tone mak­ers

In this is­sue’s Pedalboard Q&A, Jimi Hen­drix’s ef­fects guru talks Voodoo sounds, con­nect­ing to your track and shift­ing time

Guitarist - - Contents -

1What was the first pedal you built and how did the de­sign come about? “When I first started build­ing gui­tar ef­fects, I was work­ing for the gov­ern­ment. I had friends like Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page and we were in­ter­ested in pro­duc­ing new sounds. The first pedal I built was a tre­ble booster us­ing a ger­ma­nium tran­sis­tor that went on to be­come the [Dal­las] Range­mas­ter. I also in­vented the Oc­tavia cir­cuit, which Ty­co­brahe copied, and that was first used by Jimi Hen­drix on Pur­ple Haze. A few of my early designs got, shall we say, ‘ac­quired’ [laughs].”

2What’s your best-sell­ing pedal and why do you think that is? “I would say the Voodoo-1 and VoodooBass. They’re very ver­sa­tile ped­als. An aw­ful lot of play­ers use the Voodoo-Bass ped­als. The Voodoo-Vibe pedal has done very well, too.”

3What is it that makes Roger Mayer ef­fects unique? “Pos­si­bly their def­i­ni­tion, qual­ity and nat­u­ral sound. We also use a tech­nique called Feed For­ward, which is where the player ac­tu­ally con­trols the sound – as you play, the pedal will sound unique to you. It’s feed­ing for­ward the sig­nal in or­der to con­trol it­self.”

4Which no­table play­ers/bands have used Roger Mayer ped­als? “Jimi Hen­drix, Jimmy Page, Eric Clap­ton, Jeff Beck, Bob Mar­ley, Ste­vie Ray Vaughan, Joe Perry, Car­los San­tana, Dave Gil­mour, Gary Moore, Joe Sa­tri­ani, J Mas­cis, Peter Framp­ton, Joe Bona­massa, PJ Har­vey, John Squire…”

5What’s new on the hori­zon with Roger Mayer ef­fects? “The Vis­age pedal just came out – that’ll give you a lot of the Jimi Hen­drix sounds that were used on stage. Also, in the last year we’ve been spend­ing a lot of time with the 456HD process, which is a pro­pri­etary process used for record­ing and per­form­ing. It gives the dy­nam­ics and sound of tape record­ing.”

6What’s your best tone tip? “If you’re record­ing, make sure your vi­sion for the tone is lis­tened to in con­junc­tion with the part of tune that you in­tend to use it in. Don’t lis­ten to it iso­lated – you’ve got to lis­ten to it in the track. With Jimi, each tone that we used was de­signed and mod­i­fied to fit that par­tic­u­lar part of the song.”

7Name some com­mon mis­takes that gui­tarists make with ef­fects… “They use far too many of them and as­sume that the pub­lic can hear minute dif­fer­ences – Jimi and I thought that maybe the pub­lic could hear only three dif­fer­ent sounds [laughs]! If they [the au­di­ence] were en­joy­ing them­selves, it would be even more dif­fi­cult for them to tell the dif­fer­ence!”

8Tell us a se­cret about ef­fects you’ve dis­cov­ered… “One of the most im­por­tant things about ef­fects is that you must keep the ends of the leads and jack sock­ets clean. The dirt on the con­nec­tors is the en­emy – it af­fects the cur­rent flow­ing. It af­fects ev­ery­thing. Also, buffer­ing re­duces ca­pac­i­tance. If your gui­tar is con­nected to a ca­ble, there’s a ca­pac­i­tance in the ca­ble – this loses de­tail from the gui­tar and once you’ve lost it you can’t get it back. And make sure your gui­tar isn’t rat­tling with lose screws and parts – it needs to be set up prop­erly and not be mak­ing any un­wanted noise.”

9What’s your favourite vin­tage pedal and why? “I would say the Echoplex tape echo. They were in­ter­est­ing. I liked the sound of it; it was a very unique sound at the time. The most im­por­tant thing is to re­alise that echo and re­ver­ber­a­tion, es­pe­cially in the stu­dio, is the one pa­ram­e­ter that re­ally sets the mood and the tone of the record.”

10What are your favourite ef­fects mo­ments on record and why? “I like some of the stuff that I’ve done, like Jimi’s back­wards solo in Cas­tles Made Of Sand. We fig­ured if a pro­gres­sion sounds right go­ing for­wards, then it will sound right go­ing back­wards. It was to do with the con­cept of time – shift­ing time. Jimi lis­tened to the track go­ing for­wards to get an idea of where it was go­ing and then he used the con­cept to start at the end. The in­spi­ra­tion for play­ing those notes is still the same: all that changes is the way you per­ceive them. It’s like watch­ing a back­wards film – you see it go­ing back­wards, but it still makes sense. Like if you looked at a nor­mal piece of printed pa­per you could say, ‘It’s ob­vi­ously a piece of white pa­per with black type on it.’ That’s one way of look­ing at it. The re­verse way of look­ing at it is to say, ‘It’s a black piece of pa­per with white printed on top of it’. We un­der­stood all those things.” [RB]

Roger Mayer fa­mously handtweaked Jimi Hen­drix’s Fuzz Faces, and later in­cor­po­rated the same mods into the Mayer Clas­sic Fuzz

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