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Blog Takeover: Brev Sullivan

In this blog takeover, Brev Sullivan, guitarist of the Arsenal band in 2012 film Rock of Ages and former touring guitarist for jazz legend Ira Sullivan, takes us on a trip exploring guitar rigs of the past and how Eventide helped modernize his rig today. 
 
Photo credits: Michale Key Photography

Episode I 

Not so long ago in a galaxy not too far away…
 
An Eventide Ultra Harmonizer rack unit was a hard thing to find. At least, for an aspiring guitar player building a guitar rig on a budget. 
 
Sure, I could see pics in Guitar Player mags and spot an Eventide rack unit in the guitar rigs and racks of the rich and famous, but in the 90s, a local aspiring guitarist building a rig had a limited budget to purchase pedals or rack gear. 
 
In the center of that high-budget galaxy was Bob Bradshaw, the only name known at the time; he built magical guitar rigs for Steve Lukather, David Gilmore, Eddie Van Halen, Steve Stevens, Andy Summers, Steve Vai and more. Bob Bradshaw’s company, Custom Audio Electronics, equipped the first customers in that era, the guitarists who were defining guitar tone as we know it today. 
 
Bob Bradshaw (left), posing for a photo with Eventide’s own Ray Maxwell.
 
Of course, there was the Eventide Ultra Harmonizer right there in the middle of it all. Myself and a good friend, also very knowledgeable on building guitar rigs, studied how Bradshaw built guitar rigs from the ground up, reading every available article in every Guitar Player and Guitar World mag we could find.

Let’s get real. 

The scene: Late 80s and early 90s pre-grunge era. Straight-up guitar solos and amazing guitar riffs everywhere. 
 
It was amazing how much guitarists (and record producers) relied on their rack gear. I would listen to all the popular guitar tones from the 80s catalogue and wonder, what was that ‘pristine’ pinging quality I’d heard in these huge stereo guitar sounds? To be specific, I was listening to the lead and rhythm tones from guitarists like Van Halen and David Gilmore: Halen’s tones on 1984 and Gilmore’s lead tone on the live Pink Floyd album Delicate Sound of Thunder both caught my attention. My ears also perked up when I would hear Steve Lukather’s lead tones guitar pinging back and forth with some rich stereo effects. 
 
Guitar heads know!
 
What I was hearing was the pitch sound from the Ultra Harmonizer lurking somewhere in the mix. Because the Eventide algorithm was so finite and mixed carefully with crunchy guitar tones, it was difficult to identify, but definitely audible. 
Can’t make bread without flour, and you can’t make a 90s hit without this.
 
The only way I knew how to achieve something remotely close to this sound was to kick on a chorus pedal. But it lacked something, and I never liked the sound of any of my chorus pedals in the signal chain with distortion. To my ears the average chorus pedal plugged into an effects loop or in front of an amp made the tone muddy and dead. I knew that this was NOT the way to get a crisp authentic lead tone with stereo effects a la Van Halen’s 1984

Figuring it out 

Since I wanted my tone to sound like those famous guitarists with the stereo Bradshaw rigs, I eventually purchased a rack mixer and a couple of Roland SDE 1000 racks units. Many pro rigs were running in stereo, and so would mine! 
 
Relics from a bygone era...
 
I put my two Roland units to work and built my stereo rig. With a little more time studying classic pro rig settings, I ended up with my own decent imitation. Setting my delays on each channel (350ms on the left, 400ms on the right), I had my stereo sound. With this rig, my leads and rhythms were clear, punchy, and pretty much on par with what I’d heard on the famous guitarists recordings whose tones I was trying to emulate. 
 
I would soon be dragging this home-built science project rig to local clubs, gigs, and any venue I could fit it in. I’d drive the resident sound engineer crazy when I would insist on mic’ing up my rig in stereo along with the rest of the band. That’s when I was surprised to learn most guitarists just showed up with one cab and mic’d that up. But not me, no way! Steeereo please. 

Fast Forward.

With all of the cutting edge gear available today, we now take this type of guitar rig for granted. “Distortion from amp modeling, infinite effects, looping,” etc. is listed everywhere. Although, it wasn’t that long ago that Eventide was a huge part of creating the genesis of sound for guitarists to achieve their unique tone and FX magic. 
 
Fast forward to the latest Eventide equipment: guitar pedals loaded with all the algorithms and effects available. In their H9 Max and Core pedals, I’ve replaced all that rack gear, and in a simple setup. With my 2 H9s and a reverb pedal, I’m able to achieve the huge stereo sound that used to take a bunch of rack mountable effects to achieve. 
 
 
Even more amazing are Eventide’s studio VST plugins that saved the day when I was recording and mixing my latest CD, Play Fast

The simplicity of complexity. 

For Play Fast, I used a technique on my lead tones used by the famous bands and producers from my favorite era, the guitar era (better known as the late 80s/early 90s). I guess you could say, if I had one effect to take to a desert island, this 1984 pitch preset would be the one! I mixed a bit of detune pitch to fatten up the dry guitar tone. 
 
We’re hearing the H910 Dual Harmonizer set to “1984 Guitar”. I used it to fatten up the leads on my guitar tone. It’s important to experiment with the level of pitch detune in the mix. We don’t want to wash out the attack and bite of the lead tone; we just want to smooth it out. Many producers use this simple technique on everything from drums to bass to vocals. 
 
For my live rig, I use the H9 with the same H910 effect, but with a custom preset. I use the Mission SP H9 Expression pedal to control the amount of pitch mixed with the distortion lead tone from the amp. 
 

Infinite Space. 

If the 1984 preset was my favorite childhood effect, Eventide’s BlackHole algorithm is by far my current modern favorite. I used this cool effect on the intro to my tune “Star Fall” from Play Fast.
 

In this next video, you are hearing the BlackHole preset lightly mixed in with the lead guitar tone with some subtle pitch set at 7th from the root. Jump to 0:18 and the BlackHole effect is bypassed. 
 

For my H9, I use the SP H9 to control the amount of reverb from a custom BlackHole preset. 
 
 
I’ve never heard such a rich verb that immediately works perfectly with almost anything I record. It takes the guesswork out of searching through all of my reverb plugins. Bravo Eventide! 

Fun Stuff. 

In this last video, I used my favorite interval, the 7th, with the harmonizer mixed in with the lead tone on an experimental tune, “Ultrafest”. 
 

This is easily achievable with the H9 pedal live as well, and it really sounds wild when the effect is mixed in and out in real time with the Mission expression pedal. 
 
 

I’m not done yet and never will be. 

While there are endless sounds waiting to be discovered by users in the H9 pedal, the history of Eventide has been a sonic marvel. The pitch shift algorithm has been used on recordings for decades and now, as a proud Eventide user, I’m finally getting all the pitch shifting I can while unlocking new tones. Thanks for all the inspiration and for inspiring hours of creativity, Eventide. 
 
- Brev Sullivan

Find Brev Sullivan on social!

Links to Brev’s custom H9 presets here: 

 
To download any of these presets, follow these instructions:
 
1. Download the preset to your computer.
2. Connect your H9 to your computer via Bluetooth or USB. 
3. Go to Presets, and in the top right corner, select the More dropdown menu.
4. Select Import Preset, and from your Downloads folder, select the preset you would like to import. 
5. The preset will load onto your H9, and you are ready to go!
 

Blog Details

Author:  Elizabethlemke
Date:  October 29, 2020
Category:  Artists
Related Products:  Blackhole, H9, H910 Harmonizer
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