Context

 The Greatest of All TimeThe Greatest of All Time

Drummers have it rough.  I mean, they are the brunt of every joke.  Their job is basically to get a crazy cardio workout every night 1.  They’re largely unseen by the audience 2 Also, drum machines.

I bring this up because guitar players’ number one personality defect3 is A/Bing things and the drummer is the perfect guy to get crapped all over when this happens.

It’s a story as old as click tracks.  Band leader-y guy is listening back to a recording of a drum with nothing but the click track.  The drums bounce in and out of time and the band leader, who wrote the song with programmed drums, freaks right the hell out because the drums aren’t “tight” enough.  Which is true, when compared to a machine the drums are pretty loose.  However, that looseness is what makes the drums sound like a “person” instead of “a poorly programmed loop.” That looseness is what the “humanize” slider does.  That looseness allows space for interplay with the rest of the band to weave in and out of so that it sounds like an actual band playing actual music, not Rings of Saturn4.

Context is everything.

You probably have no idea who Ola Englund is.  He’s a Swedish death metal guitarist5 he’s in the band, Feared (who you’ve never heard of) he was in Six Feet Under and is now in The Haunted (who you may have heard of).  He’s also part of the “companies send me stuff to play in one of my popular YouTube videos” movement 6.

The thing that’s interesting to me about Ola is he will make a video with what appears to be anything in the world.  Where as someone like Keith Merrow largely features high end gear in his videos, Ola has made videos featuring gear that people reading this will all probably turn their noses up at.

Which is the entire point behind this post.

Here, Ola Englund demos a Diezel amp.  It almost doesn’t matter which one, because they all cost about what your house is worth now7.

Below Ola plays through a Fender Mustang I, which can be bought with the change in your couch cushions.

Let’s take for granted that Ola is telling the truth and that there was no post eq done to the guitar tracks.  Let’s also assume that there was post eq done to everything else and there may have been some global eq work done, because that’s what you do.  If you look at all the comments you’ll see people declaring that, “that’s not how that amp really sounds,” or, “Ola can make anything sound good.”

Which means most of the comments are missing the point8.

If you spend most of your time playing guitar alone9 you will spend most of your time coming up with a sound that covers as much sonic ground as possible.  Since you have no one to fight with you will, inevitably, go for the James Hetfield on …And Justice For All tone at least once.  That’s awesome, and you won’t even have to worry about Jason Newstead making a hate face at you from the liner notes.

The most Newstead on that album.
The most Newstead on that album.

The problem with tiny amps is they don’t do the “I have all the frequencies” thing very well.  But in a recording setting they don’t have to, because all of the frequencies have to be shared with the drums, the bass the the singer the electronics, the horns, the marimba, etc. etc.

Context.

The next time you look down your nose at a piece of gear, just remember, there’s probably a place and a time in which it sounds good. Except the BOSS DS-1.  There’s no place for that ever…

  1. I once saw an interview with Tommy Lee where he said he put a pedometer on during a show once, it said he ran six miles
  2. Stryper’s drummer sets up his kit sideways so that folks can actually see him work.
  3. Besides playing guitar.
  4. Allegedly
  5. Redundant.  OK, I mean there were The Teddy Bears, but other than that…
  6. See also: Chapman, Robert C. and Merrow, Keith
  7. Less than I paid for it. Curse you economic collapse!!!!!!!!!!!
  8. Shocking, I know.
  9. I’ll raise my hand here.