Relay G30, M9, and Spin Kicks: On the Road with Glen Phillips

Singer-songwriter Glen Phillips is a true road warrior.  Nonstop recording and touring with his four bands (including seminal alt-rock group Toad the Wet Sprocket) means Glen needs gear that sounds good, is built tough, and can fit in a backpack when necessary. That’s where Line 6 comes in.

By Glen Phillips

I never thought these stories were true until this happened to me...

I've been on the road for a little over twenty years, and never considered a wireless system for my guitar. My impression had always been that the sonic sacrifice and potential for problems simply weren't worth a little more mobility on stage. (I've never been able to do spin kicks, anyway.)

On stage I play acoustic and electric guitars, and by the end of a show there's usually a giant mess of cordal spaghetti on the floor for me to trip on, which I manage to do at least a couple times a night, often nearly ending up in a heap on the floor. At some point enough was enough, and I decided to try something new.

Line 6 has been part of my rig for a while (the M9 is a good friend - more on that later), and the Relay™ G30 digital wireless system looked like the right match for my needs. I hadn't thought that a wireless system could be compact enough to fit on a pedalboard and still work decently, but I needed something small (we're touring in a van) and easy to manage.

We were all pretty shocked with how well everything worked. The sound is clear, there was zero interference, and the latency (around 4ms) was imperceptible. I kept thinking I was missing some important detail that should make things more complicated, but the thing just plain works, and works magnificently. The biggest question in my head was why it had taken me so long to switch. No spaghetti, no stepping on my cable and stumbling, no compromise in tone. I'll be adding another unit for my acoustic soon, and then look into some karate classes so I can start in on the David Lee Roth moves.

Back to the M9 for a second: Last year I started a new band, Works Progress Administration. We were touring on a shoestring budget, and did most of our shows as a five-piece in a minivan with local backline for drums and bass. I managed to have my whole rig fit in my suitcase. With the M9 and a ZT Lunchbox™ amp, I had great tone, every effect I could want, and a very small footprint. There were raised eyebrows at load-in every day, but the skepticism would disappear as soon as they heard the setup.

I also use the M9 on tour with Toad the Wet Sprocket, with the addition of a Visual Sound® Route 66 overdrive/compressor, through a Matchless® Lightning 15. On some fly-outs with backline, I'll just throw the M9 in my backpack, put the guitar in a gig bag, and feel confident in my rig without even having to check a bag.

For a combination of flexibility and size, there's nothing that comes close to the M9, and the interface is pleasantly idiot-proof. I have different scenes programmed in for my different projects (WPA, Toad and solo), which allow me to jump off one tour and on to another with zero hassle. It's also a great tool for sessions - instead of throwing a bunch of "maybe I'll use it, you never know" pedals in a bag, I can bring the M9 and have the whole Line 6 collection at my disposal. It sits at my feet with the Route 66 in my home studio as well, and my other effect pedals have been gathering dust for a year now.

So...thanks for the Relay G30 and M9! It's a fine thing to have this much flexibility in such small packages without feeling like I'm compromising my tone.