Life's Low Gain Inputs

I was listening to the No Guitar Is Safe podcast a few days ago. The player on that episode was Matt Scannell of Vertical Horizon. Pretty much every episode of NGIS is excellent, and this one was no different. It was very inspiring and I have to say that I'm now a Matt Scannell fan.

Anyway, one of the things he talked about was finally, after all his years of playing, discovering how useful the low gain input (i.e. the second input) was on an amp. He was self-deprecating talking about it because low gain inputs are one of those criminally overlooked features. Almost every amp has them, almost every guitarist is aware of them, and yet surprisingly few players actually use them. But they are extremely helpful for taming an over-aggressive amp and spreading out the onset of distortion over a wider range of the volume knob.

Ironically, the same thing just happened to me. I'd been mentally planning out a recording session I wanted to do and had been wrestling with how to go about getting a particular guitar sound I was envisioning. The guitar that I needed to use (required for a non-standard tuning) had humbuckers which tended to drive my amp too hard for the song.

Then the answer came to me: The low gain input! Of course! I tried it out with the guitar in question and it was the perfect solution.

In my photography, I've also been looking for "low gain inputs" ‒ those little forgotten things that could be making my life easier. For instance, the new D7500 has inspired me to reacquaint myself with the plethora of features available on Nikon DSLRs. At one time I'd learned every single one of them. But as with my guitar playing, I've developed a methodology for using my Nikons that relies on a much smaller set of features, settings, and controls. It's good to have simple, reliable methods for achieving results, but it's also good to reexamine those methods from time to time to make sure you're getting the most out of your tools and techniques. So I've been brushing up on the Nikon focusing and metering systems, and the myriad menu items and controls, looking for ways to improve my methods. And not surprisingly, I have found some things I want to experiment with to see if I should incorporate them into my main workflow. Things like 3D focus tracking and some of the forgotten controls that enable you to change common settings without digging through the menu system.

Reexamination is good.