Why Effects and Rigs are Necessary Part 1: That Guy

The other night, instead of this…

…I used this…

And I learned a ton from The Riglet. And not what I thought I was going to learn. This is part 1 of said learned things. (What?)

It was the night before my wife and I flew out way early for a family wedding out of state, and I needed to get in and out of the worship service very, very quickly. So, I grab my pad rig pedalboard, disassemble it, and grab only the basics from my main board: od w/ boost, delay, tuner, and volume pedal. Now some of you purists out there right now are thinking, ‘Uh…’basics’ means plugging straight in.’ And I agree with you…if that was what the set called for. But what the music needs should always trump the coolness of ‘plugging straight in.’ And I must admit, it does feel pretty cool. But here are your other options for not bringing pedals when the set calls for it:

1) Be that guy who thinks they can play the dotted eighth delay on Not to Us with their hand. It is so my favorite to listen to folks try to do that (hehe). But I decided not to be that favorite for other people. (And end up being ‘that guy’ in their blogs.)

2) Be that guy who thinks his amp volume is low enough to tune by ear while the pastor is praying. And note to all of you out there who are that guy: your amp volume is not low enough to tune by ear while the pastor is praying. 😉

3) Be that guy who’s playing arpeggiated off-tempo ‘textures’ on the intro to Hosanna because ‘you don’t need effects for ambient playing.’ Which is true…unless the rest of the band is trying to play that sonically spacious intro as close to the track as possible, and you’re that guy ‘who knows better’ than Hillsong’s producer. Which you very well may be. Sometimes I feel like I am. But then I have to realize that since I actually do not make gold records when I put my pants on one leg at a time, it is very difficult to describe to the rest of the band how in fact my thinking I know better than musicians everyone else digs, is actually not arrogance.

4) Be that guy who’s rocking Spinal Tap power chords while everyone else is minimalistically letting space ring out in the verses of Mighty to Save. This one should really be self-explanatory.

5) Be that guy who forces the whole band to change their style to a straight-ahead hard rock or a laid back blues because they want to gel as a band and don’t want your guitar sound and playing to stick out like a sore thumb. Granted, changing the whole feel and style of a set to an effectless or non-ambient one can be a great thing…provided the rest of the band is on board. Forcing them to do it because you didn’t want to plug in a delay pedal is a little…well…let’s just say it’s a good way not to get a call to play for the next worship set.

6) Now, the volume pedal and the overdrive pedal were because even though you can control both those effects with just your guitar’s volume knob, I tend to fall behind on that when really fast note swells are needed or when I need to change from a clean chord to an overdriven lead with no dead space in between. And I didn’t want to be that guy who hindered the worship music because he didn’t want to bring extra pedals so that he could look cooler on his blog. 😉

And I really, really wanted to plug straight in. It would have cut down on the stuff I had to bring, I would’ve looked cool, and I would’ve gotten that incomparable feeling of raw rock ‘n roll power when you stick that jack right from the amp into your guitar with that loud electronic crackling sound. (And I’m not even joking. That’s a cool thing, and few things are cooler in life.) But in thinking through how best my guitar could compliment the music in the set, I realized, once again, how necessary it is to have a pedalboard in my rig.

I’m not saying that everything has to be played exactly like the track. We all have our own creativity, and I have heard plenty of folks play things that I like way better than the original track. What I am saying is that if you don’t ever concede any ground (such as, ‘Ya okay, even though I think this song sounds better with a blues riff rather than an ambient texture, or with a delayed anti-solo rather than a flanged ’70’s rock line, maybe I’ll come closer to the original because I’ve already changed 3 out of 4 songs in the set’), at some point you have to ask yourself where the line is between innovation and arrogance. And I’ll say right now that I don’t know where that line is…so I try my best to always error on the side of humility (and fail miserably most of the time…hehe). Which is one of those ultra (and I mean ultra) rare things in life that maybe, just maybe, is more important than music.


