The Calm Before the Storm

The storm being, me (that means metro and glued his fingers together last time he attempted a project…and by project, I mean gluing the bow back on the snowman lawn ornament…which should never in a million years result in blood…and I found a way) with power tools. Er, a saw and a staple gun. I just found out that tools are a lot more expensive if you can plug them in.

Alright, pedalboard, it’s either you go, or my arms go. And I do find my arms to be somewhat useful in moving my fingers so that I can play a couple notes in between hitting pedals. So there you have it. Let the sawing (*sigh*, and blood) commence.


54 thoughts on “The Calm Before the Storm

  1. No way. You seriously going to downsize? I feel like I don’t even know you anymore, Karl. (Like I have even met you in the first place. ha.)

    Dude, I think you need to spend some bucks (i know. I know. There is always something to spend your money on), but you need to have one custom built, one that goes inside a road case with casters.

    Really your problems are those darn Damage Controls. They are just so big. Too bad they sound so good. And those midi pedals are just gigantic.

    But think about it. Wouldn’t it be nice to have your pedals nice and protected and easier to deal with in a nice custom case?

  2. hey,

    first of all, let me encourage you to buy more pedals… pedals are like salvations – when can you ever have enough?

    but secondly – on the pedal board thing, i’m making one myself at the moment… i’m making it sorta like a guitar case so that when i carry it i can carry it like i carry my guitar (padded roof for holding all of the wonder together inside there) – that may help you fit more on there, and carry it too! i just realised that whole sentence was very non-committal – kinda, sorta?

  3. Dude. thats not a pedal board. thats a pedal stage. im surrised your arms lasted this long. i think the choice is obviose…you need a bigger pedal board…and a fork lift.

  4. Wow, that is a lot of pedals. That is also an understatement. At the risk of heresy, you really need to make that thing smaller. I am definitely not suggesting you actually get rid of said pedals, just have them in the bullpen so when you play different places, you can customize the board. Think about this for minute, because it is a win for everybody playing. You get a lighter board and you can justify playing with your pedal board more.

    I would hate to show you (or anybody here) my pedal board. Three distortion pedals, wah, delay, tuner, and volume. That is it. And it’s an analog delay, too; don’t you want to throw up now?

  5. Carry? What is this “carry” of which you speak?

    Slap a couple removable caster wheel mounts on one end, a grab handle on the other, and you’re good to go! No arm injuries, no power tools needed, bleeding optional.

  6. wait a minute, this is a trick isn’t it?! you will cut this board in half so that you can carry them one at a time. then you will just put them side-by-side when it’s time to play … please tell me I’m right, am I not? 🙂

    • seriously … that’s too bad that you can’t change the channel setting on the Timeline for receiving MIDI.

      i took the liberty of looking something up for you, though. this might help you out with the size, although, might complicate things a bit.

      you should be able to use one Midimate to control two different Timelines.

      Hope this helps 🙂

  7. Karl,

    Have you considered moving to a switching system where your pedals sit in a rack? I’m in process of moving this direction for a couple of reasons:

    [1] Size of my current pedal board ( Even using a ‘Rock & Roller’ cart to move my rig around, it’s still clumsy getting it in and out of vehicles.

    [2] Worship music doesn’t lend itself well to doing the ‘pedal tap dance’. We try to keep our worship sets ‘flowing’ with no dead space. That leaves little time for changing to a different guitar or reaching over to tweak a bunch of knobs. I also find it frustrating, even using a Damage Control Timeline with a MIDI control not being able to effectively switch off 2 pedals and turn on 3 to play a bridge section of a verse different the what led up to it.

    So… I spent the past year researching all the different switching options out there. I’ve settled on using a TC Electronic G-System as the primary controller. I can separate the foot controller from the ‘brain’ (which can be and will be rack-mounted in my setup). 1 small diameter cable connects the two together, allowing my playing area footprint to be much smaller.

