic audio up with the soundboard, delete the camera audio, then write the soundboard to a new movie file.
 #139133  by playingdead
 Mon May 19, 2014 8:27 am
aiq wrote:Thanks for the video info, I think I actually understood it!
No problem! The key is making sure all the cameras are shooting the same resolution and frame rate, and that the audio from the cameras matches the audio from the soundboard (or whatever else you are using) ... i.e., cameras all shooting 1920x1080 at 30 frames per second, and all the audio being recorded at 48khz ... or it won't all go together easily. Once you sync the cameras, and sync the audio, it's good to go. Takes forever and a day to render the footage, though ... and if you shoot HD, you are dealing with HUGE files, so have plenty of RAM and hard drive space or you will go out of your mind.

Also, be aware that because the GoPros use Windows to write to the memory cards, no individual file can be larger than 4.2 gigabytes, so if you film 90 minutes on the camera you end up with 5 separate files which you have to piece back together. Stupid way to do things ... and a total nightmare if you are using one of those Behringer multitrack boards because it does the same thing writing the tracks, cuts them into 10 minute sections, 90 minutes = 9 times 32 tracks ... have fun putting THAT back together... omigod :shock:
 #139134  by playingdead
 Mon May 19, 2014 8:44 am
rugger wrote:Frankly, I don't care which era you are trying to cop and whether it stacks up or not, you and the rig sound great!

John in San Diego
John, Mike, everyone ... thanks for the kind words on my playing ... anyone trying to play like Garcia is forever in the shadow of the moon, so to speak, and there are lots of people who do it way better than I ever will, and sound much closer to his actual guitar tone. Besides, I'm too old to cart around all that heavy gear anymore :shock:
 #139135  by playingdead
 Mon May 19, 2014 10:44 am
Here's a quick grab of the envelope filter off Estimated ... a sloppy Estimated, too. Someday I will learn the right lick for the bridge.

Haven't quite gotten the touch right for getting that strummed chord to open and close the way I want, but I like the fatness of the overall sound. Not as liquidy as a Mutron, more like a Q-Tron. What's interesting about the envelope on the Fractal is you start with a modeled wah as the basis, so there is a definite difference between a Colorsound, Crybaby, Morley, Vox Clyde, etc. I see the "low" to what the MuTron is -- 200Hz if I recall right, and the high the same way (1480? can't recall) -- that's like the sweep on a wah wah pedal from closed to open. All the other values determine how it opens, where the mid point is, the slope of the attack curve, endlessly variable.

To make it backwards, you just set the "high" value to 200 and the "low" to 1480 ... and instant Dancin'. Well, you have to tweak those values and adjust the curves. Brilliant.