You can’t take this…

…and make this:

And how can the afore-mentioned ‘this’ in the second picture, not be fun. For me, that’s half the reason for pedalboards. Sure, some of it is to sound good, but mostly it’s just legos for adults. And Line 6 says that their M13 is a complete replacement for pedalboards. Psssh. (I need to learn to not type that sound.) I defy anyone to make their M13 do that. Can you make a physical pile of sweet tone (pedals) with the M13? Can you vacuum the M13? Can you spend hours untangling rat’s nests in the M13? Can you saw the M13 in half? Such is the glory of real pedalboards. ;)

So to recap what I’ve been talking about for months now, my pedalboard was too big. And too small. I couldn’t fit everything I wanted onto it, but at the same time, I kept running into things. And, at 48″ long, it was starting to extend my arms to the breaking point. And, it just looks awkward and unprofessional to be carrying anything 48″ long to a gig. And then all people see is the pedalboard. Which is an unfortunate side effect of being a tone junkie. See, I can’t bring myself to compromise on tone, but yet I am not The Edge. I still play places with audiences of like, 4 people, on stages in what appears to used to have been a walk-in freezer. So, everybody notices the huge rig and comments on it, when that’s not the point at all. So I thought that I would try to make the board easier to carry, give it more space for pedals, and make it a lower profile. And…well…it does have space for more pedals. Behold, the awful price of being a tone junkie:

Ya…not exactly low profile. Well, it looks low profile to me. But I couldn’t find any better place for the volume pedal up there on the left, so when I use it, there is a bit of a quite unfortunate Yngwie-cheeseball (can you say one of those words without the other?) power stance going on; and hence, low profile is lost. But I’m working on ways to do it gracefully. And I did build a carpeted 48×12″ facade that sits behind the board and hides the lights and wires from the seats. I don’t use it all the time, but at certain churches where I know I’ll be out front and I want to take care not to distract too badly from worship.

So here’s what I did. In order to save my arms, I sawed off the 12×16″ rectangle on the right side of the board. And then in order to keep the Furman Power Factor Pro power conditioner on the board, I carpeted another board, and put it underneath the current board, about 3″ below. But I also made sure that new board was 36×20″, so as to have an extra 4 inches for the Loop-Master bypass boxes, and hence more room on the original part of the board for pedals. There’s the power conditioner:

And then I took the piece of the board I cut off, and made it into a second board of all the things that run off of their own power and that I don’t use at every single place I play (and not without some ghettifying on the stapling of extra carpet to mask my less-than-stellar sawing skills):

That’s the click track that is only used at my home church and that prefers to run on battery, my Loop-Master input switcher that I rarely use but it looks rad, that runs off of an internal watch or G.I. Joe sound effects backpack battery (oh ya!), and the passive volume pedal for my pad rig that I don’t use when I play with places with two keyboardists, or one who does a ton of pads and ambient stuff. So that works out. And it fits perfectly in the bottom of my rack, so I just bring it wherever I go and only pull it out if I need one of those pedals. Although I do use the pads almost everywhere (why are ambient keyboardists so hard to find?), so this board does come out quite often. Together:

Signal chain:

Prairiewood Les Paul (Wolfetone Dr. Vintage pickups)–>

Hartman Germanium Fuzz–>
VHT Valvulator Buffer (with JJ gold pin 12AX7)–>
Loop-Master bypass box–>
(Loop 2: ZVex Ooh Wah–>
(Loop 3: Hermida Mosferatu (at 12 volts)–>
(Loop 5: Paul Cochrane Tim (at 12 volts)–>
(Loop 6: Fulltone Fatboost first version (at 12 volts)–>
Loop-Master bypass box–>
(Loop 1: Subdecay Quasar phaser–>
(Loop 2: Dr. Scientist Tremolessence–>
(Loop 4: George Dennis active volume pedal–>
(Loop 5: Damage Control Timeline–>
(Loop 6: Diamond Memory Lane–>
(Loop 8: Damage Control Timeline–>
(Loop 9: Arion SAD-1 delay (black box version)–>
Dan Burgess parallel looper–>
(Loop: Boss RV3–>
Electro Harmonix POG–>

Matchless HC30–>

65 Amps birch cab (Celestion Blue & G12H-30)

Comments about the chain:

