The Never Ending Search for Tone

  • Changed my strings and felt like I had bought a new guitar. Once again. Why is that so hard to learn? Oh, because it means I didn’t get to buy anything.
  • Be nice. You never know who you’re being nice to.
  • I think Gear Page is broken.
  • Can’t seem to get over Greg Leisz’s plugged straight-in tone.
  • Really, really starting to wonder if boutique pedals are worth it. They used to be, but that was before I had a good amp, a good guitar, buffer, and switching system. So you take away the whole not true bypass and junky buffer thing against non-boutique pedals… So, some shootouts are coming. But not just sterile environment shootouts, shootouts like playing an ambient piece with a Tremolessence and a Tuna Melt, and seeing if in the context of an actual piece, there’s any appreciable difference. Maybe a Timeline/DD20 one, too. And a Tim/stock Blues Driver.
  • And I really hope the boutique stuff doesn’t make an appreciable difference, because then I can sell all my boutique stuff and buy cheaper stuff because then I can go to LA and buy………wait.
  • Or maybe I’m just bored again of being happy with my tone, and don’t know where to go from my current gear. ;)
  • I also have had a Boss TU2 for my acoustic since July, and am still loving it. Couple that with my Boss RV3. I just got this mental image of Never Ending Story where the world is crumbling around the princess in the tower; except I’m the princess. Well……you really have to read that one right for it to make sense.
  • ‘Bastion, why don’t you do what you dreamed!’ ‘I have to keep my feet on the ground!’ ‘Call my name!’ And then he runs to the window and yells something unintelligible, and next thing you know he’s divebombing bullies into garbage cans on a crazy flying dog. Best kid power movie ever.
  • How long before youtube becomes the new medium for music, rather than the radio or iTunes or tv music channels? Think we can actually make a change from corporatism and make it happen? Or is the current influx of commercials on youtube more a sign that youtube will just become the new television?
  • I changed my own oil this weekend for the first time ever. I am now more a man than I was yesterday. Is this sad? Probably. It was really fun, except it made my fingers dirty.
  • Oh, and Jonny Buckland has a Phase 90 in his rig. Like, the block letter version. With an led. Nope, not vintage…not even that cheesey resissue script series they came out with. Just…plain…stock. I think. I act like I have knowledge of the inner workings of his rig, but really I just saw a picture.
  • There is hope for music. And that hope exists in the personage of Ray LaMontagne. I mean, he’s making a late night talk show’s studio and sound team actually sound good. Vocals sound exactly like the recorded version:


  • Grass roots. Watch out, it’s coming.
  • Bono and Edge recently intro’d the cast singing one of the songs they wrote for the new Spiderman Musical. Wish it was Edge’s guitar tone. And Bono can be really awkward at times, but he has never done the I-wish-I-was-in-Twilight head throwback after every phrase, nor the I-love-myself-too-much not pronouncing any word of the song. But hey, he’s on Broadway and I’m…we…let’s just say…not. Thanks to Dan at MapleNeck for this one:


  • But now, the real story of this video. I think I might trade in half my U2 cd’s in exchange for just a few more buttons on Bono’s shirt. It is frighteningly open. It’s like the Rattle and Hum overalls all over again. And I just got over my nightmares from this. Okay, fine. It’s just an excuse to show one of the best videos ever. This video got me into tone, and changed my life:


  • Still, Bono should be wearing a shirt. Always.
  • And, because it’s awesome:


  • The dream world of tone is crumbling!! Call it’s true name to save the dream world and make it into a real one! Boss! Ibanez! MXR!! Line 6!!! (No, not that one.) ;)
  • Oh, and if I don’t comment back on the blog for a while, it’s because I’m reliving my childhood and helping Bastion fight the Nothing. I’m so gonna watch this right now. I mean, practice guitar.

Splendid.
Karl.