    The G-System provides 4 pedal loops, plus relays to let me control my amps. It will also send MIDI patch changes to other switchers.

    I needed to do something… While the pedals I use (and they’re currently different than what you see in the photo above), that massive “aircraft-carrier” board is just gotten too heavy and clumsy for me to manage.

    That’s my $0.02 on this topic… Thanks! 🙂

    • I have always wanted to go that route too. But I don’t like the idea of having to walk back to a rack to adjust my pedal settings. I wish there was a way to adjust them at your contoller. That idea is just ridiculously impractical though.

  8. +1 for M13 (and ducks too) 🙂

    Karl, couple of things, one, if you make a new pedal board, you should make a post with pictures of the step by step process, would be interesting to see how you do yours.

    Also you should get one of those MIDI boards like what Petrucci is using, (Go to the Mesa Boogie site, and check out his artist video) That way you can have all your pedals in the back by the amp, and then just have the midi board to work with. Although if your turning knobs in the middle of the set this might now work for you. 😉

    Then you can just set up your pedals, and only transport when you need to. Although you may be like me, and where ever I go my board goes with me… Then you might be in trouble.

  9. Hey Karl. I feel for you. However, we need these tools to help people enter in to worship. To me that is the priority as a worship leader/musician. I currently use 2 smaller boards that set up in about 5 minutes. Thanks for doing what you do. Be blessed, I am.

  10. Sorry for my tardiness to the conversation! Was busy all day yesterday trying not to saw my fingers off. Almost finished! Just need to order some more Lava cables and find a POG2. Anybody got a line on one? 😉 I know, I know, 2 just went on Gear Page for really cheap…see what happens when you actually do things with the gear you have instead of searching for new stuff? hehe

    David–you know, this board actually was fully enclosed and cased up. And I pulled it apart to fit more pedals on! lol It’s a sickness. But yes, the ultimate goal is to have a custom board made for me. But every time I start to save up money for it, I spend it on a delay. hehe

    And actually…the rebuild is going to make it easier to carry, and give it room for more pedals. All at the same time. Let’s hope this works.

    Joel from Oz–that is a great idea! But every time I have that, I rip it apart so I can have cables and pedals hanging over the edge, and hence…more pedals. lol

    Love the non-committal thing! 😉

    Jed–ya!! A vote for bigger!! 😀 You don’t know how happy that makes me.

    Jonathan–that is a great point. The ‘using and not using’ thing is actually part of the current rebuild. And you’re right…then I get to touch my pedals more. hehe

    JayDub–that’s a great idea; but with my current carpentry skills (or lack thereof), casters would probably be just as much work as the rebuild. haha

    Jed–haha But if I hire them, then that’s money that can’t go to gear! 😉

    Brian–I don’t understand the question.


    Larry–haha I might throw things, but they’d all be analog, and I love them too much.

    Sam–right on! Keep me posted on how that goes!

    Rhoy–you are dangerously close to the truth, my friend! hehe 😀

    And as for the midi thing, unfortunately…I use the Timeline’s so much that I really need two so that I can name each patch individually, and switch with just one step. But man, I really wish I was more normal, because that link you sent me is a great product.

    Mike Oliver–awesome. That is an elegant solution. The problem for me is, I absolutely love having my pedals right in front of me where I can improvise easily…both with switches and knobs. I don’t do the knobs thing much at my home church where I’m leading, but with others bands and teams I play with, some are highly improvisational. And I love the freedom having a traditional board brings me. Granted, your solution is way better (hehe), but for my current needs, this really works for me. I’ve also made an art of turning on multiple effects at the same time smoothly, while still hitting 7 switches. haha That’s happened over years, so it’d be a shame to throw all that work away. haha 😉

    Shane–hopefully the pedalboard rebuild will be the next post. 🙂 As for midi, my current needs and places I play at really require my pedals to be in front of me at all times. Were I to do less improvisational style music, and music that was set in stone arrangement-wise, I would definitely do the midi thing like Petrucci, or Edge…his board’s been midi-based for 20 years. It’s a great idea! And when Coldplay calls, I’m there. 😉 hehehe And yes…my board unfortunately goes with me everywhere, too. Nice to know I’m not the only one!

