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Sonic Youth, Radiohead, feedback and vintage pedals - HELP!
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badderthanevil
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#1
10th August 2005
Old 10th August 2005
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Sonic Youth, Radiohead, feedback and vintage pedals - HELP!

I'm new to this forum so apologies if this topic has already been covered a few hundred times....

I've been looking on the internet for tips on how to get decent feedback - what pedals to use, how it can be obtained etc. but I haven't come across much. I've tried the old 'turn up the amp to full volume and let the badboy ring out,' but I want to experiment with pedals, pick-ups and things like that. Sonic Youth are a band I really admire for their use of feedback - does anyone know what pedals and effects they have used over the years? I hear they raise their pickups so high that they're almost touching the strings, and that they break coils in some of those pickups - anyone know if this is true???

I've recently been looking into getting some vintage pedals for a more 'raw' sound - can anyone recommend any that I could look for on the cheap? I use chorus, delay, tremolo - all of the usual... I've always been interested in how Johnny Greenwood of Radiohead makes his guitar sqwark in the solo of 'Black Star' so if anyone could help out that would be ace!

Sorry for the long post, I'll leave it at that!!!!

SAFE

Last edited by badderthanevil; 10th August 2005 at 02:13 AM.. Reason: Not obvious that this is a question!
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10th August 2005
Old 10th August 2005
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Hi, and welcome!

I recently came across a website called guitargeek.com and I think they've got some info on the Radiohead guy's setups....not sure how accurate it is though.

Have you considered just turning up your amp with a good compressor in the chain? A good overdrive/fuzz unit will help too...check out ZVex or whatever they are called...search for a recent thread called "Guitar Essentials" and you'll get some more info.

Good luck!
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10th August 2005
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I've came to the conclusion recently that it doesn't matter. They aren't obsessing over what Vintage pedal they are using. They get good ones for sure, but they could get that sound either way.

I miss my PSA-1, but have founds that my Big Muff does most of the same tricks for trashing drums for example.
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badderthanevil
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19th August 2005
Old 19th August 2005
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Thanks for the replies lads, but there must be more out there... don't be shy!
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19th August 2005
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I would suggest an overdrive/fuzz and a compressor too. Even a delay set to stun.If you are a Swervedriver fan you will know what I am talking about. Those were the kings of swirling effects and feedback long before Radiohead. If you have not heard them check them out. Swervedrivers set ups are also on guitar geeks.
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19th August 2005
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what you need is a "Marshall shredmaster"
it would make radio 4 sound like radiohead!
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19th August 2005
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Jules and I got toured Echo Canyon a couple years back...Sonic Youth has pretty much one of every obscure and standard issue pedal ever made!

Pickup height doesn't have much to do with feedback. It's all about acoustics...speakers moving lots of air and resonating the guitar and the strings. 'Ya need a lot of volume to pull it off. Or, maybe an Ebow.
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19th August 2005
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Method 1: (like others said) - compressor, fuzz pedal (big muff works well here), and for a cavernous sound a big delay, any other swirl effects. For a variety of sounds go near the amp with your guitar and move it around.

Method 2: (works well when I'm jamming) - nothing but a great tube amp at loud volumes in power amp distortion, again moving the guitar around to experiment. It's also in your fingers and the way you play.
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19th August 2005
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Some of it is about the amp and the pedals---yeah, you definitely need something with a little gain, but make sure it's not too noisy.

The other half of it is where you're standing in relation to the amp, and also what notes you're fretting on the guitar. Vibrato helps keep the note feeding back. Some freqencies are going to feedback easier than others, and (i'm guessing) you want the feedback to be in touch with your song.
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19th August 2005
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I work a lot with guitar feedback (putting into song structure, using it as phrasing). The best way I have found for controlling and creating useable feedback...

Original RAT

into

MXR DynaComp

into

any fender combo amp running about 120db.

Have one person bend the string and sway back an dforth in front of the amp. Have another work the volume on the RAT.


I hope this helps.
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19th August 2005
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Fuzz Faces and their derivatives work well, and delay helps, but my favorite way of getting controllable feedback is to couple the guitar to the amp by placing the headstock against the cab at loud volumes. You can sustain a note for days this way. Gibson's reccomended.
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19th August 2005
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Johnny uses some combination of the following - fender tele with lace sensor pickups (high gain low noise) sometimes fender starcaster guitar into pedals including: boss ds-1, marshall shredmaster, digitech whammy 1, dod envelope filter, electro harmonix small stone, roland 201 space echo, plugged into a reissue ac30 and a crappy solidstate fender deluxe. he has a mod on the tele for a mute switch, so he can run very high gain and have it be silent, and also do effects where it chops in and out.
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19th August 2005
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High volume and a hollowbody guitar. I use a Gretsch 6120jr or my favorite a Trussart Steel Deville. For pedals check out the Zvex Fuzz Factory and Fuzz probe. They are the ultimate pedals fro controlling feedback.
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19th August 2005
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A different kind of feedback that Radiohead uses (not the traditional feedback sound) is the sound of a tight delay on a high feedback setting. For example, I believe they use an EH Memory Man to make the great creepy feeback noises on "Climbing Up the Walls." It's one of the reasons I picked up a Deluxe Memory Man. It rapidly became my favorite pedal with big knobs for easy tweaking and a rich analog sound.