P.S. Yikes, seeing the Captain Eo tribute last week at Disneyland really sent me into this ’80′s tailspin. And it’s just as wonderful as you thought it could be. Alright, who’s with me in bringing animatronic puppets, chorus effects, and the Bono overalls back?! What’s a good chorus pedal? Boss CH-5, anyone? ;)

98 thoughts on “The Never Ending Search for Tone

  1. sadly I don’t think anyone can really tell the difference between botique and regular consumer pedals, other then a super obvious shoot-out type of situation. reminds me of those snooty wine tasters that couldn’t actually tell the difference between the good ones and the bad ones (have to google that story its funny)

  2. Greg Leisz is awesome. I like his playing with Bill Frisell and I think he does the great outro solo on Ryan Adam’s Shadowlands.

    Youtube is this generation’s 4 track.

    My expectations on the live version of Mercy must have been too high or Bono changed the song too much from the demo. :)

  3. That is my favorite version of Bad ever!

    And I’d be really interested in a DD20 / Timeline shoot out since my main delay (at the moment) is the DD20.

  4. Kenrick–oh, nice! I will check that out! And ya, I think I’m just curious right now. Been having some good experiences with Boss pedals, and am thinking about re-opening this box. haha

    Dan–he does? Man, that is so my dream to be the guy who gets to plays music everywhere, but can still walk into a restaurant and have zero people know that it’s his guitar playing on the radio overhead. I just discovered him, and he’s a new hero of mine. :)

    ‘Youtube is this generation’s four track.’ Beautiful.

    Oh ya! They played that in Zurich, right? I’m listening right now, and really liking it. I think it’s great, but might need a different drum beat if it’s gonna be a live song. Great guitar work from Edge, and killer piano melodies. I’m actually liking Bono’s vocal melody, too…just the drums for me. hehe

    Rhoy–lol Yes! Me too!! And have my books come to life!

    Justin–oh, I just can’t seem to find anything interesting or useful there anymore. It’s probably just me. haha :)

    Jonathan–lol I know, come on folks!!

    KennyG–sweet! Ya, me too. And I’m thinking a Timeline/DD20 demo might be imminent. :)

    Errrrgh. And how do I get rid of Gerald A. Aughnmbergeredstil’s trackbacks?! Oh, never mind. I just had to click things.

  5. Karl… Let’s be honest. You’ll sell all your boutique pedals and eventually buy em all back :)

    If it’s worth anything, my tuna melt really is a great trem and my stock Blues Driver sounds great with humbuckers but awful with single coils. IMO. but I am on the list for a Tim in November.

    A TGPr once said, “No crowd can hear the difference between a Klon and an SD-1.” I’m trying to make myself play without worrying quite as much about my tone, and worry more about worshipping our awesome God. Of course it’s a very difficult task to not worry about your tone but… Well let’s just say I played yesterday with NO compressor, ONE overdrive, ONE delay, a volume pedal, and a Blues Jr.

  6. Kenrick–the best part of that article is the folks screaming foul in the comments section. haha That’s me with gear!! lol Great article, bro!

    Andrew–that just might happen! haha ;) And I hear ya on the fact that worrying about your tone can hinder connecting with God. What I try to get myself to do is worship God through service during the week by trying to get my tone and playing to a level that I feel will help the congregation relax in the atmosphere and be able to just focus on God; and then, when I’m actually up there playing, I force myself to trust that I did a good job preparing during the week, and then I just focus on leading and worshiping. It doesn’t always work out that way, but that’s what I strive for. :)

  7. Wait…Ray has his acoustic mic’ed. That’s blowing my mind. He’s probably a freaking dream to record because he probably does everything exactly the same every time. Incredible musician.

    • If you look close, you can see the cord coming out of the end pin on his guitar. I looks like he’s mic’ing and using some sort of on-board p/u or internal mic as well.

      • That’s just the power adapter for the built-in delay in his guitar. ;)

        But you’re totally right! Even better! Yikes, looks like he might be absolutely crazy about tone. :D :D

  8. Can you imagine the conversation he must’ve had with the Jimmy Kimmel studio sound guy?! ‘Nope. I’m not using that guitar, even though it can plug in. I’m using mine, and we’re mic’ing the soundhole. You can feel the air moving. Watch.’ haha Well, at least that’s how it goes in my mind. He strikes me as a no-compromise musician. He’s the best.