    Mark Benton–great point! And don’t worry…I’m keeping all the worship tools. The next post will show how I’m keeping them, and my arms. haha So, do you just have two boards, and separate them at one spot in the chain, and plug them into each other when playing? I do the same thing, more or less. I’ve got one piece detachable right now, and I’m moving to two pieces being detachable. Hope you’re blessed, as well! 🙂

    Nic–lol I have a standing order that if it would make Mr. Brewster proud, I do not do that thing.

    hehe 😉

    • i knew i was on to something! hehe

      btw, with the device, i think you can have it pre-programmed so that it will route the output depending on the patch you stepped-on in the MidiMate … so lots of re-programming to be done if you keep changing your patch set. normal people won’t do much of that. but as you said, you’re not normal! 😀

      • Could you accomplish what you currently do with some Axess GRX4’s mounted under the board and a Liquid Foot Jr. midi foot controller on top instead of the Loop Masters and Midi Mates? I think it’s funny that worship folks are starting to consider using the Axe-Fx now that Lincoln is using it – it’s been out for 2-3 years now? 🙂
        What you really need is a Damage Control Timeline II that can do dual delay, shimmer, and has 6 switches for presets. Something that looks like a Strymon industrial designed version of the M9 (ducks)!

  11. Aren’t most of those pedals true bypass? Can’t you lose one of the loopmasters? You’d probably save 10 pounds just in cabling…

  12. did i ever mention how funny it looking at this picture and how i currently own two pedals. oh , just wondering if you would be willing to do a demo on DMB pedal’s stellar drive?

  13. I can’t believe you actually haul this thing back and forth between church services (if that’s what you do). If you ever have children, you’re in for some very serious life changes.

  14. After reading all this it makes me want to go back to just plugging direct to an amp and letting it happen… maybe I am getting old… but I know what will happen, one day I will want some delay then some wah then a little more boost then….. then…..then…. then I will want to just plug direct to an amp…then….

  15. I am notifying you that due to the amount of dust collecting on your Damage Control units, you are hereby charged with neglect and must surrender one immediately. I’ll send you my address and Fedex account number. 🙂

  16. Tim–nice new blog, bro! And thanks for the pedalboard years ago. Bet you didn’t think it’d go through so many incarnations! You should see it now! hehe

    David–I agree.

    Dan–possibly. I’m gonna try out the rebuild first, and if that doesn’t work, I might to do like a hybrid midi thing.

    Awesome comment on Lincoln. hehe

    And a Timeline II with more switches and a bpm readout would be amazing…although the new Strymon pedals will have to hold me over for now. 🙂 They look pretty rad.

    Tom–haha The cables do add up in weight! But without the Loop-Masters, even the true bypass pedals would be adding a ton of circuitry and cabling for the signal to travel through. The Loop-Masters help keep my signal as pure, clean, and short as possible. 🙂

    Nater2–sure, if I can find a good deal on one, I’ll try to do that! 🙂 What pedals do you own? Are you a plug straight in guy?

    GGman–to church and back every weekend, as well as to usually at least 2 other churches each week. For years now. I am sick. haha

    Sal–*Sigh* Ah, I so hear ya. That’s the reason for the Loop-Masters, so that effectively, with no effects on, I’m two cables away from being plugged straight in. But every once in a while, I’ll play somewhere where I can just plug straight in for reals. And even if the sound isn’t noticeably different then through the Loop-Masters, there’s just something cathartic about plugging straight in, huh. Just feels so raw and awesome. hehe 🙂

    Jamie–haha Ya, I really do need to clean those, huh!

