Music with Zoom

Music with Zoom 

Welcome back folks.  Today I’ve got another entertainment blog for you, which I thought would fit in well with my recent project of developing a live open-air music area in my garden at home.  I’ve been under a lot of pressure these past couple of years on and off from friends and family to start performing again, namely playing guitar and singing, and while I’ve always wanted to I’ve never really had the inclination to unless I’d got the perfect live rig set up.  Obviously there’s nothing wrong with an amplified electro-acoustic guitar and microphone driven vocals, for the perfect touch, I wanted to share with you the joys of using a zoom pedal. 

The very words ‘zoom pedal’ are misleading somewhat as they don’t necessarily fit in with the live entertainment family, but you’d be wrong to assume that, as the zoom pedal – along with many other pedals – can literally transform an entire performance, especially for solo artists, duos or trios.

Zoom 504 

You might have seen or come across famous guitarists who have what they refer to as a box of tricks.  This generally consists of a series of effects pedals, linked together in a purpose-built case or housing which is generally set down on the floor.  As the guitarist continues to play or wishes to change the style or effect of his/her sound, they simply press on the appropriate chunky aluminium switches of each corresponding ‘pedal’ to get their desired effect, which range from simple reverbs and echo effects, to full blown grit and distortion effects as well as a variety of amp simulations.  A professional guitarist will typically have four or five different pedals at their disposal.  For a humble amateur such as myself however there is an equally as humble solution: an all-in-one pedal which can be set up and pre-programmed to give you pretty much almost every effect you will ever need, at your disposal.   Which brings me to the marvel that is the zoom pedal.

Zoom Pedal 

Why Choose a Zoom? 

The real question should be why not.  Most modern zoom pedals are as sophisticated and as well-equipped as many of the singular units used by professionals.  The main real downside is that they’re not as ruggedly built to cater for the all out guitar-smashing rock guitarist who generally likes to jump up and down for all he’s worth on his pedal deck.  

Actually I was immensely surprised at just what kinds of pedals were on offer these days, compared to the ones – or probably the one – I had access to in my younger live entertainment days.  I’ve been online a lot this past week scouring the net for a decent second hand zoom pedal.  Luckily, and after a bit of searching, I found a few amazing deals: one in particular: offering great used bargains. 

The Good Old Days 

I have to admit, this recent resurrection of my getting back into the live music scene, or the zooming scene shall we say, has got me quite nostalgic and excited.

Fender Stratocaster Guitar 

It takes me back to my early twenties, when I started learning guitar.  My fiancée at the time bought me a wonderful red Mark Knopfler style Fender Stratocaster (quite different from the Fender Jazzmaster) for my 21st birthday, which was around the time I was studying classical guitar on a Spanish-style nylon string.  Little did she or I know that having the Strat would change the course of my passion for ever.  It was also thanks to a middle-aged chap called Jeff, who worked at the same electronics company as me.  For months I’d been nipping to the warehouse (of which he was the manager) and stealing moments to chat with him about anything and everything guitar related.  It turns out that for some months prior he’d been organising a collection around the company in order to get me something for my 21st birthday. 

And then one day it just happened. I was called downstairs into the main canteen for a company announcement.  As I walked in to the canteen, much to my surprise, it was packed with people and there was Jeff, in the centre of it all holding an elongated rectangular box covered in wrapping paper and finished with a red ribbon.  The moment was too much of course and being only twenty-one I couldn’t quite handle being the focus of so much attention.  Luckily the awkwardness was short-lived and everyone started chanting for me to open the gift, which turned out to be a beautiful black leather hard-case purpose built for a Fender Stratocaster.  

Naturally, I was completely overwhelmed and overjoyed - at least until I opened the case that is.  And there it was, sitting there winking at me: my first zoom pedal with lead and power supply all ready and raring to go.  It’s a day I’ll never forget, if nothing else for the fact that I had to wait at least six hours to finishing time before I could get it home and fire it up.