The whole thing, including the amp, is powered by the Furman Power Factor Pro, with a Voodoo Labs PP2+ coming out of the Power Factor to power most of the individual pedals with isolated outputs. Then there’s also a tuner out on the first Loop-Master box that mutes my signal and goes to the Peterson Strobostomp. The loops not mentioned on the Loop-Masters are currently empty. The Hartman has to be taken out of the bypass boxes because it revolted (a lot) when I put the buffer in front of it. And unfortunately, the buffer sounds blasted good. But the bonus round about having the VHT on the board, is that it also powers four pedals in isolation, so I was able to sell my second PP2+. The parallel looper runs the pedals for my ‘shimmer’ sounds, and that large knob on it is to blend the dry signal with the effected signal. The trick is to run the reverb at full mix, and before the POG, so that there’s almost a slow gear effect on the shimmer. And then Strymon came out with the Blue Sky reverb. Blast. ;) But if it sounds good, it’ll definitely free up some space on my board. For more delay. Oh, most definitely. Oh, and in order to plug in the Rocktron Midi Mate’s (one for each Timeline), I had to reverse the positioning of the two Loop-Master’s on the board, because one was smaller than the other. So the chain there is flipped. Caused some major dyslexia issues the first couple times playing out, but I think I’ve got it figured now. And then there’s an M-Audio expression pedal plugged into one of the Midi Mate’s to control certain parameters on the second Timeline. Oh, and the Midi Mate board disconnects for easier transportation of the board. I also sawed off about six inches from one end of that board to make it less awkward that it’s a little longer than the rest of my board now. (It’s still me, and I’m still not very good at building things, hehe).

And the PP2+:

Along with the back of the Furman:

And the back of the whole board:

And I was stoked to be able to have my inputs and outputs connect easily to the guitar and amp:

And lastly, I’ve also been working on professionalizing and transportationalizing (yep) my pad rig. And I actually bought an actual board for it. Very unlike me:

But this company, Rondo Music, is selling these CNB cases online for really, really cheap. And they’re good quality, look like Jason Statham should be carrying one, and the velcro could probably hold 6 Pete Cornish pedals stacked on top of each other. (Had to throw Cornish in there somewhere. What’s a blog post without a little controversy? Oh ya. I already mentioned Yngwie Malmsteen.) Here’s it open:

The nice thing about having an old G3 Mac? It still runs iTunes and you don’t feel bad about putting velcro on it. :) The other piece there is a cheapo little PreSonus tube preamp that does so little that it actually effects your signal quite naturally and unobtrusively. I use it to run the pads direct (*gasp*) for those rare times when I need to throw in the bargaining chip of removing one amp from my rig in order to get the sound guy to agree to having the other amp on stage. hehehe Shhh. That one’s a secret. And then there’s a re-housed and modded old Bogen Challenger amp into a RaWoods pine cab with Weber 12A150b speaker, out of which I usually run the pads.

So, forgive the self-indulgent nature of this post, but I get asked quite often about my rig and signal chain, and I figured I’d finally give a full post on it. But don’t worry. I’m a guitarist. That means it’ll all be changed by next week. I’ll probably get on a bohemian kick and sell everything and buy a fiddle. Hmm…maybe a fiddle and delay… So, for the record, here’s my rig. As of today, and if you’re reading this any time after today, then probably not as of when you’re reading this (hehe):

And…since it is possible that this post may seem like a, ‘My tone is better because my board is bigger’ post, just to show you how rockstar I really am…I had to take this chair out of the closet to put the guitars there for the picture. And when I did, I saw this:

That says ‘Karl V’ and ‘The Porch’. In reference to the worship band that I played two gigs with and was paid enough money to go out to Denny’s (that’s making it) afterwards, named The Porch. Why did I write that on a chair? Oh, because the chair, in cooperation with the car bungee, held up my Crate 2×12. Yes, I considered the chair enough of a part of my rig to write my band name on it. I still remember how proud I was when I wrote that. Folks, if you have a special chair on which you like to set your amp, and you are so proud of that chair that you now believe the aluminum to be made of some little known tone-metal, don’t broadcast it. Don’t write your band name on the chair as if someone is going to steal and use it’s magical tonal properties for their own purposes. Just keep it to yourself.

There. All sense of rockstar…gone. Now I can say things like, ‘The M13 sucks’, and when you become angered about me saying that, you can just remember that photo above, and then you will no longer care about anything I say. And I shall now refer to this post, every time someone disagrees with me. Win, win.

So that’s the new board. I failed a little bit at making it lower profile, but it is a lot less awkward to carry, and much more functional. That means, ‘can fit more pedals.’ And I was going to try to say something funny, or purposeful, or even remotely related to the post here. But it has been the longest weekend on universe and I am tired. So instead, I will borrow from one of the greatest movies ever: ‘Hey, Big Gulps, huh? Alright! Well, see ya later!’

Splendid.
Karl.