Nick's Magical Mystery Tour

When I joined the forum, someone suggested I started a diary. A diary? Of what? Well, here goes nothing...

For YEARS now I've been wanting to get out, play live, do SOMEthing, but I wasn't sure what. Then a couple of years ago my wife bought me a loop station. It is, simply, amazing. It's a Boss RC-300 and I've been practising with it ever since.
But the problem is that when I have time to practise, it's easier to just noodle, go through riffs, learn stuff off YouTube and work my way through the tower of jazz material. Anything except rehearse for a potential live gig, which involves setting up rhythm tracks, practising bass lines, getting the order of songs correct, and maybe recording videos.

I have a number of my tunes, and a few covers, set up on my loop station which is set up for a live gig right beside me …
Live Rig
It looks like chaos, but it's actually quite simple to operate, as I have everything MIDI synced. I've done a couple of coffee gigs, which seem to go okay, but I used an iPad with loops and found that I need to have less to think about. So I got the Boss GT-8 for all guitar sounds that is switched with the RC300 when I change songs, as is the Korg Electribe drum machine which can just about be seen in the plastic rack on the left (hey, I like drum machines!). So all I have to do is select the song on the loop station and hit record - the drum loop is ready to go and the GT-8 has selected the right bank of guitar sounds, which I just work through from left to right.

I feel terrified at the thought of playing solo in front of people but I know that once I get up there, things are fine. I just feel like it's something I need to do.

So this diary is really an attempt to document how I'm doing with rehearsals, and somehow make me feel accountable so that I actually do something about it and get this stuff OUT of the house and in front of people. Somewhere!

As a beginning step (although I've 'begun' thousands of times!) is getting my tunes up on Bandcamp. I've done some trial videos using my iPad Pro and recording audio off the mixer, so I should probably also get some of those to a good enough level that I could upload them. goes!


  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,203Member
    I love playing live, but generally have to rely on having other musicians there to back me up, so you have my admiration for doing it solo Nick. About 9 years ago, IIRC, I got up on stage at a jazz player's day thing, and recall having actual wobbly leg syndrome when it came to my turn to do a solo. Since then, I've played live quite a lot, and have got a bit more used to it. But still a buzz, and I totally understand why you feel the need to play your music in front of an audience. :)
  • LesterLester Posts: 1,705Member, Moderator
    edited June 2017
    Nick, I hope my experience can give you some inspiration as I have walked a similar path to you.

    Years ago I got into creating my own MIDI backing tracks because I couldn't find anyone that wanted to meet up to play together. Occasionally I was asked whether I could provide background music for events, usually club dinners, and realising that not everyone follows background music, I could start with the simplest - or my most confident - number and go from there. I programmed in solos on other MIDI instruments, such as piano, vibraphone or flute, that allowed me to take a break mid-song. I have one of those songs, here on YouTube. You can hear that everything except the guitar is MIDI.

    Just last week I created a new song in Logic, a MIDI piano part that will be played by a lad who has asked to back him at an event this coming weekend, and the audio was my guitar running through my old Boss ME-5 and Mesa Boogie Studio 22+, just like I was doing in 1995!

    You are not me but I would rent a room somewhere, maybe in a rehearsal studio, where you have to take your gear, set it up, play your set as if you had an audience, and then pack up and leave. It can help you polish not only your act but the logistics, such as knowing how much time you need to setup and clear out plus other things such as PA and monitor requirements. Once you are confident, a few friends who will hear it from the audience's perspective and give constructive criticism can be really useful.

    Keep going: live the dream!
  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 997Member
    Thanks for encouragement, Graham and Lester :)
    Loved the video, L. That's such a good tune, and I've not heard it played like that before. Nice job. Nice playing :)
    The rehearsal room is a good idea. There are rooms near here that are very reasonable. My next step might be making some videos, see how that goes. That is, see if I can get through one song without screwing up royally!

    Thanks guys !
  • ESBlondeESBlonde Posts: 966Member
    I think it was me that suggested the diary, so "about boody time". Also you will soon gig live and I will be able to say "about bloody time". Can you see a theme evolving here?
    Apologies to anyone if the language between adults is not considered acceptable.

