Category Archives: Gear Talk

Scott Kahn’s book “Modern Guitar Rigs:”

Scott Kahn talks about the 2nd edition of his book “Modern Guitar Rigs: The Tone Fanatics Guide to Integrating Amps and Effects”

Scott Kahn is Editor in Chief & Founder of the online magazine and author of the book “Modern Guitar Rigs: The Tone Fanatic’s Guide to Integrating Amps & Effects, 2nd Edition”.

Modern Guitar Rigs

Modern Guitar Rigs: The Tone Fanatic’s Guide to Integrating Amps & Effects

Scott, you have written hundreds of pages about modern guitar rigs and rack gear. What are the benefits of a rack mounted guitar rig compared to pedalboards? Why should one build a guitar rack?

Every pro has at least some of their rig housed in racks. Rack setups facilitate easy setup/teardown and much less wear and tear on your gear. Even if you’re a pedal guy… stash your pedals in a tray in a rack and they will last decades in great condition. The constant plugging/unplugging of cables really takes a toll on equipment. I have a “complex” rig with a tube amp half stack, rack gear, pedals on a shelf, switching system, MIDI foot controller… the whole right can be set up in less than three minutes. If I stuck my actual amp head in the rack case, setup would be reduced to 30 seconds.

Another key consideration is power. In the typical club scenario, your pedalboard gets plugged into a different circuit than your amp on the back line, which can result in unwanted noise in your rig, and if one or the other isn’t properly grounded, you can really hurt yourself, too. And with a bunch of pedals, if you care about great tone, you probably want some of those pedals in front of your amp and some of them in your effects loop, so you’ve got to run four long cables from your amp to your board — try not to trip on those, and make sure they are well insulated noise-wise.

Finally, if you love pedals, using audio looping products can help you end the famous “pedal tap dance” where you try to switch effects on 2-3 pedals instantaneously while playing. A little planning lets you build a modern guitar rig where a single button press on a foot controller changes all of your pedals on/off status while rest out of harms way in a rack, or even on a pedalboard.

Why did you decide to write a book about all the gear that comprises a guitar rack?

Players get all sorts of advice about the various components of their guitar rig from online forums: questions about audio loopers, amp switching systems, foot controllers, running wet/dry rigs, etc… but there’s no guidance as to where and how each of these tools fits into your guitar rig. So people buy one thing trying to solve a problem, only to find out that something else needs to be addressed before what they just bought will work properly in their rig. Players need a template or road map that guides them through all of the components of what makes a real “guitar rig” and they need to understand how the various pieces make a difference in their sound.

Tell us a little bit about the content of the book. What are you talking about?

I build the rig from the ground up, starting by looking at your effects loop and the importance of determining what items run best into the front of your amp vs. in the loop. From there, we look at how to switch between a few amps, how to incorporate rack-based effects, how to put your pedals under remote control, and then move on to talking about all the gear that pros use in their guitar rigs to address everything from running wireless systems to proper power conditioning to ordering custom rack cases. I also explore in-depth some great rigs from pros like John Petrucci and Steven Wilson, and I interviewed many of the best pro rig builders to get some insights as to what’s happening with players and their rigs in general.

Any other hints for people considering building a modern guitar rig?

Build the rig that is right for your sound and your style of playing — not the rig that some guy online recommends who has no idea what it’s like to play in your jazz fusion-meets-polka-with-a-twist-of-metal band. Just because a guy sing the praises of a wet/dry rig doesn’t mean that it’s right for your guitar rig. And don’t be afraid of complexity or cost: both of those aren’t nearly as bad as you might think once you take a logical approach to learning how the various components work together to form a rig.

What do you think are the future trends?

Well, today, pedals are back in huge popularity. But for anyone who loves playing with effects, eventually you’ll grow tired of stepping on each of your 20 pedals one at a time and realize that a more integrated approach can result in happier playing. Rack gear has been experiencing a surge of new popularity, especially since MIDI foot controller technology has gotten so much easier to use with the advent of computer-based software editors. Instead of having to deal with cryptic, two-line numeric displays, you now have super-simple drag-and-drop simplicity of configuring your sounds.

Scott, thank you for this information.

Interview with Wolf Hoffmann | Accept

Wolf Hoffmann Live

Wolf Hoffmann Live

Wolf, on 15th August, the new Accept album will be released. Tell us a little bit about the new songs.

The new album is called “Blind Rage”. All songs were written as usual by Peter and me with Mark contributing the final lyrics. The song writing process took about 6- 8 months total, starting in the summer of 2013. Recording was done in January and February in the US, mixing in the UK in Andy Sneap’s Backstage Studio.

After a longer break, you have been active again for about four years now. What is different compared to the past?

Well, some things never change , others change all the time. What hasn’t changed is the musical identity and direction. We still sound like Accept – Peter and I have been working together for close to 40 years now as a songwriting team. So we automatically know what the other is thinking without much need for words. To me it feels it getting tighter and tighter and more defined with each album.

What has changed concerning your equipment ?

Back in the ‘old days’ (especially the 80’s) we used to carry so much more gear with us, wherever we played. It was almost ridiculous by today’s standards. I am talking containers full of backline and instruments! Back then it was still affordable, nowadays… forget it. Only when we do longer continuous touring with night liners and truck will we carry our own backline and drums set etc.

For fly dates we travel only with the personal items like guitars and pedals etc. Getting your sound out of rental guitar amps can be really tough though, almost impossible sometimes. So the Kemper amp is perfect for me. I can now take my sound with me wherever I go. My setup is ultra portable and very flexible. I use two Prostage X05 boards to trigger the program changes on the Kemper Amp. One for my guitar tech and the other one is on stage. It worked well for the last 100+ shows and I see no reason to change it for this upcoming tour.

Have you ever used a pedalboard?

I have used a poedalboard for as long as I can remember. I was the guy with the most intricate pedalboard designs you could find. I wanted to have more sound possibilities but without destroying the main sound, that was always the main challenge. Over the years I  went from having pedals on the floor to pedals in a rack to no pedals. Nowadays I have all the effects I need (delay, overdrive and Wah, mostly) built into my presets of the Kemper. With the exception of one pedal: it’s a replica of my old Mutron Octave divider pedal, It;s called a vivider, made by Salvation Mods. Everything else comes right out of the Kemper and is controlled through the X05 foot controller.

Wolf, do you know the situation when you are performing on stage and suddenly the guitar rig fails? What does a guitarist do in this situation?

Heck, yeah, I know that it can be pretty scary! The more gigs you have under your belt though the more you realize it’s something that’s bound to happen once in a while and you learn to deal with it. Luckily it does not happen very often.

What can be done to prevent such a situation?

Have good gear, know you stuff really well and if you can, have a backup plan.

When and where can we see you live on stage again?

We will start touring in August and September, Europe, Japan, Australia and also a few US shows… can’t wait to play the new songs live! I hope to see you on the road !!

Wolf, many thanx for the interview.

You are welcome !