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The magic button

Every once in a while, you hit the magic button, so to speak.

I gazed hesitantly at my stomp box on Sunday morning at the Riverside Grill. It’s one of those multi-effects units. My favourite function has always been the tap-tempo delay. It’s an amazingly versatile feature that allows you to create custom delays, in time, in real time. You can add 1/4 notes for subtle dimension, or 1/2 and full notes for really hypnotic depth.

I have always been a fan of subtle delays in my electric playing. There’s a lot of it on Monster America’s Dirty Kings album, especially on the leads. You can’t really tell it’s there, but it adds a lot, and really affects how you play. You tend to draw things out more melodically; taking the long way around, instead of just racing for the finish line.

I’ve been really hesitant to utilize it in acoustic playing, however. Used incorrectly, it can really dehumanize a warm, visceral instrument. It can also become a crutch that gets boring and predictable for the audience. I’ve been on the fence about acoustic delays for about two years.

On Sunday, though, I finally fell off the fence. I tapped on the delay. Started doing some Black Crowes-eque fingerpicking in open G. Unbelievable. With just the right amount of effect, it mimicks two guitar players, changing the mood and tone dramatically. Even more interesting was the ability for dramatic transitions. I experimented a lot on Sunday with arrangements. I’d go from a dreamy Zeppelin-esque riff with delay, and then remove the delay going into something like Norah Jones’ Don’t Know Why.

Not only was it a tremendous amount of fun, but I also got some great feedback from the audience. I look forward to experimenting with it more in upcoming shows.

Jake Dudas, Guitarist