Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Free Worship Pads / Synths

Created a few worship pads (staying on the root note mostly, but with harmonics and notes within the key). Been using these in worship when I'm playing on my own and don't want to use backing tracks.

Thought I'd put them online as others may benefit from them. Haven't done them in every key but please comment if you'd like another key and I'll do my best.

These are free for personal use in church / worship / events etc but are not for resale. The copyright remains with us. Thanks!

Update March 2017 - Pads added in keys of B flat and F

Worship Pad in Bb

Worship Pad in F

Worship Pad in C

Worship Pad in D

Worship Pad in E

Worship Pad in G

Worship Pad in A

Worship Pad in B

Monday, 26 September 2016

Zoom G5N Review - plus Zoom G3X comparison too

Having posted about the Zoom G5N and its flaws, I had a mood shift. Instead of carting around a huge pedalboard with loads of great pedals on for your average worship service, I decided to try the Zoom G5N and its simplicity - and light weight!

The Line6 HD500X (and its equivalent) is a great pedal but it is ridiculously complex. Yes you can get good stock sounds but the Zoom G5N scores highly in that you don't need to spend ages flicking through menus to get good sounds (or get a degree in programming while using a microscope to access the HD500X's small screen)...

The Zoom G5N is pretty simple to use. There is a menu screen at the top; four individual screens across the main body of the unit. Each of these has a click on-click off pedal. Underneath these is a tuner button, a scroll left button, a scroll right button and a tap tempo. An assignable pedal on the right can act as things like a volume pedal / way pedal etc. There is also a 'master level' knob on the top right with a booster and tone knob underneath.

The unit has around 99 stock sound patch setups - these can include up to 9 simultaneous effects. Zoom have put together these stock sounds so you can have an easy setup to get different types of sounds - whether it's a 'rock' sound, a metal sound or some weird psychedelic type setup. Fortunately there are very few of the nonsensical sounds you can get in the average multi-effects unit!

You are able to save you own patches and to edit and save the existing effects within the patches. To change these you click on the Memory / Stomp pedal at the bottom of the board. On the top screen you will then see the list of effects that make up the 'patch'. This is the equivalent of your traditional analogue pedalboard with pedals daisy chained together. The individual effects can then be changed by scrolling through the 'type' buttons above each of the four screens. You can edit the parameters for each effect by twisting any one of the four knobs under each of the screens. You can then scroll through the individual effects you have by using the 'scroll' pedals at the bottom of the unit.

In the image above, I set up my own mini pedalboard for a worship service. At the top of the board you can see the individual effects I've used (and the order). On the four LCD screens below are the current four effects selected. You can see which ones are selected on the top screen (highlighted). On this board I have a tubescreamer emulation (TS Drive), a 'Sweet Drive' which I think emulates the Fulltone OCD. I've then got the rocker pedal setup as a volume switch. There's a delay, reverb and tremolo after the pedal. On each delay/reverb etc effect you can turn on 'tails' so the effects carry on with the volume pedal down (where available). I keep tails on for swells.

On a later setup, I added a compressor ahead of the TS drive (to act as a boost etc). I also added in another delay.

I have mainly used my amp so didn't set up any Amp or Cab emulations, but these can be done if you don't have an amp with you - see here - (note the amp list has been updated, unlike this download).

I did use an amp for a recent gig as wasn't allowed amps on stage. Due to the often-found processor overload, I found I was only able to try two amp modellers - the FD-B-M and the FD-DLXR. The FD-B-M was incredibly noisy without any ability to lower the gain. The FD-DLXR was also pretty noisy (the PA guys put a noise reduction on it, which didn't help with swells!) but was needed. The sound wasn't bad to be honest but it had way more noise than my Fender Blues Jr amp.

The Sound Quality

Like the excellent G3X, the reverbs are pretty good and the delays are too. I used the Mod Delay and it really gives a good modulated (almost slightly detuned) decay. The analogue delay was also pretty good.

