I love playing through one of my guitar amps cranked up loud so it is nice, fat, and punchy. There are not many things that make a guitarist feel better (besides sinking a 60-yard pitch shot for eagle on the golf course if you’re a golf nut like I am). However, at most club shows or churches, this is not a practical or possible thing to do because it is simply too loud. There can also be too much to set up in too short a time. Plus, many shows and churches require using in-ear monitors, so a guitar player may not get to fully enjoy that loud amp anyway. This is where using a Line 6 POD, Line 6 Helix, Kemper Profiler, Axe-Fx, or a similar device can come in very handy. I have a POD HD500 I’ve used since 2012 that works well for me and it sounds quite good for being a computer with some buttons and a pedal attached to it.

Some gear snobs may wonder how I can possibly play through a fairly inexpensive device like this–especially since I care greatly about my guitar tone. Well, tone is in the mind and fingers and it always will be until artificial intelligence takes over humans. Some guys and gals have it, and some don’t. I’ve heard guitar players with the sweetest set up sound like crap, and I’ve heard others with the simplest set up sound amazing! This tells me that it doesn’t always matter how “good” your gear is. If Jeff Beck plugged into iRig on his iPhone, I am sure it would still sound killer!

Generally, I will favor playing through a real amp, but when I use my POD HD500 (which is nearly every weekend) I choose to accept that it is not an amp. This way, I can’t get too frustrated if it just doesn’t quite sound or feel “right.” Regardless, I find it very enjoyable to use because it can do things that I can’t easily do with my typical amp and pedalboard setup. The POD contains so many useful and interesting effects, it’s in stereo, it has an FX loop and a built in expression pedal, and it has many on/off switches that make it a very useful musical tool. There are many flavors of amps, overdrives, EQ’s, delays, and reverbs which make it a great tool while playing ambient worship music. One can easily sinc his or her time-based effects such as delays to an Ableton session BPM when playing to tracks or to a click on a per patch basis and dial in perfection for every song. Getting multiple delays pinging Left and Right is so simple and it can create great rhythmic or texture effects moving the sound around the stereo spectrum. Some of my patches use so many delays (I ran out of DSP) that I had to add a Strymon Big Sky reverb through the FX loop. It works great for me because I love to automate real knobs during a performance it also sounds freakin’ amazing with amps or amp modelers. I also run an overdrive and a POG octaver into the front of the POD for more sound sculpting options.

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Basically, this thing is a useful and inspiring tool to make music and with realistic expectations it can be very fun to play through. When you play gigs with volume restrictions or setup time limitations, the POD is a priceless tool to have at hand.

And who says this guitarist has to turn down?