Watch the Amplitude Modulation Effects online guitar lesson by Chris Buono from Funk Fission

Ideas can come from anywhere, so the deeper you explore, the better chance you have at uncovering something new and unique. That said, the last place I look for new ideas is guitars players—at least when it comes to sonic initiatives. Think about it, if a guitarist is onto something new, then, well, they beat you to it! In the remaining segments you will see and hear examples of my conquests and learn how I came upon these sources of inspiration.

It should come as no surprise most of the new ideas you will uncover will be from music made by other artists (this is not to rule out the possibility that the sounds heard in the subway or a rhythm heard within your weed whacker making contact with it’s prey won’t inspire you). Over the years I’ve found an endless vat of new ideas waiting to be uncovered from music recommended to me by my students. One such notable guitar-squire was one of my aces, J.P. Doherty. He lives for music and never ceases to amaze me with his penchant for seeking out music of all kinds. It was in one of his infamous you-gotta-check-this-out sessions where I first heard modern mastermind composer Steve Reich and his piece Music for 18 Musicians. While the entire 56:31 is pure audible ecstasy, there’s an element that is prevalent throughout this piece and other Reich pieces that really caught my ear.

In these next two segments I show you my way of copping that helicopter-like chopping effect heard in Reich’s work by way of my own pedal alchemy and a concept I call “post-producing”. The main hardware ingredient is a Cusack Music Tap-A-Whirl tremolo made by Jon Cusack in Holland, MI. While I went through a few other trem pedals as I was developing this technique—a Lovetone Tremulator and a Guyatone Flip Series VT-X—The Tap-A-Whirl was my answer as it had the ultimate combination under the hood: a phat sounding analog signal path controlled by a digital tap tempo engine. That means, great sound with endless tweaking possibilities!

Steve Reich
Cusack Music