Playing Live: Digital Versus Analogue
As a traveling musician, it can be extremely difficult and irksome to find the right kind of gear in the back line that your sound vendor supplies. Whether you are a drummer, a bass player or a guitarist, you eventually realize that in a country like India, the vocalist is given the most importance. You will also learn that your regular sound vendor will always have a large number of vocal mics but hardly any instrument mics and maybe never a decent head and cabinet amplifier. Thankfully, this is changing and many sound vendors are catching up to the trend of having good amplifiers with tubes, yet this reach towards a decent quality back-line seems like a sluggish crawl.
In my recent tours, I have lost my mind over not finding the right amplifier as it has taken a toll over the sound of my guitar, making all those hours of relentless jamming futile. I spoke to a number of fellow guitarists and musicians, where I realized that to have control over my sound, it only made sense to get a Digital Processor and make that a part of my live rig. Now that I had taken the step, I did not have to fret or worry about the kind of amplifier I would have to put up with as I finally regained the power over how I wished to sound .
You may question why do some guitarists choose a digital processor over an analogue rig, it is often because of the attention an analogue rig requires. The analogue needs a tube amplifier (or a very good solid state amplifier) to make sure the guitarist sounds good but it can be heartbreaking if one of your cables go missing. Imagine this, you are a guitarist who takes pride in waving an elaborate analogue pedal board and then you get to the venue to realize that your sound vendor does not have the Laney Ironheart that was essential to render your tone in the way you imagined it to be. You will quickly find the answer is another question- what is the point of carrying around such a heavy pedal board, when you are going to end up sounding weak. Besides, it being a heavy weight load, there are many hassles chained when you invest in an analogue pedal board, one has to make sure that all the tiny cables that are on the chain are correctly connected and that all of those similar-looking cables are working perfectly. Often during sound checks and live shows, there is a buzz in the tone and some glitch that causes a loss in the connection. This can happen because of a malfunction caused by the patch cables (cables that connect each pedal in the chain) and it takes a lot of time and patience to figure which cable it is.
Each pedal in an analogue chain needs to be powered by a 9V battery or a power adapter like the “Daisy Chain”, a power adapter for pedal boards, that can power multiple pedals with one power out. Yet, it is easier to have one power adapter that powers one processor unit in comparison with one power adapter that has more than 10 power outs, creating lesser things to lose your mind over.
As I have been touring more lately, I now notice that I hardly get to use a decent amplifier, in spite of it being specifically requested on the tech rider (a list of items the band requires from the sound vendor) Luckily, I did not have to face the brunt as I had invested in a digital processor that sorted the technical chores easily. All I had to do was, connect two XLR outs (or a line out to a DI box) to the mixer directly and get the guitar sound the way I need it to. All that the sound engineer now had to do, was to EQ my tone a little to make sure it sounded good in the mix. Making sure there was no space for Amp buzz, no need for further tweaking, and no extra feed back or loud stage jarring to deal with.
It is safe to say, digital processors have been a boon to all guitarists who cannot depend on a sound vendor. It is obvious that a digital processor will never sound as genuine as an analogue set up, but where you have to settle, it only makes sense to carry around something that makes you self reliant and lets you control your sound better.
To get a first-hand experience with the two kinds, do check out the diverse range of pedals and processors at Furtados online or at a Furtados store near you and find what suits you the most!