KNOW MY GEAR: SAMEER MAN SINGH
Started playing at the age: I guess it was around 20 or 21
I don’t particularly have a guitar hero per se. I didn’t know what I was doing with a guitar (maybe I was a picnic guitarist) until I heard and understood Chuck Schuldiner’s riffs which seriously made me want to learn playing. Listening closely to Players like Kim Thayil took me into an internal ‘de learning’ process. Later players with unique styles like David Gilmour, Niklas Sundin and inventive players like Yossi Sassi, Luis B Galvez have inspired me. I’m not really into virtuoso players but admire them a lot.
I love what Peter Lindgren and Mikael Ackerfeldt have done in Opeth. Similarly, Ihsan’s guitaring in Emperor albums (latter ones) is amazing. Keith Scott (Bryan Adams) is just this feel good guitarist that makes me want to pick up and play something. Currently, I find Mekaal Hassan’s Jazz improvisations in his band totally engaging. It’s not just the guitars, but the whole experience of listening to MHB- very nice. I am also going back to listen to players like Joe Walsh, Brian May, Angus Young etc. Locally, I like players like Iman dai, Bibhushan, Sunny, Ashesh etc.
Maya (WTF?? Cant believe I still say that)..mostly I play at home..and jam with friends sometimes.
Also played with:
A bunch of college bands not worth mentioning.
A friggin 9 to 5 job. A bit of RJing (Xtreme Show at Kantipur FM). A bit of writing.
I have a beaten Hohner Professional LP 57 with Kent Armstrong PAFs.
I’m an overdrive & distortion fanatic. Currently I have
Ibanez Tubescreamer TS808 (Reissue)
What can you say about this one.. It’s an old classic and the most raped and aped pedal on earth. The 808 and its cousins have literally shaped world tone history. I might get this one modded to Analogman Silver specs.
Marshall Jackhammer (JH – 1)
I like using this sometimes but to get something I like out of it, I put in the TS 808 at front.
Emma Reezafratzitz (RF – 1)
It has a uniquely incorporated ‘bias’ function that is a cool tool. This is the most ‘tubelike’ analog pedal I’ve come across. A little thin on its own but a TS808 again turns this thing into a different beast. Distorted sounds are unique.
BK Butler Tube Driver (Model 911)
If it is good for the likes of David Gilmour, Eric Johnson and Billy Gibbons, it’s good enough for me. Handmade by BK himself, this is indeed a special pedal. This is my first tube device and runs on a specially spec’d and selected 12AX7 vacuum tube. In fact, I don’t even regard it as a pedal. It’s a preamp in the simplest possible form with a true bias knob. Amazing.
BOSS Digital Delay
An old favorite for many.
Around 1 lakh (minus amp)
Well if this is about giving flight to your fancy, here I go.
A Suhr Pro Series S-3.
A Driskill Diablo with BRW fingerboard
A Tom Anderson Drop Top Classic
A PRS Custom 24 (10 top)
Komet Concorde 50W head hooked to a 1968 4×12 “A” Marshall Cabinet with Celestions.
Diezel Einstein Combo
A VOX AC 30
A Pete Cornish rig with Analogman compROSSor, a great TS808, Butler Tube Driver, Klon Centaur, Pete Cornish Soft Sustain, TC Electronics SCF, Moogerfooger MF-104Z Analog Delay and a good noise suppressor. All these hooked up with Evidence Audio Cables. Drooool ~~~~~~~.
STUFFS A GUITARIST MUST KNOW BEFORE BUYING A GUITAR
Buying a great guitar is one of the few joys of life everyone wants to indulge in but few can afford. It’s not like buying a CD player or even a pedal or an amplifier. A guitar you wield connects to you and becomes a part of your persona. It becomes an extension of your self so as to say. With all the bewildering choices available, it’s a tough decision to make. As a certain dialogue in “The Matrix” goes “As with everything ..the problem is choice”.
Apart from the “quintessential”, there are some practical considerations which could prove useful before you succumb to your latest GAS (Guitar Acquisition Syndrome).
Budget considerations are always there but I hate it when beginners say “I’ll do with a cheapo for now” and then buy a nice one later. They end up buying toys. The point is, a badly made guitar won’t inspire you enough to play let alone learn and improve. Things like neck comfort, string action/adjustability, tuning stability, playability and of course sound, are crucial when you start out. The earlier you get acquainted to what a good guitar should be the better. It’s good to be modest, but don’t be pennywise pound foolish. Forget about those expensive shoes, the latest mobile gizmo and modifying your latest monster bike or even buying one in the first place. Even keep off dates..if you have to!! Save up and buy real gear. Selling a used/no name guitar can be quite frustrating in our context. Go buy a guitar you can truly afford and you think you deserve.
This is entirely a personal choice and depends on the guitar in question and the state it’s in. I would never buy a used Gibson but would readily go for a battered Fender. Shopping for Vintage guitars could be a topic of its own. It is believed that “ageing” does wonders to wooden artifacts. An old guitar has wood that is well settled, a character of its own and has stories to tell. Some people believe that guitars made the “old school” way (hand crafting) are superior. Personally, think any good quality machine made guitar can sound as convincing.
