Ode to the Odd

Ode to the Odd by Francis ‘The Grin’ Gray

This is a praise to the unconventional minds in music. When I first got the idea in my head about using pedals on bass, I wasn’t trying to imitate anyone. First I was just scared of being bored in a band again and I simply wanted to use what I had paid for. My pedalboard (at the time) consisted of a Boss TU-2, Crybaby Bass wah, Lil’ Big Muff, Boss CH-1, phase 90 and EHX Bassballs, connected to a Voodoolabs Pedal Switcher. People were annoyed and skeptical to say the least, but in the short amount of time I was with that band, I changed a few minds. I now enjoy pushing the taboo of using pedals on bass, where only a year prior I was highly against the idea.

A street performer was brought to my attention somehow, I honestly can’t remember, and he pretty well blew my mind with what he was doing. Dub FX from Australia uses (based on his videos) A Boss GT-10B, RC-50 and I THINK a SYB-5 to create his style of rap. Im not much for the style but I love everything about outside the box means of making music where the will is stronger than any natural resistance.

You may or may not know the name of Robert Randolf (and the Family Band), but this funk and soul playa has a firm idea of what he likes in the grind and slide country boys over look. Robert uses a thirteen string lap steel guitar, with an intentionally broken Lollar pickup for that extra bite. Before the signal hits his modified Fender Twin and Fuchs amp, he passes through a: Goodrich Volume pedal-Crybaby 535Q-Radial JX-2 Tonebone-Prunes & Custard-Cusack Fuzz-Boss Dynamic Filter-Holy Grail-Empress Effects EQ-POG2. I write these in a traditional format because I don’t know exactly how his chain rolls but we pretty well get the picture in a vivid array of colorful effects and filters. A fair warning though, dont try this at home. In one night alone he has blown ten guitar amps. Play no fool, a few Marshalls are on his casualty list.

Crossing genres now, let us defy chronological order for a moment and speak of Tom Morello first. He still had the love for Eddie Van Halen and Malmsteen, but with those guys already in existence, he wanted to become something odd. “My contribution to that, was my love of those huge 70’s hard rock riffs, through the filter of my love of punk rock and hip hop” (Episode 108, Metal Evolution). A master of a simple killswitch, he plays with a Floyd Rose, feedback and pedals to get a hip-hop groove that worked oh so well. Moving on to but not forgetting where we came from, DJ Lethal was known for being in House of Pain slightly prior to the beginning of Rage Against the Machine. Lethal also wanted to do something not done before. He wanted to make a turn table sound like a guitar while Morello made a guitar sound like a turn table. An old reliable favorite Marshall Stack was the simple switch to grit a needle and record but lets be honest though, it is still a far cry. However to his credit, he got pretty close on the guitar solo in Metallica’s Sanitarium.

There are many other people who I have obviously missed. Larry Lalond was an early member of death metal band Possessed, now plays in a band with Les Claypool who did infact audition for Metallica. I DO NOT count The Edge because he is well known for using so many different pedals, what he does still sounds common enough to stay off the list. I will end of a band who I have seen live. An acoustic act by the name of Split Lip Rayfield. The mandolin player can hit death metal picking speeds but what sets them apart from other acoustic acts? The bass player has a bass named Stitchgiver, built from the gas tank of a 1978 Mercury Grand Marquis, a piece of hickory and strung with one piece of Weedwhacker line (as found on Wikipedia).







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Filed Under: PedalsCommentary / Editorials

About the Author: Started playing bass at 15. It was Danko Jones who inspired me to play at all, and in a small town I couldn't be picky on what I can get my hands on, so I bought a squire with pride. Obtained a B.C. Rich guitar months later. Moved to the city at 17. At 19 joined my first metal band as a bassist which ended at 20. Joined a bass heavy rock band, which I loved being in whole heartily. I now wait to venture into a new project. For the time being though, I am exploring my abilities as a writer.

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