'I was endorsing two products but I've stopped doing it because I was getting terrible ear bendings from both companies and it seemed like I was losing my freedom and I couldn't use what I wanted. Being a man of contradictions, Allan does actually endorse A/DA stereo delay units. These form part of his stage rack, coupled with another pair of delay lines to get a longer delay, namely a Lexicon PCM41 and a Dynacord DDL 12. A Yamaha E1010 analogue delay completes his set of five delay lines which Allan needs to use with his set up. For solos he has a pair of Hartley Thompson 100 watt amps (shortly to be replaced by a pair of the 200 watt variety), and for chords a pair of Yamaha PI2200s, which are 200 watts a side, plus a pair of Yamaha PGI pre amps.
To create the tones customized for the specific tracks on Secrets, Allan cross-matched ideas, ingenuity and his inventions until he struck on a tasteful variety. Using his Steinberger GM2T, loaded with two custom Seymour Duncan Allan Holdsworth humbuckers and refretted by luthier Bill DeLap with Dunlop 6000 wire, Allan created "City Nights" by running a Boogie Mark III head through the Extractor prototype, into an equalizer, and back into a Boogie Simulclass 295 power amp, using only one side of the unit to drive his speaker box. There, the signal from a Celestion KS speaker was brought to tape via a Neumann TLM 170 microphone. The inline processing for his lead tone included an ADA Stereo Tapped Delay, two ADA mono delay lines and a Lexicon PCM60. Formulas differ on each track; there are few constants. "I used that power amp and the speaker box on all the tracks, with different variables," Allan reports. "On 'Peril Premonition,' for instance, I substituted a Boogie Quad preamp, and used a combination of a Shure SM58 and an AKG 460 on the same Celestion I'm very flexible, because it's all a big experiment to me. If I thought that I'd gotten a really good guitar tone and just left the mike and everything in the same position and used it, I know I'd die after-wards. I wanted to get back to using tube amps. Since I started using the Juice Extractor with the Boogies, I've fo und that I can get more flexible variations of tone than ever before. I find myself customizing the amp from the outside."
Two different versions of the same home-built effects rack that served Allan faithfully for fifteen years have been used recently in conjunction with two set-ups: one for SynthAxe transmissions and rhythm guitar, and one for his lead tone. "It's pretty modular," he points out. "What I'm trying to set up at the moment is something where I don't have a rack anyone. I'd just take pieces I want to use, and that way I'm not locked in. But for my live sound, I use that T.C. Electronic Spatial Expander, the ADA Stereo Tapped Delay and a Rocktron Pro Chorus - those are my three main chorusing units. I return the effected signal to a small Ramsa twelve-channel mixer and then, right before it goes to the power amp, it goes through the Hush IIC. And I use the RX, which is like a new Hush Exciter, on DX7 synthesizers, because it makes them sound a lot better."
On his chordal accompaniments, Allan has been striving for a more "orchestral" sound, using layers of delays to get shimmering, pulsating textures from his sophisticated fingerings. "For my rhythm sound, I've designed a setup where all the signal processing is driven from one master board; I put each effect into one fader." His digital delays are two ADA STD-1s, two AMS units and a Yamaha E1010. The whole rhythm setup is run through a Yamaha PG-1 instrument pre-amp, some P2200 power amps and S412 speakers. The mixers are a Yamaha M406 and a M516. Allan also has an Ovation '83 Collector's Series acoustic and a Chapman Stick.