    Great effort by the way, looking forward to the diary developments.
  • Screaming DaveScreaming Dave Posts: 781Member
    Yay! Excellent stuff. You can't beat playing live for the best buzz ever. One word of advice? That looks like a seriously complicated floor set-up. You might want to simplify that! Good luck. Can't wait to hear about your adventures :sunglasses:
  • Screaming DaveScreaming Dave Posts: 781Member
    Oh, and love the Behringer V-Tone Acoustic pedal - probably the best value pedal on the planet!
  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 997Member
    I think it was you, Blonde,..thanks for the encouragement. Oh and the language is just fine! (By the way, do you have a real name, or did I miss it somewhere?!)

    You're probably right Dave, but I think it's relatively straightforward, it just looks complicated. I got used to the looper before I added the GT8, so that part became second nature before adding MIDI.
    That V

    The looper sets up the format of the song, so each track is set to a certain number of bars, sets the tempo, and has an effect setup for warping ,pitch change or just a bit of variety. When I change the song, it changes (via MIDI) the patch on the drum machine and the bank on the GT8, also setting the tempo so tap delays and tremolos etc are in sync. Banks on the GT8 contain four sounds, usually clean, distorted, pad (or stringy type synths sounds) and lead, with a Line6 M6 in the fx loop for weird stuff, which I usually play with on solos and soundscape type things.
    There's also a box of switches for undo on each track. Very handy! A Vox Stompab pedal for the bass (which I tend to leave on one setting, but might experiment with that some more at a later date) and an Ernie Ball volume for guitar. Oh and a Yamaha 10 channel mixer.
    And a coffee machine.
    And a pencil.
    And a spare pencil.
    And a ...k, shutting up.

    Typically a song involves:
    1. Pickup bass, hit record on track one, start playing verse and hit record on track two before I get there (it starts when track one has finished recording its set number of bars) then record chorus and hit track 3 to record the bridge.
    2. Hit play on track 1 to start looping the verse, then pickup a guitar to record something over the verse bit.
    3. Sing the verse, adding guitar
    4. Hit play and play guitar over the chorus, recording the second time around
    And so on.

    I used to worry about the tap dancing, but you can hit play before one track has finished playing and it will start playing the next track when the one playing has finished. No chance of getting things out of sync!

    Now I just have to try to remember my lyrics....

    Oh, and love the Behringer V-Tone Acoustic pedal - probably the best value pedal on the planet!

    Cool - thanks! It's nice to have approval of the stuff you buy. Especially when it only cost £10 ;-) yea it does a great job. Again, I tend to leave it on one setting but I like what it does.

  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 997Member
    Sneaky... Well, nice to meet you, Kevin :)
  • ESBlondeESBlonde Posts: 966Member
    It is a pleasure sir. One day we might get to shake hands too.
  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 997Member
    edited June 2017
    I sincerely hope so :)

  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 997Member
    I have a gig, of sorts. Basically, our church is putting on an evening where people are showing off what they do - hobbies, past times, etc - and for background music, last year, our pastor played jazz piano. He's a former musicteacher and has been playing for long time. Needless to say, he is incredibly talented. I once asked him how many instruments he plays and I lost count at around twenty....
    This year it has fallen to me to provide something, so I'll be sitting there with my looper pedal playing some jazz standards. I can play the chords, loop that, then play the head and solo, ending with the head. I'll probably throw in some violin too.

    My wife plays tenor sax, so she'll be playing as well, sometimes with me and sometimes to a track.
    It will really be like practising while people talk amongst themselves, drink tea, eat biscuits and ignore me, so it will be extremely low key. It will at least give me an idea of sound levels, setting up/tearing down and what it's like to do this somewhere other than in my house.

    More news as it happens.
  • ESBlondeESBlonde Posts: 966Member
    If your wife is playing Saxaphone it gives you a decent volume level to come up to. You of course will too loud because you have electricity whereas a Sax is a nice instrument ;-)
  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 997Member
    Good points! Ah, so I see you know 'church hearing'?! My guitar will always be too loud, you're right LOL
  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 997Member
    Just realised that I didn't update since June. Bad me.

