When it comes to creating remarkable jazz tones, many guitarists agree it’s ideal to have a clean and straightforward sound. You don’t get jazz melodies through overdriven and futuristic effect pedals, but rather by modifying simple tones. Though some think it’s a sin to use an effects pedal for jazz, we think moderation is the key to getting a great jazz sound.
The Line 6 MM4 Modeler is a musician’s greatest weapon for finding power through restraint. Although the MM4 has 16 tones of various tremolos, flangers and choruses, it’s your mission to find a serene balance between crispness and contrast. There are five components to consider when adjusting tones on the MM4: Speed, Depth, Tweak, Tweez and Mix. The Tweak and Tweez knobs are specific controls that you can use to produce minimalistic changes.
With the exception of these two distinct knobs, the other controls are quite common for altering tones. The Speed knob regulates how rapid the effect rings out, while the Depth knob maintains the intensity of the tone. The Mix knob sets the signal of the tone and lets you shift between a dry or processed/watery sound.
Before experimenting with the stompbox for jazz tones, first set your amp to a clean channel. Start by exploring these four essential effects on MM4: Opto Tremolo, Analog Flanger, U-Vibe and Analog Chorus. Use the Tweak and Tweez knobs to find a balance between the selected effect and a clean setting.
The Opto Tremolo is a vintage vibrato tone that’s a cross between B.B. King and The Beatles. The effect is based off of vintage reverb amps, which makes it perfect for getting an even, round tone. Too much vibrato will make the tone sound like a new-wave indie band, but keeping the Tweez and Tweak knobs turned low will provide a polished, bright jazz line. Lowering the Tweak will make the tone gentler, while decreasing the Tweez will create a warmer tone.
When used correctly for jazz, the Analog Flanger is the unsuspected knockout blow. Used mostly as a delay tone, you can get a great choppy tone that slightly buzzes and rings (the tone usually hums like a jet taking off). Adjusting the Mix and Speed will help deplete the flanger sound, while the Tweak and Tweez will fix the feedback and delay.
Ringing guitar chords are frequent in jazz music, and the U-Vibe setting strikingly perfects this quality. Described as a wet texture of echoes and reverbs, the U-Vibe triumphantly sings when the Tweez is turned down and the Tweak is turned up ¼.
Conjuring up an extreme chorus effect could possibly ruin a tone, but the Analog Chorus setting acts as a surprise left hook in a player’s repertoire. The Analog Chorus features big and warm delays that can add a nourishing layer to jazz riffs and chords. A super-heavy chorus can emit a sound of ‘60s-style surfer rock, so cutting the speed will help decrease the ringing and delay. Turning the Speed knob below ¾ and adjusting the Tweak and Tweez to below ½ will help keep the chorus effect refined.
We recommend you take some time to focus on one specific tone, and severely moderate the sound. For instance, take the flanger tone and see if the tone works better when playing riffs or strumming chords. Remember that with jazz, the stompbox should support the guitar and not take total control over the amp’s clean channel.