P.S. For those of you interested in those pedals I mentioned tough times were forcing me to sell, the thread is here: http://thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?t=759234

73 thoughts on “Why Effects and Rigs are Necessary Part 1: That Guy

  1. Fortunately for me, I usually don’t have to worry about changing songs due to arrogance, since any/all changes I tend to make are to make it simpler so that I’m capable of playing it at all without screwing it up horribly. 😛

  2. You are so comical. I really enjoy the satire you have with yourself. It must stem from a commited heart and crucial self examination. Thank you bro

    Mark H.

    Sell your Frenzel yet?

  3. I used a similar set up recently… od/delay. simple but very effective. not as effective as three delays but good none the less.

  4. for 3 years, I’ve only used a Diamond Memory Lane for my delay needs. while it sounds awesome, I did realize the need to have a delay that will do dotted-eights. but since I am a cheapskate, I wouldn’t want to shell out money for another one … not until the Strymon Brigadier, that is. Now, I am a happy camper and uses the Brig as my primary delay :)

  5. Nice EA Monorail cable!

    The church I got to does a lot of Hillsong/Fee songs and they don’t use delay so it ends up sounding more like Third Day. Gold plated diapers! :)

  6. Matthew–thanks, bro. If only I had that attitude all the time during the situation, and not just later on the blog. hehehe 😉

    Rapha–lol That’s a good way, too!! Better to not play the solo than to botch the solo. hehe

    Mark H–well, hopefully. Or just a self-indulgent need to satirize. 😉 hehehe And ya, unfortunately…the rent said no Frenzel. hehe But, it’ll be back for sure. Hopefully someday soon!

    Sal–that’s awesome. Although, ya…just just can’t put a tonal price on 3 delays. hehe 😉

    Rhoy–so awesome. I’ve heard such wonderful things about the Brigadier and your clips sound great!

    Dan–haha Yep! That’s exactly what that is. That’s from a few months back when Matt Solomon was selling those for way cheap. And Hillsong without delay? hehe Very interesting indeed. Wow. And Christopher Walken is just plain gold all the time. 😀

    Dan W–hehehe Ah, Mr. Ferrell’s gut…the stuff nightmares are made of.

  7. On the way home from practice for this Sunday this thought started mulling around. Why not donate so that Karl can keep his pedals. I’ve been interested in the POG since hearing it in the ambience soundscapes. So I’m sowing $50.00 for Karl to keep his POG. Anybody else?

  8. Dan–haha That was pretty good. How’d they get the one cartoon to look just like a Christian hipster producer? hehehe

    Keith–lol Mine too! 😉

    Rhoy–nice, bro!!

    Bret–ah, you’re honestly too kind, bro. But once the job stuff gets worked out, I’m sure I’ll buy it back! 😀

  9. Wow, I am really in the minority here. Karl, your “slummin’ it” board is basically my normal board. Three dirt pedals, wah, carbon copy, and volume. Nice. Getting a new custom built amp here shortly so one of the dirt pedals might be taking a break.

    After reading this I started to get flashbacks of when I used to play with our worship team. Whoa. Had to find a safe place to recover.

  10. haha I’ve definitely done the same thing. Also, I’m so envious of you guys who can make it happen with small boards. It was so nice to walk to my car with that little board that night! 😀

  11. it’s always fun to read your blog cause of the size of your rig……….and the size of mine. currently i’m running BBE boosta grande>Ibanez TS9DX>Boss CH-1>Line 6 verbzilla>Boss DD-5>Boss TU-2. i’m just borrowing the tuner pedal and i’m working on getting a volume pedal. but i’m really saving up for blues junior. any volume pedal suggestions?

  12. One of the reasons i got an m13 was because i realized i was only ever using a couple pedals. I had a 2 channel Marshall (JCM 600, fantastic clean channel with the great marshall crunch on the second channel), a DD-20, and a ts type pedal with a built in boost, and i was good with that. Now, keep in mind that I play rhythm not lead so obviously there are some things that i could get away with not having. So my “need” board consisted of 2 pedals the amp channel switch and a tap pedal for the dd-20.

