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Exit Stage Left - Tone Construction


KidGloves84
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Hi everybody, long time listener, first time caller. I've been a multi-effects fan for sometime now and made the switch from my Boss GT-100 to the Helix after lurking here a while and checking out all the great resources and reviews on YouTube. I love the sounds on the Helix and all the options it offers an Edge/Rabin/Lifeson-y type like myself, but the major selling point was the community. I feel like I can make some good sounds, especially for my original stuff, but when it comes to the sounds of my heroes, or a deeper understanding of what the pedals are doing, how they interact, etc., the forums here became a really attractive bonus to be able to communicate with and learn from others and improve my sound. Which brings me to the topic at hand.

There are a lot of good patches around the web for Rush, some never get shared, some are close but use other gear, and I wanted to see if I could make a patch that is designed to be as close as I could get in the Helix to Alex Lifeson's Exit Stage Left rig. I've looked into his effects before, but the Helix finally gives me the capability to really go for it. I was able to find someone on another forum who built a physical near-identical pedalboard, gearpage link below, and based the path around that. In my version, I have UK Wah 846 - Red Squeeze - Gain Block - Top Secret OD - 70's Chorus - Volume Pedal - Transistor Tape - Courtesan Flange - Ducked Delay - Plate Reverb as the effects chain. Some of those were placeholders, as I was unsure of what would get closest - 846 Wah for King, Gain Block for Micro Amp, Plate Reverb for DynaVerb. Some were educated guesses based on what I know he used around that time and further into the 80's - 70's Chorus, Ducked Delay/TC-2290 in place of the Timeline, Top Secret OD closest to Dist+. There are some, though, I'm entirely unsure of. I know he used an Electric Mistress/Courtesan Flange but am having trouble with the sound, and he mentioned in interviews around the time that he was unhappy with the Space Echo, and preferred an EchoPlex, so I put the Tape Echo in the chain there, but haven't really done much with it yet, as I suppose as I don't know exactly how and when he was using it.

Digging further, I went to the tourbooks, linked below as well, and there he doesn't mention a wah in the Moving Pictures tourbook, but for Signals he uses a CryBaby. No mention of a reverb unit in either book, although I feel good about figuring that out to taste. The MP book backs up that the Roland Echo unit was there, along with an Advanced Audio Digital Delay, but by Signals he has moved to multiple delay units, two Yamaha E1010s, two Lofts, and the AA. I guess the TC-2290s come a little later in the Power Windows era (my favorite album and tones), but I still feel like they are a good option here. Thoughts?


Amp wise, this is really where I can admit my inexperience with this much modelling capability comes in to play. On the Moving Pictures / ESL tours, he was running this rig into two Marshall 4140 Club and Country amps and two HiWatt 100s with the 4x12 cabs. For Signals, I think it was all the Marshall 2x12s. I've heard that the Club and Country sounds more like a Fender Twin, so my idea was to run this rig into a Brit Plexi Brt Preamp, for a Marshall character, then into some Fender Twin-esque combination. I've tried preamp - twin amp - twin cab, preamp - twin amp plus cab, marshall amp - twin cab, and it sounds okay sometimes, but I mostly have issues getting the volume out the chain and amps. Currently, I've ended with the Marshall preamp into a Fender Twin amp + cab, then into a WhoWatt cab, and the plan going forward is to split the signal into the top being the marshall/fender, and the bottom being the WhoWatt head and cab, if possible.

So, the question is: where do I go from here? Am I onto something? Will this work? Ditch the preamp idea? What works in place of the MicroAmp? Have I missed some research? Do you have any advice, comments, constructive criticism? I'm hoping to find some Rush fans on here, some technical wizards, or anyone interested to help me figure out how to make this sound better, help me troubleshoot, help me learn and improve my tone matching and patch building skills. I really want this to be truly great and to really work well, not just for myself, but for anyone interested. I haven't uploaded the patch to custom tone, as it is a work in progress, and I wasn't permitted to attach it, but I am happy to provide screen grabs, attach it when I can, or anything else needed. Sorry for such a long first post, but I'm happy to be here and I'm looking forward to contributing when and what I can to the forum!


https://www.thegearpage.net/board/index.php?threads/alex-lifeson-moving-pictures-era-type-tone.1304556/

http://www.cygnus-x1.net/links/rush/tourbook-movingpictures.php

http://www.cygnus-x1.net/links/rush/tourbook-signals.php



 

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Big Al is probably my favorite guitarist of all time. Just love his choices and out there phrasing at times. I honestly play nothing like him, but do love his tones through the years. I'll see if I can come up with something as well. If you have any breakthroughs let me know.

 

Chappie

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Lots of detail here but we're missing one of the key components.  What physical gear are you using for output?  That's going to have a certain amount of impact on the sound you're producing.

 

I use somewhat the same approach as far as researching someone's rig as a starting point for my patches.  However I'm not sure there's that much to be gained by trying to get as detailed in the setup as you're going with the separation of pre-amp, amp, and cab.  I simply use a close approximation of amps and cabs which is more than enough to get me where I need to be.  The rest is simply routing and placement of effects and EQ.  Unless you have ears like a bat you or your audience isn't likely to be able to tell the difference.  I think you can spend a lot of time tinkering with that type of stuff which really only serves to leave you with less time to actually play guitar.

