Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tone Molecules

A few years ago I had a regular gig with a band that played in high schools. They were part of a character development program and they were either the kick off or the grand finale. We were always under the gun to get loaded in and be ready to go. We only started late once or twice out of a couple hundred shows but it often seemed like a close shave.

One guitarist had a Matchless Super Chief that had been modded into a head and he played that through a Marshall 4x12. He would flip the power on, plug in his pedal board, flip the stand by and let a chord ring out. "Matchless... you're a tough match." was the often uttered phrase.

The guitarist on the other side of the stage would load in a similar Marshall cab, plus a vintage Fender head, vintage Marshall head, custom impedance matching amp switcher, numerous guitars and other paraphernalia. But that was only the beginning. He would check the voltage coming out of the wall. He would clap and shout into the room. The tone-out process sometimes took forty-five minutes. It took so long to get up and running sometimes that we would kid him about asking us if his guitar sounded better with his hair parted on the left or the right. And all this was before he set up the sampler that he was also responsible for.

It was all worth it though. To this day I've only rarely heard better guitar tone.

Well one day he came in and was unwrapping some new cables. They were some custom, impedance matched, hand built, Mogami jobs that were probably built by celibate Japanese monks in a secret mountain top monastery. He started going on about the flow of electrons and I cut him off with a geek scientist voice, finishing his sentence, "... which in turn prevents my precious tone molecules from escaping!"

We had a good laugh and indeed many more at that guy's expense. He's still a phenomenal guitar player and Tone Molecules are still an inside joke in certain remote pockets of the local music scene. This isn't just sharing an inside joke though Brethren of the Knob and fader. It's a lesson in what counts. The end result. Here's to you Dave (and TJ). You really got results.

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