space-chal­lenged ses­sion gui­tarist Adam Gold­smith is try­ing out a new mi­cro pedalboard for tV and stu­dio work

Guitarist - - Contents - adam Gold­smith

Many work­ing gui­tar play­ers – in­clud­ing my­self – find that the size of our ped­al­boards can be an is­sue. The ma­jor­ity of my work takes place in ei­ther a record­ing or TV stu­dio, and fre­quently with orches­tras, which (es­pe­cially with the lat­ter two sit­u­a­tions) hardly ever pro­vide you with enough room. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve played at the Royal Al­bert Hall with the Royal Phil­har­monic or the BBC Con­cert Orches­tra, where you’re ex­pected to cover ev­ery style known to man in one con­cert, and then they pro­vide you with the same amount of room as the sec­ond vi­ola player.

There­fore, when an email ad­vert for a new bit of gear popped into my in­box, it piqued my in­ter­est. For those of you who haven’t seen the Boss MS-3 yet, it’s a looper switcher/amp chan­nel/MIDI con­troller com­bined with a multi-ef­fects unit. It’s also tiny, at about the size of three Boss ped­als next to each other.At least as far as I know – and I stand ready to be cor­rected – this is the first unit to of­fer all that, es­pe­cially in such a small pack­age.

My cur­rent go-to setup for ses­sions in­volves a Frac­tal FX8 for mods, de­lays, re­verbs and as­sorted ef­fects, a Stry­mon Sun­set,J Rock­ett Archer and Keeley Mon­terey fuzz for drives, and an Xotic SLCom­pres­sor teamed with an Ana­log Man-mod­ded Boss EQ pedal,plus wah and vol­ume ped­als.As you can imag­ine, that takes up a lot of space, which is fine for those times when some­one else is mov­ing your gear into Abbey Road Stu­dio One for a Hol­ly­wood film, but not so fine when you’re do­ing a jin­gle in some­one’s back gar­den stu­dio and there’s no park­ing… and even less fine when you’re do­ing a set with your mates at the Dog & Fer­ret on a Sunday night.

So here’s the thing with very high-qual­ity and ex­pen­sive ef­fects when it comes to stu­dio record­ing: nine times out of 10, when you’re there as a ses­sion player on some­one else’s com­mer­cial project, the first thing the en­gi­neer will tell you to do is turn off all your de­lays and re­verbs, or at least min­imise them.That way, when it comes to mix­ing the mu­sic at a later date, they can add them to their taste and aren’t stuck with your orig­i­nal choices. Hence, when­ever high-end ef­fects are de­scribed as‘stu­dio qual­ity’in their blurb, it oc­curs to me that‘stu­dio qual­ity’should re­ally mean‘easy to turn off’.

The thing that re­ally mat­ters is your fun­da­men­tal tone – that be­ing the amp and pos­si­bly one or two drive ped­als. So while a di­rect com­par­i­son be­tween the ef­fects of the Frac­tal Au­dio FX8 and the Boss MS-3 is a lit­tle un­fair given the price gap of sev­eral hun­dred pounds, which will ac­tu­ally be more use­ful to me in most of my gigs? It’s go­ing to be a work in progress as I’ve only just re­ceived the MS-3, but so far I’m re­ally very im­pressed. As a techno­phobe, I find the edit­ing process much eas­ier than the Frac­tal, and although I’m not re­ally a fan of the drives on ei­ther, my favourite drive ped­als are eas­ily in­te­grated into the loops of the Boss unit in a stupidly small sur­face area. My friend Chris, who runs the great com­pany Cus­tom Pedal Boards (guess what they do?), is pro­vid­ing me with a ’board and case specif­i­cally for it and two vol­ume or wah-sized ped­als, and the whole thing is only 540mm by 230mm.

As I said, I’m early in this com­par­i­son process, so I do re­serve the right to change any opin­ions, but at the moment I’m will­ing to take a slight re­duc­tion in the qual­ity of the ef­fects (on a first lis­ten the de­lays and re­verbs, while very good on the Boss, are a lit­tle less pristine­and ex­pen­sive-sound­ing than the Frac­tal), for the con­ve­nience of the Boss. I’m go­ing to use this new setup on the live fi­nal of BBC’s Pitch Bat­tle in a cou­ple of weeks. Noth­ing like tak­ing a chance on live TV with a new bit of gear. Or maybe I should try it at the prover­bial Dog & Fer­ret first?

Adam is try­ing out the Boss MS-3 (bot­tom left) in his new cus­tom ’board – with ukulele for scale!

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