August 1, 2004

Richard Pinhas’ Circular Logic

Though little known in the U.S., French guitarist/synthesist Richard Pinhas has been a staple of the European electronic music scene for the last 30 years.

Looping plays a major role in Pinhas’ work, and his technological trajectory over the years has included a pair of Revox reel-to-reels in the ’70s and ’80s, various digital delays in the ’90s, and the current “Loop Metatronic System” detailed here. Pinhas employs an evolving looping technique—where older material within the loop gradually fades out and is replaced with newer material—rather than static loops that simply repeat indefinitely.

Pinhas’ rig begins with an ’81 Roland GR-303 guitar fitted with ’59 Gibson humbuckers, routed through Electro-Harmonix Big Muff p and Zoom Driver 5000 distortion pedals. Next comes a TC Electronic 2290 delay, used both as a preamp and to add a tiny amount of phasing. (Sometimes, he inserts a Digitech Genesis3, or other amp modeler, into the 2290’s switchable stereo effects loop.)

The 2290’s stereo outputs feed an Eventide Orville, which has two discreet processing sections. “The presets in the A section are for effects, whereas the B section contains two custom looping algorithms,” explains Pinhas. “One is for stereo delays of 2.5 and 5 seconds, and the other for 5- and 10-second delays—both panned right/left, with 94 percent feedback. I use footswitches to turn the A section on and off, and to bypass the loop input when I want to solo over the loop.”

Though Pinhas’ rig relies on pricey processors, he points out that loopers are available for a few hundred dollars, and he insists that good music springs from the player’s fingers and heart, rather than the gear. “You need to have a clear idea of what you want to do,” he says, “and you must work to aquire some technique. But the important thing is that the music be a reflection of your soul and your feelings.”

—Barry Cleveland  


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