By Lyam, Official Sonata Arctica Fanclub
With Sonata Arctica currently on the road across the world promoting their recent studio release The Ninth Hour, fans across the world definitely have something to look forward to. Over here in the UK, we’re lucky to see the guys come over every two years or so for a few select shows. So imagine my excitement to see that, not only were the band over here for the second year in a row, but they would be at my doorstep in my hometown of Sheffield.
At this very show, I was fortunate enough to spend some time with Sonata’s own Elias Viljanen to discuss the gear he was using this tour. As a guitarist myself, I am always interested to see what my favourite players are using to achieve their sound, and am happy to share with you all the photos and bits of info I was able to gather (Please note that this information was gathered during a rather loud soundcheck from supporting act Striker, so unfortunately conversation was fairly minimal)
Engl 570 Tube Pre-Amp
Knowing that Elias uses Engl amps and how effective they are for metal music, I wasn’t surprised to see this bit of kit here. From what I could see, the settings used on his pre-amp are consistent for the entire show, with maybe only minor tweaks done backstage if required. The Engl 570 has the ability to store 4 ready-to-use sounds for easy switching, but changes between Elias’ Clean, Rhythm and lead tones are instead handled through the use of a TC electronics Nova system (see below).
Sennheiser True diversity Receiver EW100
This device is simply a wireless receiver which connects to Elias’ guitar through use of a wireless pack, allowing him to play and move around the stage without being restricted by a cable. The receiver allows for the signal to be received through a specific frequency, preventing any potential interference from other wireless signals being used (such as the wireless pack connected to Pasi’s bass).
TC Electronics Nova System
This flashy piece of kit is used to switch between Elias’ clean, rhythm and lead tones, aptly named “Sonata Clean”, “Sonata Komppi” (“Compression” in English), and “Sonata Lead” respectively. All major changes between these tones are primarily handled by the Nova system by simply selecting the required channel through the use of its footswitches.
Rock Bug Amp Simulator
I personally took a lot of interest in this specific piece of gear. As opposed to using a traditional amplifier cabinet speaker, Elias runs all his equipment through two of these little guys which is then fed through to the main speakers. The signal coming from the Nova system and the pre-amp is split and each Rock Bug is set slightly differently from the other. This creates a stereo effect and the illusion of two guitars playing at once. This little trick allows for a thick and full sound which sounds amazing when playing live.
Unfortunately, this was all the info I was able to gather in my short time with Elias, but I hope it gives a better insight as to what is happening behind the scenes. Huge thanks to Elias for being kind enough to show his gear off and chat with me, as well as to Merle and our very own Elise for helping me arrange this 🙂 It wouldn’t have been possible without your help.