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This article was originally published in issue #60
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Thanks to some very clever engineering, Pigtronix have managed to shrink the whole process down to fit into a standard size pedal enclosure.
Very powerful acoustic tone shaping tool.
Accepts a wide range of pickup and microphone configurations.
Pretty specialist - may seem superfluous to some, especially considering the cost.
In an effort to crank Bob Weir's acoustic guitar loud enough in the live mix while retaining the natural, unplugged sound of the instrument, the Real Deal acoustic preamp by Pigtronix was born. Nick Jennison explores the pedal designed to provide crystal-clear, super-loud acoustic tones while faithfully maintaining the organic wooden sound of the guitar like no other.
The Grateful Dead are probably as well known for their legendary sound system, the “Wall Of Sound” as they are for their groundbreaking music. Set up behind the band on stage, the “Wall” delivered absolutely crushing volume with devastating clarity and power. As I’m sure you can imagine, this presented some serious engineering challenges - not least of which being amplifying Bob Weir’s acoustic guitar.
I’m sure you can relate if you’ve ever tried to amplify your acoustic beyond “cafe” volumes. Imagine, then, having to achieve the kind of cosmic volumes found at a Dead gig while simultaneously being absolutely uncompromising on tone. It has to be studio grade, and it has to be capable of leveling buildings.
Mike McGinn (Weir’s personal front of house engineer) achieved this with a complex multiband rig that applies preamp gain to the low and high-frequency bands separately, with a mastering stage to combine the two bands into a single mono output. Thanks to some very clever engineering, Pigtronix have managed to shrink the whole process down to fit into a standard size pedal enclosure.
The controls are deceptively simple, offering independent gain for the low and high bands, a master output level and a crossover control, sweepable from 300hz to 3khz. Use this to tailor the pedal’s response to your guitar, and also to the venue. Even with a single piezo pickup connected to the Real Deal, this is a very effective and natural way of sculpting the tone of your guitar. Where the pedal really shines, however, is with multiple sound sources on the same guitar.
The pedal accepts a TRS jack, allowing for two pickup systems on the same guitar to be blended (one serving as the high band, the other as the low band). There’s also a separate TRS jack to accept a microphone, with phantom power available if you need it. A phase switch helps make sure your two sources are perfectly in phase, and the crossover, low and high controls allow you to dial in some truly stunning tones.
Bob Weir’s real deal is a pretty specialist pedal, but it’s capable of turning your acoustic guitar signal into something very special indeed.
18VDC Power Supply Included
Crossover sweeps from 300Hz to 3kHz
Phantom Power & Phase Inversion