Guitarist/composer Jon Durant, of the band Burnt Belief, recently sat down to chat with me about his favorite pieces of gear. The instrumental progressive rock outfit has just completed work on their new album, Etymology, and it was released on October 21st through Alchemy Records. Here’s how Jon impacted their new recording’s sound.
What one piece of gear do you use to obtain your signature sound?
Durant: For the cloud guitars, the primary pieces are an Eventide H9, and a Pigtronix Echolution 2. I also use an Ernie Ball volume pedal for the swells. I sometimes also used the Lexicon PCM plugin for additional reverb spaces. For the lead guitars, the guitars are PRS and almost all the distortion comes from my amp, which is a Mesa/Boogie Mark V. To get the over the top infinite sustain, I use a Pigtronix Philosopher’s Tone germanium. I sometimes use the Dwarfcraft Bit Mangler for some really crazy fuzz tones.
What about it makes it so important to you?
Durant: For the leads, there is nothing that can match the feel of a really good amp turned up so you feel your pant legs moving! The Pigtronix PT really gives me a wonderful sustain without feeling like I’ve lost any dynamic control. As for the clouds, the H9 offers an incredibly wide range of effects that all sound great. The Echolution gives me the long delays that I need coupled with some really great modulation and multiple lines that keep the clouds flowing, rather than just being static loops. The PRS guitars are a wonderful combination of great feel and great sound. I’ve got a few different guitars that each have a very unique musical personality and I’m always surprised at how different they all are.
How was this gear used during the recording of your latest album?
Durant: The clouds were all recorded direct into Logic. The leads were all mic’d using an MXL ribbon and an SM 57.
How do you recreate your album (guitar/bass) tones in your live set?
Durant: Because travelling with my amp is nearly impossible, and certainly not cost effective, I’ve had to find a solution that could travel easily. I’m using a Line 6 HD500, which gets reasonably close, and has great flexibility in programming. And I can add the H9 and E2 into its effects loops to get the same effects sounds.
What are the major pros and cons?
Durant: The biggest thing is that I can have a single pedal board that can travel with me, be completely programmed and backed up in case something goes wrong. Because it’s widely available, I can easily get a replacement in no time, and load the sounds and be ready to go. It’s not as satisfying sonically as my studio rig, but it gets the job done.
Do you have a backup for this gear, if so, what?
Durant: All the backup lives on my laptop, so it’s a simple job to plug a new device in and get my stored data.
How long have you had it, how do you use it, would you ever change it?
Durant: I’ve had the Mesa for about 4 years, and I’m really happy with it. I’m not in any hurry to change it. The E2 and H9 I got when they first came out, which was perfect timing as that’s when we were starting work on Etymology.
Give us your best “gear goes wrong” story.
Durant: The problem with all of these processors is that they’re all computers. As such, they can have problems with crashing. At one gig, I had an older processor completely freeze in the middle of a piece, not only cutting out the effects, but also cutting out the whole guitar signal! It felt like the longest re-boot in history.
Any final thoughts or comments on the gear?
Durant: It’s both a blessing and a curse: there are things that I do that couldn’t happen without some of these things, but when they go bad it can be a nightmare. Fortunately, those moments have been rare for me.
Check out an ‘Etymology’ album promo