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    Paul Landers Interview: Tech 21 PL1 Fly Rig


    Marcel: Welcome to a special episode of guitar Warehouse! Today we followed the invitation of our friend Paul Landers, because he wanted to show us his brand new PL1 Fly Rig pedal made by Tech 21 A very nice piece of equipment producing very nice sounds as well

    Paul: Yep! So thanks a lot for having us, there hasn't been a ton of information on this new pedal so far, but that's why we're here today It's the PL1 Fly Rig by Tech 21 Paul: Well said

    So see you all next time and have a nice day (laughs) Marcel: Tell us something about the story behind your Fly-Rig-Version You’ve been playing SansAmp in the past There is a mutual history between you and Tech 21 that goes way back … Paul: I’m pretty straight forward with stuff like this I only do things that I like and approve of

    I try to prevent any kind of endorsements, because very often it get’s you in conflicts with things, that you did not actually want to do in the first place And then you are not a hundred percent behind it I pretty much played SansAmp from the get go I think back then I started with the PSA 1 Models – and that was sometime around the 18th century, I guess I am the type of guy that doesn’t like amps that much, or amplifiers don’t like me

    Amps never felt right for me They either sounded too grumpy or too edgy or whatever When I then played through a SansAmp for the first time – it was a revelation Marcel: … the GT2? Paul: Nay, the PSA 1! That was the rack-format one Later I discovered the GT2, that I even liked a bit better … especially that one tweak … from then on I played the SansAmp for a while … Then I switched for some time to a digital emulation

    … until one day I picked up the GT2 again … and the sun came up again I don't wanna bash emulations in general, they're great Maybe it was just the level that was a little higher

    Anyways … I love the sound of the GT2 Because first it has it’s own characteristic sound and second it matches great with the tube-sound Richard uses

    That is a good matching combination Long story short: When Stefan from Sound Service asked me, if I’d be interested in having my own pedal I immediatly said yes Because you cannot get it better than that And from than on it didn’t take very long … … just three years, nine to eleven prototypes and ready it was Traveling, writing, vacations, hotel, the jam room – all of that is possible with the Fly Rig

    That is why I really dig the size of it I always tell the guys at Tech 21 to take a picture with a hand right next to it Just to show how small it is ’cause everybody always says: Wow! That’s pretty small! You might get the impression that it is a huge pedal, but it’s not Wait, check this out … It’s very tiny … … and if you hold it back there, it’s even smaller

    Everything I need is built in that pedal There is a tuner, a headphone output, a good clean sound, a good main sound for me, a delay – I do not need more Sometimes I drive to Kapstadt with Olli and in the past I had to travel with unhandy cases Now it’s easier As soon as I have an idea, I just go and record it

    Marcel: So you’re saying that you can put the PL1 in front of an amp, run it through send/return or into a PA-System as well as directly into a recording software It seems to be very versatile in terms of operating … Paul: I have to confess that I never ran that thing in front of an amp, because I simply do not do that The Fly Rigs standalone sound is great as is An amp would rather make it worse But that is just my opinion

    There are probably a lot of people, who would run the Fly Rig in front of their amps, but I have no experience with that I just think it's great to be able to run it directly into a mixer, computer or PA-system Maybe I'm just lazy, but actually no! Why make the guitar sound so unnecessarily complicated? … through the amp, than a microfone and a cabinet – that’s too many components … when I tweak an amp, it always gets worse Marcel: While we’re talking about your sound, it’s also important to mention that the PL1 not only recreates your sound in particular It also provides a vast range of sound-options for any kind of rock- and metal-guitarist, right? Paul: Absolutely! It may look a little Rammstein-like, but it provides a huge range of different sounds Starting with a clean-sound that is quiet similar to a Jazz Chorus – very clean

    As an addition to that there is the BITE-Button, through which the clean sound breaks up a little more … if you strumm a little harder … Paul: Then you have the FEUER-channel Where you can dial down the gain and the volume-poti on your guitar, in order to get a crunch sound – I personally hate crunch sounds, but it’s possible And because it’s analogue it sounds cool And then you of course have the option to really crank the drive right up there to the max Paul: I thought it was important, that every poti actually has an effect on the sound

    Simply because there are so many pedals out there, where potis do not have an effective influence on the colour of a sound Here you can really dial in your own musical taste So I encourage people to use every poti in even the most extreme settings, because it's all usable For me it was very important to have a negative boost within the PL1 Simply because I like the option to be able to step back in the mix, while playing a verse

