Posts Tagged ‘pedals’

Answer: Because a bike only has two pedals

I saw that joke today and laughed. But it’s kind of true. Even though I’ve seriously shrunken the number of pedals on my board, I still use more than two. I know a few players that plug directly into their amp, and that’s it. But at least in my experience, they tend to be in the minority.

For me, I have to have three pedals minimum: Reverb, Analog Delay, and Chorus. But since I like different overdrives, I usually have one or two on my board. For a little icing on the cake, I also use a T-Rex Quint Machine, and I have a wah on my board because it’s always good to have a wah. 🙂

Mind you, these things aren’t crutches. I use them to enhance my sound. Admittedly, I used to use my overdrives as a crutch to get some sustain and compression. But I’ve been playing long enough now where I rely more on my fingers to get my sustain. It makes me work harder and lets me fight with my guitar a bit. With mod pedals like ‘verb and delay, it’s a subtle thing to add some ambiance to my sound.

But yeah, I dig havin’ me some effects…

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My current pedal board setup is pictured above. The signal chain is as follows: Soul Food -> Big Bad Wah -> Corona Chorus -> Deep Blue Delay -> Hall of Fame Reverb -> Mk.4.23 Booster. Note that the knob settings are not what I gig with. They got turned during transport. 🙂

In any case, my board used to be jam-packed, with both rows filled. I used to have two overdrives and a distortion pedal on the bottom, and the booster would be the last pedal on the left. But I’ve been paring down what I use to the absolute minimum.

No, it’s not because I don’t want to lug more gear. It’s just that I realize that whatever I play now, I just sound like… well… me. So my pedal rig just contains pedals I want to use to enhance my basic tone. In the past, I’ve used pedals to help create my tone. But the better I got, the more I didn’t rely on pedals.

For me, the pedals I’ve installed above are simply must-haves. As far as the modulation pedals are concerned, while I probably don’t absolutely _need_ the chorus, I like to have it, especially when I play clean. It just adds a bit of tonal grease. Delay and reverb are two others I can’t live without. I love the slap-back effect of my Deep Blue Delay, and the reverb, which is always on, adds a little more tonal grease.

I wasn’t going to use a booster pedal at first, but my bandmates at our last gig said that I needed to get my solo volume over the band. I actually thought I was plenty loud. But hey! Twist my arm to crank it up! 🙂

I may add my Timmy overdrive just so I have a bit of variety and to create a transparent overdrive sound. But I have to tell you: That Soul Food is sonic candy. I love that pedal! It gives me such creamy smooth overdrive that intermingles so well with the natural overdrive of my amp that I feel I can take my time adding another pedal.

With respect to my wah pedal. It has been a mainstay on my board, but it wasn’t until recently that I REALLY started using it. With my old church gig, I just didn’t have the occasion to use it much. But with my new rock band, hell! I just use it whenever I feel like it. 🙂 We do covers, but they’re not strict covers, so I use my artistic license to its full extent.

I’m real fickle with respect to pedals. I swap them in and out all the time depending on my mood. But I think I’ve finally found a combination of pedals that works real well for me – at least until I change my mind – again. 🙂


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soul-foodFor me, it’s overdrive pedals. Transparent, amp-in-a-box, tone-coloring, you name it, I love it. To me, overdrive pedals are a lot like guitars. They all have their own unique sounds. And like guitars, when your wife or significant other asks you how many overdrive pedals do you need, for me, the answer is always: Just one more

What got me on this track was the article I wrote yesterday about the Green Child G777 Overdrive. That pedal for me has a lot of promise as it’s a two-channel, stackable overdrive with its own unique voicing. It’s something I’d have to try out, but I like what I’ve seen thus far. This particular pedal got me curious about Green Child’s other offerings, and much to my pleasant surprise, even though Green Child Amplification might seem like an amp company that happens to make drive pedals, their particular specialty is drive pedals. No, this isn’t a plug for Green Child. I’ve never played any of their pedals, though I do find them extremely intriguing because their specialty seems to be creating multi-drive overdrives; that is, two or three overdrive pedals in one. Pretty cool.

I know I lingered a bit on Green Child, but this is what turns me on about overdrive pedals in general: It may seem that there are way too many overdrive pedals on the market, but to me, with all the different overdrives out there, I practically have a never-ending list of overdrive pedals from which to choose! Sure there are lots of clones out there. But there are so many others that may build on a particular foundation, then tweak them to provide their own unique tone. Others, like the EHX Soul Food, unabashedly copy another overdrive’s circuitry – in this case, a Klon Centaur – but get you at least a similar tone and dynamics for a fraction of the price.

I once questioned here on this blog if there are just too many overdrive pedals on the market. But considering what I’ve found with Green Child and even the EHX Soul Food, all I can say is, “Keep ’em comin’!