    So anything the m13 brought was bonus. If i didn’t like it i wasn’t stuck using it. (However, I do like it especially for volume swell/ambient pad stuff)

  13. Karl I’ll have you know i just defriended somebody on Facebook for calling the Edge an “Overrated guitarist who makes lame music”

    Also, I was outside painting a picnic table with my iPod in a stereo. The Wide Awake In America version of “Bad” started and a plane was flying overhead, drowning out the intro nHOWEVER, as soon as Edge’s glorious intro riff came in, the planes engines suddenly became completely quiet, I assume in respect to “Bad”. Please understand that I did not make this up. Maybe the plane crashed or something, butall I know is that it shut up in admiration of the Edge. :)

  14. Nater2–looks like a great rig to me! The best volume pedal’s are supposed to be the Hilton’s or Goodrich’s, but I’ve had a ton of luck with the George Dennis active volume pedal. :) Nothing wrong with the classic Ernie Ball either, except that it does suck a bit of tone. But you don’t have to plug it in, which is a plus.

    Dan W–ya, I’m not the hugest Line 6 fan, but for folks who might only use a few effects, I can see it or the M9 fitting the bill perfectly. And as much as I hate to admit it, they’re not bad sounding either. hehe :)

    Andrew–haha Right on!! That’s awesome. It’s that Edge’s tone is so good, it can cut through any mix…even one with airplane engines. hehehe :)

    And I guess everyone’s entitled to their own opinions. Edge just doesn’t do it for some folks. Which is cool. But I think it’s usually those folks who are looking for that classic guitar sound/style from Edge. And it might help them to look at him as more of a sound architect, or even an orchestral musician.

  15. Karl,

    Long-time reader, first-time commenter… coupla quick things:

    1. Great point regarding The Edge as an orchestrator/sound architect rather than simply a guitarist. I think a similar badge could be applied to Jonny Buckland as well…

    2. What kind of cables are those that you’re using on the small board?

  16. James, great to meet ya! And I totally agree with you about Johnny Buckland. The soundscapes he creates are breathtaking, and really have made the last few Coldplay albums work.

    And on that little board, I just happened to grab some of my Evidence Audio Monorail cables. I picked those up on a sale from a cable guy on Gear Page a few months back. They actually sound really good, even though they’re EA’s cheapest type.

    :) Cheers!

  17. Well this particular guy listened to only tasteless lifeless emotionless buttmetal, like your typical guitar center customer who walks in, grabs a fake Jackson off the wall, makes sure it’s specifically out of tune, plugs it into a Spyder, and simultaneously plays awful renditions of back in black and crazy train and master of puppets.

  18. I just finished assembling my new board (well, ALMOST, I’m waiting for a T1M mini blender for my shimmer but…) and I have never been happier with my sound. Here’s a run-down of the rig:
    Guitar (an LTD EC-256 or a Fender American Special Strat) -> TU3 -> Cry-Baby (w/ true bypass & blue LED mod) -> Damage Control Liquid Blues -> Line6 M9 (used for modulation & filter effects) -> Ernie Ball VPJR -> Carbon Copy -> DD20 -> Verbizilla (for the shimmer) -> Epiphone Blues Custom 30 running @ 15 watts (and also loaded w/ gold pin JJs….). Also just got on the waiting list for a Tim. It’ll be hard to be patient waiting for that but well worth it.

  19. Love it…

    But really… I’m a better producer than Brian Eno, Ed Cash & Pete Kipley… Don’t you think?

    Reality check! – I can’t even come close to the sound they’re getting on the album so I’m gonna totally destroy it and call it “creativity”.

    C’mon guys… do your best to get it like the album (whatever pedal it takes) and when you can do that, then feel free to “be creative”.

