Guitarist Paul Richards (California Guitar Trio) Switches to StageSource Speakers
California Guitar Trio (CGT) is a name that always evokes a smile from those in the know. Over the past 22 years, the group has developed a sonic palette that places equal value on technical virtuosity and sense of humor while drawing upon a diverse range of influences. With a songbook that spans classical music, surf guitar, spaghetti westerns, classic rock and nearly everything in between, CGT occupies a unique niche in modern music.
California Guitar Trio is comprised of three guitarists—Paul Richards of Salt Lake City, Bert Lams of Belgium and Hideyo Moriya of Japan. The trio met in 1987 at a Guitar Craft course taught by Robert Fripp of King Crimson fame. Continuing to play in the New Standard Tuning (C-G-D-A-E-G) that characterizes the Guitar Craft style, the three guitarists backed Fripp for a few years before starting their own band in 1991 in Los Angeles. Since then, CGT has released 16 albums, gained a cult following amongst diehard guitarists and recorded a cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody” that boasts nearly a half million YouTube views.
Choosing the Right Gear
In order to cover such a wide range of material, gear choices are critical for CGT—especially when it comes to live performance. The group recently purchased a Line 6 sound system that includes StageSource loudspeakers and the StageScape M20d digital mixer.
“Amplifying acoustic guitars is a huge challenge,” says guitarist Paul Richards. “Over our 22 years of touring, we’ve played through hundreds, perhaps thousands of different monitor systems. Based on that experience, I would say the StageSource speakers provide the most natural amplified acoustic guitar tone that I've heard. The quality of the sound helps boost the entire performance to a higher level of enjoyment for everyone in the room, including the performers. They just sound wonderful—it’s as if there are no speakers at all, just the natural sound of the voices and guitars.”
StageSource is the only speaker to provide acoustic guitar body resonance modeling—and Richards takes full advantage of it. “The body resonance modeling sounds great, and produces acoustic guitar tones that wouldn’t be possible otherwise,” he says. “I also use the built-in reverb all the time. My use of the EQ is minimal because the speaker is so well-balanced, I haven’t needed it!”
Road-Tested, CGT Approved
CGT also finds that Line 6 sound reinforcement gear makes life on the road a whole lot easier. Previously, the band carried a sizable equipment rack loaded with a line mixer, effects and a digital recorder. All of that has been replaced by the compact, self-contained StageScape M20d—the only live sound tool that enables musicians to get pro-quality FOH production from the stage. “With the large touchscreen and intuitive user interface, StageScape M20d is by far the easiest digital mixer I’ve ever used,” says Richards. “I was able to set up and start using it without having to read the manual. And it sounds great! The mic preamps are super high quality, and all the onboard reverbs and effects sound excellent.”
The group uses the onboard digital recorder to capture every performance. “The audience loves being able to buy a high-quality recording of the show they just saw,” relates Richards. “We used to carry a large duplication tower to burn CDs, but now we just use USB drives. Within a few minutes after the show, we can have branded USB drives available at the merchandise table—and the quality is so good, we can remix the tracks later for official album releases.”
Flexibility Is Key
CGT plays a wide range of venues—from intimate clubs to sold-out concert halls. The flexibility of the Line 6 system allows CGT to maximize the use of their equipment in a variety of ways. “For larger shows, we use the StageScape mixer and StageSource speakers to create and control our own monitor mix,” says Richards. “We now enjoy reliably great sound on stage, which allows us to perform better. For smaller shows, we use the system as both monitors and mains. We like sending our stage mix to the house system so the audience experiences the same sound that we hear on stage. It’s a radical concept, but it really works well for us.”
After spending 22 years on the road and playing through countless systems, Richards is convinced that Line 6 gear delivers the best sound night after night. “I have a German-made AER amp—which might be the most popular acoustic guitar amp right now—and my StageSource speaker blows it away,” he says. “I’m also using the POD HD500, which provides some of the best guitar effects I’ve heard and inspires my own writing and playing. Between tours, I’ve done a few solo shows, which is something that previously terrified me. But my Line 6 gear has given me the confidence to play solo. It seems that the Line 6 team thought of everything that an acoustic guitarist could ever want or need.”
California Guitar Trio returns to the road beginning in September, with bookings extending well into 2014, and their Line 6 StageScape and StageSource equipment will be there to support them. To learn more, visit www.cgtrio.com.