  17. i’ll hve to agree with GGman, if you ever have kids, kiss all of your tone goodbye. just kidding, but really. I have three small kids that are all incredible. but i’ve sold more than i’ve bought in the last three years and getting to church on a sunday morning is difficult enough, with hauling that it would be interesting, you should hire a roadie

  18. Don’t build or buy a new pedal board.
    Call Rent-A-Roadie to have a roadie carry all your stuff around when you need. A simple phone call can have a roadie to your door in less than 30 minutes or they are free!

  19. yea, for right now i’m a plug straight in guy because i don’t know own an amp. well let’s see so many to pick from, well i guess i just have the boss PW-2 and DD-5(which i love)

  20. Sam–totally! I’m completely stoked on that reverb pedal. And if these are even half the build quality of the OB1 compressor, they’re gonna be amazing!

    Jay–I have kids, they’re just extremely well-behaved. They only scream when I feed more gain into them. You didn’t catch them in the family portrait above? 😉

    Chris–is that a real thing? hehe That’d be awesome! Although, that’s where the masochism kicks in. I actually enjoy carrying my gear. Sad.

    Nater2–that’s a killer rig right there. At certain small venues, I’ll take a small board with my Tim and a Memory Lane. Something nice about simplicity, too! 🙂

  21. Karl,
    I’ve been hauling my own gear to church up to three services a week for years, so I totally understand the call of God that moves a man to such extremes. Although, I don’t have as much stuff as you do, I’ve certainly had enough to contend with. By the way, I did have kids along the way and it didn’t slow me down one bit. They came along for the ride. So has my wife. She’s been a trooper. I’ve got two boys age 13 and 10 now. They’re old enough to help me haul the gear now! The oldest is learning guitar and the youngest is taking up the drums.

  22. Karl —

    Completely off topic, but have you ever tried the Boss VB-2 vibrato pedal (or the BYOC clone of that pedal)?

    I have it, and I like it very much — I don’t use it often, but I think it’s a perfect effect for those of us who don’t like chorus.

    Anyway. Curious to hear what you think of it.

  23. Seth J–the long silver ones? Those are Loop-Master bypass loopers. They allow me to hardwire my pedals in and out of the signal chain to keep my signal as short and pure as possible, minimizing tone loss. 🙂

    GGman–right on! It’s cool to hear that you’ve got a family, and are still doing what God’s called you to, and with their support. Totally awesome, brother!

    Hippie Killer–you know, I haven’t. The VB2 always goes for like, a ton! But you’re diggin’ it? Like, for a less chorusy, and more modulation-like chorus sound?

  24. Haha sorry, I totally phrased that wrong.
    I meant, “What’s the knob next to the volume pedal and above the peterson tuner/” and, “What’s at the bottom left corner, under the tuner and the expression pedal.”

  25. Not trying to start an argument, but maybe you don’t know…

    When your true bypass pedal is switched off, your signal goes through the same amount of circuitry as the loopmaster. The signal still has to pass through the 3PDT switch before moving on.

    Personally, I’d rather have my signal going only through my Lava patch cables when possible. Inside the loopmaster it just passes through the plain unshielded 24 gauge wire which, by the way, has a lower capacitance than the Lava cables.

    Obviously, you want to keep non-true bypass pedals out of the chain. But looking at your board, I’d have to guess that maybe seven of those pedals are already true bypass. I keep my TB pedals close together using Lava’s pedal kit. The patch cables are very short.

    Now – I recently built two very small buffers that I placed at the beginning and the end of my chain. I was blown away at how clear and bright my tone was after putting them in. I’m not entirely sold on the one in the front, but the backend one rocks. I’ve been doing loads of research about buffers lately. A good opamp buffer merely changes the impedance of the signal to a lower level that can travel easier through the cables. Therefore, less signal loss over long distances. It’s completely analog.

    I built the buffers myself. Materials were about $20.

    It might be worth looking into anyway.