    Well, the gig of sorts went well. It was as I thought, just like practising with people occasionally listening, but that was exactly what I needed. Absolutely no pressure. At least I got the Boss RC300 out of the house, which was the main aim. The gear performed nicely, although the 350w active speaker did get lost a bit in the big hall. I'd probably need a second one if I were to do that with a crowd (ie fabric covered sound absorbers).

    And on to the next thing...

    The next step was always meant to be doing videos. So here's the first (he says, hoping that he'll do a second!). No, I will. There will be another.

    "I'm Amazing (You're Amazing)"

  • Kevin PeatKevin Peat Posts: 3,218Member
    edited October 2017
    Whoop !

    -------------Yeehaw !


    I enjoyed that.
  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 997Member
    Thanks Kevin! Great response :)
  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 997Member
    I warned you...

  • Mark PMark P Posts: 2,314Member
    A couple of excellent videos there Nick! :smile:

    Impressive to see you so much in charge of guitar, bass, vocals, fx, looper, and video and sound technology.
    Classy examples of how a skilled player / performer can use a looper to great musical effect.

    Seeing what you can do reminds me of why I took up electric guitar. There the resemblance ends though as I fell way short of successfully managing the challenge even at basic levels!
  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 997Member
    Thanks Mark :) I'm sure you can imagine the number of takes, outtakes, and billions of hours of practising! I know this isn't perfect but it is what it is, so I'm going forwards rather than slowing things down for the sake of perfection. I could do a hundred more versions and still find fault. That's how it goes, isn't it?

  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,203Member
    Terrific videos Nick, and great playing - love that Rickenbacker guitar - and interesting to hear it being used for more than the stereotypical jangle kind of tone. Undeniably cool guitars as well.
  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 997Member
    Thanks Megi ! :) :) Rickies are so versatile and severely underrated. I think of em like a hollowbody Tele on steroids. I'm surprised more country and jazz players dont' use them. I keep meaning to do a video showing how it can get great jazz tones. One day.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,203Member
    edited October 2017

    Thanks Megi ! :) :) Rickies are so versatile and severely underrated. I think of em like a hollowbody Tele on steroids. I'm surprised more country and jazz players dont' use them. I keep meaning to do a video showing how it can get great jazz tones. One day.

    You mean I could legitimately get myself a Rick to use for jazz!? (not for posing with, obviously :blush: ) How cool is that! Will look forward to the jazz demo on the Rickenbacker then... :)
  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 997Member
    Absolutely, do it! You could even use their relative resilience to depreciation as an argument for your 'need' too. :)
  • Kevin PeatKevin Peat Posts: 3,218Member
    I'd thoroughly enjoy than in a pub. Just how do you do it ?
  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 997Member
    Thanks Kevin. That means a lot.
    I use the rig in the picture at the top of this thread.
    Guitar > boss GT8 fx processor > Roland rc-300 loop station >mixer
    Bass > korg Fx pedal > rc300> mixer
    Drum machine > mixer
    Vocal mix > mixer
    Mixer goes into a powered speaker
    Then there’s a line out from the mixer to an iRig adapter plugged into my iPad. Use adobe Clip to trim off the ends and paste in the titles that I made with an app called Sketches.

    For Jellyfish, I hit record on track 1, play the bass, then hit track 2 to start recording when 1 is finished, then hit track 3 to record when track 2 is finished. Then I sometimes record guitar over the top for each track, and hit a button for undo for variety, which can also redo to bring back what I undid. I also have a volume pedal for the drum machine, a delete all button for track 3 (so I can reuse it for the final segment) and when I hit stop on track 3, it’s programmed to fade out for two bars. The GT8 is setup for four sounds for guitar and has an M5 pedal in the fx loop for the bass fuzz sound.
    Is that what you meant, kevin? I can go into more detail if you like.
    I also did about 15 takes to get something remotely passable!
  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 997Member
    edited October 2017
    Anyone getting tired of these yet? Well there are lots of other threads to read.
    Like Bob Dylan said, “if you don’t want to see me, look the other way”


    Jesus is for Losers (finally put the light on the other side of the room...,)
  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 997Member
    Jesus is for Losers is a Steve Taylor cover.
  • Kevin PeatKevin Peat Posts: 3,218Member
    Very good. Keep 'em coming, Nick.
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