original. acoustic. music.

Review: An Evening With The Gracious Deviants

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The gig went well, although with a somewhat truncated set list due to a tight schedule - there was a show before and two shows after us.

(Photo by Paul Greenaway)

The tight turnaround meant we had to strike the gear almost the second after we finished playing so there wasn’t much time for relaxation and reflection, but as far as we were aware we played well, and the small but vocal audience enjoyed themselves.

We used this gig to try out a few new things, airing some new arrangements, Darrel playing a guitar we bought several years ago but have rarely used on stage, and both of us introducing a few subtle guitar effects to vary the sound.

We had hoped to use our 12-string but it was still being repaired; a few weeks before the gig we noticed the bridge had started coming away from the body of the guitar. It is still in the expert hands of Kenny Duncan and we expect to have it back soon in better-than-we-bought-it condition (as always with Kenny’s repairs).

In its place Darrel played our Ibanez Montage. The cool thing about the Montage is its built-in overdrive, which Darrel wound in on a couple of solos. The last time we took this guitar on stage was around five years ago at the Manawatu Jazz Festival, but I have a feeling we’ll be bringing it along to a few more gigs, especially sounding the way it does now (thanks to the addition of a bone nut, fret-dressing, and action adjustment by the venerable Mr. Duncan!).

We have always considered ourselves an acoustic group, but it struck me recently that our guitars are more often than not plugged into a PA. Both of our guitars sound fine unplugged, but when we do plug in Darrel’s Cort 6-string has a Fishman pickup that makes great use of the lower resonance of his guitar, whereas my Takamine has a stock pickup that is a little more middle-y. Unless we have a creative engineer on the faders a 45 minute set can begin to sound a little too similar, despite our best efforts with capo and barre chords. Ordinarily, Darrel swapping between 6- and 12-string helps to break things up bit, but for this gig we had to come up with an alternative.

Both Darrel and I bought multi-FX pedals long ago when we both had electric guitars, but have rarely used them. Guitar FX pedals are a slippery slope (one of the many in the quest for the perfect tone) and there have been great technological strides made in the 20 years since we bought ours. Thankfully we were able to avoid falling prey to these new enticements - a couple of hours tweaking with my Zoom 1010 and Darrel’s Boss ME-5 resulted in a series of subtle yet pleasing effects that we may well keep in the arsenal for future gigs.

We have tried to travel as light as possible in the past, but now we know how good we can sound with just a little augmentation we might just have to add a couple of extra items into the gig bag after all. The ME-5 and 1010 are fairly compact, and there are probably enough patches between them to keep us away from buying anything new for some time. There is this one new pedal that I saw in a shop, though…