-Synth80s
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19th August 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by badderthanevil
I've been looking on the internet for tips on how to get decent feedback - what pedals to use, how it can be obtained etc. but I haven't come across much.

SAFE
Turn the amp UP.

Turn the guitar UP.

Lean guitar on speaker CAB.

Rinse.

Repeat.

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19th August 2005
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Greenwood's solid state amp is the Fender 85/Studio 85 (the Deluxe is out of his live rig now)

http://www.sigur-ros.it/franz/RHG/Jo...nyguitars.html

The 85 and the Studio 85 are I believe idential amps (if not, the amp in the photo is a Studio 85 ... 9 knobs, two input jacks on the left, 4 jacks on the right) -- there was a name change in about 88 I think...the Studio 85 doesn't even appear in the Fender amps history book I have....

It's kind of a sleeper amp for low volume gritty guitar recording...it has a built in limiter and mid boost/shift in the lead channel such that you can crank the distortion and limiter and then control the amount of overdrive by turning down the limiter....in one sense it sounds like "crap" but in some ways it really kills for getting good dirty sounds that honestly do not sound like the typical solid state amp. You can get some great saturated tones that sit well in the mix.

Plus, they are next to free these days.

tiger's tip for the day
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20th August 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cdog
Lean guitar on speaker CAB.
No dobut! Touching the headstock to the cabinet can make all hell break loose!
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20th August 2005
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20th August 2005
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well, I came up with a cool effect recently at a live show, just by accident:

Bridge strat-pickup - boss sd1 - boss chorus ensemble 5 - into a overdriven musicman 210.

Put the guitar against the speakercone and the rate of the chorusosc made the feedback sound like sirens of a policecar. Modulated it on the fly, and the sound went bananas. Ugly and beautiful at the same time.
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20th August 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wallace
The other half of it is where you're standing in relation to the amp, and also what notes you're fretting on the guitar. Vibrato helps keep the note feeding back. Some freqencies are going to feedback easier than others, and (i'm guessing) you want the feedback to be in touch with your song.
That's the main thing, finding the right position. I would also work with the volume and tone controls on your guitar, sometimes a feedbacking note tends to turn into shriek if you don't turn down the tone control a bit.

The Z.Vex Fuzz Factory is an incredibly versatile and great-sounding pedal, it's perfectly suited for getting feedback.

I really like 'wet' sounds along with feedback, the Memory Man is great and something like an Electro-Harmonix Small Stone phaser in combination with fuzz and a vibrato bar can get you resonably close to the hendrix 'House burning down' sound.

The vibrato bar is obvioulsy great for getting feedback because you can 'switch' thru pitches to find one that feeds back (and hopefully makes musical sense too!)

I don't use a vibrato bar on my Strat but I get the same effect by bending notes and doing things like hitting harmonics and bending them behind the nut.

It also helps to listen a lot to Adrian Belew's recordings.

I'm a big fan of using the E-Bow. It use it live by putting a small strip of Velcro on the E-Bow side and also the guitar. 'Down south' on the pickguard so that it won't get in the way of the strumming hand but still is near enough for a fast grab.
In this way I can go back from regular picking to E-bow in half a second.

Using the E-Bow is a different process than using feedback but once you get the hang of it you can get incredible sounds out of it. Sweet and flute-like or dangerous and bold, it's all there!

Andi

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badderthanevil
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24th August 2005
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Thanks for all the suggestions guys, I'm going to try em out when I get the time. I've been using a mate's Big Muff pedal and the feedback from that is pretty good, if not mind-blowing. I'm currently using a Telecaster Deluxe through a Fender Stage 1000, with RAT, Boss OD-3 and the Big Muff. My mate also has an Ebow and he says I can borrow that sometime.

Bearing in mind that I have delay/ chorus/ vibrato/ tremolo etc on the amp's footswitch (not as good as actual pedals, perhaps, but I'm not made of money!), I would take from what you've all said that a good compressor and a EH Memory Man would be decent pedal purchases...
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24th August 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by badderthanevil
I would take from what you've all said that a good compressor and a EH Memory Man would be decent pedal purchases...
Yeah -- I'll say it again. The EH Deluxe Memory Man is about as fun as pedals get. It's really easy to make an idea into reality on that pedal with no fuss and no tedious programming (which I also do a lot of on digital devices). Big knobs, lush sound, lots of possibilities...

-Synth80s
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24th August 2005
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Most of Sonic Youth's guitars are in unique tunings which I believe contributes to their unique feedback sounds. Lot of drones.
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24th August 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by badderthanevil
I would take from what you've all said that a good compressor and a EH Memory Man would be decent pedal purchases...
Another vote for the Memory Man, I used and still use a Line6 DL4 but it's great to have the real thing at last (I mostly worked with the DL4s Memory man clone)

Live I currently use both pedals, I'm kinda undecided whether to set the Memory Man for a Slapback delay or a Edge/Frisell-style modulating echo. It does both things really well.

I said it often but will say it again, the AnalogMan Comprossor (or BiComprossor) is fantastic. Incredible for recording, I also use it live somewhat but probably could live with something inferior for that aplication.

A cheap fuzz pedal that's surprisingly good is the Danelectro FabTone. Great for feedback and it really retains the bottom end. Though I must admit that it hasn't seen much use since I got the Fuzz Factory.


Andi

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