Swarathma’s Blog

Guitar Processors: The Analog vs Digital Debate
March 26, 2009, 12:14 pm
Filed under: Live Setup | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Photocredit: Deepika

Varun, the fountain of Swarathma’s youth, talks of his trials and tribulations with Analog and Digital guitar processors. With handling guitar duties, he is also a part-time recording engineer with a home studio setup, while hanging out rabbits and other animals at other times.

Hello! I have this interesting experience that I thought would be nice to share. Many of you guitar players out there would agree with me that the ‘analog fashion’ in guitar processors is making a comeback, I agree it never died but to a section of guitar players and other musicians it did, sob sob 😦 .

My Live setup now is

  • MXR Zakk Wylde Overdrive
  • Fulltone OCD Distortion
  • BOSS DD3 Digital Delay
  • Jim Dunlop Cry Baby Wah
  • BOSS GT6 on the FX Loop

Before switching to analogs I had been using multi effects processors for quite long, 4 years to be precise. Multi effect pedals are fun to use and easily available, you get all the distortion, amp simulators, FX, filters and modulation in one box and yes, for a good price. Easy to carry and maintain they have become a part of every guitarist’s equipment. But remember these are just simulations and are programmed to sound that way but it never will. You can’t expect a processor worth fifteen to twenty thousand bucks to sound like one of those amps which would cost you ten times higher. Analogs were the beginning of all this and many people still prefer using them though there has been a lot of talk that they produces more noise, and can become a costly affair while digital technology has everything built in one system. But that’s not completely right either, what do you prefer Quality or Quantity? There is a never-ending debate still going on about Analogs vs Digital. But yes, I would not say that digital is all bad. In fact, of late a lot of processors have come up with really beautiful high quality effect pedals and rack systems which deliver a complete true high quality effects with no coloration of sound. But when it comes to Distortion or Overdrive, its still not up to the mark.
Having said that, sometimes analogs can take you for a roller coaster ride! Yes, I went for one and it was brilliant (sarcastic). I was on stage playing at the South Asian Bands Festival in Delhi. I use these lovely sweet sounding overdrives that give me my desired tone, though I keep desiring more LOL! There was this beautiful amp I got there to play: it was a Mesa Boogie Lonestar. Yes it’s the same one which great players like Andy Timmons and John Petrucci use. I generally use the clean section of the amp and prefer to run it through my pedals and get the tone I need so that way I don’t have to depend on the amp I to play on stage.

So on stage during soundcheck I play my clean tone with my delay and wow it sounds like I’m slowly flying. Now comes the tragic comic scene as I would like to call it, I kick in my overdrive and before I can play I hear this growl ofFulltone OCD a noise from the amp! I I turn back to see if it had turned into some sort of wild animal, but 😛 I was safe. Then I bypass and kickin the other drive and it goes a up few Db! And this feels just great because I am in an unknown city and I start looking around wondering what to do and i think for a second, ”Will i have to play clean the whole show. This can’t be happening! In comes my GT6 as a superhero and helps me survive, I chucked my lovely analogs side after calling up as many people as I could think of and some ga ga gi gi over the phone. I played on the GT6 throughout the show.

This could happen when you have bad earthing and due to some power fluctuations, my patch cables had developed some problem and started producing a lot of noise, which made me feel more of a Mowgli than a guitar player. So GT6 the saviour, thankfully I carried it. So here is a small lesson I learnt after this whole issue, analogs are great and can give you the warmth Pedal Boardbut at the same time it can also give you a lot of problems onstage due to various reasons. So be prepared for the worst and a pedal board is a must for these, dismantling them after every gig will spoil your cables and other accessories, better to have a board fixed with a trusted power supply. This way you can be free from worries and yes, it does requires a lot of investment to get all these. But one by one they help and that’s what I’m currently doing.

Moral of this experience : Analogs are like a Safed Haathi 🙂

Edited by: Jishnu Dasgupta


2 Comments so far
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You actually covered several curious points here. I found this by searching Msn and I have to admit that I already subscribed for your website, it is very good (:

Comment by Leonida Broadus

Thank you Leonida Broadus. Nice name 🙂 Hope to see you on facebook.

Comment by Varun

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