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EQUIPMEMT

Electric Guitars

After three decades of playing double cutaway instruments, I finally bought a pair of Gibson 2015 Les Paul Traditionals. The playing experience, the tone, and the balance of the instruments are what feel fit me as a player and artist. I like the full weight and extra features of the modern "Traditional". I use D'Addario 9's on these. I also replaced the G-force tuning system with Grover 135N Vintage Tuners.

Gibson 2015 Les Paul Traditional in Ocean Blue Gibson 2015 Les Paul Traditional in Tobacco Sunburst

Pedal Mods

I have modded most of my pedals to suit my needs. I change the LED from 3mm red to 5mm yellow and proceed with cleaning up the circuitry to provide a clear signal. Essentially, I take the extreme fizzle out of the distortion pedals and add overall tone and sound dynamics. To date, I have modded my MXR Dyna Comp, Boss DS-1, Boss BD-2 (Keeley edition), Peavey AOD-2, and Ibanez TS9. I also modified my Marshall DSL100H footswitch to include status LEDs.

 

Amplification & Signal Processing

Marshall DSL FULL STACK

Overall, I prefer 12AX7 tube tone for my guitar signals (both clean and drive channels) with several pedals in front of the amp (a modded MXR compressor, two modded Boss DS-1's, and a Morley wah). I like my cleans punchy and my lead tone to be somewhere in the middle between gritty metal rhythm tone and pure bluesy tube screamer style tone. I like the note recognition aspect of overdrive while also maintaining some grit for sustained chord blending and usable harmonics. My head is a modified Marshall DSL100H head with pedal effects in the FX loop. The stock head was way to nasally sounding so I couldn't help but crack it open and modify the input components as well as a couple of the green and red channel components. Depending on the size of the venue, I use various Marshall speaker cabinets (MX412A, MX412B, MC212). I loaded all my cabinets with Celestion G12M 25w speakers. Those speakers seem to "speak to me" with excellent upper mid-range response.

I used to have an impendance selector for 16 ohms or 4 ohms in my MC212 but I have since removed it. Most people won't care but I figured I'd keep the schematic out here if anyone was interested in an electronics project.

Marshall DSL100H

Below is a previous incarnation of my custom-built pedal board. This snapshot also includes a Morley Wah and modded Tube Screamer.

Custom Pedalboard

For the first studio album, I used a VOX ToneLab EX (with 12AX7 tube) and using a Rocktron MIDI controller to control my rack effects (Lexicon). I then ran my signal into a mixing board, the DAW, and external amplifier. This setup provided me fantastic tone quality and kept the noise level down to studio quality. This rig also allowed me to keep my components powered up for days on end without worry of burning out EL34 power tubes.

Vox ToneLab EX Lexicon MX300

During the 2000's I used a Vox AC30VR amplifier. This was the amp I used to record the majority of sound bites which are now fueling the Otwell Music rock albums.

Vox AC30VR

During the late 90's and early 2000's I used a Carvin 100w MTS3200 amplifier and custom pedalboard.

Carvin MTS3200Custom Pedalboard

In the early 90's I acquired a preowned ADA tube preamp (with 12AX7 tube) and a Peavey 60/60 tube power amp (with 6L6 tubes). I ran this into my Marshall (4 ohm) cabinet. I wish I still had these components. I probably would have kept this rig if I owned the matching ADA footswitch. It did not come with the purchase and at the time a MIDI controller was just too expensive for my budget.

ADA tube preamp Peavey 60/60

I originally entered the guitar tube amp market with a Marshall JCM800 series tube head (Artist 3203 - 30w). This hybrid head provided me with great tone and plenty of volume. I also compared mine to someone else's and mine sounded much better due to the tube bias modification. The tube bias mod involves a trim pot in place of R1 on the PCB. I ran this into a Marshall 1960A speaker cabinet (rewired in series for 4 ohms). I have owned this head for over 20 years now (now modified) and it is still going strong. In fact, in March of 2015 I used this head to record several tracks on the second studio album.

Marshall Artist 3203

Classical Guitar Rig

My classical guitar setup is a piezo pickup on the tailpiece secured under the string wraps which then runs into a Tonebone floor pedal. I use the FX loop on the Tonebone and place a Boss Volume pedal and tuner in the loop. After the Tonebone, I run my signal into a rack-mounted dbx gate/compressor and then into the mixer or amplifier. I also prefer heavy gauge strings on a classical guitar for the purpose of producing a full sound.

Saez Classical Guitar

 

Composition and Recording Equipment

For composition, I use my personal knowledge base comprised of all the lessons learned over the years. Lately, I have been horrified to see notation software vendors building "instant orchestra" features - horrified, I tell you! That is like a master chef's meal being replaced by microwave dinners! For composition data entry, I use MakeMusic Finale simple entry mode (and thousands of mouse and keyboard clicks). For recording, I have used different methods over the years. Long ago, I used a Fostex tape deck multi-track recorder. Later, I used a Fostex digital VF80 8-track recorder. I have also used a laptop and Tascam DR-1 (line in, mid-gain, limit on). More recently, I have finally entered the realm of DAW and am currently using REAPER for professional quality sound production. Their small business discount helped me greatly. This might sound strange but I look forward to the day that I pay full price for the DAW because that will mean I am successfully selling music in volume.

I have my rig setup with two audio systems. Audio system #1 is connected directly to my laptop audio output which is the main (REAPER) mix. I use Audio system #2 for my guitar signal. The signal runs through all my floor components, then the rack components and then through either a Mackie ProFX8 mixer or a Peavey PV6 USB which is USB connected to the laptop (audio interface). To avoid the incredibly irritating audio delay (referred to as latency), I only monitor the live guitar signal through the audio system #2 rather than monitor the guitar signal going into the DAW on audio system #1. When I record, I am listening to both audio systems (#1 and #2) playing simultaneously but I have the guitar signal set to monitor off in Reaper.

It looks like:

  Laptop with REAPER and .wav tracks ==> Audio System #1 (HiFi speakers)
Guitar ==> Pedals ==> Rack ==> Mixer ==> Audio System #2 (reference speakers)

 

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