25 January 2015

Testing David Allen Echoes set


Quality of David Allen' stuff can never worry me. The big issue is to choose between hes different sets of pickups. He tends to create sets of pickups that remember a certain tone and, he does that with the best materials and taking care about tone, independently if materials to achieve it are vintage-correct or not.

The distance between poles, their size, shape and material can change from pickup model to model. In fact, you cannot reuse any replacement Strato pickup cover for DA pickups because of his approach to tone.

While most pickups makers offer sets of pickups where the three or, at least two, are exactly the same (usually neck and middle are exactly the same and the one that's different is the bridge one), David, instead, engineers each position individually, to get the best on each one.
His sets are well balanced respect to the tone he's after for every set.

In this entry, we are going to make some comments about DA Echoes set, which is after the tone of David Gilmour and, tries to cover from early vintage tones to the most saturated recent ones.

David Allen's Echoes

As usual, the set comes "complete". Appart of the pickups herself, the box comes with a PIO .0047 mF cap and, with a pull/push 250K pot to control the two taps of the bridge Echoes pickup.

The Echoes bridge pickup is one of the very few that DA brings to you with some tap. In this case, we have a very vintage bridge pickup when using the regular output tap and, a strong and beefy bridge pickup when using the hot output tap, which helps you to saturate gain stages and, achieve a creamy and thick lead sound.

For early Pink Floyd sounds, the regular tap is the most useful while for more modern stuff (think on Sorrow and alike)  the hotter tap is the one you wanted.

The question is, can DA Echoes nail David Gilmour tones?.
Well, the pickups can but, can you?. Not an easy player to copy. I did my best in the demo video but, Gilmour is Gilmour.

But, we want pickups that can cover a broader territory than just DG tones, right?.
How they deliver tones for other tones / styles?.

Well, I did some video that starts with Pink Floyd' Shine on you crazy diamonds but, it continues with other stuff and, as I designed a very particular wiring for this axe, I can check how DA Echoes work when making special combinations (Virtual Neck Humbucker, Virtual Tele SS middle position, Virtual Humbuckers in parallel, Virtual HS middle position, Virtual Bridge Humbucker).
And, certainly, this set can really cover lot of ground with ease.

The Video

I could do a video showing the pickups direct to amp, clean to demo their own sound but, this is a way I personally don't like. What I really want is a set of pickups that can sound good, cutting the mix, doing the real job.
I've found many times stuff that sounds impressive alone but, once you use it with the rest of your gear, the sound simply doesn't cuts the mix.

That's why I always try anything with the help of backing tracks and, testing the several pedal effects I've got in my pedalboard before to determine if such stuff does its job for me.

Well, not surprise here. As with practically any DA set I've tested, the job is covered with spades.

The video was recorded, as always, taking the room' sound directly with a Zoom Q3HD recorded. There is no post-processing. I am not using Pro-Tools to make it more studio-alike, by example.
I'm just using the Classic Compressor and the Brickwall Limiter by IK Multimedia in the video editor to restore the original loudness (since I  have the Zoom's mic in low sensibility, to avoid limiting) and, avoid overs in peaks.
No Noise Gate or whatever, not delay or reverb added. So, what you hear is what you would hear if you were in same room as myself.

The video has some improvisations over backing tracks (sorry, not my best day):

Shine on you crazy diamonds (Pink Floyd)
Middle funky blues (unknown)
Jazzy blues (unknown)
Stairway to heaven (Led Zeppelin, to check alternate positions)
Talk to your mother (unknown)

The Gear

I am using a Fender Deluxe American Stratocaster, that originally was an HSS type with Samarian Cobalt pickups. For this set of pickups, I have designed my own wiring, to achieve 10 different sounds that should help me to cover most of musical styles.

The axe has the 5 regular Strato tones but, it has 5 more alternate combinations, that allow me to add a virtual LP and, two virtual Tele middle positions (SS and HS).
Also, since the Echoes bridge has a hot tap, in whatever alternate combo where the bridge pickup is involved, I can get more modern tones by selecting such a tap.

This time, I am checking a new set of strings, NYXL model, which differentiates from standard XL models because provides different stress to some of the strings of the set. It seems to me that the G and B strings are more "consistent" with this approach and, also, the D string seems less stressed.
I don't feel big mechanical differences while playing, but the sound seems to be improved somewhat.

For cables and patch cords I am using Evidence Audio stuff. As explained in previous entries, it's expensive but, it's a one-time expense and, EA covers your cables for the whole life.

The amp I am using is a Fender '59 Bassman LTD but, since I find the new Jensen P10R speakers sounding good alone but, lost in the mix, I've tried to swap those with 4 Celestion Gold. I've failed, since you can simply don't swap the upper speakers. The amp's chasing lies just over one of the two horizontal cuts that those P10R have so, once I've put there the Celestions, I wasn't able to fit the amp's chasing. Because of this, the amp is now working with two Jensens on top and, two Celestion Gold below. The amp cuts the mix way better now.
I'm using a Watford Valves' retrofit set of valves, which include some NOS Philips 6L6 (well, in fact, they are 5881).

On pedalboard, I'm using the following array of pedals:

Peterson Classic Stomp (Tuner)
Wampler Decibel + (Buffer to help to drive the rest of pedals)
Real McCoy RMC4 Picture Wah
Wampler Ego (Compressor)
Dry Bell Vibe Machine V1 (Vibe)
Jetter Jetdrive (double Overdrive)
Mesa Boogie Throttle Box (Hi gain distortion)
Boss FV-500-H (Volume pedal, to adapt the loudness to each backing track)
Strymon Ola (Chorus)
Strymon Bluesky (Reverb)
Strymon El Capistan (Delay)

I'm not using the Mesa Boogie one in this demo and, the Boss FV-500-H was set once for the whole video.

1 comment:

  1. Hey man, the sound has been removed by youtube. I would really like to hear your demo. Could you repost it somehow?


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