Chemical World sounds

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aldamasta
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Chemical World sounds

Post by aldamasta » 23 Nov 2016, 05:09

Chemical World is one of my favorite blur singles, and one of the most underrated IMO. Graham's guitar is so sublime!

And that has me wondering; any idea how Graham gets the sounds that he does? I'd kill to know the pedals he's using throughout the song, from the distortion to the sort of spacey sounds. All I've been able to find is this (really neat!) diagram of what Graham's gear looked like in 93, so I suppose it could be those pedals, but I wouldn't know one from the other as far as sound goes. Any help is greatly appreciated! Thanks and cheers!

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101reykjavik
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Re: Chemical World sounds

Post by 101reykjavik » 23 Nov 2016, 13:07

Tweedo? That's the only way you'll get a definitive answer...
Image

TracyJosh
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Re: Chemical World sounds

Post by TracyJosh » 14 Dec 2016, 14:07

Graham's main distortion sounds, particularly the full punchy almost grungey tone in Chemical World comes from using 2 Proco Rat II.

On the quiet sticato line after the main intro and over the verses he is using his Boss VB-2 Vibrato pedal(which I think is what you mean by the space sounds?). This is a pedal Graham has used throughout all the Blur albums up until The Magic Whip. It gives that detuned seasick kind of effect. Other notable use is the "blow me out" breakdown on Country house, throughout Yuko and Hiro and Pyongyang. If you turn the 'rate' up high on it you get the ugly electronic sound in the solos for Coffee and TV and Country Sad Ballad Man. He even uses the vb-2 on Battery in your leg very subtly.

Here's a list of his other most used pedals...

Boss BF-2 (Flanger) - This is another modulation pedal he used a lot in the early to mid 90s. It gives that 'aeroplane' effect that you hear in the intro to Popscene and throughout Boys and Girls. He may also use this on Pyongyang, but can be quite similar to the effect the VB-2 gives when the rate is slow. Definitely uses it in The Puritan.

Boss Digital Delays - He used delays from the late 90's onwards. In the intro to Beetlebum he uses a fast 'slap back' delay which involves making the repeat quickly after the initial striking of the note so it sounds like it's been played twice. He uses delay a lot in Death of a Party, including the 'hold' facility that is on the Boss DD-5 which infinitely repeats the sound you make with your foot down on the pedal. He also uses this effect a lot of Caramel to loop the guitar parts.

Boss Tremelo - Tremelo is a modulation effect that cuts the sound in and out. You can set it to do this at different rates as well. He uses this effect for the main riff in 'oily water'. It produces the same effect used in The Smiths - How soon is Now.

On Live at the Astoria 1997 he uses a Boss Chorus throughout though it's not noted which specific model.

Hope this helps!

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rich
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Re: Chemical World sounds

Post by rich » 15 Dec 2016, 17:47

^^ fascinating stuff - if you don't mind me asking, how come you know all this :)

rich 8-)

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aldamasta
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Re: Chemical World sounds

Post by aldamasta » 16 Dec 2016, 20:30

Wow!!! Incredibly detailed. I'm curious like rich, how did you ever figure this out? Thanks so much!

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Simon le bon
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Re: Chemical World sounds

Post by Simon le bon » 16 Dec 2016, 22:23

TracyJosh wrote:Graham's main distortion sounds, particularly the full punchy almost grungey tone in Chemical World comes from using 2 Proco Rat II.

On the quiet sticato line after the main intro and over the verses he is using his Boss VB-2 Vibrato pedal(which I think is what you mean by the space sounds?). This is a pedal Graham has used throughout all the Blur albums up until The Magic Whip. It gives that detuned seasick kind of effect. Other notable use is the "blow me out" breakdown on Country house, throughout Yuko and Hiro and Pyongyang. If you turn the 'rate' up high on it you get the ugly electronic sound in the solos for Coffee and TV and Country Sad Ballad Man. He even uses the vb-2 on Battery in your leg very subtly.

Here's a list of his other most used pedals...

Boss BF-2 (Flanger) - This is another modulation pedal he used a lot in the early to mid 90s. It gives that 'aeroplane' effect that you hear in the intro to Popscene and throughout Boys and Girls. He may also use this on Pyongyang, but can be quite similar to the effect the VB-2 gives when the rate is slow. Definitely uses it in The Puritan.

Boss Digital Delays - He used delays from the late 90's onwards. In the intro to Beetlebum he uses a fast 'slap back' delay which involves making the repeat quickly after the initial striking of the note so it sounds like it's been played twice. He uses delay a lot in Death of a Party, including the 'hold' facility that is on the Boss DD-5 which infinitely repeats the sound you make with your foot down on the pedal. He also uses this effect a lot of Caramel to loop the guitar parts.

