Tuesday, June 5, 2007
Notes On Backward Guitar.
many times I've been asked about my live playing of backward guitar parts.
in the story about the Mystery Geek
(see "a nut for a jar of tuna") I related that his device has long since been broken.
here is the way I produce
"live" backward effects nowadays.
the effects company called Digitech made an amplifier called
the Johnson Millennium 150.
it is the primary amp I use in all live performances. in fact, I use two.
when Digitech first ventured into the amp business I contacted them.
I flew to Salt Lake City, home of Digitech, for a day's worth of consultation. I brought along some of my favorite effect boxes
to see if they could incorporate them into their new amp. along with Line 6, the Johnson amp was the first to offer modeling where a type of amp or effects box could be closely reproduced with software. the amp types and effects are all built into the Johnson amp itself. no more wrecked refrigerators.
after demonstrating the effects I brought along the Digitech techs asked what else I would like the amp to do. I said I would very much like it to make my guitar sound backwards. could they do that? they scratched their heads and said "yes, it should be possible with software".
a few weeks later the Digi-techs called to say my modifications were ready. now here's the cool part. we plugged my Johnson amp into my studio computer and they downloaded my new guitar program (called "reverse") right into my amp! and that is still how I make backward guitar sounds today. the delay (which turns itself around backwards) is a standardized length (about 1.7 seconds) so I've grown accustomed to how it feels rhythmically to fit it into different songs. it's true, you have to be a little ahead of yourself (nearly two seconds ahead) but I'm used to it. it's my favorite effect.
the Johnson Millennium 150 amp is no longer made. Digitech didn't care for the amplifier business. apart from the inevitable "johnson" jokes, it's been an invaluable tool. Johnsons are rare to find, but when I hear of one in great shape I usually buy it!