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15 June

Troubador Tech

Chuck Zwicky: My Solo Looping Rig

(Chuck originally contributed this description of his rig to the Looper's Delight mailing list. He has graciously allowed it to be presented here. --JP)

In my solo loop performances I use a 1984 Steinberger GL-2 guitar (with a fixed bridge!). I tune the guitar in straight 5ths: A E B F# C# G#. This gives me nearly a five octave range from the open A to the G# at the 24th fret. I find that G# is the highest I could go without breaking strings regularly. My gauges are:

  • G#: .009
  • C#: .011
  • F#: .016
  • B: .030
  • E: .042
  • A: .056

I've also modified the electronics in the guitar, replacing the EMG pickups with passive, and adding the ability to select the individual coils within each pickup (all without drilling a single hole).

The guitar's signal goes into an Ensoniq DP/4+, which is an amazing resource of tonal oddity. I worked with Ensoniq as a consultant to develop the DP/4+, and spent about 6 months working with Jon Dattorro on the new distortion algorithms which became "Guitar Amp 4" and "Digital Tube Amp". These simulations have tremendous touch response and are modeled after my favorite class A tube amp.

I split the DP/4+ into two 2-unit processors. The signal flow is from the guitar to DSP A, in series with DSP B, the output of which goes to my Lexicon Jam-man. The output of the Jam-man goes into the DP/4+ DSP C and D, usually in series but often in a feedback configuration.

The first 2 DSPs in the DP4/+ are used for my pre-loop processing, and I've created presets using amps, 'TC-Sustainor" emulations, ring-modulation, filters, octave-fuzzes, modulation delays, harmonizers, a guitar tuner, etc. These sounds are captured in the Jam-Man. The last 2 DSPs in the DP/4+ are post loop processing, and are usually the overall ambience of the performance, often employing 3D imaging tricks.

The pre and post processing are independently selected by my Rolls "Midi Wizard" using mapped program changes. It also controls the Jam-Man. I use a CV pedal to modulate the DP/4+. The Rolls is phantom powered through the MIDI cable.

The entire setup is mounted in a 4-space SKB rack with a 1-space connector panel for the MIDI, CV, and audio interfacing. Since the connections are all on the front, I leave the rear lid on the SKB and set it face-up on the stage, which allows me to clearly see the displays.

Setup and soundcheck take less than five minutes, and I can usually carry-on my entire rig, including the Steinberger, when flying as they will fit in an overhead compartment.

Copyright © 1998 Chuck Zwicky

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