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Special Effects and Gadgets

This page has a lot of info on technical electronic stuff that Stewart used. Delays, drum machines, triggers, etc... is the kind of stuff you'll see here. If you aren't well knowledged in this area you'll have a tough time trying to figure out what it all means, anyhoot, read away.

"I have Deltalab, AMS, and Roland 2000 digital delays. triggered by on/off pedals next to my hi-hat for certain effects, that are attached to the different drums; the soundman has a list of what drums to put through at what times. I tried double-bass drumming when I was with Curved Air, but I found it messed up my playing, and I can now get the same effect with delay. So I've been using the delays for years and years, but I keep checking out the new ones. See. with longer delay times, you lose the high ends; but now the chips are getting smarter so you can maintain the high end over longer delays.
"I also have a whole percussion rack with a Tama Gong bass, timbales, bongos, xylophone, tuned percussion, bells, gongs, cup chimes - the whole Paiste array. For three or four numbers - King Of Pain, Wrapped Around Your Finger, the best is Walking In Your Footsteps - Mr.Oberheim takes over (the Oberheim DMX programmable digital drum machine) while I'm on the rack. It's a starring role for him, really, and quite complex - not just rhythm, he plays fills and all. It's my programs, with Mr Oberheim's sounds running through a custom-built signal-boost device that triggers the Simmons electronics, so it's a combination of the Oberheim and Simmons drum sounds that comes out of the speakers. And I'm looking for new sounds to be triggered - everyone's using the Simmons programs now. At home I have an Electro-Harmonix device (an Instant Replay) that can record sounds, sort of like a one-note Fairlight. You make a noise into a mic, hit a pad, and the noise comes back. I just haven't had a chance to figure it out yet."

May, 1984 issue of Downbeat magazine

"I've augmented the kit in interesting ways for stagework. The bass drum has a contact mic on it which goes through the Tama drum synth, and with it I can electronically enhance the bottom end of the bass drum, really give it a hard definition. It seems to me I have the deepest bass sound of any group. Ya'see that's why I use Tama - because they make all this neat shit.
Different parts of the drum kit at different times go through the digital echo machines here, and I have a foot switch next to the hi-hat stand. I can click on a repeat echo and have a dialogue with myself. It's what people do in dub, in reggae dub."
August, 1983 issue of Music UK magazine

Jeff Seitz on new gadgets and effects:

People send us stuff all the time. He plays through digital delay and presently, we're using Delta Labs (DL-4J and a memory module). Originally, he played through a Roland Space Echo and the quality of that is good, but not when you're dealing with frequency ranges from cymbal to bass drum. The Roland Space Echo is fine in sort of a limited range and when I first suggested a digital delay, he said he'd check it out. He liked it because the digital delay reproduces your frequencies from your lowest to your highest. The Roland Space Echo had terrible top and there was no bottom because of the size of the tape, which was small. The digital delay has no tape change. So I've brought certain gadgets, such as Syndrums. Whether they're useful or not really depends on the type of effect you want. We still use the Tama Sniper drum synthesizer (TS-200J and those come with very small contact pickups that you can place anywhere on anything). The pickup triggers an oscillator which also has a built in sweep control. It can sweep down at a very fast rate or a very slow rate. We have pickups on some tom-toms where you get basically a Syndrum effect; a sweeping sound down. The other one is triggered by the bass drum mic' itself. I actually tune the oscillator to a very low sound so the live bass drum sound is actually mixed with the synthesised sound and you get a very deep bass drum effect. So the bottom end of the bass drum is actually artificially produced by this drum synthesiser. The effect is much like the Boom Box, which can't be used on a record. We get it down to around sixty or fifty cyÁles and you're giving the bass drum a lower effect without doing it with equalisation at the PA board. But in a big hall, you're dealing with the feedback of the room and if you try to get those low EQ's on the mic', you may get feedback from the room feeding back into the mic(micraphone, duh). So we don't have to deal with that at all.
We also use the Clap Trap which can be triggered either manually or by a mic. We use that on a few special parts just to get a real heavy backbeat feel. That would come up on a separate channel on the main PA as well. When he wants to use it, I just switch it on and it's there at the right time and then I shut it off again. We used it in recording as well, in Darkness on Ghost in the Machine. You wouldn't notice it unless you're listening closely for it. For a while we also used another digital delay which also harmonised called an AMSDMX-1580 made by an English company: It's a digital delay that can also be used as a phasing device and it also can harmonise. The Delta Lab gives you more of a punchier sound, though.

October, 1982 Modern Drummer

Stewart uses syndrums, two digital echo machines, claptraps, and as he says, "almost as many knobs and gadgets and flashing lights as Andy. I don't use the syndrums in the normal way. I use it on the bass drum, tuned so it goes 'bow'. A kind of electronic enhancement of the bass drum sound. Also in long jams, I've been known to make sci-fi noises with it. Through the echo it sounds pretty neat. I've now got repeat hold; which I used on the last tour and means the drums literally go into auto-pilot. I can jump off the kit and run around the stage holding the claptrap to get synthetic clapping, while the drums are automatically pounding through the PA. Itís a great pose. And itís dynamite to be able to run around halfway through the set and stretch my legs and see what the audience looks like from close up. Iíve been on stage four years now and never been closer than five feet. I can shake a few hands and kiss a few babies."
October, 1980 issue of Musicians Only magazine

A dEet, aBa-deet, A-deet deet deet, that's all folks!