I will take an almost impossible task today. Two legends with two so characteristic sounds, that has been analyzed over and over, until the deepest little details. The amps, the instruments, the whole pedal chain has been reconstructed. But from my point of view, there might be some details that have been missed. One of the most important is, how actually the instrument reacted under the players hands, with the rest of the equipment.
Let's see what we know about these two gentlemen, what we can hear in their music, and see is we can replicate a fraction of their sound with the Sensei preamp. Yes, Including those little secrets, which in the end are so indispensable for the whole sound character.
- Both players mostly played strats with single coils. Set the Internal DIP switch 2 and 3 ON.
- Best known for his fuzz sound into big British amps. To get us closer to the ripping full on tube amps, Mosfet clipping
- In those times the big full-stack cabinets had the duty of amplifying the whole show for the public, many times without any PA. Full Boost
- The first secret. Jimi experimented a lot with strange picking techniques, even playing with his teeth, and often let the guitar feedback with the amp, as part of his playing technique. He had a strange habit, to actually use lighter than what it's considered normal gauge strings for the lower strings that were also tuned a half step down. This gives a somewhat flubby spank sound when the low tension strings are projected back hitting the frets, almost like the pull slap technique of bass players. Harmony
turned to (+) side
to help with this reaction of the instrument.
- Now the second one of the secrets. The vintage low output pickups he used, interacted with the low impedance input fuzz boxes, in a way of what it is called today as "cleanup". This is possible with the Sensei. Turning back a little the Volume from the guitar, can give back exactly the sound of the amp without the pedal. Pinch it a little up and there is the sparkle for the rhythm sound. Turn it back to full and you have again the ripping gain for the solo. His playing style is practically based on this dynamic you can have under your fingers. Zen
is turned to minimum (-) side
- To simulate the full on fuzz sound, the Treble
switch is in Boost
- Due to the two preset gain options of the Sensei, you can simulate the amp sound and the amp plus fuzz sound. Set one of the Gain
low, and the other full on.
- Best known for his powerful clean sound, hence 0 Clipping
- Mr Vaughan used very thick gauge strings. To simulate this resonance of the strings, the Harmony
is turned a bit on the (-) side
- During his career known from the media and records, he mostly used bright amps, this is why the Bright Channel
- There is an ongoing vast debate of the origins of his instruments, but one thing is clear. He used vintage low output pickups, this is the reason why the Zen
is turned slightly to (-) side
- And now the first secret. Legend says, that he had his amplifiers modified to have the input cap replaced as to cut more bass than normally, so he can turn up the amp very loud without the sound becoming flabby. This is probably the culprit, that he was having full on amps but the sound was still dynamic and clean. For this Bass
is selected. I prefer to leave the Treble
switch on Normal
, but you have two more options to balance out your sound with your amp.
- Second secret ingredient. The TS type overdrive pedal he used, was mainly set as a clean-boost, not as an actual overdrive, just to give a volume jump during his solos. Well, you have two Gain
options on the Sensei. Check out how I set it for myself, in my little escapades when I think I can actually try to play one of his licks.
I hope now after these four examples, I could give you some information to see through better the whole picture of what these many controls can do, on such a little box. I believe you can see the pattern now and you can tweak the box for your own guitar sound.
The next articles I will try to do the same for the bass players. I wish you a wonderful day and remember to have fun playing your instrument.