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The answer is: It depends… 🙂

More likely than not, when I want dirt, I just crank my amp or at the very least get it to the edge of breakup, then use input volume and attack to get it. For some people, a cranked amp is all they need. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. And for a few years, I didn’t use any dirt pedals for overdrive; just my amp. But overdrive slut that I am, I eventually returned to using them. But unlike many players who use overdrive and distortion through a clean headroom amp, relying entirely on their dirt pedal(s) to give them their distorted tone, I use my overdrives, distortion and booster to enhance the overdrive tone of my amp. Here’s how I set my drive pedals up…

In front of my amp

I’ll usually have three drive pedals that I place in front of my amp. First in the chain is always a transparent overdrive. I use a Timmy for that. Next in line is an overdrive that adds color and that I can stack on top of my transparent overdrive. The longest in that position has been my Tone Freak Abunai 2, which has a great compressed tone in its asymmetrical mode, plus a nice bottom-mid. But I will also switch it out with either a GeekMacDaddy Geek Driver (based on the original ColorSound Overdriver circuit – originals sell for about $1200), a Doodad Check-A-Board Red (kind of a brighter TS-808), or when I’m feeling nostalgic, I’ll put my TS-808 re-issue in that position. Last in that chain would be a distortion pedal. I only have one and that is the incredible EWS Little Brute Drive.

At the end of my effects loop

I place my booster (Creation Audio Labs Mk.4.23 Transparent Boost) at the end of my effects loop, which means it’s the last pedal before my power tubes. This gives a modest volume boost, but if my power tubes are already overdriving, it’ll knock them into full saturation, and I can get some nice power tube compression. This is great when I want to add some drama to a lead.

Some people prefer the “amp in a box” type of overdrives, letting overdrive pedals produce their distortion. I rarely use the overdrive pedals with a clean amp as I love the interplay between the natural distortion of an amp and the distortion of the pedals. What this also means is that because I use these pedals with an already breaking up amp, I rarely crank up the gain on these devices. I think that this where the true power of the overdrive pedal resides, as it is half booster, half soft-clipping device. The boost part can push an amp into breakup, then the clipping section will add another dimension to the distortion. Using an overdrive like this, it can be difficult dialing in a good balance between amp and pedal overdrive, but once I’ve found the sweet spot, it’s total ear candy.

I’ve talked previously about how I use my booster in my effects loop, so I won’t go into detail here, but with a booster, it gives me a secondary area to push my amp: after the preamp and before the power section. I like having two independent ways to introduce more gain into my amp. It’s a little finer control.

This is what works for me right now. A few years ago, that arrangement changed practically weekly as I was experimenting with different things. But I’ve pretty much established how I like to use my pedals, and haven’t changed much other than swapping out in specific positions.

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I’ve known about this pedal ever since it came out last year, and unlike many other overdrives out there, it uses a tube for distortion, and not a clipping diode. This pedal is like putting another gain stage in front of your amp. It comes with Master and Gain and the tone controls are all independent with no overlapping frequencies, so tone shaping is pretty incredible. And being that it’s a Maxon pedal, you’re pretty much guaranteed high-reliability and fantastic build quality.

So if I’ve known about this so long, and I love all its features and pedigree, why haven’t I written about it? Well, for one, life was pretty busy at that time last year, as time went on, I got my Timmy and Little Brute Drive, and finally, and probably most importantly, I just couldn’t see paying $385 for a pedal. Hell! My VHT Special 6 cost $199 when I got it, but you can get it now for only $179, and that’s a tube amp – and a great one at that! Same thing goes for a Fender Champ 600 at $149…

Okay, okay, I know that we’re kind of talking apples and oranges, but the point is that $385 is a rather steep price to pay. Based upon the clips I’ve heard and videos I’ve watched on this pedal, there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s killer. I guess for me, though it does sound incredible, it doesn’t move me enough to fork out that kind of cash.

Not that I wouldn’t pay a steep price for a pedal if it totally moved me. I paid $275 for my Mad Professor Deep Blue Delay. It hurt a bit, but it’s a pedal that I simply can’t live without now.

In any case, what got me thinking about the RTO700 was the Pigtronix Fat Drive. When I was watching videos of that pedal, I ran across references to the RTO700. I thought to myself at the time that I would get it over the Fat Drive; that is, until I saw the price tag. Then the Fat Drive seemed a hell of a lot more attractive to me. 🙂

In closing, having owned Maxon products in the past, I know how killer they are. Maxon isn’t a cheap proposition, but if you can swing it, you’ll be happy.

For more information on the pedal, check out the RTO700 product page!


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Here’s something funny. We all can relate…

Mind you, this was staged… but how many times have you heard some of this?

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Though I’m pretty satisfied with my current rig – actually, I’m pretty settled now as far as pedals are concerned – that doesn’t mean that I don’t look to see what’s out there. While surfing this morning before going off to work, I came across the new Voodoo TC line of pedals from Roger Mayer. These pedals feature huge knobs for changing the main pedal parameters, and they’re meant to be changed with your foot!

What a cool concept! No more bending over to change the drive on a drive pedal or the intensity or pulse of a vibe. Not only that, the Voodoo TC line has this retro, art-deco look, and sporting colors that were apparently inspired by 1950’s Chevy’s!

There are nine pedals in the line thus far, and from what I can tell from the descriptions, they’re heavily inspired by Jimi Hendrix tones, with a few drive pedals, a vibe, and an octavia. But there is one specifically geared towards bass distortion.

For more information, check out the Roger Mayer TC Series page. There are a couple of videos on the page from the Japan Music Fair, with one of the videos being an interview with Roger Mayer, explaining the motivation behind the pedals.

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