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Building Better Swells and Soundscapes for Your Sunday Morning Gig

Building Better Swells and Soundscapes for Your Sunday Morning Gig

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By Andy Perrin of Reverb

If you’re a praise and worship guitarist, you know well the challenges of gearing up for a Sunday morning soundcheck at 6:30 a.m. While your buddies from their gig last night are yet to unpack the van, you’re en route to service with a keg of coffee in fist and a hatchback full of gear.

Each musical setting comes with its own known obstacles and unspoken rules. For Sunday players, the task is simply this: Your job is to provide the soundtrack for a space that cultivates connection to something more, yet if you do your job right, you should essentially go unnoticed. Nobody’s doling out bonus points for perching on a monitor and laying down a tap solo.

This different job description also demands careful gear considerations. While musical styles for Sunday mornings are diverse, one common denominator to most these days is the need for ambient sounds. This article offers up some simple pedal pairings to elevate those essential, washy sounds before, within, and between the songs of your praise and worship set.

Transformational Transitions Using a Synth Pedal and Delay-Reverb Duos

Setting up the space for your set is arguably the most important moment of your Sunday gig. But before your synth player plunks down a predictable pad and gives you the signal to come in, why not harness your soundscape stylings and set the tone yourself? Even better, rather than make this a war of egos, just let the Electro-Harmonix Superego make the case for you.

The Electro-Harmonix Superego, and now Superego+, allow you to hold and freeze any combination of notes. Where this gets interesting in a praise and worship application, however, is with the Gliss effect onboard. Here you not only hold a single sound but seamlessly segue between them in a progression that isn’t interrupted by the attack or decay of the notes or chords you’re playing.

If you’re looking to grab a single synth-like sound, the budget friendly, one-knob wonder that is the Electro-Harmonix Freeze also gets the job done. Use the Freeze to sample a triad or chord and play some subtle, evocative leads on top for your gateway into the service.

For Sunday morning sounds, however, the Electro-Harmonix synth engines need a wingman, one that can take their full-on hum and toss it into a wet wash of reverb and waves of delay. While there are any number of pedals that could do this job, to avoid your praise and worship set looking like a tap dance routine it’s wise to pick a tandem effect and, ideally, one that has a distinctive character.

In my book, any pedal that is equally at home in either a psychedelic experiment or a pre-sermon set is simply brilliant. For this reason, the EarthQuaker Devices Afterneath is a top pick for getting the job done. Not only does its Mix knob allow you to dial in the wet/dry of your incoming Superego synth sound, its Length and Drag knobs give you control over the two axes upon which your signal extends.

 Another ideal option for this setup is the recently released Wampler Ethereal. As Brian Wampler commented last year at NAMM, the design of the Ethereal was with praise and worship players in mind. While the pedal’s a great fit for clean lead lines and interludes on its own, when hit with the outgoing sounds of the Freeze, Superego, or Superego+, the tonal terrain of the Ethereal truly lives up to its name and makes for interludes that are inspirational.
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