My Setup for Live Shows - Part II - Loopstations & FX
Hi, I'm Mr Woodnote and this is my second blog for my website. I regularly get messages from people asking about my instruments and equipment which is always really nice and I thought that listing it all in detail might be of interest to some of you. In this article I explain the equipment I use for our live shows, the loopstation and FX and a few tips. If you're interested in my saxophone setup then please check out the first blog here.
My first loopstation was a Boss RC-50 and even though I have wrecked half a dozen or so of these I still use an RC-50 for all my shows. Boss have released several loopstations since, the RC-300 and the RC-505, both of which I have owned and played with but due to a few drawbacks with these models I use an RC-50. The RC-300 is too big and heavy and has a bunch of superfluous functions. The onboard FX are pretty bad and it also carries an expression pedal, both of which I wouldn't use as I have a standalone FX processor. The RC-300 also housed a lot more memory which would be great if you're using it to practice at home and want to save songs and ideas but I don't do that and exclusively use my loopy as a tool for the live show. The RC-50 comes with 21 minutes memory and the RC-300 comes with 3 hours but considering I only use approximately 7seconds of memory for each tune I make (before it I erase it and start something fresh), 21 minutes is obviously enough. The RC-300 is also missing the "Undo/Redo" function from it's predecessor which is really strange because not only does that function let you cover mistakes at a show but it's the virtual 4th phrase to use in your tunes.
The RC-505 is a great loopstation with their design aimed mainly at vocalists and beatboxers. My problems with this loopstation is that it's primarily controlled with your hands rather than your feet and my hands are occupied by my saxophone and EWI. One other drawback is that the 505 is built in plastic to keep it light but that also makes it too fragile for me. The 505 has many amazing functions which aren't on the other pedals but the FX onboard are still pretty sad on this loopy too. If I weren't so committed to operating everything with my feet and worried about destroying so many pedals I would probably be using the 505 at gigs (and I do destroy pedals, if you have ever seen me stomp on one this will make sense).
My FX processor is a Boss GT-8. When the GT-10 was released I was pretty excited and got one straight away but found I couldn't commit to making new patches. I just couldn't get them to sound the way I wanted, perhaps I had come to identify myself and my sound with the FX I could seemingly only produce on the GT-8. I have a few types of patches I use for my shows, the beatbox patches are really important because they make me sound a lot better than I really am. I learned everything I know about making these patches from Dub Fx when I first started doing this in 2009, he showed me many valuable tips and tricks which I still use today.
I've made a lot of patches for saxophone, there are patches for playing solos and others for building up parts and layers. I use different reverb settings, sometimes a lick of compression and some EQ effects. I also have these saxophone patches saved several times in separate banks with different delay divisions for each. The RC-50 tells the GT-8 the tempo of the loop (via midi) and then I can set the expression pedal on the GT-8 to increase the FX level (for example, I can have the delay "ping-pong" from left to right on a quarter note triplet division and control the decay with the expression pedal).
The third type of patches I make are for my Akai EWI (Electric Wind Instrument, for more info please see the first part of this blog here). I have made patches on the EWI itself and then I run them through different FX patches on the GT-8 to create some really cool and unique sounds. I have some patches that sound a little bit like other instruments, I have a couple of pretty good organ sounding patches as well as guitar sounds and other sorts of pads. I use the EWI for all my basslines and I can really fatten them up by using compression and EQ on the GT-8 and then make variations like adding crunch or extra sub for example. The unique way of playing this synth lends itself to cool effects too, I can emulate all sorts of effects using different sorts of articulation and breath control.
So that's basically everything I use for my shows, a GT-8 running into an RC-50. I have my microphone (beta58) and EWI running into a Boss A/B switch and from that to the FX so that the microphone is muted when I'm recording looping the EWI (and vice versa).
If you have any questions about my setup or other mouthpieces or saxophones or anything else please feel free to get in touch via email: firstname.lastname@example.org