    Paul: Same with the positive boost and the Mid-boost option – just to make sure, that you cut through the mix I also really wanted a low-cut implemented, I think it's around 50 Hz So now you can turn the Bass, the "Low", up without getting the sound all muffled up If we're honest: No guitarist needs those bass-frequencies Every FOH or sound-engineer who knows his business will right away cut all basses from the guitarists mix for good – but he won’t tell the guitarist (laughs) …and I wanted to make sure that the delay has a warm analogue character to it Marcel: That surprised me Because I would have never guessed you would pick an anologue one in the first place … but it kinda makes sense, since it’s an anlogue pedal Paul: Well … I have to explain this a little more I could just agree with you and say yes, but quiet frankly this is actually an analog emulation

    Because although the analog path goes straight through, we take a turn on a parallel path which is a digital delay that simulates an analogue delay Marcel: Another suprise – at least to me – was the incorporation of a Vibrato Paul: Yeah right, we didn't actually show that now that came about since the chip that handles the Delay also does Vibrato So we figured it would be stupid not to use the function as well

    Especially since it does a great job of making a happy-sparkly clean-sound just that little bit darker-sounding Another important effect-tweak would be the „ambience“-switch The ambience-huge-switch provides a pretty big room-sound It sounds a bit like singing in the barthroom … It’s nice to have it, when your’re just playing by yourself Just to make the sound bigger and wider than you’d actually do for a real live-situation

    Marcel: Is it comparable to an "amp in the room" kind of sound? Paul: No, I’d rather say „bathroom effect“ … it just makes it overall sound bigger, than it actually is … Marcel: You were talking about playing live, that's very interesting since you really use these Fly Rigs on stage You went through several prototypes, asked for the opinions of all kinds of people Paul: I liked the idea of Rammstein being this larger-than-life musical institution or whatever, and I'm playing those big concerts with my little Fly Rig Just me being able to brag about that was reason enough to do it

    And of course it was important to gather every input possible You know how it is with the search for the perfect guitar sound: Most players never find theirs I'm still looking for it myself So testing the Fly Rig live was absolutely essential For example: Initially its sound was even more aggressive

    I actually liked that pretty much, but it was just to much for our live-setup Marcel: Did you talk to your FOH about your new setup as well? Of course We often record our shows – directly from the board to ProTools So afterwards you can go listen to it and kinda go: Well that's maybe a little much right there or whatever Additionally I have the GT2-track to compare it to

    Marcel: So how did communication with Tech 21 work? Paul: That's where Stefan comes into play again, who did a great job of being the middle-man so to speak He explained what I wanted to Tech 21, almost better than I explained it to him (laughs) But we always had a vision I knew what I wanted: My GT2 with an improved Mid-control We send a lot of sound snippets back and forth I even recorded a completely dry signal of my guitar and send it to New York, for them to immidiatly test around with

    But after prototype number 9 or so they just kinda went: ,"Well Paul, we think it's enough now (laughs) It sound great, let's keep that one" Because I would have kept testing and tweaking, since there's always something to optimize So I kinda started to feel bad for them and left it at that I mean it's not rocket science, it's just a cool pedal, so at some point I had to just call it a day

    Marcel: So what does Richard think about it? Paul: We actually don't talk about our work all that much We talk about personal stuff a lot and about music, too But not really about our guitar sound or anything like that I'm just realizing this now Kinda strange, it's almost like a taboo

    I know he plays tube-amps, maybe he knows I play SansAmp But as far as "Hey, how do you handle this and that?" That's not happening Marcel: So did you use the Fly Rig for any recordings yet? Paul: Yes, it was there during pre-production, as we were working on new songs, in the studio as well I'm talking prototypes of course

    Marcel: Pretty brave to not only use it for rehearsals or whatever, but actually for recording new material Paul: Well I don't know about brave it was really useful, because what we would do is

    record a few tracks, gather everyone in one room, play it to them and just collect opinions So I used it in the studio precisely to move the development of the Fly Rig along My Fly Rig contains two SansAmp: One for clean, one for distortion – just like two channels on an amp That was all part of development that just started as a rough idea on my part, with no idea how doable that would be

    Marcel: The two channels being called WASSER for clean and FEUER for distortion by the way Paul: Yeah well, it still gets the point across At least I hope so

    The distortion component in this Fly Rig has nothing in common with the other Fly Rigs, you know Because the other Fly Rigs almost sound like an amp If I’d wanted to have that kinda sound, I would actually play an amp I really dig the unique technical approach of the GT2 That it actually does sound special and got it’s own sound characteristic

    Marcel: Paul, thanks a lot for having us thanks for showing us your PL1 Fly Rig ahem, thanks Paul: Here have at it Marcel: OK

    Source: Youtube

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