Colin TonePrint by Guthrie Govan
Guthrie's TonePrint covers three classic chorus sounds, which can all be obtained using the same TonePrint. How's that for cool? He was looking for a fast Leslie-type sound as a first option, which you get by cranking the Speed and Depth knobs. With all knobs at 12 o'clock, a nice all-round chorus sound is heard and by leaving the speed at 12 o'clock and turning the depth up, you can get awesome John Scofield-like 'almost-out-of-tune-but-still-musical' sounds.
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Other TonePrints by Guthrie Govan
TC: Who inspired you over the years when you were creating your own personal guitar tone? Guthrie: In the early days, it was all the usual suspects - Cream-era Clapton, Hendrix etc... I also grew up listening to a lot of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, so I reckon there must be some Zal Cleminson in my tonal DNA, too: there's a lot of clarity and bite in the guitar sounds on those old SAHB albums... Later on, I started to seek tonal inspiration from pretty much everything I heard around me - including instruments other than guitar - so hopefully no single influence is too predominant these days!
TC: How would you describe you basic sound? Is there a specific kind of tone or feel that you’re going for? Guthrie: I suppose I'm generally looking for a vintage-style sound, but one that "goes up to eleven". I like the idea of having enough gain to ensure that any long notes can potentially sustain and/or feedback indefinitely, but it's still pretty important to me that the amp should listen to what I'm playing, and preserve all the dynamics, variations in pick attack and so forth. Proximity to the amp, and of course sheer volume, seem to help a lot with the quest for sustain: I think everything tends to sound somewhat more musical when you make the amp's power tubes work a little harder... If the voicing of the preamp is too compressed, you risk losing a lot of that "human" element - so I usually prefer the unforgiving, "hard to play" kind of overdriven sound, which preserves more of the nuances.
TC: Do you use specific effects to achieve your core tone (e.g. delay, reverb, etc.)? Guthrie: It depends on the gig. If I'm doing a fusion-type gig in a small club, naturally, it's fun to cover the whole floor with envelope filters, ring modulators and childish toys of that general nature, so I can entertain myself by making some funky noises. When I was playing with a band like Asia in the bigger venues, on the other hand, I would try to use as little processing as possible - in an attempt to make sure the people in the back row could hear all the notes properly. (Many of those venues have a certain acoustic mushiness, which tends to rob the sound of any real definition: using reverb or delay in that kind of setting can only make matters worse!) The Dizzee Rascal gig has been an interesting one, in the sense that we're playing a lot of tracks which don't feature any guitar on the original recorded versions. Whilst preparing for that gig, I just had to find the most appropriate tone on a song-by-song basis - so in the end the best solution turned out to be a G-System, with a couple of extra overdrive pedals into the loops - and a separate patch (or group of patches) for each song.
TC: Have you ever been so inspired by a tone you created that you ended up writing a tune or riff based on that specific tone? Guthrie: I can't think of any specific instances, but I'm sure it must have happened at some point! Every tonal detail brings out something slightly different in me - even something silly like switching from one pickup to another will affect the kind of things I want to play.
TC: Do you work on developing your tone continuously, or do you feel that you have found a fundamental tone that will last throughout your career? Guthrie: I think I've probably found a fundamental approach to tone which is unlikely to change over the coming years, but hopefully the details will keep evolving. I can't imagine ever being smug enough to stop caring about how to make things sounds a little better... consciously or otherwise, the way a listener perceives someone's guitar playing is hugely affected by the tone, so that stuff really does matter!
TC: What inspired you when you created your TonePrints? Guthrie: The promise of idiot-proof flexibility, I guess! Well, whenever I use a chorus pedal in a gig situation, I always find myself wanting that pedal to do more than one thing. Most of the time, I'm looking for one of the following three sounds: - An all-purpose "pretty" chorus, to make chords sound just a little more spacious, - A high-speed pseudo-Leslie effect for those Hammond-style comping moments, and - That Scofield-esque lead sound where the depth is almost on the verge of sounding out of tune. I like the idea that, using mystical TonePrint cyber-voodoo, I could set the range of each knob in such a way that each of those three sounds would be easy to access in real time, by turning each knob to an obvious setting like "12 o'clock" or to "all the way up". This way, you get a decent variety of tones at your disposal, all from a single pedal - and you can switch from one tone to another in a matter of moments, without messing around with MIDI presets.
TC: You had access to a lot of tweakable parameters. Did any new ideas for future tones pop up in the process? Guthrie: Indeed. Well, we never even touched on the potential of that tri-chorus option! It's a great sound, very lush and expensive-sounding - it just didn't seem appropriate for any of the specific tones I was going for when we did our first TonePrint session. It would be cool to revisit the pedal at some point, to explore the other half of the Corona's spit personality...
TC: Normally, do you prefer having access to many parameters, or do you like simple pedals with just a few knobs better? Guthrie: For a live situation, I always find it comforting to keep things relatively simple. For me, one of the appealing things about doing a TonePrint was the reductive aspect - it felt like we were essentially hiding all the unnecessary options, and trying to make a pedal which couldn't be persuaded to make a bad sound, however the knobs were set. Having said that, it was something of an eye- and ear-opener to discover just how many options are actually available in one of those pedals - even after spending an evening tweaking the Corona, it still doesn't feel like we exhausted all the possibilities. Tweaking can be a lot of fun, to be sure - it's just not something I want to be doing mid-gig.Read more about Guthrie Govan