 

In the case you mentioned, I'd probably use a dual amp/cab setup using a soldano (for the cleanish marshal/twin sound) and a hiwatt.  Split the path and use the type of split where you can designate how much signal goes into each setup and tinker with that until you get what sounds like the right mix.  See how far that gets you.

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I'm not sure there's that much to be gained by trying to get as detailed in the setup as you're going with the separation of pre-amp, amp, and cab.  I simply use a close approximation of amps and cabs which is more than enough to get me where I need to be.  The rest is simply routing and placement of effects and EQ.  Unless you have ears like a bat you or your audience isn't likely to be able to tell the difference.  I think you can spend a lot of time tinkering with that type of stuff which really only serves to leave you with less time to actually play guitar.

 

 

good post!

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It's not that hard to get Big Al's tone.  

 

Lots of detail here but we're missing one of the key components.  What physical gear are you using for output?  That's going to have a certain amount of impact on the sound you're producing.

 

I use somewhat the same approach as far as researching someone's rig as a starting point for my patches.  However I'm not sure there's that much to be gained by trying to get as detailed in the setup as you're going with the separation of pre-amp, amp, and cab.  I simply use a close approximation of amps and cabs which is more than enough to get me where I need to be.  The rest is simply routing and placement of effects and EQ.  Unless you have ears like a bat you or your audience isn't likely to be able to tell the difference.  I think you can spend a lot of time tinkering with that type of stuff which really only serves to leave you with less time to actually play guitar.

 

In the case you mentioned, I'd probably use a dual amp/cab setup using a soldano (for the cleanish marshal/twin sound) and a hiwatt.  Split the path and use the type of split where you can designate how much signal goes into each setup and tinker with that until you get what sounds like the right mix.  See how far that gets you.

 

Yep.  Whatever FX you dial up, it's going to come down to the fact that Alex used different guitars for different songs, different tone and pickup switches, etc.  I saw an AWESOME Rush Cover project on Friday Last at Bobby Weir's club in Mill Valley (Sweetwater) called Fred Barchetta.  The guitarist, who is the first guitarist I've seen who can cover Rush better than me, used one setting throughout the entire set.  Heavy on the chorus from Al's insecure days in the 90's.  Despite this single setting, the guy absolutely NAILED it.  It comes down to fingers and familiarity.  Once you get that, the rest is tinkering.

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I really appreciate the replies here. Truly. As far as output gear, I'm running the Helix into the back of a JC-120 to get all the sound from the Helix with as little coloring as possible. I used to run the aforementioned GT-100 into the front, but with more options in the Helix, I wanted all the details to shine through.

I appreciate the tip on the Soldano to approximate the Marshall/Twin combo and will definitely try that. I figured I was overthinking the Club and Country path with preamps and amps and cabs combinations. I've been away from the rig the past few days and haven't had much chance to update anything, so I'm looking to trying that out. It is true and a fair point that an audience member won't know the difference of what amp or cab I'm running or if any effect is different fro the originals, as long as the overall tone works, I just wanted to try this approach to see what was possible and have a fun project to come back to from time to time aside from my main sounds and patches.

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  • 1 year later...

I know this is over a year old, so don't know if anyone will see this, but where did you end up with this patch? I've been trying to do the same thing and so far my results are spotty. Right now I'm using a Who Watt and the Solo Lead Crunch in parallel with a bit higher level on the SLO. I switched the default SLO cabinet out for the 2x12 Interstate which seemed to give it more bite. I messed around with the Top Secret OD vs. the KWB and preferred the TS. It's definitely easier to dial in than the KWB. WIth the Legacy effects added from the 2.5 release I tried the Boost Comp for the MXR Micro Amp,  but it was too squishy for my taste even with the Comp setting at zero, so I left that part of the chain out right now. Where I'm struggling is how much gain to put into the amps vs. the Top Secret. How much was the overall sound pushed by the Micro Amp? What I'm getting sounds too "fuzzy", but if I cut the highs it sounds too dark. Listening to the beginning of Red Barchetta the sound is fairly clean, but not squeaky clean, but did he turn down his guitar volume at all to clean up the sound for the intro? Watching the video, RB was with the Strat. Not sure if he might have been on the neck pickup for the intro. 

 

It's funny as I went back to really listen to the album to try to match the sound, it's not really that great of a sound, but I love it anyway. I like when he steps on the Mistress and it turns into this swirling mess of guitar. 

 

Leo

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  • 2 weeks later...

This is my Rush tribute band. We don’t play a lot of the early stuff but I use helix and sometimes variax for 2 hour rush sets. I’ve had problems getting the guitar to cut through at gigs but have recently change my patches to a baseline stereo patch and I switch in and out pedals for different songs. So, still a patch pervsong but it’s essentially the same just with different snapshots programmed and sometimes different pedals.

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