But it's in the overdrives that the sound quality either shines or lacks. So what about the G5N? Well, the G3X overdrives are honestly pretty awful. I've seen some people say they managed to get good sounds from the G3X but I have no idea how! The Zoom G5N was quite a pleasant surprise. The TS Drive does sound quite accurate with that slightly midrange bump and the Sweet Drive does sound sweet, giving a fairly transparent overdrive sound. I put my separate EHX Glove pedal in front of it and the Glove + Sweet Drive stack really well. The Sweet Drive was my go-to sound at church (putting the overdrive setting up very high).  I also played with the Gold Drive and was pretty impressed with that too.

Obviously as ever with these units, in order to match the bypassed volume of your guitar to the amp, you have to turn the overdrive effect volumes down from about 65 to about 20!

Now don't get me wrong. These don't sound as good as the original pedals. There is also a definite (albeit slight) tone suck. If I run my EHX Glove into the G5N (with no G5N effects on) and to my amp - and then compare to the EHX Glove pedal direct to the amp, there is definitely more life, more body and more colour without the G5N. However, the difference is slight and there's no way that 95% of people in your average church (or crowd) will notice any difference compared to an analogue boutique pedalboard!

Usefulness of the Zoom G5N

Having had huge doubts about the G5N (due to Zoom weirdly removing the XLR output), I'm pretty impressed with the G5N. It's about 1/4 the size of my pedalboard and about 1/5 of the weight! It's easy to scroll through the pedals, the tuner is great and the proper tap tempo is a brilliant addition. I still do have one or two problems with the volume rocker (as on the G3X) where often you have to turn it to 'off' then to 'on' and back to 'off' in order to mute the pedal. But I've learned to live with that. I've even started using the G5N without the EHX Glove ahead of it.

I like the simplicity of the pedal and the ease of use of the menus. The sound quality is pretty good and for the £220 I paid for the G5N, I'd highly recommend it. I'm also happy that unlike the G3X, the G5N is packed with useful effects and not the silly useless effects that no-one ever uses! I still wouldn't use things like the Octave pedal which doesn't track even one string let alone six (get a POG for that). But chorus, tremolo, reverbs, delays etc are great. And the overdrives work well too. I haven't used the distortions or fuzz so can't comment on them too much.

What could be improved? Well, things like the particle verb, the shimmer etc that are offered by Line6 (or even other Zoom pedals) would be a nice addition to the G5N but I'm guessing that Zoom want to keep their snappily titled 'MS70CDR' pedal sales up - this being the only Zoom pedal that does shimmer type effects. That would be a great pity though. I'd rather use my Boss RV6 for shimmer as it's better than Zoom. I would however use the Zoom shimmer if it was on-board the G5N.

The other thing that could be improved is simply the lack of on-board memory / processing power. This becomes an issue very quickly - meaning that you potentially won't be able to have all the effects you want - and I'm sure you won't get nine effects on a regular basis. If you get this problem (and you will), you'll get a message pop up saying 'Process Overflow. Change Effect.' (See below).

For example my board was set up like this:

Compressor > TS Drive > Gold Drive > Volume pedal > Analogue delay > Church reverb. The next effect was a Mod Delay which was fine. However, if I replace that Mod Delay with (for example) any of the amp models or other delays / some of the modulation effects / some of the compressors / any of the other overdrives, the 'Process Overflow' problems reared its head - meaning that the G5N has run out of processing power. I was surprised quite how easily this happens and this is quite an issue in my view.

The flip side is that Zoom promised to bring out new sounds every month and they have been faithful to that. More than that, they've made more of their own patches (think of patches as a series of effects) and asked various guitarists to do the same.

In terms of cases, I bought a Gator GK-2110 case which fits the G5N quite well (with a bit of extra padding as you can see in the pic below!)

What about comparing to the G3X?

Well the individual effect controls are the same. However, on the G3X you get more control over individual effects - often getting 2 'pages' of options rather than just the 4 options to control each effect on the G5N. The G3X also has some other controls if you care to look for them. In some respects the G3X is a bit more random in its layout (certainly 'behind the scenes'). However, the G3X gives you an XLR out, which the G5N doesn't.

