Soundscapes and “pads”, as they have come to be known are possibly one of the most overlooked type of guitar orchestration methods used today. Many see the multiple delay, reverb ridden, and volume swollen guitar sounds of many great but obscure bands as taboo, or in poor taste, but I stand firm in support of it. Just as keyboards started out life as a basic piano, but changed to become a “pad” machine, the guitar can be enabled as well to serve this need. I have played in bands in the past where the keys player would hold a pad; sometimes for an entire song without changing presets, and I began to wonder if I could fill his spots for when regular keys are needed more. After a bit of research (I was using rhythmic delay almost 80% of the time) and a few thousand hours of experimentation was able to come up with a stunning pad/octave swell sound. When I used this setting live, it blew the keyboardist away, who turned to playing regular keys full time!
I was using a stereo amp setup (Vox AC30 & Peavey Stereo Chorus) with a Strymon Timeline, a Boss DD-7, DMB Lunar Echo, MXR Dyna Comp, Strymon BlueSky, DMB Cosmic Crunch, and a lot of on board reverb from the Stereo Chorus. Now, to make a beautiful ambient sound, you don’t necessarily need all of these fancy dancy effects, but I have found that this huge combo of things make a perfect pairing for my Stratocaster and amps. Also remember, as breathtaking as these sounds may be, be sure to use your unaffected signal as well during the performance, or otherwise the fact that you are a guitarist may never be harolded as what it should be! You worked hard for those licks, show them off!