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Archive for December, 2018

For the last couple of years, I’ve been religiously using my EHX Soul Food overdrive as my go-to dirt pedal. Sometimes, I’d stack it with another overdrive such as a TubeScreamer, or Tone Freak Abunai 2, or my Timmy.  And no matter what amp I put behind that pedal or pedal combination, it sounded awesome; that is, until I got my BOSS Katana 50. And then it sucked… Badly…

For my set at church this past weekend, I knew I was going to be playing some up-tempo songs and knew I was going to need some dirt in a couple of songs. So I configured my board to include my Soul Food. I just needed something subtle so I didn’t bother doing a stack. I set up my rig and did a sound check, and when I switched on the Soul Food, the sound was horrible! I couldn’t understand it, and no amount of tweaking got the sound dialed in. So I opted to set one of my channels to dirty and played that. Very disappointed.

That pedal has worked with all my tube amps; absolutely faithfully. But for some reason, even though the Katana has a similar dynamic response to my tube amps, it did not take to that pedal well at all. 

So later in the evening when I got home, I took out a few of my overdrive pedals to see which one(s) worked. The TubeScreamer worked great, though I did have to dial down the mid-range a bit. My Tone Freak Abunai 2 work incredibly well in Asymmetric mode. And my Timmy worked as expected. It’s a wonderful pedal. I took out a couple of others like my TC Electronic Mojo Mojo. That was just alright.

Surprisingly enough, my old Kasha Overdrive worked incredibly well with the amp. I kind of lost hope with that pedal a few years ago because I just didn’t like the sound it produced with my set of amps. But it sounded great with the Katana.

And that just goes to show that it’s a good idea to have a few dirt pedals; especially if you have a few amps. It has been the rare pedal – at least in my experience – that works with every single one of my amps. I got lucky with the Soul Food for my tube amps. But since my main amp now is the Katana 50, I have to use a different set of dirt pedals.

Plus, having at least a few overdrive pedals gives you different overdrive options. Some, like the Tim or Timmy are meant to react with your amp. Others, like the Soul Food (and other Klon derivatives) can be used reactively, or sound great all by themselves. On top of that, different overdrives clip or boost differently. Like I said, you give yourself options.

Truth be told, there was a time where I didn’t use any overdrive pedals and just relied on my amps’ natural gain. But as of late, I’ve been using overdrive pedals again, and I’m damn glad that I have several handy.

And mind you, you don’t have to spend a lot on drive pedals. As with any kind of pedal, you need to try out as many as you can. The great thing about overdrive pedals is that there are TONS out there. So grab a couple or a few. Give yourself some options.

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Not sure, but for whatever reason, I’ve always been deathly afraid of working on my guitars beyond changing strings or straightening the neck; in other words, doing stuff on the outside. 

But when it comes to electronics, I’ve always been a total chicken shit. Maybe it’s a healthy fear in that I know my limitations: I really don’t know much about electronics. Oh, I can look at connections and determine where stuff goes, but when it comes down to the intricate stuff like soldering, I’ve always deferred to the experts. 

But a few years ago, I thought I’d give it a whirl by trying out a drop-in replacement to my CV Tele’s control panel which promised to offer a wider range of tones than the standard three-way switch could offer by adding a couple of other switches. My thinking at the time was that since my CV Tele only cost me a couple of hundred bucks, I could mess up and not take too big of a loss.

So I installed the new control panel with little fuss or problem, but after playing with it for a few gigs, I just didn’t like what it did to the sound of my guitar. So I decided to go back to my original control panel. 

And though I marked the connections with colored tape, in the process of removing the replacement, I somehow removed the markers. Shit! So I had to take a bit of a guess as to where wires went, and after quite a bit of trial and error, I finally figured out which wires went where. 

So I hooked everything back up, and all seemed to be well. At least, that’s what I thought, until I went to play a solo and moved to my bridge pickup, and all I got was a whole lot of silence! Luckily I had another guitar, and mid-song, I swapped out guitars and finished the gig with my backup.

But that experience kind of turned me off to my CV Tele, and I’m just a little ashamed to say that I let it sit in its gig bag for a couple of years. But the other day, I was on the /guitar Reddit and a few people were showing off their CV Tele’s. I got this guilty feeling from being neglectful of my guitar, so I pulled her out, cleared a space on my coffee table and proceeded to take off her control panel.

Looking at the “work” I did a few years back, I realized that I had been extremely messy with my work, so I reconnected some wires and put new terminals on and just made the whole thing a lot neater. But upon doing a test of the guitar, my bridge pickup was still acting a bit wonky. So I started jiggling wires. What I found was that my original solder of the bridge pickup wire to the switch was tenuous at best. So I took out my soldering iron, and re-soldered the wire back into place. Wow! Everything worked!

After I finished and got everything screwed back into place, I sat back and played for awhile. Then I just laughed at my fear of electronics. It literally took me less than five minutes to get that wire put back into place. Oh silly me…

But I still have a healthy fear of electronics. What I did was a pretty simple fix. If I couldn’t figure it out, I would’ve brought the guitar to my tech. But this particular exercise was a lesson in trying to figure things out myself first. After all, you never know until you try…

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