As mentioned above, the overdrives are a definite improvement on the G5N (from the G3 / G3X). There are fewer effects on the G5N but that's because there's less 'fluff' - fewer pointless effects no-one really uses. The G3X is probably a bit more 'experimental' and the G5N knows a bit more what it is - really being aimed at dialling in effects easily and simply. Both pedals are actually pretty good. I will now use my G3X for acoustic and the G5N for simpler electric setups in worship. 

The G5N is an improvement with the easy tap tempo button and having the ability to easily scroll between effects and see which effect you're looking at more easily. The screens are bigger and easier to see in varied lighting. The G5N looks a bit more the part, whereas the G3X is smaller and looks slightly less professional (if that matters to you!) It has good big pedals and footswitches that look resilient enough (having said that my G3X has been used all over and survived nicely!) 

So there we are. I can't say whether each effect on the G5N accurately reflects the original effect it was intended to reproduce but I'd recommend having a go and seeing if it works for you. Yes you will lose some tone but it's there to make life simple, easy and lightweight and it does that very well.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Review of Mainstage and That Worship Sound's 'Worship Guitar Essentials' by Andy Hood

Keys players have for some time known that Mainstage is a top piece of software to use. When you see a keys player on stage with a Macbook sat on the top, it’s because they are using Mainstage to control their sounds (at least this is the most likely scenario).

Mainstage is a piece of software made by Apple. It creates a much more useable interface to the sounds of Logic Studio and Garageband for the live musician, allowing multiple presets or patches to be saved into specific concerts, so all your sounds for that set are in one place and you just select the one you want for each song.

Guitarists have rarely fully embraced an all digital sound. Rightly or wrongly insisting that analogue amps are going to be better. The fact is though, that a few years ago, yes, digital modelling of guitar amps sucked! It sucked big time! But now, digital modelling has caught up (with products from brands like Line 6, Digitech, Zoom etc all having good offerings), and to the ears of the vast majority of people, there is little to no difference.

If you already own a Mac, then Mainstage (which currently costs £22.99 in the App Store on your mac) is a great way to try out digital modelling and to use live. All you need is an audio interface (some thing like this is fine plus a reasonable set of speakers / headphones  and you’re good to go.

Mainstage gives you access to a huge number of amps and cabinets all modelled from some great amps. They don’t tell you which amps they are modelling but from looking at the images of the amps there are clearly some great amps from Vox, Marshall, Fender and more. There are also a host of effects pedals you can build a pedalboard with, as well as access to all ofthe studio effects built into either garageband or logic (depending on which you have installed on your mac). Which can lead to some great sounds. However as with all of these things you have to learn how to use it and it can take a while to get the sounds you want. I spent some time doing this and found a few sounds I like, however I haven’t got hours to spend tweaking sounds for it, so I set about looking for some patches I could download that would at least have me most of the way there. Enter, - here I found their Worship Guitar Essentials Package ( which for $20 gives you 6 mono and 6 stereo presets which sound amazing and are fully customisable to try out yourself. Check out the sounds on their youtube video below:

I have found some great uses for these sounds - especially the ‘Frozen Verv’ sound - I used this leading worship on electric on the song ‘One thing remains’ from Bethel. This sound was really atmospheric, gave a kind of pad sound and filled the sound out amazingly.

The possibilities are really endless with mainstage for guitarists. I’ve now started running my acoustic through it as well and adding a studio compressor and some great reverb to fill out the sound.


This content was written by Andy Hood. A worship leader and guitar teacher in Exeter. Check out his website

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

EHX (Electro Harmonix) Glove Overdrive Pedal Review

The EHX Glove is a pretty unique overdrive/distortion pedal. With MOFSET semiconductors, the pedal aims (and manages) to bring a wide range of overdriven sounds that are very tube-like, without being too harsh. Modelled perhaps after the Fulltone OCD, this pedal manages to bring a rich tonal sound for around £50.

