Friday, April 22, 2011

Guest Contribution: Kevin Ian of The Common Men and His Rig


Kevin Ian. Vocalist/Guitarist of The Common Men. Post-Punk with shades of Shoegaze, Alternative, Pop, and Post-Rock. Now with the formalities aside, allow me to take you on a guided tour of my rig. As I break down elements of my sound, I will try to give as best I can the background stories surrounding certain pedals.

I am currently going through another reconfiguration of my board. I tend to be fickle in certain areas of my sound, but I can break everything down into dirt and delay. As my rig expands, I may find more of a use for filters and modulation in my actual guitar rig, but space issues keeps me focused for now.

My sound is broken into two distinct rigs: Guitar and Texture. The picture included is the most recent picture I have of my rig. The guitar rig is on the right, and the texture rig is on the left.

Kevin's guitar and texture rigs

My guitar rig is as follows:

- Boss TU3 (recently replaced by a Korg Pitch Black)
- MXR Micro Amp: This pedal provides a clean boost and drives my signal across many pedals. It's simple and small.
- Barber LTD Special Recipe: This is one of my favorite pedals ever. It is a low to medium gain overdrive. I have played various Barber pedals and I love them all, but this is the one I've fallen in love with. I heard about this one from a friend in another local band, and he sold me his.
- Creation Audio Labs Holy Fire: This is the second "secret" to my sound. It's an overdrive/distortion pedal that uses it's own 48v power supply. It's unique controls allow you to add/blend an overdrive/distortion circuit with a simple tone control. It's deceptively simple, but shockingly unique.
- Dwarfcraft Devices Spectacular Aenima: This one started the whole venture into noise/feedback looping. It is a fuzz circuit and feedback loop in one pedal. I acquired this pedal back in January of 2010, and life has never been the same since. I will get into the feedback loop option later on, as I will focus on the fuzz for now. The fuzz is gnarly and unforgiving. It can sound smooth, gritty, fizzy, and even harsh and noisy. It has a glitch mode which sends it into a self-oscillation.
- MXR Carbon Copy: My original go-to delay, it is now mainly used as a secondary atmospheric delay. It's rich modulation and analog technology makes it wonderful for self-oscillations.
- Boss DD20 Giga Delay: My go-to delay, it's main use is allowing me to call upon my "Helicopter Delay" setting quickly with it's 4 presets. It's twist and warp functions are also added bonuses.
- Catalinbread Montavillian Echo: this is now my secondary delay. It's delay signal has a phasing quality to it which adds a very nice quality to long phrases and sustained chords. It also has a cut feature which changes the tone of the delays as well. It is a digital delay, but it is meant to self-oscillate--something most digital delays do not do--and I like to throw it and the Carbon Copy into simultaneous self-oscillation for some great fun.
- Digitech Digidelay: My oldest pedal on my current board, it is also my most faithful. I now mainly use it for reverse delays, but it has served every single possible purpose on my board since I bought it back in 2007.
Texture rig:

- Spectacular Aenima: the feedback loop has a knob that controls the amount of feedback--from a continuous loop to a small gated loop which serves solos well when rolling back the guitar knob--to a photosensitive eye that also affects the loop.

The pedals in the feedback loop change often, as I tend to fry pedals/break them. I am also always on the lookout for cheap pedals, as sometimes a really cheap pedal will make wonderful noises.

- Danelectro Fab Flange
- Danelectro Chicken Salad Vibrato
- Digitech Synth Wah
- Line 6 Tonecore Tap Tremolo
- Behringer Echo Machine
- Devi Ever LP
- Danelectro Fab Distortion
- Behringer Reverb Machine

Volume can be a huge problem in a feedback loop, so I utilize the Fab Distortion as a volume control in the middle of the board. The Devi Ever LP is made to sound like a broken record, so it adds a nice chirping sound when dimed on the control knob.

The newest addition to my rig is a custom Audible Disease Synth Bomb. It's a monophonic synth with 4 photosensitive eyes. The more light it gets, the faster it spins, and so on. I have that hooked up independently to my custom Ego Boost clean boost from Grumpy Toad FX based out of Sacramento, CA. Since unity is about noon, I can actually keep the Synth Bomb's volume under control. I ABY switch it and control the synth bomb with my foot during regular play. However, I do enjoy picking it up from time to time and wave it around the audience :)

Be sure to follow my band The Common Men at or directly at Facebook @

From there you have access to our twitter, blog, and everything else related.

Thanks again! I will return with reviews and further breakdowns of my sound and technique!

- Kevin Ian

I have enclosed a few videos demonstrating various aspects of my rig, including live performances:

This is a live video taken last year for Capital Public Radio. It features the Spectacular Aenima and feedback looping. This is "The Headshrinker's Ritual."

This video is a small demonstration of the Synth Bomb in my rig.

This is the Synth Bomb live in action, with a little noise action at the end. "The Headshrinker's Ritual

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