3. Sound-Testing a Guitar:
It may sound weird but when buying a solid body electric guitar, the first test you should put it through is an acoustic test. Play it unplugged before you hook it up with the big Marshall at the store. An electric guitar despite all its electronics is still an ‘acoustic’ instrument. Try to listen to how the wood sounds. Try to rest it close to your body and feel the resonation when you strike a chord. You can try listening to the wood vibrate by sticking your ear to the upper horn on a strat type guitar. Then play it clean on an amp and so on and so forth. Crank up the guitar at loud volumes and check if there’s any abnormal feedback which can be due to loose poles and copper windings in the pickups.(talking out of personal experience)
The looks of a guitar largely determines its sale value in a beginner market. No one wants to invest on an ugly guitar that plays well. Don’t feel guilty if you find you are irresistibly attracted to the finish rather than quality. We’re not blind creatures,, but its a fact that you don’t buy a guitar to hang it on a wall. The finish on the guitar affects the tone to a certain degree. Wood breathes. Poly -urethane and other plastic finishes “seal” a guitar and affect its vibration. Thinner finishes like nitro-cellulose are more delicate but let the wood ring naturally. Certain shapes and guitar construction techniques make the sound waves well up and propagate nicely throughout a guitar body. Its not like you chop a log, take a plank of wood, cut out some crazy shape, stick in two pickups and a lo.. great guitar is invented.
5. Don’t be a Brand Nazi:
Don’t limit yourself to brand-G or brand-F or brand-P because it’s a big company and can afford plush adverts in guitar magazines and endorses major players. There are records of certain production “phases” when big companies have put out crap equipments. You may not go wrong by sticking to a well known brand but might be missing out on some greater stuff which is not as well advertised. Instead do intensive research and settle on the brand for its merits. When you decide you want to buy yourself a great guitar out of passion, do consider small passionate luthiers who believe in putting out top notch instruments instead of companies concerned with fulfilling their fiscal year targets.
STUFF A GUITARIST MUST KNOW BEFORE PLAYING LIVE (ON THE STAGE WITH A BAND)
Some points (again to make this concise, I’ve done away with the “quintessential” like band coordination and onstage presence.)
1. At least a basic understanding of how a PA system/monitoring works.
2. Guitar players are egoistic creatures by nature and need. To get a decent playable tone compression and sustain, he instinctively increases the gain to his comfort. What this does is the sound guy increases the overall volume of the band to match the guitar. Result – mud. High levels of onstage sounds sometimes “spill” into live mics resulting in “ghost” sounds/signals. I don’t have a lot of onstage experience but as guitar players, we should work for a perfect mix – a resultant sound effect –which is a compromise.
3. To reverb or not to reverb: Reverb is an essential component in creating an ambience in a recording that makes a sound full and alive. Reverb creates space and a lot of us use a bit of reverb when playing at home. But inappropriate use can drown your sound both on stage and in studio. Especially at a live venue try to use as less spring reverb from your amp as you can because the natural reverberation of the venue compensates. This is especially evident in places like stadiums where the sound bounces off concrete structures creating a loose “mush”. Even a dry signal can sound wet. In a studio, the best approach would be to utilize the natural reverb of the room you’re recording in. Effects like reverb and delay can be added later digitally.
STUFF A GUITARIST MUST KNOW BEFORE RECORDING IN A STUDIO
1. Amp/Board ? : Personally I would always prefer and recommend using an amp. But it might not be possible when you are recording in a studio that has no proper facilities or useable room acoustics. If you’re in an acoustically toneful or treated room large enough to contribute to the tone recorded, use an amplifier.
2. Gain: As metalheads, the natural instinct is step on the gas and go over the top. But while recording, gain/distortion should be handled with care. The more gain on tap, the less dynamic or ‘true’ the sound. I like the idea of using moderate gain even if it means doubling the track later to make it sound huge. It also depends on what kind of music you play.
3. Mic Placement : This is very important when you decide to use an amplifier to record the signal. Even today, this aspect of recording a guitar I feel has been neglected in our country. Think out of the box. I mean literally. Close micing is not the only option available. Even an inch of difference in speaker cone and mic placement can alter the tone recorded. Consider using more than one mic to record your guitar. Once you have set up your rig, walk around the room to listen to spots where you hear good sounds. Place a microphone there (even if it means hanging a mic by the ceiling!!). Nothing is too weird in the quest of tone. Of course a microphone and your ear are two different things and but it is a step towards capturing the vibe at that spot.
4. Mixing: This is a very subjective matter.. but needs objectivity. It is best for all the band members to be present while mixing a song. Try to visualize the whole recording graphically in terms of a sonic landscape. You can then decide where to “plot” your rhythm guitar, the leads, the bass, keyboard ambience etc etc.
5. Listen to your heart : Be relaxed and hope for the best. Being too choosy and fussy can take the fun out of things sometimes. Despite knowing pros and cons of things.. we do tend to make decisions we know are not supposed to.. which is not always a bad thing.