  9. I played a gig in DC this weekend. The backline guy we rented from only had deluxe reverbs, twin reverbs, and an AC30 (Not a CC, Thank goodness). Well, I chose the AC30, and it bugged me how great it sounded. Of course, who doesn’t like an AC30? But my point is, it’s easy to forget how great some of that classic, non-boutique gear sounds. That amp really is awesome. So easy to play.

    Of course, we were playing out of a Meyer Sound system with Meyer monitors. Those speakers are seriously magical. I’m sure that had something to do with it.

  10. I change strings at least every 2 months, but I suppose we put it off because it’s a pain, and not as much fun as opening a box and pulling out a shiny pedal with a blue led. Karl it would be interesting to see you do a shootout while playing with a band. You must have some friends down there you could jam with even if you aren’t currently playing in a church situation. Of course, we might just conclude then that the differences can’t be detected in that context, unless the pedal was just horrible.

    Oh, and chorus — I still use it. Dunno why, I just like the soft edge it gives in a church situation, but then 90% of the time I’m the only instrument for our worship team. With a band I could see how it could be mushy or prevent you from cutting through the mix. Does chorus sound retro or “so 80s” ? That’s the least of my concerns. :-)

    I think I finally found the source of my intermittent fizz/hiss noise. Dumped the cheaper direct boxes ( Behringer, Acoustic Xciter ) and went with a Whirlwind IMP 2 passive. Still using the same xlr cable to the mixer with phantom power still on.

    Still had the noise. Flip off some new lights a volunteer installed in the sanctuary and the noise stopped, then returned. Flipped the ground lift on the Whirlwind and dead quiet. Conclusion: probably should be using a non-phantom powered line, which might make the other DIs usable. Well actually the conclusion is hire a real electrician, but differences in ground potential between the mixer and the stage outlets might not be all that rare. Funny how a stubborn noise like that takes your mind completely off gear, songs, worship, food, shelter, clothes…. LOL

  11. David–wow! Sounds like a great gig! And if the Vox wasn’t a CC, what was it? Was it one of the British ones from the ’90′s, or one of the new Handwired versions? If it was actually a vintage 1960′s one, I am going to be very, very jealous. :D

    Andrew–oh ya! I remember that movie. Isn’t Denzel’s name ‘Crispy’ or something like that? Creedy? I remember he rocks some folks in a barrio…ya. Good, not great. I agree. :)

    Sam–on a couple different levels, I’m guessing? hehe ;)

    Rhoy–yep, there’s one of the levels of scariness. I’m just going with the fact that since she’s the ‘Childlike Empress’, that it’s okay to be her because the ‘Empress’ is referring to the very manly SuperDelay and Tremolo. Right? ;) hehehe

    Randy–ya!! Stoked you found the source of the hiss! Ya, hiring electricians is the real solution, but I also constantly play at churches that are wired poorly and just don’t have the money to do it properly. So, we have to come up with our own solutions! Glad you fixed it!

    I will try to get some demo’s with a band. That’d be cool.

    Oh, and I use chorus, too sometimes. :)

  12. KARL!! Please please get your hands on a handwired ac4 and do a shootout with it and a blues jr!!! Lately I’ve talked to some people who think it sounds better than the blues jr for $150 less!!! PLEASE DO A SHOOT OUT!

  13. All I saw were the words “No Delay” and instantly became furious. I’m going to be honest, that sent me in a fit of rage win which I set my house on fire, detonated my city water tower, faked a British accent for an hour, threw a watermelon into the sun, smashed ten thousand mailboxes using a DS-1 (that’s all they’re good for), started a riot, blew up the moon, and told my dog he was kinda lame.

    The world needs delay, doggone it.

  14. Also, just watched Boondock Saints. I think I’m on an old movie spree or something. As cool as that movie was, it was pretty terrible. Not exactly high on the Quality Meter…

    So anyway back to Music, Pedals, Amps, and Worshipping God…

  15. Oh and Denzels name was Creasy.

    Sorry now I’m just getting obnoxious… :(

    Serious question time (finally): Karl, how often do you use Trem in worship sets? I have one, I like the effect, but for some reason I’ve just never felt it necessary. But the problem is that I really WANT to use it, and think it would be really cool, but I have no idea when to use it. Lol. I know there are no “proper” or hard and fast rules about this kinda thing obviously so I guess what I’m asking is… When do YOU use Tremolo?

