California Guitar Trio (CGT), a unique group featuring three guitar virtuosos that’s been performing internationally since 1991, recently replaced its subpar mixing console with an Allen & Heath CQ series compact mixer.
“We’ve played over 2,000 concerts in the past 32 years,” notes CGT member Paul Richards. “Each of us comes from a different musical background, including classical, surf, jazz, metal, classic rock, and blues — all of those influences have meshed into our performances.” CGT performs a mix of original compositions as well as unique takes cover songs from bands such as Queen, Pink Floyd, and the Beach Boys.
“A house engineer at a recent gig told us that all our gear was top of the line except our mixer,” Richard explains. “It was hurting both the sound of our live performances and our concert recordings.”
After some research, the band came across the just-released CQ series, which offered the processing, sound quality, and recording capabilities that they needed. “Allen & Heath stood out for a number of reasons, but the main draw was upgraded sound quality,” states Richards. “Right when we first set it up, everything fell into place and we knew we made the right decision.”
The group now tours with a CQ-12T, which offers 12 channels of input processing and eight outputs joined by a touchscreen interface. “The difference in ease of use and overall sound quality was clear right away,” Richards says. “The improved clarity was very much noticeable and everything worked flawlessly.”
Each guitarist in the trio has their own pedal board with a DI that interfaces directly with the mixer. During sound check, Richards utilizes the CQ-12T’s gain assistant function to help speed up the process of setting the preamps, noting, “We plug in and I have each of the guys play a little bit, and it just automatically sets the levels. We are then very quickly able to set up the mix. It’s so fast!”
The band records every performance directly to a USB drive on the mixer, which they then duplicate and distribute with other merchandise after the show. Richards has set up one of the mixer’s user-defined SoftKeys on to start and stop USB recording with quick control.
“With the CQ, the live recordings now sound like studio recordings,” he concludes. “We had people buy our USB drives and listen in their car, then return just to tell us how great it sounded. The quality is so far beyond what we had done previously. When I walk out on stage, I just hit that SoftKey and it turns red to indicate that the show is recording. It makes our lives much easier.”
California Guitar Trio is currently on tour with upcoming dates in the U.S. in January 2024.