(note September 2007: This post gets more spam comments than any other on the site, so I’ve closed it for new comments. If you have something you want to contribute, please contact me at jason at jasonhare dot com and I’ll post it for you.)
Last week, I saw KT Tunstall at one of WPLJ’s "Up Close and Personal" concerts. (Thanks for the ticket, Andi.) As with the previous shows I caught at Mercury Lounge and Bowery Ballroom, KT sounded great, was in great spirits, and the band was tight. I don’t think I’ll be heading to see her again until she has something new to promote (I imagine she’s contractually obligated to play the entire Eye To The Telescope CD and little else), but if you haven’t seen or heard her, she’s worth a look-see.
I was able to get some pretty good close-up shots as well – check ’em out here.
I posted a couple times on my previous blog about KT and how much I really dig her. Note my comment in that linked post: "Her music is catchy, she has a tremendous voice, and the tricks she does with her loop pedal (nicknamed "Wee Bastard," which is what she calls it whenever it breaks) are pretty clever. She makes me want to buy one."
My wonderful wife, clearly picking up on this painfully obvious hint, bought me the Akai E2 Headrush pedal for my birthday. It’s tons of fun, although I feel sorry for my downstairs neighbors, who have to listen to me loop my voice anywhere from 2 – 8 times over.
My only frustration has been that KT is somehow able to loop both her guitar and her voice through that one pedal. The pedal only has one output, so as far as I can tell, it’s either voice or guitar, not both. I’ve tried using an adapter to use both, but it hasn’t worked.
I’m about to get all technical and nerdy here, so discussion on the Wee Bastard (as well as a couple of live mp3s) after the jump.
MUSIC NERD DISCUSSION BEGINS HERE
KT explains in this article from Frets:
How do you configure the looper onstage?
It’s a really crass setup, but it took a friend of mine to help me figure it out. The technical challenge was that I wanted to loop my voice and guitar with one pedal—that’s the big deal. I couldn’t do it with separate pedals for the voice and guitar, because it just gets too complicated. The solution was to put a little 4-channel desk [mixer] next to me onstage. Basically, I take a Y-split from my vocal mic and guitar DI, and send two pure feeds of these signals to the house. I also run a split of the guitar and vocal into the desk, which sends a combined signal to the looper. Then its output goes to the house, as well. So every night it’s up to me to get the levels right going into and out of the pedal, which is a challenge. I tried a Line 6 [DL4] delay pedal, but it hated the vocal. Then I tried the Akai, and it turned out to be perfect for my needs.
I didn’t know what this meant. So, of course, I asked Mike to translate, who gave me more of an answer than I was expecting.
I cannot believe I spent a half an hour doing this. I apologize in advance to the KT-heads and people with actual sound recording experience who will find this on Google. The way she describes her rig is open to interpretation. I could be completely wrong about this, but this is my best guess:
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It sounds like what she is saying is that she is using two "y-split" cables (that is, a cable with one input and two outputs). One for her Guitar DI (Direct signal) with 1/4" jacks and one for her mic with XLRs.
The 1/4" y-split goes into her guitar, one end runs direct to the house PA and one end goes into the mixer on stage with her. Same for the XLR Y-split, one to the house, one to her onstage mixer.
KT then adjusts the levels on her onstage mixer to her taste, and runs a cable from the mixer to her AKAI looper pedal. The pedal is therefore getting one signal from the mixer onstage, that has the Guitar DI and the signal from her vocal mic, eq’d and adjusted by KT presumably to make them even in volume and to kill any feedback or what have you.
The output from the looper then gets run to the house PA.
The result if you are doing sound for KT, is that you have three channels on your board dedicated to her: "Guitar DI" "Vocal" and "Loops"
If you didn’t want to use Y-splits, you could run everything through the mixer onstage.
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The looper would get the combined output, the house could get the unmixed or mixed signals from the vocal and guitar, if the mixer has the appropriate outputs to allow that.
Thank you, Mike. As always, you are right on the money and still over my head.
So, in other words, I can make this happen if I get myself a mixer that takes the two instruments and sends them back to the looper. Or something. And until then, I’m back to just chanting vocals repeatedly until my downstairs neighbor bangs on the ceiling.
MUSIC NERD DISCUSSION ENDS HERE
KT is fantastic with the band but I prefer hearing her on her own. Here’s a track from her Rolling Stone Sessions, and a clever new ditty from a London radio appearance.