    In case you couldn’t tell, as a worship leader this is one of my pet peeves. The whole, “I’m better than the guys who spent thousands of dollars and thousands of hours to get it right” attitude drives me nuts! It might not be your style, but there’s a reason it’s one of the top selling songs out there, so work with me here!

    BTW – This includes all genre’s of music. If U2’s not your genre, suck it up and learn to use delay. If Rock’s not your genre, suck it up and learn the riff. If Country’s not your genre, suck it up and hire a mandolin player. If Blue Grass isn’t your genre, well then… ummm… just do what I do and let someone else play it! 😉

  20. Andrew–hehehe Sounds like me a few years ago! lol

    KennyG–I must say, that is a beautiful rig! I absolutely love it.

    Eric–wow, brilliant comment! I couldn’t have said any of that better, and totally agree. There’s definitely an ‘armchair quarterback’ mentality for a lot of us worship musicians, and it’d be great if we could break out of it. I love what you said…learn the part, and then we’ll talk about being creative. hehe :)

  21. The whole plugging straight in thing is irrelevant when it comes to popular worship music. Since Hillsong, Tomlin, Fee, etc. music came into vogue, effects are no longer something you would like to use, they are something you have to use (Unless you WANT to look like an idiot trying to play dotted 8ths without a delay.). You don’t need a lot but a couple overdrives, and at least one delay are non-negotiable.

    I played in hard rock and blues bands for 25 years before giving my life to Christ and serving him with the gifts he gave me in a worship ministry. You wanna talk culture shock! I went from using a treble-booster into a half stack Marshall to 13/15 watt tube amps with a fairly extensive pedal board (Nothing like yours Karl but….). Lucky for me, I happen to like U2 and Coldplay, since a lot of these guys rip them off unmercifully.

    I’m obviously the old guy on the worship team. I got gear in boxes, stuck in a closet that I tried, didn’t like and am to lazy to sell. One day I was straightening up my storage area and a still small voice said…”Uh Mark? Gear Ministry?” So…I put together an amp/board combination for the young guys to use at church.

    An Orange Tiny Terror into a 2×12 cab. A Keeley tube-screamer, a Java Boost, an Analogman tube-screamer, a Keeley compressor, a Dearmond Wah pedal, a DLS Echotap Delay and a Little Lanalei reverb. All stuff that I’ve used over the years that got replaced by something else because….well…just because.

    I spent a couple hours showing them how to use the stuff and told them they could use it until they got their own. Electric tone at the church has definitely improved. And…no more Peavey Bandits and Line6’s grace the stage (Thank you God!).

    So…any of you guys that have got gear just sitting and gathering dust, may I suggest starting your own “Gear Ministry.” It’s a blast watching these young guys faces the first time they crank up a nice tube amp and hit the front end with a boost.

    God is good!

  22. Mark I am so jealous… My church tasked me with picking out the rig that would be used for our main service, and it had to be cheap so there’s nothing boutique-y about it… Polytune, Hardwire Overdrive, Ernie Ball VpJr, EHX Deluxe Memory Boy, and Hardwire Reverb into a Blues JR.

    • Cheap don’t mean bad. That EHX and Harwire stuff is good stuff. I’ve seen just about as many Blues Jr.’s used as I’ve seen Vox’s. It’s a good solid platform. The only reason that I ended up with all this boutique stuff is because I sold all my band gear when I quit playing…uh…I guess you would call it professionally. Then I discovered TGP and was lost for about 5 years. I came out of my gear comma with some nice stuff…but…I was out of control. My names Mark…and I’m a gearaholic.

  23. Every guitarist at my church has their own gear, but its all super simple and generic! Here are some examples:

    1. TS9 -> DD-7
    2. TS9DX -> DD-7
    3. TU-2 -> TS9DX -> DD-7 -> DD-7
    And my personal favorite,

  24. But we also have your stereotypical TGP bluesman who has billions of dollars of amps and guitars and pedals, who doesn’t use overdrive, just fuzz pedals he built, etc.

