Everybody loves down tuned stoner doom guitars and people who say they don’t are most likely lying. As a guitarist and sound engineer, I often get asked about my preference of tone and gear and my reply is always the same – the simpler the better.
Working on Bangalore based sludge band Shepherd had no exceptions. The guitarist Namit Chauhan originally tracked through a tube amp. And although it was a great amp it didn’t really fit the bill. I had worked on the mixes for a while before I decided the better alternative would be to re-record the guitars. At this point we didn’t have much time left and the guys wanted to put the album out asap. I needed a sure shot guitar tone for the album and going to a studio or renting an amp was out of the question.
Enter Tech 21’s Oxford. It’s from their Character line of pedals and is modelled after Orange amplifiers. This thing is all analog, true bypass. And best of all, it’s plug and play. The pedal has a cabinet function which allows you to plug it directly into a PA or sound card and you’re ready to go. It runs on one 9v battery and lasts seemingly forever. The controls are straightforward. Level, low, mid, high, gain and character. The character knob has a bit of a learning curve. To my ears it just adds saturation as you turn it up. What I love about this unit is that it’s easy to use and fun to mess with and nearly every setting sounds usable. Which is a far cry from its digital counterparts with their multiple screens and hours of tweaking in order to get the tones you want.
Although there is much to be said about digital multi effects units. When you want something that’s portable and requires literally 5 minutes of tweaking before you can get a tone thats ready to go you’d be hard pressed to find something better than a Tech-21.
All the guitars on the Shepherd album were recorded through the Tech 21 Oxford directly into a Scarlett 8i6 save a few guitar solos which were from the original recording. Namit currently plays a J&D Les Paul copy tuned 2 whole steps down. His current rig is Polytune>>Wah>>Oxford>>Akai Head Rush(delay). There’s a noise gate in there too, but it’s used as a power distributor and not really part of the chain.
If you want to listen to Stereolithic Riffalocalypse, check it out below.