EHX Glove

Here's how EHX describes it on their website: 

Rich, overtone laden sound that doesn’t get muddy. Responsive controls that take you from sparkling, clean boost through brown crunch and all the way to thick, saturated hi-gain. Advanced features like Tone Shift and selectable 9 or 18V internal voltage for surgical sound sculpting. The new OD Glove delivers overdrive and distortion with impact, and the modern player in mind.

So how does it play in practice?

Well, I absolutely love it. I listened to clips of this and the Crayon and am so pleased to have chosen the Glove. I play it through a Fender Blues Junior (with upgraded tubes and a Greenback speaker) and they work together beautifully. Said to be able to get that classic British rock crunch sound, I found this was a pretty accurate description but probably does a slight disservice to the range of the Glove.

It fits perfectly with my (now very sadly discontinued) Visual Sound Open Road and has a similar kind of tone. Howeever, the Open Road sits much more as a tube-like transparent sound. While the Glove aims for this to some extent, it does bring its own character. It is not a harsh, fizzy, or too fuzzy pedal but doesn't go as 'clean' or as 'transparent' as some may want it to, especially if you want to simply use it as a boost.

However, the overdrive is pretty smooth at lower levels. Some people have bought this looking towards that kind of Marshall distortion sound and certainly the pedal does nod in that direction more than a traditional overdrive pedal but without fully nailing the sound. Without a doubt this brings a thick and sustained sound that you'd hope for and doesn't lose character at high gain, certainly in comparison with some other EHX pedals. There's also a selectable 9v or 18v setting inside the pedal.

As you'd expect, this doesn't have the midrange cut through that you'd find on the Fulldrive or other tubescreamer type pedals. Nor does it act as a heavy driven metal distortion pedal as you'd equally expect. But it does what it does very nicely and with an excellent build quality. This thing is solid as a rock and won't get damaged anytime soon - as with all EHX pedals.

This is the kind of settings I use with the Glove pedal (often having the gain up a touch as well). I also leave the Tone Shift setting to 'On'. I have also managed to use the guitar volume to clean up very well with the pedal - another brilliant bonus. I haven't done a demo video as to be honest my playing can't compare with some of the videos online - listen to them and see if it's for you.

Overall, for £50, this absolutely blows the cheaper pedals out of the water sonically. It's rich, musical, retains a smooth tone and gives you that British tube amp classic crunch sound. Absolutely stunning.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Multi-Effects Pedals? Zoom G3X. And thoughts on Zoom G5N XLR failure

UPDATE Sept 2016 - To see my change of heart and review of the Zoom G5N click here

Back in the day I had a Boss ME-50 multi-effects pedal. It was fairly small, had a cool blue colour but the effects were absolutely horrible and difficult to tweak. Yes it was early days and yes the Boss individual pedals are absolutely amazing!!

I quickly moved to using individual stomp pedals!

Then one day I stumbled across the Zoom G3X and this has been the mainstay on my small venue electric guitar playing - and always my acoustic guitar playing. It's small, its (non-overdrive) effects are brilliant, the volume pedal works (although admittedly sometimes I have to rock it back and forth a couple of times). You can also record and play with some of the effects via the USB!

Front of Zoom G3

But more than anything else, its advantage is the XLR / DI output on the back. This means I can use it easily at church and elsewhere and play electric without an amp. Priceless. Literally.

Rear of Zoom G3X with XLR balanced output

Now I've been meaning to upgrade for a bit and it's tiring hauling round a pedalboard in a beasty case to be honest! Sometimes you just want to go simple. I've looked at the Line 6 HD500X but the level of options and messing around via the tiny LCD screen (or even spending hours on my computer) is a bit of a deal breaker for me. I love my Mac but I spend much of my work using it, plus recording, doing videos etc. Yes, the sounds from the HD500X are perfectly good and useable but the very small LCD is a strange decision.

So ideally I'd kind of like something more easily tweak able! So I've looked for something else.

