Trey’s New Favorite Toy
In 2008, when Trey returned from his own personal hiatus, he brought with him a new approach to his guitar playing. Incorporating his styles from the past, mixed with a new tone and some new tricks, Trey had a very unique new sound. When listening to Trey’s solo performances from ’06 and prior, a different style is heard, yet the foundations were put in place for him to develop it further.
During his extended period of solidarity, he surely had time to contemplate what he would do upon his return. Composing “Time Turns Elastic” was a large part, but another part of it was altering his sound and songwriting direction. The ultimate result is the product of the five years Trey spent away from Phish. During that period he had time to push his own sound further, whereas in the past a great deal of his efforts were put into forming the sound of the band. We’ve talked about this before in our two part article The Evolution of Trey’s Tone Part I, Part II. Today, we take it a step further looking at a specific element of Trey’s new style than applies to more that just his tone: the Digitech Whammy.
Guitar players will literally laugh at the idea of this pedal becoming an integral part of Trey’s new sound. Anyone who has ever used it will know of its cheesy-sounding effects, reminiscent of Tom Morello’s playing. But somehow, Trey has managed to sculpt its sound into a crisp, psychedelic sounding tool. The pedal has many functions, including awkward sounding harmonizers, a “dive bomb” (think Eddie Van Halen) function, and several detuning options. Trey has taken a liking to the detuning feature, which essentially bends the pitch of his notes deeper when using the pedal. By using this when soloing, he adds a rich color, creating a sound I have never heard before. Check out this clip of “Ocelot” from the first night of the Gorge this summer, notice the pitch-shifting going on.
The Digitech Whammy is in no way a new addition to Trey’s rig. The pedal has been with him for years, and has served different purposes during different phases. Initially Trey used it purely for outside psychedelic sounds. The pedal was then used for looping, providing the famous siren-like sound, and was also used extensively in the cover of Remain in Light (listen to the solo for Born Under Punches). In the past the pedal sat off to the side of Trey’s rig, however, recently Trey has relocated the pedal right infront of his mic, for easy access. If you have ever seen Trey lift his guitar over his head, waving it from side to side with roaring feedback, he was using the wham to shift the pitch of the feedback giving it that crazy light-saber sound.
In the coming weeks we will have a chance to see how Trey has further developed his tone, and his style since we last saw him. During the summer, he was trying numerous set-ups attempting to perfect his sound. Given the recent time off, his sound should be as crisp as ever come 8. Just another thing to think about.
Remember this gem from the summer? A perfect example of Trey’s new style of playing.
Set 1: Down with Disease, Ocelot, Pebbles and Marbles > Possum, Sleep, Destiny Unbound, Stash, Sneakin’ Sally through the Alley > Cavern
Set 2: The Moma Dance, Light -> Taste, Fluffhead, Joy, Bathtub Gin > Harry Hood
Encore: Slave to the Traffic Light