ses­sion gui­tarist Adam Gold­smith’s mi­cro ped­al­board proves its worth in a live tV fi­nale

Guitarist - - Opinion - adam Gold­smith

For those of you who read last month’s col­umn (pay at­ten­tion at the back), you may re­mem­ber that I was test­ing out a new bit of gear, the Boss MS-3, which I’d had in­te­grated into a cus­tom-made ped­al­board. If you missed its ar­rival in the mar­ket, it’s es­sen­tially a three-loop switch­ing sys­tem to in­te­grate ped­als, with all of the Boss ef­fects on­board. This gives you the abil­ity to ei­ther use it to switch ef­fects on and off like a stomp­box or – and this is the way I’ve been us­ing it – to set pre­sets, each in­volv­ing mul­ti­ple ef­fects while only hit­ting one switch and avoid­ing the tap dance.

The BBC se­ries Pitch Bat­tle, for which I’ve been in the house band, reached its cli­max with the live fi­nal last week­end as I write this, and that was the first big test for my new setup. A good pro­por­tion of my work over the last 20 or so years – start­ing with the first Pop Idol se­ries – has been in TV house bands. There are es­sen­tially two meth­ods of record­ing these kind of shows: the pre-record and the live show. I imag­ine the fun­da­men­tal dif­fer­ence is pretty ob­vi­ous, but the re­al­ity of record­ing the two for­mats is very dif­fer­ent. Pre-records can be pretty te­dious to make, with a lot of lis­ten­ing to the warm-up guy’s‘ jokes’ and re-tak­ing things for cam­era shots, pos­si­ble mis­takes in de­liv­ery by pre­sen­ters, scenery prob­lems, etc, etc.All of this usu­ally re­sults in plenty of time to faff around with guitar and ef­fects changes, and an hour’s show can eas­ily take up to five hours to record.You also have the lux­ury of know­ing that should any sig­nif­i­cant gear or mu­si­cal fail­ure oc­cur, you can prob­a­bly ei­ther do it again or fix it ‘in the mix’ be­fore broad­cast.

The live show, on the other hand, is much more ex­cit­ing and fun in my opin­ion, be­cause no mat­ter what hap­pens, you have to get it right – if you don’t, po­ten­tially sev­eral mil­lion peo­ple will see and hear you get it wrong. It’s one of my favourite ways of work­ing as it’s quite a buzz.All the de­part­ments (sound, props, cam­eras, pre­sen­ters, and so on) are run­ning round on full alert and con­cen­trat­ing hard for the full hour or so.

So with this in mind, I used the MS-3 and a com­bi­na­tion of my trusty Gib­sons, a 1967 335 and a 1972 SG. For over­drives I used a Stry­mon Sun­set, aJ Rocket t Archer, and for tape de­lays aS try mon El Cap is tan. Any‘ St rat’ parts were played my col­league Paul Dunne (from the Strictly Come Danc­ing band) on guitar two.

We had two days of re­hearsal, so I had plenty of time to pro­gram patches. This fea­ture re­ally came into its own when we played aU 2 song (I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Look­ing For) very close to a med­ley cen­tred around the them of‘ Be­liev­ing’, which in­volved The Mon­kees’ I’m A Be­liever , R Kelly’s I Be­lieve I Can Fly and The Dark­ness’s I Be­lieve In A Thing Called Love in a drop D tun­ing.

I used the SG for all of this, and, through past ex­pe­ri­ence on The Voice, I’d al­ready de­cided to pro­gram a patch en­ti­tled‘ Edge’ for any U 2 songs. This in­volves the use of two de­lays (a dot­ted eighth note and a quar­ter-note with the ef­fect level set fairly high) and a touch of boost from the Archer. Ob­vi­ously, when you’re play­ing to a click you need to be pre­cise about tempo, so the very easy - to - use ‘bpm’ func­tion on the MS-3 de­lays was es­sen­tial. I’d set up some other com­monly used generic sounds as patches. Firstly, a to­tally clean sound with the El Capis­tan loop on so I can add de­lay eas­ily if re­quired. Next a clas­sic, glassy Strat patch with a touch of cho­rus, dig­i­tal de­lay and plate re­verb (I Be­lieve I Can Fly), fol­lowed by a patch with the Archer and the El Capis­tan loops en­gaged (I’m A Be­liever), and lastly the Sun­set Loop en­gaged for the big Mar­shall sound for I Be­lieve In A Thing Called Love. As I didn’t have to worry about too much tap danc­ing, the 12 bars’ rest I had to tune to drop D on the SG were more than enough.

I’d heartily rec­om­mend the Boss unit and I’ll be us­ing it for quite a while, although maybe a ver­sion with more loops might be nice?

Adam with his Pitch Bat­tle crew (L-R): drum­mer Neil Wilkin­son, mu­si­cal di­rec­tor Chris Egan, bassist Phil Mul­ford, fixer Paul Spong, en­gi­neer Trys­tan Fran­cis and gui­tarist Paul Dunne

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