  16. Also just realized I typed “Rage Win” a few posts ago. Meant “in” not “win” but whatever. Now I’m just racking up your comment count with nothing important. I’m sorry :(

  17. Ben G–lol I know!! Although, Edge does use some nice Tele tones on Unforgettable Fire and Vertigo. Mmmm!!

    And I’ll definitely try to get an AC4. Been wanting to try them anyway. Or maybe a Night Train and a Blues Junior or something. :)

    Andrew–haha No worries on the comments. People will eventually just see the comments total and think my blog is really popular. lol

    As far as trem goes, I don’t use it a ton, but I do use it. I have mine set to a subtle not too fast, not too slow trem that I use usually in verses of songs that have a little bit more of a blues or southern feel to them, or if I want to inject that feel into them. And I just strum the chords with the trem on. I’ll also use the same setting to put in the background of swells or different ambient stuff for texture. Thirdly, I’ll set it real slow and throbby for intro’s of certain songs or on deep songs where that’s all I’ll play the whole time. And then lastly, every once in a while I’ll set it real fast so that it sounds like a slicer, and couple that with fuzz and phase for real big sections of fast songs. But I never use that sound more than once per set, on one small passage, like, once every couple months. It’s great in moderation but can get annoying quick! hehe

    Oh, and I didn’t like Boondock Saints either. I came in with high expectations, because it’s Irish (hehe), and because I like Billy Connolly. I actually liked the theme and philosophical question of the movie, but thought it was ruined with amateur directing and a poor cast. Oh, and Willem Dafoe’s blatancy. There’s a fine line between an electric, charismatic, and daring performance, and an over-the-top clownish performance. I think he crossed it a little bit. hehe

  18. Couldn’t agree more :)

    I’m curious about the slowish subtle trem you were talking about though… Could you give me examples of what songs you use it on? If you don’t mind of course ;) if you don’t have time or can’t think of any that’s totally cool, no worries. I think I’m trying to artificially produce GAS for a pedal I already have. Haha.

  19. Andrew–sure!! Um, I’d use it on the first verse and chorus of Sweetly Broken, and then kick on dotted quarter delay with the trem for the little interlude, and then kick the trem off right on the downbeat of the first lyric of the second verse. Gives some dynamics to the song. I might use it the whole time on something like Heart of Worship, up until the double chorus on Amazing Grace/My Chains Are Gone, and until the big part on All I Need is You (the Hillsong one). That one actually works great with big strummed chords with tremolo. :) What trem are you using again?

    Ben G–oh, really? I had no idea! That seems odd to me. If I can find good deals, maybe I’ll do a Night Train/Blues Junior/AC4/Tiny Terror/Valve Jr./Blackheart shootout. lol Not sure I’ll have the money for that, but we’ll see!

    • While you’re throwing down big $$ on that amp shootout why not add Jet City one of the small Egnaters and the Mesa Trans Atlantic;). No pressure, right.

      It happened, no more 1′s and 0′s just tubes. Given that speakers and tubes are going to change eventually, which should go first? Tubes are probably a little less expensive, but I’m wondering if a speaker might be more bang for the buck.

  20. Craig–haha Well, hopefully it’d be a shootout of low-costers. How much are those Jet City ones?

    And right on! I’m with ya on the speaker first. Tubes are like putting a new set of strings on, which is great. But a really good new speaker can make the amp. :)

    KennyG–good point! It’s a good go-to effect. :)

    Andrew–nice!! I’m gonna have another one coming in pretty soon here…see if we can hear the difference between it and the Tremolessence in the context of a song.

    • The 20 watt Jet City is about $300 new. The Tweaker is a little more, and the Mesa is $900, which takes it out of the inexpensive amp realm.

