Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #74237  by playingdead
 Mon Feb 15, 2010 11:45 am
Had a little time to sit with my AxeFX this morning and did some experimenting with the phaser.

Disclaimer: I'm a Jerry guy ... I don't have a great Bobby guitar or Bobby chops.

I first tried to set up a basic rendition of Weir's tone as I hear it today, clean, bright, with some bottom to it. I did that by creating a very simple patch in the AxeFX, using a Mesa Boogie clean amp, a custom IR I made of my JBL K-110 speakers, and a pedal style compressor. This is all direct ... PRS Custom 22, both pickups, split coil -> AxeFX -> Apogee Duet on my Mac Pro into Logic 8 for recording.

I would not say this is a great Bobby patch, just a very basic one. It took all of three minutes to create. No EQ, etc. I could've used my Strat or Tele, but the PRS was handy.

I played a little of a Ratdog tune, She Says.

Then I used the same patch with a little slap delay on it, since I seem to hear a slap on his guitar lately.

Then, I shut off the delay and created a phaser block in the AxeFX, 8 stages (I think that's what the Ibanez multieffect units had), and assigned the sweep to my expression pedal. Moving the pedal moves the sound through the various stages. There is a lot that you can tweak within the phaser block -- number of stages and the regeneration and feedback have huge effects -- but I didn't get into much of that. I just wanted to see what it would sound like.

A little Not Fade Away, just moving the pedal a little at a time.

Then, a little half-assed Wharf Rat, doing the same.

It's a very broad palette of sound you can get by moving the expression pedal. I would think that with a real Cowboy guitar and the pickups set the right way, you could easily figure out where the pedal should be and lock down the phaser for that 78-81 tone. On the AxeFX you can also modify the ramp that the expression pedal will travel, so instead of 0 - 100 percent on the sweeps, you could put it from, say, 40 percent to 60 percent. I suspect that's more what Cutler's pedal did, because there are certain songs from that era, like He's Gone, where you can hear Weir varying the sweep while he's playing, and it's not nearly as broad or through as many stages as the AxeFX will go with the full sweep.

Note that the rest of the patch is the same, so you can hear what a huge difference the fixed phaser makes to the overall tone.

I also assigned a wah to the pedal at the same time, which works, but it would take a lot of time to fine tune the wah range and the phaser sweep to be workable together, so I didn't mess with it.

But I've always wondered about this, and I think it's a significant part of how Bobby got that particular sound from that era.
 #74242  by mkaufman
 Mon Feb 15, 2010 1:33 pm
Vic - this is great stuff! Thanks for taking the time to help us Bob's out here.

Ironically, I think I like the 'clean' the best! Do you think the compressor is helping with the sustain?

More samples would be great!

 #74244  by playingdead
 Mon Feb 15, 2010 1:52 pm
It doesn't make that huge a difference, it kind of flattens it out a little. It's really just a decent guitar into a clean front end with a tiny bit of "tube" drive it. My PRS is a stock Custom 22 with Dragon 2 pickups. If find that it sounds pretty Tele-like with both pickups single coil.

The whole raw take in real time is here (14 minutes or so), if you can stand to listen to it (a whole lot more phaser manipulation): ... just more messing with the phaser and so forth. I was denoting various parts by "clicking" the strings so I could see it easily in Logic.

Back when I played rhythm guitar, I got in the habit of not using a pick at all, just a combination of finger picking and catching the strings with the nail of my ring finger.

The AxeFX makes a great Bob piece of gear, though, there are so many various amps to try out. I was liking the Vox AC30 (it's called Top Boost in the AxeFX) as well as the HiWatt, DrZ, etc. You can really find any tone in there.
 #74245  by strumminsix
 Mon Feb 15, 2010 1:58 pm
Have you tried the Soldano SLO100 in the Axe? Holy Weir tones at my finger tips.

Found it on my 11R and thought it was a fluke of greatness then on my XT bean too!

Match it with a V30 cab which has a unique response curve with a sorta low cut and mid hump!
 #74246  by playingdead
 Mon Feb 15, 2010 1:59 pm
Check out the first couple of minutes on this He's Gone from 11-9-79, you can hear him sweep the phaser with the pedal as Garcia starts singing: ... 04_vbr.mp3
 #74253  by Stevo123
 Mon Feb 15, 2010 5:11 pm
Very nice tone. That wharf rat was pretty spot on! The comp+phaser combo sounds great. I've got a couple questions hopefully somebody could answer. Since I definitely can't afford to spring for an AxeFX...
Is there a certain compression pedal the comp you used on the AxeFX is modeled after? I have a boss one but I'm convinced it's pretty much shit and I'm looking to get something better quality.
Are there any phaser units on the market that could achieve a comparable effect?
 #74254  by playingdead
 Mon Feb 15, 2010 5:28 pm
I'm not aware of another phaser where that can be accomplished, or at least not a pedal phaser.

The thing about the AxeFX is you build your effects from scratch, which means you can create just about any effect out there if you know what you are doing. There are no models of any kind, except for some specific overdrive pedals that Cliff (the creator) has taken the time to model and install as presets.

It's great for a phaser, for example, because you can use from 4-12 stages, totally customize the sweep, hi pass, low pass, regeneration, and so forth and so on.

That's not so great if you want to create a Keeley compressor within the AxeFX. Unless you happen to have a Keeley on hand, where you can a-b the results, you can't do it. But, it encourages you to listen to your playing and adjust it so you create your own ideal compressor. There are three compressors in the AxeFX Ultra, a multiband compressor, a pedal compressor and a studio compressor. I used the pedal compressor and didn't tweak a thing, just left it at its default setting.

Ironically, Cliff just came out with version 9.02 where he has completely reworked the Fender amp models (clips sound impressive), added a "Carol Anne" amp with the blessings of that boutique builder, further upgraded the spring reverb (which was already awesome) and redid the compressor, which is supposed to be greatly improved. Time to upgrade my unit!

I know the price of entry is high, but he is constantly upgrading, improving and adding amp models, it's like getting a new unit every few weeks and it doesn't cost you a dime to have the latest and greatest version.