Tech Tip:Live Jamming
Sometimes Playing Music Is Simply All About Having Fun!
If you're like me, your musical career might have started in your garage jamming with your buddies. Those were good times, but nowadays it's not as easy to get a band together, or to find a place with room to jam. Fortunately, modern technology has made it possible to get that same garage band feeling without having to find an entire group of musicians to play with. And thanks to recent advances in the manufacturing of electronic components, the price of this gear has gone down while the quality has gone up. More so than ever, musicians are able to do a lot more for a lot less, and the envelope is being pushed further every day.
This epiphany came to me a few weeks ago when I got together with an old friend. My buddy had brought a BOSS JS-5 JamStation and wanted to jam along to a couple of arrangements he had recently put together. I wasn't sure if it would be fun jamming with just the two of us, but I went ahead and plugged the JS-5 into the small PA in my garage. After scrolling through a few of the 200 preset styles, I have to admit I was surprised at how good this thing sounded. And there were plenty of styles to choose from: rock, jazz, blues, R&B, Latin, country, dance, and more. After hearing a few of my buddy's patterns, I was beginning to change my mind about this whole "jamming with technology" thing.
My friend loaded up a song of his for me to check out. I felt that the tempo could have been a little faster, but figured we were stuck since he'd already recorded the vocals. But my friend assured me this wasn't a problem and quickly pointed out how the JS-5's TimeStretch feature automatically adjusts the speed of a recording without affecting the pitch. This was cool, but I wanted to start working on a new song. Using the EZ Compose feature, we were able to quickly set up a song by dialing in a style, chord template, tempo, and key signature. Now it was time to rock!
At this point, I was really excited to start playing, so I grabbed my guitar while my friend began to bash away on an old drum set. Visually, not much had changed in the garage since we had last jammed years ago, but sonically, it was a very different place. With our new gear and a little imagination, the possibilities for sonic mayhem had come a long way! For example, my guitar setup had changed from just my trusty axe and an amp to a complete pedalboard with a BOSS GT-6 Guitar Effects Processor, BOSS RC-20 LoopStation, and a brand new BOSS DD-6 Digital Delay.
So with the JS-5 pumping, we muted the drum track leaving only a Rhodes piano, bass, and sax line. My friend played drums while I went off on several patches from the GT-6, my new secret weapon. Right out of the box this baby has 30 COSM amp models, 15 types of distortion/overdrive pedal models, and five wah modeling types to choose from. Of course it's also got tons of killer BOSS effects like delays, reverbs, chorus, phasers, pitch shifters, and more-340 patches in all! With the GT-6, I don't have to make room for a stack or a floor full of pedals. And with 15 chunky knobs and a built-in expression pedal, it's totally easy to tweak!
Gear sure has come a long way over the last few years. After jamming with my buddy I've come to realize that you don't have to put an entire band together to write songs and have fun. The sound quality of drum machines, looping devices, and digital effects has really improved while prices have gotten lower. I don't think there's ever been a better time to be a musician!