The first outing

The first outing was at practice today: here’s the rig – VG Strat, Sennheiser wireless, A/B switch – one side going into a Damage Control Womanizer and the other straight through (the reasons to become apparent shortly) the straight through and the Womanizer outputs go to channels 1 & 2 of my Bose Tonematch which fronts a Bose L1 Mk2 with dual subs. The point of the straight through to channel 2 is that I can have that channel optimized for the acoustic sounds and Ch1 optimized for electric. The Tonematch takes care of all the delay, reverb, tuner and all that stuff.

After a bit of fooling around I set the electric channel up as a Strat (it was a Les Paul with the Parker), and the acoustic channel as steel string piezo (it was Taylor L5 before), and took off the reverb on the acoustic channel as it is already onboard on the acoustic sounds of the VG.

A few suprises: the ‘real’ strat (i.e. mag pickups) and the modeled strat are so close I used modeled all the time, that way I have immediate access to the tunings without fiddling with the guitar type control. Secondly, after reading other peoples blogs I went to practice (typricaly 4-5 hours) with a charged set of batteries in the guitar, and two sets of fully charged spares. It’s still going strong on the first set of batteries, so I don’t really understand what people are complaining about. I’m using NiMH 2600mAH batteries, maybe other people use smaller ones.

Next surprise – I didn’t notice the extra weight.

Other observations –

  1. The tuning stayed in from the first chord to the last, 5 hours straight. Probably the blocked trem and the locking tuners helps there. I’ve read a couple of reports that the modeling settings ‘fine tune’ your tunings in flight but I don’t know if that’s true. I’m not sure how the processor could tell the difference between a 440Hz A slighly mistuned to 445Hz and a bend.
  2. The 12 string is great. In our line up (2 guitars, bass, drums) using 12-string when I’d normally use 6 string piezo for acoustic sounds very full and rich – I’m sure the Bose L1 helps a lot, but the acoustic sounds outperform the Parker.
  3. There are 5 different acoustic models, they have names (no idea what) but they are 2 good 1 mediocre and 2 awful. That’s OK, 2 good is 1 more than a piezo bridge gives you.
  4. No loss of expression, and no feeling at all that you’re not playing a ‘real’ guitar
  5. Switching settings are fiddly, there are a lot of knobs and they do different things at different times (the tone control, for instance, controls reverb in acoustic mode and is a tone control everywhere else). Add that to pedals and a/b switches and the Tonematch, I suspect being in the dark on stage is going to lead to a few mistakes. I understand why they stuck with ‘conventional’ controls, but programmable patches would be a godsend for live use.
  6. Electric sound – the strat tail and middle, modeled, regular tuning, vol & tone at 10, and the Womanizer set correctly – this is the closest sound I’ve ever come to the ‘brown’ sound I’m always looking for. Why the VG should be better than the plus is anyone’s guess but it is. Humbucker sound is pretty usable too, and the Tele works really well for CCR. We play Born on the Bayou in D and the dropped D and Tele was just right. Alright, I have to admit that it sounds better than any other guitar I own. And I own a lot, including some ‘gold standard’ vintage pieces such as a 59 LP ‘burst.
  7. The only downside – what happens if it fails on stage – doesn’t bear thinking about. Oh, also the neck is going to take some work getting used to. It’s the section, it’s fatter around the 10th fret than I’m used to, so playing a lot of barre chords in C or D for long periods hurts. I imagine I’ll get used to that, the other option is swap the Strat plus neck onto it which was the original intent anyway.

OK, enough for now.

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