by Chris Medici
Once I bought my first guitar I realized that it was only the beginning of my journey towards sounding like my guitar heroes. So, back to YouTube I went, seeking guidance as to how I could capture the sound – that tone that is in my head. It turns out that many others have been on the same quest. In fact, one music store in the UK has a whole series of videos about sounding like their favorite bands. Also, some of the companies that make pedals have produced videos that walk viewers through analyzing and re-creating the tone of a particular song or band.
With so many options out there – and a modest budget – I was struggling to decide where to begin. So, I started with an overdrive pedal. I learned that a lot of the music I loved, especially older recordings like The Who’s “Live at Leeds,” included that dirty guitar tone that is produced by cranking the volume of a highly powerful stack of amps. Pumping all of that volume through the speaker of an amp produces a sound like nothing else – it’s the element that captured my imagination and gave me goosebumps when I listened to the music.
I’m a researcher by nature – blame it on my law background, I guess. Before I bought my first pedal, I watched a bunch of videos, demoing and reviewing overdrive pedals – expensive ones and non-expensive ones. I also watched side-by-side comparison videos – these compared the sounds each produced with various guitars and amps. Oy! So many options! Yet, I did not give up. I was on a quest and I would not give up until I found the right one to help me capture the tone I was chasing.
In the end, I bought Fulltone’s Obsessive Compulsive Drive (OCD) pedal. This thing is a beast! It goes from slightly overdriven tones (like The Police’s Next to You) to mid-range overdrive (like Black Crowes’ Remedy) to full-on distortion (Ramones’ I Wanna Be Sedated). The range of options is nice to have because I play a wide variety of tunes as a member of Altered Stage. Since I bought the OCD pedal, I have added more pedals, so much so I had to buy a pedalboard, which meant more research, more videos, etc. but I love it! It’s been fun to explore the tonal landscape. I don’t think this quest will ever end but I don’t think that’s the point. I think the point is to use the instrument and the other gear to express what it is I’m feeling and thinking and so far, I have expressed a lot of feelings and thoughts!