    The only semi decent rig there (besides mine, at the risk of sounding conceited…) is as follows
    American Tele -> TU-2 -> NS-2 (in loop of NS-2… TS-9 -> Bad Monkey -> DS-1…sadly) -> DD-7 -> Vox AC-15

  25. Andrew–doesn’t look too bad…I’ve definitely seen worse church house rigs!! haha And no worries on the lots of comments thing…makes my blog look more popular than it is. hehehe 😉

    Mark–ya, that’s a good point. There’s some really decent mass-produced gear out there, if you know what to look for. But…mmmmm. Gear. 😉

    Nater2–that one probably works great, but it’s actually the simpler version, and I’m not sure if they make it anymore:


    And for what it’s worth, I did not pay anywhere near that price. Used, these go for like, $40.

    Thad–lol Okay, now that’s allowed. hehehe

  26. So I took the plunge and made my first TGP purchase… a keeley 2 knob compressor 😀 I”m a little bit excited…

    So all of those pedal setups beat the worship leader at my church. He has a mexi strat into a vox wah, into a vox distortion pedal (which sounds like crap actually) into an ibanez dx-7 I believe is the delay pedal… needless to say it has no tap-tempo and he tries to set it to different rythmic delays between songs by bending down and changing the delay speed knob :) It’s classic… into a ’68 fender princeton (this is the best part of his rig).

  27. Hi Karl! Did you know that Damage Control has posted your Timeline videos on their website as a demo/tutorial? It’s here:


    I just thought you’d enjoy that if you weren’t already aware of it. . . :) I am a huge fan of your blog and website, and recommend it to pretty much every gear head I know! Keep up the good work.

    P.S. I think you need to do a BJFE Honey Bee Demo. Just saying. 😉

  28. Nater2–ya, I don’t think they come up very often. I actually got mine in a package trade and put it up for sale immediately. No one bought it on ebay or Gear Page. So I figured I may as well use it. And whoa! I was very pleasantly surprised by the clarity and very little tone suck. I try to keep it a secret though, so that they stay cheap used! hehe

    Ben G–right on!! The Keeley comp is real good. And congrats on the first of many (it’s a given now) TGP purchases. hehehe 😀

    And actually that’s one of the huge reasons I think pre-settable delays are great for worship leaders. I still bend down to change settings when I’m in the background playing lead guitar, but the delays help me to keep it to a minimum when I’m singing up front. Although, if you’re on a budget, sometimes maybe that’s all you can do. It might work if you let the keyboardist hold a pad for a while into the next song or something. :)

    Sam–four delay pedals? Seems just about right to me. 😉 And ya…I just updated my avatar plugin, so hopefully that helps some of the spazziness on that issue on the blog.

    Andrew–lol Absolutely!!

    Jonny–thanks for the kind words, bro. And ya…someone mentioned that they had put those videos up a while back. I think like, just a week before they discontinued the Timeline. lol And ya…I need to do a Honey Bee/Klon shootout. 😀

  29. Sir, you are an inspiration! Every time I think about pulling out something I think would be “Totes mah goats awesomesauce”, I think “WWKD?”, and it saves me every time. That being said, I still want another delay, a whammy, and another OD for my second rig I’m working on…only because they’re necessary….right?

    P.S. I WILL find a use for fuzz in worship, I guarantee it!

  30. Lol you and me both Seth! I just made my first pedal last night, a fuzz face with all vintage NOS components and hand matched germanium transistors and HOLY COW that things gonna blow some minds Sunday!!!

    • Amen to that brother! Until I finish paying off my other guitar, my fuzz pedal is solely a feedback generator for my Epiphone Casino, if you catch me drift.

  31. I’ve have several situations where I wanted fuzz in a worship set. My problem is that I can’t find one that I like well enough to actually use….Oh well.

