Shimmering Guitars
March 22, 2010 3:52 PM   Subscribe

Can someone help me identify what combination guitar effect pedals are being used to create the shimmering electric guitar swells littered around this clip (skip to about 1:02)

There's definitely some pitch shifting and delays going on, but not entirely sure how to recreate something exactly like that.
posted by freud to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This effect sounded very familiar to me, and it took me awhile to figure out what I was thinking of.

I think it may be, or may be something very like, a preset on a Digitech GSP2101 called "String Volume Swell" (preset number 10 on mine) which appears to consist of a pitch shifter, chorus and 4 tap delay. I'm not exactly sure how to extract the various parameters of the effects from the GSP2101, it's not the most user friendly beast, and it's been ages since I really used it.

On a side note, on a guitar with a floyd rose, you can do a passable imitation of "the THX sound" with this preset by fretting a chord, dropping the bar, hitting all the strings and slowly bringing up the bar.
posted by smcameron at 4:11 PM on March 22, 2010

I should note, the GSP2101 I have is the blue "limited edition" one, which I think the limited edition ones had different presets than the standard ones, or maybe just additional presets, I can't remember. The Artist ones also had different presets, but I know the Artist one had the same String Volume Swell preset (might have been called something different, and on a different number, but it's in there, I am sure because I know I did the THX thing over at a friends house ages ago on his Artist edition.)
posted by smcameron at 4:14 PM on March 22, 2010

Did you know you can link to a specific point in a YouTube video?
posted by Cogito at 4:34 PM on March 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

A search for "st. vincent guitar rig" gave this picture of her pedal board as of late '07. Nothing I can spot that could be responsible for the swelling quality, but there's a slightly choppy/grainy sound that might come from the DigiTech whammy.

In general, those ambient, "swell" type of sounds seem to usually involve a digital reverb with lots of knobs turned all the way up, on a setting where the echo swells instead of decays for a "reverse" sort of effect. Here's someone demoing that kind of sound on a Yamaha SPX90.
posted by abcde at 6:33 PM on March 22, 2010

If I'm hearing what I think you're hearing, then oddly enough it's called a Shimmer effect. The Edge from U2 uses it quite often. I *think* it originated with early Eventide Harmonizer pitch shifting units, but the basic concept is doable on a wider variety of gear these days.

Essentially your sound goes out the instrument on split, parallel route into a delay unit w/a long echo time (1 to 2 sec) and probably no regen. Out from the echo goes into a pitch shifter set for +2 octaves then into a reverb to make it more space. The reverb out gets mixed back in with the original instrument sound making a ghostly choir following you 2 seconds behind.

Here's a homemade U2 shimmer demo with acoustic guitar.
posted by turbodog at 8:32 PM on March 22, 2010

That effect is usually created by pitch-shifted reverb. I'm guessing she's feeding heavy reverb through either the Whammy or the Super Octave.

To get this effect with only one pedal, check out the Octo setting on a Line 6 Verbzilla. The Behringer RV600 is a cheap clone of the Verbzilla that also does the sound very well.

The Boss PS-3 has a setting called Mode 7 which makes a similar sound by pitch-shifting the delay signal (no reverb), but unfortunately it was discontinued about twelve years ago, and it's now fetching premium prices on eBay from people looking for the exact sound you're describing.
posted by relucent at 5:21 AM on March 23, 2010

One thing to consider, if you want a cheap way to get the sound: if the sound is 100% delayed (as this one appears to be), there is no reason not to do a side chain through a laptop running a VST. The main reason not to use your laptop as an effect box is the latency, which is a moot issue if you want a delayed effect anyway (unless your soundcard is a piece of crap, of course).
posted by idiopath at 7:57 AM on March 23, 2010

The Octo patch on the Verbzilla does, I believe, do the shimmer effect as I described it above. Google "U2 shimmer" and you'll get tons of information.

Also, Guitar Rig is capable of doing this but I can't remember if it's an out-of-the-box thing or something community members made.
posted by turbodog at 8:55 AM on March 23, 2010

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