      You are probably right about the speaker but the tubes may go first just to be safe. Not to mention that now I have to start speaker research. I’m not sure I can justify spending more on a speaker than I did one my amp. :) I’d welcome any thoughts on a good (read not horribly expensive) speaker for a 15 watt class A el-34 amp. Although I’ve changed bad tubes before I keep hearing how dangerous it is to change tubes, as long as I’m swapping apples to apples do I really need a tech for this?

      Cool story, this particular transaction had to be an even trade and I went in to GC with every intention of walking out if they wouldn’t do it (Flextone plus some pedals that were waiting for a better home). While the guy was giving me that trade $$ that were just low enough that I was going to have to say no, some guy walks up and wants to by my Double Trouble for more than GC was giving me on trade, deal was made, and I ended up spending about $14.00 out of pocket. Not a bad night.

      • I wouldn’t think you’d need a tech for a straight up tube swap. Just make sure you touch a metal part of your amp chassis to ground yourself and that your hands are clean (wouldn’t want to get those new tubes all greasy now…). I’d also recommend putting in some good quality tubes as a first step before you look into a new speaker. I’m running an Epiphone Blues Custom 30 and it sounded pretty good with the stock sovtek tubes but, I dropped in a set of JJs and, wow…that’s all I can really say. What a difference it made. You may find you don’t even need a new speaker at all. The guy @ Eurotubes was really helpful in the tube selection and they’re prices are pretty good too.

        • Kenny,

          Thanks, that’s pretty much what I thought. My plan was to go with JJ’s or something else good when I replaced.

          Any thoughts about mixing preamp tubes (12ax7 v. 12au7 etc). It seems like there might be some difference in clean headroom, but it should still be a relatively simple swap?

          • I’m not really sure about the difference between the 12ax7′s and 12au7s. I would call the guy at Eurotubes and ask him about the difference in the preamp tubes.

          • Thanks, It sounds like a 12ay7 or a couple of others will increase the onset of distortion and give the distortion more power tube character. It sounds like all of the 12a’s are pretty interchangeable and that there is something to be said for just switching them around for fun. So I’ll give it a shot. It also sounds like the EL84′s are more about getting a high quality tube than any major changes.

  21. I agree, we need TransAtlantic! I’ve been gassing for this but really can’t afford right now … hopefully when my kids grow up. oh, their 4 & 1-month old, so it will be a while :lol:

    • Rhoy,

      I had a GC sales guy try to convince me that the TA was the greatest thing since sliced bread. FYI, this is after I told him I was looking for a simple one channel amp. So I tried it out. At $400-$500 it is probably a great amp at $900 I’m not sure. I honestly wasn’t blown away, and would really like a couple of hours with one. But at this point I’d have a hard time choosing the TA over one of the small Egnaters.

      But, Karl definitely needs to add one to his shootout.m lol

  22. Did you actually sit down and watch Never Ending Story? Because watching it as an adult completely ruined the memory of that classic movie for me. It’s … it’s really bad. So just cherish the memories you have for how great it was/is in your mind … because you’ll regret it if you replace it with reality. >.<

    Also if you catch me at just the right time, I could buy that post shoot-out blues jr. or whatever ends up being the best value "beginner" amp off of you … considering you probably know how to get a good deal and I have no idea where to start. So if you give me a call first or whatever to make sure I can currently pull it off you might not have to carry that particular bit of overhead for long. I dunno if that's helpful at all, but it's offered if it is …

  23. I had the same experience with The Three Amigos. I remember it being hillarious. And then I watch it again a few years ago. Hoo boy. It’s awful.
    Those Egnator tweakers have a voltage selector too, so they might be a cheap option for us overseas people. Order it in the US and have it shipped.
    There is a AC4 on TGP right now with mercury magnetics upgraded transformers, that would be great for the shootout. Unfortunately, they only make them in 115v or I’d have considered grabbing it.

    • I’m going to have to disagree with you about The Three Amigos. That has to be one of my all-time favorite movies. Now, I’m not really saying it’s not bad. I’m just saying, it’s “great”.