  32. Rhoy–hehe We’ll suck him in and make him a gearhead! It won’t be until years later that he’ll realize he was perfectly fine with his original setup. 😀

    Seth J–only if you’re using that phrase strictly for music! hehe And even then, you’re going to be dangerously close to just playing the riff from ‘Acrobat’ over and over again. 😉

    Oh, and fuzz and delay and a second od are definitely necessary in worship. So’s a Whammy, but only the original version. 😉 lol

    Andrew–right on!! Sounds like a great pedal!

    KennyG–have you tried the Hartman Germanium? I love it more than…well, I love it a lot. hehehe

  33. I’ve actually been eying the Hartman. My big problem now is that I don’t really have room on my board (which I JUST put together…) for it unless I nix my planed space for a Tim (I can’t believe I actually just said that…) so I’ll have to remain fuzz-less for now. I haven’t had one in over 15 years so, I’m sure I’ll survive.

  34. Ah, that’s like, the worst choice to have to make ever!! Tim or fuzz!! As much as it pains me to say it, you probably made the right decision with the Tim. lol

  35. I do have an M9 on my board (that I really only use for modulation and filter-type effects) and it has some fuzz models in it. I wonder if I could actually get a usable sound from one of them? I doubt it but, it can’t hurt right?

  36. Ya, that might work. I think the problem is that fuzz is such an analog, lo-fi, and ‘feel’ effect, that it usually seems that it’s the hardest sound to model. But who knows? Maybe the M9 does it really well. :)

  37. Seth J–lol That was awesome!!

    KennyG–that’s very true!! And that can never be a bad thing. :) And I must admit, on some very hot days, lugging my board around, an M9 starts to seem like a good thing to me. hehehe But you’ve got it on a board, coupled with other pedals, right?

  38. Yeah, I’m only using it for phaser, flanger, chorus, envelope filtering, etc. I haven’t been using it for too long now but I’m really liking so far. I like having so many different options available. I don’t think I’d ever be able to use it alone though.

    • This good sir, has made my day!
      Try your hardest not to play Radiohead or abandon all inhibitions and go Nels Cline on that mother’s father.

  39. KennyG–awesome!! Ya, I think it’s good for uses like that, with external od’s. :)

    Andrew–lol And Radiohead is killer.

    Seth J–lol Awesome.

  40. I’m sorry, is that good or bad? I’m getting old, and lacking on some of these terms! lol Either way, rock on!!! 😀 (And…I think I just proved my oldness right there with that phrase. hehe)

  41. …ended up using the octave SHIFTER with my new fuzzy…. We Are Hungry got the M83 treatment, I Will Go got the White Stripes treatment, and somehow at the end of Mighty To Save when it was all built up I played the solo to Jumper by Third Eye Blind. I didn’t even know that solo, it just kinda….happened. And I am ashamed. Hahaha

  42. A guy just e-mailed me on Facebook the other day (actually, I think he found my page from a post I left on one of your blogs) and was asking what I thought about the Fulltone GT-500. As I went into a reply e-mail that was probably WAY longer than he was expecting or even wanted, I at some point said that I could probably get by with just 2 pedals (not counting a tuner. Always gotta have a tuner…) The Fulltone GT-500 and the Boss DD-20. So why do I carry around an 80lb pedalboard? I’ve been seeing a lot of much simpler rigs lately with great tone, and not just straight to the amp, blues-rock tone. Good modern worship-esque delay and ambience tones. But as much as I think I’d like to, I just can’t bring myself to completely change over to a smaller board and cut things out. Like tremolo. I really don’t use tremolo that often, and when I do use it, it’s not usually an essential part of the song, I just realize that I have a tremolo pedal and figure, “Why not? Haven’t stepped on that little guy in awhile…”
    But, I feel a little better about not being able to do that, as I’m sure you won’t sell all your stuff and stick with the “Riglet” either (great term for that by the way. I’ll probably say that around my friends who don’t read your blog and take credit for coming up with it on my own. Haha)

    I love reading your blogs Karl. They’re always spot on and bring a smile to my face.

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