JTV and POD HD500 Multi-effect: Building the Perfect Beast

In the last blog post, I talked about using the James Tyler Variax and POD® HD500 multi-effect pedal to tackle the daunting task of recreating and taking the vast array of tones created in the studio to the stage. My personal experience in the past has been that the results are one huge compromise. Unless, of course, you’re willing to drag a half-dozen or more guitars, several amps and an aircraft carrier-sized pedal board to a club gig. Or you’re The Edge.

Using a realistic, movable and manageable set-up means the tone palette at your fingertips and feet will allow you to nail some tones while others while be “close enough for rock n roll” approximations.

This is especially true when it comes to acoustic guitar parts. It is truly amazing how much acoustic guitar can be found on great rock n roll records. If it’s not front and center, you’ll find acoustics layered in with the electric rhythm parts, adding an organic sound that fattens up the guitar parts. Some of us end up carrying an acoustic-electric (my weapon of choice is a Renaissance made by Rick Turner) but that means I’ll be taking a third guitar along with my Strat® and Tele® with humbuckers to a gig. Most of the time – especially for any gig involving air travel – the Turner gets left behind and I’ll opt to use a clean electric with a combination of chorus and slap delay to get in the ballpark. It’s a less than satisfying compromise.

And how many players do you know carry a 12-string acoustic – or electric for that matter – as part of their arsenal?

Nothing sounds like a 12-string guitar – no matter what effects you piece together. Sure, the audience won’t really mind when you kick into “So You Want To Be a Rock n Roll Star” and there’s no 12-string…but it truly kicks ass when you’ve got that Rickenbacker® 360-12 chime. Something about that sound. And isn’t that what our life revolves around… tone??!!

So the JTV –and I’m going to deal with the guitar piece of the puzzle before diving into the POD HD500 and the amp and effects – is loaded to the hilt with models of all kinds that you now have in your tool box. Over 50 of them – almost as many guitars The Edge uses in one show!

In the studio, having all these guitars is not an issue. You lay down a part, stop, grab another, record and experiment ad infinitum. On stage having all these models – even arranged in the intuitive manner they are on the JTV model knob – while unprecedented and actually quite amazing – can be a bit overwhelming and tricky to access. Having several acoustic guitars a couple of knob twists away from a dozen electrics is a mind-blowing reality now. But on stage, those knob twists can be a mind-blower in a different way. Which is where the Custom banks are a life-saver.

Building the Perfect Beast

On each JTV there are two Custom banks – one at each end of the Model Knob positions – that allow access to the custom models each of your choosing. With just a couple of simple steps, you can move any model to one of the Custom banks and load it into a slot accessed by the three-position switch (on a JTV-59) or the five-position switch (on a JTV-69 and JTV-89). This makes it possible to go from a 12-string acoustic model to a Les Paul® with one click. Or an open G-tuned Tele® for a Keith-style rhythm tone to a standard-tuned SG for a Mick Taylor-influenced solo.

In the upcoming posts I will show you exactly how to use this elegant solution to create your own Custom JTV and set it up for your unique on-stage situation.