Boss Tremelo - Tremelo is a modulation effect that cuts the sound in and out. You can set it to do this at different rates as well. He uses this effect for the main riff in 'oily water'. It produces the same effect used in The Smiths - How soon is Now.

On Live at the Astoria 1997 he uses a Boss Chorus throughout though it's not noted which specific model.

Hope this helps!
Thanks a lot for your precious informations!

TracyJosh
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Re: Chemical World sounds

Post by TracyJosh » 20 Dec 2016, 15:26

Really glad this was of help! Thanks for the appreciative comments :).

Basically I've been a lifelong guitar player and am a bit of an equipment geek, find it very easy to detect what pedal is being used at any given time. It did take me years to figure out that it was the Boss VB 2 that got that signature mid 90s Blur sound. It's a very hard pedal to obtain, all original production line of the pedal are £500+ on ebay, and the reissue is always out of stock!

Have just picked up little pointers from scouring loads of guitar related interviews Graham Coxon has done over the years.

Forgot to mention that he started using Boss Digital Reverb from 13 onwards, uses it a lot on Battery in your leg and 'Mirrorball'.

Cheers

Brogues
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Re: Chemical World sounds

Post by Brogues » 20 Dec 2016, 19:48

That's brilliant info. How did you find out about the use of the Boss Chorus at Live at Astoria 1997? Did you just hear it in the sound or read that it was used in an article? The only reason I say this is because Graham used two Marshall stacks and so sometimes they were mixed live which can give a bit of stereo spread or chorus type sound - so I wonder whether it's that giving the chorus sound or the Boss pedal? I think his live sounds around 1995 to 1999/2000 were awesome with the '52 Reissue. My favourite was the Country Sad Ballad man twang:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7Ajcw4p_SE" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Would have loved to know his amp set up/settings around this time

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rich
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Re: Chemical World sounds

Post by rich » 20 Dec 2016, 20:12

there are some useful contributions from the man (who left) himself (aka tweedz) in these threads ;)

graham's guitar gear viewtopic.php?f=2&t=2694&p=60755#p60755" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

graham's equipment on sing viewtopic.php?f=2&t=2492&p=51474#p51474" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

would be great to hear from tweedz again - though xmas is a busy time of year!

rich 8-)

kevoutus
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Re: Chemical World sounds

Post by kevoutus » 21 Dec 2016, 07:30

I always thought it was a flanger/rat2 he used for the verses. Flanger on the watery/shimmering setting (fast, not too much depth)

TracyJosh
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Re: Chemical World sounds

Post by TracyJosh » 23 Dec 2016, 02:08

Brogues wrote:That's brilliant info. How did you find out about the use of the Boss Chorus at Live at Astoria 1997? Did you just hear it in the sound or read that it was used in an article? The only reason I say this is because Graham used two Marshall stacks and so sometimes they were mixed live which can give a bit of stereo spread or chorus type sound - so I wonder whether it's that giving the chorus sound or the Boss pedal? I think his live sounds around 1995 to 1999/2000 were awesome with the '52 Reissue. My favourite was the Country Sad Ballad man twang:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7Ajcw4p_SE" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Would have loved to know his amp set up/settings around this time

You know what, you could be spot on with the two Marshalls creating that stereo modulation effect! Hadn't read anywhere that he uses chorus but I was so sure it sounded like a Boss/roland CE-2. Makes sense that it would be just an effect from the amps, would have been a bit odd for him to start using chorus only from 97 onwards with it not being a pedal in his arsenal in the early 90s when chorus was a bit more popular.. He do say in an interview circa Magic Whip release that he was getting very into chorus pedals though.

Thanks for your information dude!


In regards to Flanger on the verses of Chemical World it could well be low deph BF-2 on the verses. As I said, flanger and vibrato can be hard to decipher between at times, especially when EQ'd on a studio recording. Likelihood is he used both on different parts, as the sticatto breakdown after the intro/pre verse is definitely Vb-2! :)

TracyJosh
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Re: Chemical World sounds

Post by TracyJosh » 02 Mar 2019, 10:09

Wow - Check this out!


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-CziSD80rc

He uses a few pedals Graham didn't in the original recordings but he also covers the pedals he did use(Notably Boss bf 2 and VB 2).

He also completely nails Graham's parts.

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aldamasta
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Re: Chemical World sounds

Post by aldamasta » 03 Mar 2019, 17:17

Wow, that's brilliant. He does indeed nail them. I would kill for Graham himself to make a video like that!

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