  26. Seth J–oh!! haha Gotcha. The one above the tuner is a parallel looper, that gives you an untouched dry signal, and then you mix in whatever is in the loop via that knob. It’s not hooked up right now because I’m still searching for the other pedal to put in that loop.

    And the one below the tuner is a click track, with a Loop-Master momentary switch on it so that I ca cycle through the tempo’s I preset into it every week for worship at my home church. 🙂

    Tom–no, no arguments at all! I totally agree with you. 🙂 And if I had six true bypass pedals in six different bypass loops, I would totally get rid of the loops. But Loop-Master designs them with the in and out jack about half an inch apart. So when the master bypass switches are on, the signal goes through about half an inch of that 24 gauge wire, rather than through six true bypass pedals and their subsequent cable length.

    That being said though, I’ve been reading up on buffers too, lately (Great minds think alike, huh? hehe), and the idea of high and low impedance. So I’ve got a VHT Valvulator coming in next week that I’m going to demo out, and give buffers one last shot. See, I agree with buffers in theory, except on two counts: 1) every one that I have used has either made no difference, or made too much of a difference and increased treble and dropped dynamics, and 2) sometimes a bit of tone suck is actually a good thing. For instance, a huge part of Jimi Hendrix’s sound, which could have easily been pretty tinny with the reversed bridge pickup position, was that he often ran it through an old, incredibly tone-sucky Univibe. But the theory of them makes perfect sense to me. So, I’m giving them one more shot, and with a tube one. Gotta be good if it has a tube right? hehe

  27. Ah – I didn’t realize there was a master switch for the looper. That sure seems like a lot of work to me though! Too many things to make sure are on or off or switched properly.

    I got the General Guitar Gadgets buffer kit. It’s a tiny circuit board and without the switch it fits inside a 1590LB (like your loopmaster momentary switch). So yes – it’s always on on my board and I am just loving the tone. Very dynamic, very clear. Loving it!

  28. K-

    I have a BYOC clone of the VB-2 that I built (always looking for an excuse to bust out the solder iron) that’s true bypass but has an otherwise identical circuit.

    Actually, it’s not modulation-like at all. I really is vibrato. But with a band it ends up sounding very similar to a chorus, just not as…cheesy?

    I don’t know how well it would work for your music. But if you ever need a warbley chorus sound that doesn’t exactly sound like a chorus — then this is what you want. And you will drive other guitar players absolutely crazy trying to figure out what the hell it is. Also, it pairs very well with modulation delay.

    I think Prince still uses one. I’m pretty sure the vb-2 is responsible for a lot of what people think are chorus sounds on Purple Rain — yeah, so much for “not cheesy.” But that had a lot to do with they way people made records back then.

  29. Seth J–:) Click tracks are invaluable. hehe

    Tom–I may have to check that out. 🙂 And it is a lot of work, but it’s the only solution I’ve as of yet found to keep my sound as close to plugged straight in as possible when the song passages don’t require effects.

    Hippie Killer–gotcha. I’ll definitely check that out! Thanks, bro. Never really thought too much about vibrato, so that might be cool. 🙂

  30. Hey Mark,

    That would be awesome! Sorry I haven’t called yet…bit of strep still hanging on, and I’ve been waiting to hear back from the church I play for on Sunday nights if we’re going acoustic or electric, so I know what time to be there. 🙂 Hopefully I can call tomorrow. Our services are 9:30, 11:00, and 12:30. The first two are upbeat and energetic, and the last one is the same service, but a smaller and more intimate crowd. Looking forward to hanging out with ya, brother!

  31. If tomorrow works better, just let me know. Either time is good for me. Or if you you need to get well that is ok too. Sorry you have been sick…


  32. Mark–thanks for coming, brother! I had a great time hanging out and worshiping with you, and I learned a lot, too. Awesome times.

    Steven–lol And all the money I’d spend on a psychologist from separation anxiety. 😉

    Rhoy–I must resist! haha

    GGman–how’d you get a picture of my room?! hehe

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