Stephen Roper

Guitarist/ Singer/ Songwriter/ Performer/ Music Tutor

For my singing, I have been using The Vocalist LIve 2 vocal harmoniser by Digitech. A foot pedal unit with which I can create a combination     of up to two harmonies to compliment my voice.

With options of High 3rd, Low 3rd, High 5th, Low 5th and two Unison, the unison choice is great for thickening and bringing more depth to the vocal sound. The other options give a realistic representation of up to two backing singers.

This is a plug in and play unit, you select the options live from a selection of buttons on the unit. With the guitar plugged into the pedal, the harmonies are determined by the chords played on the guitar. The addition of the reverb, which can be on or off and turned up or down with the dial, really adds quality to the sound.

I have since upgraded my unit to The Digitech Vocalist Live Pro. This is a rack unit with all the function of the Live 2 and more!

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Being a rack unit, not a floor pedal, meant I had to add an additional foot pedal to the setup, I plugged

this into the back of the unit marked 'foot pedal' and

programmed it to do what I wanted.

 

 

The additional pedal is The Digitech FS3X, I programmed it to change through the channels up and down on the unit and turn the harmonies on and off.

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I have experimented regularly with many of the new modes available from the additional harmony settings, such as the high and low octaves, and 3rds and 5ths in different octaves, to the voice changing patches.

I am now able to use a greater number of harmonies at once. I have also benefited from the high quality lexicon reverb and the choice of delays I now have.

Unlike the Digitech Live 2, I have to program this unit, but it is incredibly easy, and actually quite enjoyable and inspirational for new ideas!

Not only does my Vocalist Pro have the option to take the harmonies replicated on the voice off the chords played on the guitar, but I am able to program in keys, scales and custom harmonies, meaning the guitar doesn't even necessarily need to be plugged in to get the desired harmonies (I still like to keep that option open though). 

The addition of midi control also allows me to change channels or patches easily from my Boss GT-10 effects unit.

One of the main guitars I use when playing in a band, electric duo or solo gig is My Godin XTSA.

 

Along with the standard stock Godin GHB1 electric guitar pick-ups, it has a Piezo acoustic pick-up under the bridge.

(I can use this as a good quality sounding acoustic guitar for acoustic gigs if wished to do so).

There is an equaliser located above the neck of the guitar so I can shape the sound accordingly from the Piezo.

Both the electric and acoustic pick-ups can be used together to create a beautiful and dynamic blended sound.

This guitar also has a midi pick-up built in, this means I can connect my guitar to a midi synthesiser and create different instrument sounds all from the same guitar. All three inputs on the guitar can be blended together to create an amazing sound!

My other guitar for band gigs and electric duo or solo gigs is my The Ibanez JS 100 with the Floyd Rose locking tremolo bridge as standard. I have had custom Lace Alumitone 'Deathbucker' pick-ups installed for it's unique sound. 

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I use the Blackstar S145 combo amplifier, with EL34B valves and Celestion Speakers.

My Blackstar amplifier has no onboard effects, such as

reverb. The Boss unit provides me with the majority of

the effects I need, (I may use additional pedals also). I use my FS-5U Boss boost, connected to the GT10's control pedal 3/4 input, to raise the volume of the guitar when playing lead.

The Boss GT10 multi- effects unit is connected to the effects loop in my Blackstar S145 amplifier with my electric guitar set up. I connect the midi between the two devices so I can change between the clean and distorted channels on the amplifier.

For my acoustic set-up, the main guitar I use is my Takamine TP-4T Acoustic guitar with a built-in active pick-up, I plug this into he PA system through the mixing desk.

With this setup, just like I would with the electric guitar, I use the Boss GT-10 unit for the reverb along with other pedal options for specific sounds and effects.

Unlike the electric guitar, I do need to be careful with the heavier distortion and boost pedals to avoid unwanted feedback, but with some careful tweeking I get some great sounds from these effects.

Since I don't use my Blackstar s145amplifier in this set-up, I can connect the midi out on my Boss GT-10 pedal to my Digitech Vocalist Live pro. With this set-up I am able to change the channels or patches on my vocal harmoniser using the GT-10 as a foot controller.

Each channel changed on the vocal harmoniser means a channel changed on the Boss unit, so I need to make sure that every patch I use on the Boss unit has all the effects I need (for example reverb).

My acoustic set can also include the pure un-amplified sound of the guitar and voice with effects. This may be the case with busking or certain quiet performances for background music or specific sets.

My Yamaha APXT2 Travel Acoustic with the sunburst guitar is the perfect busking guitar. This allowed me to perform my way around Australia, in the three months I was there from January 2020 to March 2020.