Computer software for Line6 HD500x

So when Zoom released their massively upgraded model, the G5N (upgraded from the G5), I thought to myself, "Aha! This is what I need." It has fewer sounds, yes, but is pretty simple and has a slightly better layout on the unit - plus improved sounds and tones with upgraded processing power. The opportunity to edit and add sounds is also there for those that like it.

Except no it isn't because Zoom have decided quite unbelievably, not to have a DI out at the back of the G5N. Who is this pedalboard being aimed at? People at home in their bedroom? It even has 10 of their best used amp models on there - presumably so you don't have to output to an amp on stage. Great. So where is the balanced XLR out / DI on the back?!

Zoom G5
Rear of Zoom G5 with XLR balanced output
New Zoom G5N
Rear of Zoom G5N and no XLR output. Why?

Huge oversight and huge fail from Zoom in a moment when they could have delivered a killer pedal. Yes, you can use a DI box and a patch cable etc and that's not a hassle. But what was the thinking from Zoom behind this decision, effectively downgrading the pedal from the Zoom G5. I truly believe they will lose customers because of this which is very unfortunate.

Maybe I will get that HD500X instead!

Any thoughts out there?

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Worship Influences and choosing new songs

Chatting to someone recently, they asked where I go for influences for new songs. This got me thinking (dangerous, I know...)

At my previous church, there was what appeared to be a real resistance to new songs and seeing what others were doing and writing. The worry was that we would become 'copyists' and not follow the leading of the Holy Spirit ourselves. This may be an issue in some churches occasionally but certainly wasn't the case for us.

There is a complicated process that goes on when thinking about new songs. First of all, what might be an old song to some will be a new song to others!

That aside, new songs are a way for me of seeing what God is doing. God is always speaking to us and we should always be aware of his presence, what he is saying and what he's doing. God's always true to his Word but is always doing new things. So I want to be someone who catches hold of what God is doing and goes with it. Some songs come and go - but at times, certain songs will take off across the globe or maybe just in your church. The more we are open to influence from what God is doing generally, the more we can walk in step with him. And new songs plain inspire me!

Like anything, use the good 'meat' and 'spit out the bones'! I want to be open to what God is doing and what God is saying - even if I 'don't like' the band or the 'style'. We need to grow up and get beyond this (every song can be re-done in a way that works for you, or re-keyed etc). And I would hate to miss out on something God is doing just because of my agenda or personal preferences! God's Kingdom is too important and more important, although God gives us a personality and choices as well :)

So new songs and where I tend to look...

1. One thing I do is have a free account with Bethel TV.  I like to hear what they're doing and the new songs that are coming out. Which songs are they singing from other artists outside of Bethel? Is there any kind of theme emerging that God may be speaking to his church generally?

2. I listen to iHop KC and the live web stream. These guys have a huge range of younger worship leaders who bring all kinds of songs because the worship and prayer is 24/7. I listen to what songs they're doing, listen to which ones seem to 'take off' and speak. I also just like to have it one, soak in it or play along / learn new songs.

3. There are a number of 'artists' and 'bands' who it's good to keep a general eye on because the songs they have done have had many anointed songs in them. Examples (end of 2015) that I would suggest... (in no particular order...)

- Bethel Church, Redding, CA
- Hillsong (and Hillsong London)
- Matt Redman
- Tim Hughes and Worship Central UK, Worship Central Aus/NZ
- Rend Collective
- Chris Tomlin
- Passion (Passion Conference)
- Vineyard
- United Pursuit Band
- Phil Wickham
- IHOP KC and OneThing conference each Christmas in KC
- Chris McClarney
- Jesus Culture
- Martin Smith
- All Sons and Daughters
- Housefires
- New Wine and Soul Survivor
- Matt Gilman
- Cory Asbury

4. I also listen out for new bands and artists.  I just like to hear what people are singing and doing. This also includes local artists and people I know where appropriate!