  24. I tried a Tom Anderson Crowdster Plus in Nashville about a nine months ago with the acoustic into a bose system, and the electric into a boogie TransAtlantic through a boogie 212 (this was because it was the only amp they had that was even slightly close to an AC30 or my beloved tophat club royale). I was impressed by the acoustic tone, worth more than the 3k price tag by itself. I HATED the the electric side. I tried a couple of Nash guitars there as well to see if it was the pup in the Tom Anderson. It wasn’t. I couldn’t get the overly shrill top end to go away, and I am fairly familiar with the boogie control set up. I will take a tiny terror over the TransAtlantic any day, and still have cash left for a fulldrive or a bb preamp.

    Just my $0.02 :)

  25. I haven’t read any of this thread so this could very well not add anything to conversation at all, but just thought it was kind of cool.

    Recently I’ve acquired a Vox AC30cc2 (not always thought of highly), a half fulltone fulldrive 2/ half catlinbread dirty little secret clone, an M9( LINE6?!?!?!?), (“everybody has one.. blah”[reffering to the fulltone]), and a EHX deluxe memory boy (it’s not a super expensive high-dollar delay… ho-hum). I played my friend’s stock mexican tele through it all at worship practice tonight (this was the first time I’ve used it all together).

    Let me just say that this is seriously the sound I’ve been hearing in my head for years. Everything I’ve wanted a guitar to sound like, was what I sounded like. I know I didn’t have top-notch high-dollar gear (well it was to me as I’m a poor college student haha), but I seriously would put that tone up against any other worship tone I’ve heard like, ever. It was just so perfect (to me at least). I guess it just goes to show that in the right circumstance and played by the right people at the right time, “lower quality” gear can sound really, really good.

    I just need to get myself a telecaster and I honestly couldn’t ever see myself wanting another piece of gear. I loved that sound just so much. It cut perfectly, the gain of the pedal mixed with the light breakup of the amp just right, the “digging in” of the tele just felt incredible with the cranked AC30, and having three delays on at once was pretty sweet too ;)

  26. so, i went to my guitar lesson today and i mentioned that i didn’t like how my bandleader was always asking me to boost my treble and my sound is always thinner than i prefer. his first question: was it a worship leader? i literally almost burst out laughing.

  27. I totally forgot to update everyone! This last weekend I played worship for my church and the first thing that the sound people did was to stop the practice and say… “Hey Ben, uh, I don’t know what you’re doing but you sound really wierd. Is there any way you can make your guitar sound “more electric”??” I stared at them in disbelief and stated, “My guitar IS electric…” Come to find out that what they thought was wierd was that I was using a rythmic delay… How am i supposed to play lead guitar without delay!? Riddle me that!!

  28. Craig and KennyG–on tubes, for power tubes other than EL84′s, you should probably re-bias after putting the new tubes in, and usually that’s a tech thing. But preamp tubes, EL84′s, and self-biasing amps are fine. But ya, do be careful what you touch if you have to pull out the chassis. Some of the stuff in there can carry charges even when not plugged in.

    Rhoy–wow, when did you and your wife have a second child? Congratulations!!!

    Rapha–lol What?! It’s amazing! I mean, claymation can only take you so far…hehehe

    And if I end up doing the Blue Junior thing, I’ll definitely pass it along to you. :)

    Mark Colvin–no way!!! haha Three Amigos is a classic!! hehe I know, I’m a loser. But I seriously love that movie!

    ‘Great! You’ve shot the invisible swordsman!’

    KennyG–so with ya on that!!

    ‘Jefe…would you say I have a plethora of pinatas?’

    Charlie–interesting perspective. That’s really good to hear. I’ve liked the Lonestar, but not many other Boogie’s.

    Isaac–hey man, if that’s the tone that’s doing it for ya, then rock it! Personally, the CC’s I’ve heard haven’t done much for me, but maybe you got a good one. Stoked for ya, brother!

    KennyG–absolutely!

    Ben G–how much headroom do you need?