More Pedals!

This is my homemade pedal board, made from locally sourced MDF board, around half an inch thick, and painted black.

 

I screwed on a couple of cast iron, painted black handles for ease of movement. The board fits snuggly into an aluminium case for transport and carrying.

With it's full sized neck and small body it was easy to transport on the plane, with no compromises to it's playability and feel. The tone is affected slightly by the smaller body, losing some bottom end, but the difference is marginal!

This guitar has and continues to allow me to travel and play wherever I go. With it's built-in active pick-up, I am able to plug into any PA system at any jam night, open mic night or gig across the country and around the world!

 The important part is obviously the pedals!

 

 Starting at the top left is my Mosky Power Station DC Core 10 power brick, used to power all the pedals on this board.

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Tc Electronic Polytune pedal (bottom right). This is my guitar tuner, first of it's kind.

This allows me to strum all the strings on the guitar together, and tells you which strings are out of tune or in tune all at the same time.

Tc Electronic Mojo Mojo pedal (left of Polytune). This is my boost pedal.

 

I can tweak the settings accordingly, using the dial knobs to give me more gain, boost and depth, this is an incredibly versatile pedal.

The Switch Blade + by Electro Harmonix (top right), allows me to take a signal from the Polytuner pedal and split it.

 

One feed goes to my Mojo Mojo pedal and the other feed goes to my Digitech Vocal Harmoniser unit.

Tc Electronic SubnUp pedal (left of Mojo Mojo). The top left dial effects your Dry level of the regular guitar sound coming through.

The dial to the right gives you an octave above sound, with the Up function. The dial at the bottom left gives you an octave below guitar sound, with the Sub function. Then to the right of that you can add even more bass, two octaves down, with the Sub 2 function.

This is a great pedal which I find myself using a lot to add depth into my performance. With specific songs I can get a great bass sound to with it.

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Tc Electronic Flashbask Mini Delay pedal (bottom left). This awesome little pedal packs a punch for it's size! Top dial is the delay level, left dial is the feedback level and the right dial is the FX level.

I tend to use this pedal with just a small amount of delay to add some quality to my sound. I've used this pedal through inferior amplifiers before and it has completely transformed the sound. Great pedal for insane delays and enhanced sound!

MXR Super Badass Variac Fuzz pedal (in the middle and living up to it's name!).

Top left dial shapes the tone, bottom left dial changed the output level of the

signal, and the bottom left dial controls the gain.

The top right dial is extra special to me, as it changes the power from 5v to 15v, going from old school fuzz, to full blown metal!

 

With the dial turned up to 15v I find I get a cleaner sound with more punch to it. This with the distortion up to I can really make it blast.

I like turning the dial down to 5v to get some killer fuzz, I can compensate in drop in power with the output dial or gain dial, or both!

Ring Thing Single Sideband Modulator Pedal. This truly        awesome effects unit is probably the most versatile pedal in my arsenal!

I can program it and store patches to re-call live, and tweak it as I go.

With the 5 dials, a combination of up to 3 modes and 9 programmable presets, it has given me all those unique  sounds I wanted, and has inspired my creativity.

I can blend the sounds accordingly, change the sound wave properties, shape and fine tune my sound to how I like it.

It is great for adding 12 string guitar, octaves and other harmonies to my playing. With some tweaking I can change the tuning on my guitar and create all sorts of new and interesting sounds and effects. There is so much I can do with this pedal.

Ditto X4 Looper pedal. Another really handy pedal to have in my set up, particularly for when I am playing a solo acoustic gig.

I have two channels to play with on this pedal, running in serial or sync modes with a flick of a switch.

I tend to gravitate towards the Sync

setting myself, as I find it incredibly useful to have

the two independent channels to develop my sound seperately and change between the two

(i.e for a verse chorus structure).

The snc setting for me is still incredibly useful for when I want to build on a progression and drop an independent loop on top which can be brought in and out of the mix.

The time stretch technology comes into it's own with this function

(a six bar loop for example, can be repeated over a 12 bar progression on the other channel, or vice versa).

I use this pedal a lot for soloing over a progression or to build layers for a bigger sound. This coupled with the stop function to pause the loop and the additional FX options makes it a very useful and well used pedal in my set-up.

Ditto Mic Looper. Another useful looper pedal to have in my set-up. I use this pedal for my singing.

I take a feed out of my Vocalist Live Pro (mono only) and, with the click of the Loop foot pedal, have the feed repeated.

The stop button to pause the loop whenever I need is also vital. This is a simpler set-up to my X4, but an incredibly handy addition to my vocal set-up, really opening up what I can do.