Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Simple As What?

Monster musician Trey Gunn recently did an interview describing his new all digital setup. To read it, go here.

I find it amusing after describing this complex chain of techno-gizmos that he states, "Simple as that."

Trey plays a Warr Guitar. You have to read about to understand it, but it is both and bass and treble electronic string instrument. Makes the common six string guitar look pale, doesn't it?

I believe that Gunn is one of those musicians who is not only willing to take on such incredible musical challenges and complex technology, but ultimately makes music out of it. With all these techno sound choices, it's easy for the music to get lost in empty business.
My "rig" is incredibly simple. Beat up nylon string eclectro-acoustic Takamine, c. 1987, Spectraflex guitar cable, bass Polytone amp, circa 1981. I am considering adding a reverb unit and perhaps a looper just to spice things up. I keep it simple because even after playing for 38 years, I still feel like I have much to learn about the guitar and music. Perhaps it's the old adage about old dogs and new tricks.
I have nothing against technology, in fact I think it's wonderful, but those of us who first heard MIDI being lauded as the next great thing realized how crappy the sounds were and that computers played music in a distinctly unmusical fashion. MIDI has changed for the better, but still wasn't it technology that both hid and revealed the truth about Milli Vanilli?

No one is ever going to accuse me of being a purist, that's for sure, but there's a good reason why I go so primal: there is a high probability that it will work. The more elaborate your setup, the more you increase the chance of it failing. I remember seeing Adrian Belew in D.C. Ade came out all smiling, complete with that Arabian ballet style clothes he was sporting during the 80's, hit a few notes and then zap! Nothing. He apologized, exited the stage and let the roadie techs find the problem. The moment of excitement has passed, but Belew, being a great showman and front man, came back (after what seemed to a half an hour of equipment fiddling) with a great show.

So, my hat goes off to you guys who daisy chain gismos and run your elaborate maze of wires, but just remember:
It's never simple as that.

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