Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Size No Longer Matters... To "Pod" People

10 years ago I would have had a better chance spotting a Unicorn than seeing a guitarist use a computer for anything (besides emailing their sisters for money of course). Computers were that lowly thing that other lowly musicians needed to compete and create, while us axe men were left digitally unscathed thanks to the organic methods from which our sound was produced. Back in the day, when even drummers had to learn how to plug something into a wall, we still had our cold steelesque logos, our big hunks of wood, the mesh grills that hid at least four 12 inch “Wimp Killer” speakers, and a rack of effects that looked like it could detect alien life forms if we pointed it at the sky. Companies with names that sounded as if they accessorized the Death Star equipped us with our ammo and we loved it. God bless Mesa Boogie and the Groove Tube and long live the Marshall stack.

Although there were innovators at the time that did a reasonably decent job introducing amp modeling technology, it was often pricey and in the end, not the most appealing solution for guitarists who loved their “rigs”. The original SansAmp was nice enough, and combined with a nice multi-effects processor you could get away with a very nice recorded sound. In terms of “live” performance however, it just never cut the mustard like a nice rack/amp and some great speakers. Before SansAmp I remember the Rockman by Tom Sholz. (yes I’m that old) This little unit was also fairly cool at first, but the more I used it the more irritating the sound became (think fingernails and chalkboards). In the end I remember hearing our neighbors cat in heat one evening and it reminded me of the sound of my Rockman. Needless to say I chucked it in the bin along with my unsolved Rubiks Cube and begged my parents to buy me a Mesa Boogie. (They never did)

Factoid: Parents never cooperate when the thing you want is louder than their need to scream at you.

Enter the POD.

When Line 6 decided to market their creation, the POD, everything changed. With the introduction of the POD I was forced to realize that the digital age was upon me, and that holding onto tradition would become hazardous to my musical health without at least exploring the brave new world to which I belonged. In the beginning I wanted to hate that little red “eye sore” - after all, it reminded me of an over-sized Mexican Jumping Bean. Now that I think about it I guess that was the point, hence the name "POD". It was on my second tour of Asia where I completely realized how important Line 6’s cool little “amp killer” would become. I found that I could walk on stage night after night not suffering from the various life threatening spinal chord injuries my guitar rig always gave me as I lifted it through hundreds of airport security checks. I mean, my “amp” was in my bloody carry on luggage. How cool is that?

Now I can’t live without my POD. Of course on big shows I still utilize my Death Star rig, but when a gig comes along that requires quick set up, no sound checks and lots of in-between travel “sans roadies” the Pod still can’t be beat. Also, how can I knock a device that lets me close my eyes and hear a wall of 100 watt Marshall Stacks turned to 11, while my wife sits 3 feet from me comfortably watching Desperate Housewives?

How does this relate to computers you may ask? Well, as amp modeling hardware progresses, amp modeling software is never far behind. Latency and that age old digitally "thin" sound we all loathed is fast becoming a thing of the past. With these negatives becoming less of an issue one will find that more and more guitar tracks are being finished and mastered in a completely digital environment. This is reason enough to get involved with the progression of guitar amp modeling. In future articles we will be reviewing most of the current choices for modeling software, and believe me, there are some solid choices available.

Meanwhile, 10 years later if you haven't placed this inexpensive and quirky device on your list of things to get, forego your long awaited 3 day drinking binge and grab a Line 6 POD on Ebay. Better yet, go to the Line 6 website and see what else they have to offer because they have a great deal of coolness and they are a dedicated company worth checking out. I shouldn’t give up a link here because they haven’t paid me any money yet to rave about their company, but if nothing else I am a philanthropic sort.

this post is a reprint from a few days back. Sorry if you are reading this twice but my last entry was kacked by some kind of blogger ghost.

No comments:

Support Guitarmethods