Roaming The Stage
The band wears JH13 earpieces from JH Audio with the exception of the bass player and drummer, who use JH16s.
While the drummer and keyboard player opt to wear the wire, the rest of the band goes with wireless using Sennheiser ew 300 G3 Series systems.
Out front, Shelton absorbs the acoustical energy of proprietary Sound Image wedges, which are 2-way carbon fiber boxes loaded with a single-12 and a horn, and fueled, like the house, by Crown IT12000HD amps. With the wedges firing from both the center of the deck as well as from below up through grates,
Baisley notes that “Blake doesn’t like things extremely loud, and he keys off the house a lot, spending as much time not in front of his wedges as he does. WideLine and its 140-degree horizontal coverage came in handy once again as he roamed the stage, providing him with additional monitoring capabilities, especially midway out on the thrust.”
Baisley adds that he’s automated the entire show for the band. Even though there aren’t a lot of changes among the songs, many require a click-track to be turned up or down, an instrument to be attenuated or have its gain boosted, and so forth.
Plug-ins on his Profile console are straightforward, centering around parametric EQ supplied by Flux Epure II that he uses for overall tone shaping. Saturating plug-ins, such as Bomb Factory BF76 compression, round out his palette.
Instrument amps ready to be rolled out, with mics already in place. (click to enlarge)
Beyond his voice, Shelton’s guitar playing starts at the source with signature acoustics from Takamine and a signature electric from Michael Kelly Guitars that features a camo finish, roaming deer track inlays, and a pair of antlers inlaid at the 12th fret. A Mesa Boogie Electro Dyne 2x12 combo is his amp of choice; when combined with a Sennheiser 421 the resulting sound leans toward classic British.
For his acoustic moments, Shelton recently took possession of a pair of Aura Spectrum DIs from Fishman. Outfitted with imaging technology that brings a studio-mic’d sound to an undersaddle or soundhole pickup, Shelton’s Aura units were custom-equipped with modeling done using one of his own guitars.
“They modeled every note on the entire fingerboard in this perfect studio environment,” guitar tech Brett Hardin says, impressed by the Fishman process, “which I can now blend-in during live performances. The resulting sound is… well, consider that Blake is the kind of musician that doesn’t normally ever say anything about gear so long as it works and sounds good.
The Fishman Aura Spectrum DI tandem deployed for acoustic guitar imaging. (click to enlarge)
“He has, however, already stopped four times during sound checks to express how great he thinks this device is. Someone obviously did something beyond right this time. It’s rare that he’d give any piece of gear this kind of attention.”
On the other hand, attention is constantly focused on Shelton himself these days in a never-ending schedule of showmanship, fine playing, and just plain good times. Is slowing the touring pace slightly over the summer while appearing at a number of fairs a sign that everything may have become a bit too much for everyone?
“Not a chance,” Hardin says with conviction. “I can’t adequately express what this opportunity means to all of us. As a team, this gig is our career song, one we’ll never forget and that will live for us forever. The moment belongs to all of us as well as the fans, and we’re savoring every minute right in step with Blake.”
Greg DeTogne is a writer and editor who has served the pro audio industry for the past 30 years.