Signal Flow

Keyboard-Rig

Well…

People ask me from time to time about my electronic rig. Here are some answers:

Synthesizer: Nord Lead 2 (no X)
Electric Piano: Nord Electro 2 sixty-one
Noise/Ambient: Lap-Steel-Guitar by Harley Benton

And how? Here’s the signal flow:

Synthesizer

My main sound on the Lead consists of a sawtooth-based lead-sound with synched oscillators and the possibility of driving osc 2 out of tune, using the modulation wheel (vibrato is introduced via the ingenous pitch stick of the nord).

I added a second sound in parallel, producing a subtle percussive noise, emphasizing the key strokes a little bit.

This runs in mono through my floor pedalboard like this:

DigiTech Talker
> Hughes & Kettner TubeFactor (original edition)
> Lehle Mono Volume

Next the signal enters the side pedalboard, running to three different Moog moogerfoogers. This part is a bit more complicated:

First in the row is the MF-102 Ring Modulator. The modulator frequency and the mix are controlled via CV by a device called Kommander, andual infrared X-Y motion controller by Koma Elektronik.

Second is the MF-104Z Analog Delay, which was modded by Alex Seidler, who made it possible, to get the clean and the delay signal on separate outputs. The pure delay then runs through a Lexicon PCM42 Delay, which sends it’s clean output to one stereo channel, the slightly modulated delay out to the the other side. (More about my stereo system later.)

The clean signal from the analog delay then enters the MF-103 12-Stage Phaser which once again is used to output a stereo signal, running into my line mixer.

Electric Pianos

I mainly use Rhodes and Wurlitzer sounds on my Nord Electro. No hammonds. Except a little bit of distortion, provided by the internal amp sim, the main effect is a more ore less subtle auto-pan. Therefore the output has to be stereo (again), and I found a nice delay pedal by DigiTech, the DL-8 of the HardWire series. This will now be replaced by the phantastic Tapex2 by Mr. Black Pedals. That’s it (here).

Lap-Steel-Guitar

The idea to use such an instrument was born through experimenting with prepared piano stuff—muffeld and plucked strings, noises, all kinds of preparation with screws and the like. Your piano does not necessarily ‚like‘ this kind of treatment. On the other hand you might not have a real piano in all situations. So I bought a cheap lap-steel on ebay years ago and started to explore. It turned out, that it opened a totally new cosmos, if you added some pedals to it. So I replaced the guitar with a model of slightly better quality, plus a Shure 520 DX dynamic mic as an alternative sound source, and added the following pedals (all mounted on a pedal board I put on a keyboard stand):

 

TC Polytune (Obvious. My tuning btw.: C G D G C G)
> TC MojoMojo (overdrive)
> Hologram Infinite Jets (dual channel re-synthesizer)
> CopperSound Pedals Telegraph Stutter (kill switch, kind of)
> Hungry Robot Pedals The Kármán Line (dark delay, controllable by a joystick)
> Lehle P-Split II (passive splitter, to get two independent channels)
> 2 TC Ditto X2 loopers

You might ask ‚why two loopers?‘. Well, most loopers cannot play non-synchronized loops. The Ditto X2 can do it basically, but would not send them to individual outputs. But that is exactly, what I want: two independent loops, playing on the left and the right channel of my stereo system (see below). So, after the two Dittos, we leave the upper board, and have the gig-fx Mega-Wah next, either in normal wah-mode or as a volume pedal. Last in the chain is the Flux Liquid Ambience, a nice ambient reverb, full stereo, with some great pitch modulation and a ‚more‘-switch.

Amp

During a tour through Poland, many years ago, we came to play a very small club, having no PA-system at all, but providing me with an outworn Russian guitar amp. First being a bit upset, I quickly realized, that it sounded kind of great. I then started experimenting with guitar amps and cabinets, ending up with my current system.

I mix all the sources with a simple line mixer, the SM 82S from Rane, adding just e touch of cloudy delays with the Lexicon MX200. The mixer feeds a stereo power amp, now being the Palmer Macht 402, a class D amplifier. I use a small and lightweight 2 x 10″ cabinet, handmade by guitar and amp expert Christian Kametler. He suggested to use a closed cabinet with to speakers working together in one enclosure, but driven separately by the left and right channels of my power amp. The idea behind this is, that mono-signals appear to have more meat to them, than the left/right-information. Every signal, that makes the two speakers move in parallel will sound like played through a bigger size of speaker, while the individual material comes through a bit thinner and softer. This is inspired by a rig I saw Pat Metheney playing during his time with the group: a mono-amp in the middle for the clean sound, a small stereo system at the side for the effects. It turned out to work very good for me like that—and it’s very portable at the same time.

That’s it!

To listen to an example, click John Hollenbeck’s ‚Jazz Envy‘ with Jazz Bigband Graz, Soloist Uli Rennert:

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