I am writing to you in an effort to hopefully "clear the air" about a some feed back I've been getting from some of our steel picking friends in regards to the Peavey ProFex II.
Most of the complaints I've been hearing from many of you is that you don't feel that the programs that have been created for the ProFex, (or more specifically) the "WHO" they have been named after.... really sound anything like these artists. Well maybe they do, and maybe they don't, but personally, I think a lot of you are missing the point here.
The programs that have been developed here by Jeff Newman, Johnny Cox, myself, or anyone else for that matter, has all been done in an effort to give us some kind of decent sounds to work with. At a minimum, they are at least good starting points. Many of you have also complained that you sometimes feel intimidated by this thing, and think you have to be some sort of expert computer programmer to even use the ProFex. However, you don't, and even if you were a computer programmer, you'd find that they are two completely different animals when it comes to "writing programs."
I think the most important thing to remember here guys is that there are a lot of "variables" involved in the overall "finished product" here in regards to what one might be hearing, and/or expecting to hear from these programs. For one, the type and brands of other equipment you are using with this is certainly going to make a difference in the sounds you get from the ProFex. For instance, (to the best of my knowledge) Jeff is using a Peavey DPC 750 power amplifier, and two 15" Peavey Classic speaker cabinets.
In many cases, several of you tell me that you are using the ProFex with nothing more than a single Peavey Nashville or Session 400 amplifier. Please keep in mind here that many of the programs that have been written for the ProFex, have been created in "stereo." One just can't expect to get these same "stereo" sounds from a single "one speaker" set up, anymore than you could expect using only one speaker on your home stereo system.
Some of you boast that you have 5 million watt stereo systems in your cars (well maybe not 5 million, only four million) that will blow someone's picture window out in the next county! While the rest of us just cruise around with the factory equipment. Is there going to be a difference in sound in our stereos? You can bet your pedal bars there will be!
Another thing that's important to point out here is that there is this thing we call "technique." An area that deals with a certain style, and/or method we use in playing, and many of us are quite different here. It's good that we are, otherwise we would all sound the same, and what good would that do any of us? Here are some good examples of this.
Let's take my friend John Hughey for example here. John plays an Emmons guitar with George'L pickups. John also uses quite an impressive rack system, and sometimes Evans amplifiers. But even if we had every exact component that John uses, realistically, what are our chances going to be of sounding "just like" John Hughey? John has his own "very unique" style and technique, and no matter what kind of arrangement of equipment we use, it's unlikely any of us are going to sound "exactly like" .... John Hughey. Personally, John is my idol, and I would try to play my steel guitar on two legs if I thought it would make me sound exactly like him!, and don't think that I haven't tried!!!
Here's another good example of this. Take Jimmie Crawford and Russ Hicks for instance. Two phenomenal steel pickers to put it mildly, and faster than the speed of lightning! Both play a JCH guitar, and they use the ProFex as well. Even though these two guys are playing head-to-head on many of their recordings, you can hear a difference between them.
Now here's another and more recent example of what I'm saying here. Mr. Buddy Emmons, a.k.a. "The King." Many of us heard Buddy playing at Scotty's International Steel Guitar Convention last year, and he played an "Emmons" guitar on his show through the available Nashville 400's, and was patched through the Peavey sound system professionally maned by artist Mike Brown of Peavey Electronics. Now we all know that Buddy doesn't normally play an Emmons anymore,, you normally see him on a Sierra saying "Uh-Huhl" In fact, if some of you remember, he even (jokingly) damned the Emmons guitar he was playing for having to tune it. But when he played, he sounded "just like" .... Buddy Emmons! Did he sound like Buddy Emmons perhaps because he was using the 65 Emmons" program in the ProFex? Or was he even using a ProFex for that matter?
The point is.... He sounded like Buddy Emmons because HE is Buddy Emmons. I think he would have sounded like Buddy Emmons regardless of what kind of guitar he was using. Not to imply that there isn't any difference in steel guitars, because there certainly is. Personally, I think the Emmons guitar is one of the finest built in the world, but owning one isn't going to make me sound like..... anybody!
Yes, I play an Emmons guitar, "just like John Hughey's" but I also have a custom made JCH as well that Jimmie Crawford and Dick Miller built for me. I also have most of the "neat things" they have as well. But do I sound like John Hughey or Jimmie Crawford? .... I WISH! And if I tried picking like Jimmie Crawford or Russ Hicks does, I'd spend most of my time picking my picks up off the floor! (By the way, those of you who haven't had an opportunity to hear Jimmie and Russ on their new album, "Chicken Pickin III' should write to Rusty Park in upstate New York and get a copy of this. It's a real honker!) check your back issues of SGW for the ad.
The point here guys is this, the ProFex is one of the best, (if not the best) thing we have going for us steel pickers these days, and as a lot of you are very much aware, if it wasn't for Peavey, us steel pickers wouldn't have much at all to pick from, and that's a fact! Any of you that have spent the time in trying to create programs for the ProFex must know that this does take time, and I think we all owe Jeff Newman a great big thank you for what he has done here for us. Although not complicated, it is indeed time consuming and requires a heluvalot of dedication. Bear in mind guys, we don't get paid to do this stuff, and we don't get "freebees" either. We do it because of our sincere love for the instrument, and it's all available to any of you who want it.... FOR FREE. All you need do is write and ask for it, and send us your cache cards.
By the way, if any of you have mastered a way to sound "just like" HUGHEY.... Please give me a call, I'd like to sign up for lessons right away! I would like to thank all those who have written or called me with their input, and I welcome and appreciate your comments. Feel free to write or call anytime, I will answer each and everyone of you, regardless of the subject matter.
Best personal regards,