James Nash's Real-World Rig
Acoustic and electric guitarist James Nash is best known as the Waybacksâ€™ flatpicking front man. Wielding a Santa Cruz OM, which most often sounds like the vintage-style acoustic flattop that it is, it might appear that Nash (jamesnash.com) would be a purist when it comes to onstage amplification, but just as the Waybacks have been described as â€śacoustic mayhem,â€ť Nash has looked far outside common parameters to assemble his stage rig. Nashâ€™s chain starts with standard acoustic amplification componentsâ€”an L.R. Baggs LB6 saddle pickup, DPA internal mic, and Pendulum pickup/mic moduleâ€”but then proceeds to enter a high-tech world that transports studio components to the stage. â€śI fly a lot,â€ť Nash says. â€śSo I was trying to come up with something I can fly with thatâ€™s as light and cheap and easy to pack as possible and that gives me a lot of power in a package I can afford to pay for, as the airline fees keep getting higher.â€ť
Leaving the guitar via a stereo cable, Nashâ€™s pickup and mic signals are fed into a MOTU Traveler audio interface plugged into the FireWire port of an Apple MacBook laptop computer running Logic software. â€śItâ€™s a complex program that took me months to understand and figure out how to use onstage,â€ť he says. â€śI wouldnâ€™t recommend getting into a rig like this lightly, but if this is a world that you like to live in, if you do a lot of stuff with your home studio and youâ€™re comfortable recording, then this is a great way to get a ton of power onstage without bringing a lot of gear.â€ť Nash uses the softwareâ€™s mixing capabilities to blend his guitarâ€™s pickup and mic. â€śI EQ them using plug-ins in Logic,â€ť he says. â€śI can EQ my bridge pickup to emphasize the low-end a little more, and I can scoop out the mic to deal with feedback.â€ť
Nash has created a large variety of presets with different amounts of signal blends, effects, and other factors, and he uses a Rocktron All Access MIDI foot pedal to select his sounds, which range from remarkably natural to heavily processed. Because some of the Waybackâ€™s material calls for a distorted guitar sound (check out the bandâ€™s re-creation of Led Zeppelin classics on YouTube), he uses Amplitude modeling plug-ins, but instead of distorting his entire signal, heâ€™s created custom patches that add the effect to the pickup sound only. â€śI can press one button, turn off the microphone, and put a ton of distortion on the pickup,â€ť he says.
Nash uses the balanced output from the MOTU Traveler to send a signal to the house, and he has the capability to mix his entire band from the stage if necessary. But thereâ€™s more. Besides being able to fine-tune his guitarâ€™s signal with surgical control, Nash also uses the same rig to simultaneously record his band, from the stage, using the MOTU Travelerâ€™s inputs and a variety of DI and microphone signals. This has led to the release of several live Waybacks recordings, which are available as downloads from the bandâ€™s website (waybacks.com).
What He Plays
Acoustic Guitar: Santa Cruz OM with Indian rosewood back and sides and a spruce top.
Pickups: L.R Baggs LB6 pickup and DPA 4061 internal mic.
Preamp: Pendulum Pickup/Mic module.
Hardware: MOTU Traveler FireWire audio interface. Apple MacBook (2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo with 4 GB RAM).
Software: Logic Pro 9.1. Amplitude 3 amp simulation software. Peterson StroboSoft tuner software.
Pedals: Rocktron All Access MIDI foot pedal. Ernie Ball volume pedal.
Strings: Dâ€™Addario EXP17 medium-gauge phosphor bronze.
Excerpted from Acoustic Guitar January 2013
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