The Angel Experiment (Maximum Ride, Book 1) - page 28

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Wah Wah

This is an actual pedal, not just a box. It has a rocker pedal that is like the gas pedal on your car. Changing the angle with your foot changes the tone. Basically a wah wah is a tone knob controlled by your foot . There's also a switch to bypass the wah wah, usually under the end of the pedal in the front. So, to use it, you have to stomp the rocker pedal forward to turn the switch on, then move the pedal back and forth while you play. Some good use is in Portishead's "Roads," Morcheeba's instrumental "Who Can You Trust?," Dinasour Jr.'s "Little Fury Things," Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Sir Psycho Sexy," 31's "Freak Out."

Usually used four different ways:

  1. For the clean, muted, "wacka wacka wacka" 70s funk soundpedal being rocked in rhythm with the strumming. (Think "Theme from Shaft.")

  2. Combined with distortion and pushed back and forth slower for a screaming rude rock sound (almost any Jimi Hendrix). Also check out the rhythm guitar in the Bomb song, "All My References are Dead" on the CDthough one guitar is a wah wah and the other is an envelope filter.

  3. Set in one place as a tone control. (Think Brian May of Queen's lead sound.)

  4. Used wrong. Just randomly used, not in rhythm or with reason. Used just because it's there. This is the most common use of the wah wah.

NOTE

I got help from my younger, hipper friends with song examples in this chapter. A lot of help. They also helped a bit with examples in Chapter 2, "Songwriting Basics," and all the equipment chapters. The younger , hipper friends are KTRU (Houston) radio DJ, Daniel Joseph Mee (www.thejonx.org) and Skip Frederiksen from the very cool Florida band Beauty's Confusion (www.beautysconfusion.net). Thanks, guys.

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Compressor

A compressor (or compression) reduces the dynamics of a signal, raising (or boost ing ) the low volume and lowering (or attenuating , a.k.a. cutting , a.k.a. rolling off ) the high volumes . This increases sustain and gives a better tone, especially for lead. Usually has two knobs : compression (amount of compression) and volume.

It is used on the drum beats in "Mysterons" by Portishead.

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Reverb

Reverb imitates the sound of a large wide open room. It is similar to delay, but instead of distinct separate strong echoes, it is an infinite number of smaller echoes. Think of the sound of being in a metal room and yelling "Hello!"

It gives the sound of the instrument a little more depth, though too much of it tends to obscure the actual notes being played , especially when used in combination with distortion, delay, or other effects.

Reverb is usually produced by sending the signal through springs. This is usually done in the amp itself. That's why sometimes when you hit your amp or move it while it's plugged in you hear a horrible SPROING sound. (I have actually heard someone hit their amp as an effect in a song.) The Fender Twin Reverb and Fender Deluxe Reverb are good examples of amps with reverb springs.

On an amp with reverb springs, there is usually a knob on the front of the amp to control the amount of reverb, then there is usually a female jack on the back of the amp marked "reverb" or "reverb foot switch." Into this you plug a foot switch. This switch usually comes with the amp. It is a passive switch used to turn the reverb on or to bypass it.

Figure 4.5. Fender Deluxe Reverb.

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Sometimes reverb units are freestanding and not built into the amp, although these are rare compared to in-amp units.

Examples: Radio 4: "How The Stars Got Crossed" and "No More Room For Communication." Moby: "Everloving." The Innocence Mission: The Innocence Mission album, heard in the vocals of all songs, especially "Notebook." Hum's "Isle of the Cheeta."

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