5. I also whip my iPad out when I'm worshipping if a new song comes along. I have several songs that have just sprung out of the Holy Spirit in me. I also look for this to happen when leading. I'm very open to God bringing a new song although I'm cautious not to over-egg things as you can start to lose people - and you're a worship leader not a worship dictator !!

Ultimately, it's about God, building his kingdom and going with anointed God-songs!

What about you? What influences you, how and why?

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Comparison of the Strymon Bluesky and the Boss RV6 Reverb Pedals

Comparison of the Strymon Bluesky and the Boss RV6

Video Review

I started doing a short video overview / comparison of these two pedals and it just got more and more epic, ridiculously so.

So the video is linked to below...

Youtube Video - brief and simple comparison of the two pedals - 9 mins 51 secs

Longer (Unlisted) Video Review on Youtube - 32 mins!!

Short Comparison Review

However, for those who don't want to use (waste?!) 30 mins of their time, here's an overview...

Strymon Bluesky

This comes with three reverb types and three reverb modes. These can be mixed together. The reverb types are plate, room and spring. The three modes are normal, modulated and shimmer.

The Bluesky has controls for the decay time and the overall mix. There are additional controls for the pre-delay (amount of time before the reverb kicks in), a low damp knob (to control low-end in the reverb trail) and a high damp knob (controlling high-end in the reverb trail).

There is also a favourite setting, which you can set and click, then click again to recall. So effectively the pedal is like having 2 reverb pedals. The click buttons depress without those loud clicks from cheaper footswitches. Instead they're quiet and good quality to boot. Nice touch (no pun intended...)

The sheer amount of control on the pedal is awesome. You can also set the pedal to true bypass or analogue bypass (this means you can have reverb trails meaning the reverb persists when switching off the pedal). True bypass cuts the reverb when switched off. The pedal also offers stereo or mono.

The sound of this thing is incredible, going from very sensitive to absolutely epic with huge long reverb trails. The modulated sound (with plate) is very eerie and spacious, almost synth-like. The shimmer setting is lush and full of character - almost cathedral organ-esque. It's pretty unparalleled in the world of shimmer in this way.

The one thing I would say about the Bluesky  that many others have said is that it's almost a specialist pedal in the sense that it often doesn't quite fit into the mix. I find the sound not just bright, but slightly 'thin' generally. This stands in stark contrast to the Boss RV6.

Boss RV-6

The Boss RV6 is more like a reverb tank - your 'Honda engine' of reverb - doing many things well and very reliably. It doesn't have that epic edge like the Bluesky and its reverb trails don't come anywhere near as long but then again it is under half the price of the Bluesky!

The Boss has several modes - Modulate, Spring, Plate, Room, Hall, Dynamic (that adjusts the reverb to your playing, lighter you play the more the reverb stands out), shimmer and +Delay.

The controls are nice and simple and included the Effect Level, the Tone (adjusting the tone of the reverb) and the Time (decay).

The pedal is both mono and stereo and allows the addition of an expression pedal. The mono is very good but going stereo is where the RV6 excels.

OK, so the RV6 generally has a real Boss-sound to it. You know what you are getting and I doubt this will ever let you down. The sound is very full, almost a touch bass-heavy (certainly compared to the Bluesky). Where the Bluesky is epic, the RV6 is full of what I can only describe as 'presence'. It's a pedal that will more easily fit into a standard guitar rig in my view.

The Modulate is very nice but could do with longer trails for sure. The Shimmer is similar. The pre-delay of the shimmer on the RV6 is much shorter than on the Bluesky, meaning the shimmer kicks in much more quickly. It would be great to have a pre-delay button on this but hey, for £105 the RV6 is a bargain! (UK price on the Strymon is £249).


If you can bring yourself to sit through the long video (or sat least flick through), you'll hear the difference between the two pedals that really weren't made to compete with one another. They have different niches. The Bluesky is high quality, tweak able and completely epic. The RV6 is a killer pedal for a killer price and is your Swiss Army knife of reverb that supersedes the Hall Of Fame by some way in my view!

The choice is yours!