    Nater2–best story ever!! lol

    Ben G–haha So what they meant was more classic rock? lol I didn’t even know guitar existed without delay! ;)

  29. Andrew–I love both those! There’s definitely an art to doing comedy…I know I couldn’t do it.

    And soundguys…ah. Sometimes I do listen to them, though. ‘Can you just play dry so I can mix the guitar better’ sometimes translates to ‘You’ve got a hair too much verb on and I don’t know how to say that in guitar terms or I don’t want to hurt your feelings.’ But then again, sometimes it means ‘I don’t know what to do with a guitar that doesn’t sound like Angus Young.’ haha I’ve resorted to having a long cable and actually going out to hear what I sound like in the house. That way I know if I’m dealing with a soundguy whose tastes align with mine, or one that I need to know that when he says more effects, I need to give him less; or when he says less effects, I’m sounding just how I want. hehe I’ve even thought about getting a wireless for this, but I haven’t been wanting to sacrifice the tone. lol

  30. Tone question: ( neck replacements affect tone ). I took my 74 Fender strat in for an assessment. As suspected the original frets on the maple neck are worn too far for dressing, etc. The tech felt that it would cost more for him to replace them than for me to order one from Warmoth ( pulling frets out of a maple, glossy neck is difficult to do without making a mess ). Of course the Warmoth neck won’t have the Fender label on the headstock, but my guitar isn’t completely stock anyway — pickups changed and it had Schaller tuners when I bought it with original case in 1982 for $250. ( I did keep the original pickups ).

    So I’m considering a Warmoth Pro 25 1/2 scale with 6105 stainless frets. I have no idea how much an authentic Fender replacement would cost. Any suggestions?

  31. Hmm…on a ’74 strat, I’d be inclined just to pay more and fix the frets on the original neck. But that’s just me. :)

    If the tone is good on the Warmoth and it’s good wood (and you don’t care about the Fender logo and headstock), then the tone difference won’t be much different than a new Fender. Might be a little different than the nice old wood your current neck has, though. Just my thoughts on it. :)

  32. I agree, I’d definitely go for a refret, a Warmoth neck will destroy any resale value and a ’74 Strat will pick up a nice little chuck of change if you ever decide to sell it.

  33. I’m a little surprised that a re-fret would cost more than a new neck. Is the tech charging more because it’s an older guitar? I haven’t done a re-fret myself but, I would imagine it’s a pretty common service for a guitar. Certainly just swapping the neck out is easier (really shouldn’t even need a tech for something like that if the new neck already has the frets & the nut installed…)

  34. Apparently pulling the frets out of a glossy-coat maple neck is hard to do without damaging the glossy-coat. If you damage it, you have to refinish it, which boosts the cost. I’ll check around and gets some bids from guys that pretty much specialize on strats. It’s looking like about $350 for the Warmoth I want including $75 for the local tech to install and set it up. I’d have to compare that with exchanging the neck with Fender or a refret.
    I started a thread on this at: http://www.stratocastertalk.com/forumdisplay.php?f=9

    There is some sentimental value to the guitar since I’ve played it for years — I probably won’t sell it until the old fingers stop working.

  35. One option would be to replace the neck with the Warmouth, but keep the original to reinstall if you ever want to sell for top dollar. Just checked the Fender website and you can’t get an official Fender replacement neck but you can (maybe) get the decal. Is it just me or does that just seem strange? As far as value, I’d guess that the re-fret/re-finish will probably hurt value as well.

  36. That’s kind of funny since it’s becoming unplayable with the existing frets. I’m sure I can find a label somewhere that will look authentic on the warmoth if I go that route.

  37. The vintage guitar market is wierd in that there is often more value in an original if unplayable guitar, than in a modified playable guitar. If you keep the original neck it allows buyers to restore it if they want. If it’s a player and your not worried then change the neck and enjoy. It’s strange what hoops you would have to jump through to get an official sticker. It might also be worth getting a second opinion on the re fret. Maybe there is someone who will tackle it.

  38. Overall I’m getting the impression that my best bet is get a replacement from someplace like Warmoth, put the original neck in safe-keeping for some date when I might want to sell it. I’m not in love with the original neck. The guitar is original except for 3 items: 1) the Schaller tuners, and I don’t have the originals 2) the new pickups, but I do have the originals and 3) a slight irregularity in the pickguard around the pickup selection switch since at one time I had 3 toggle switches there instead of the standard switch there now.

  39. I’m going to chime in a few thoughts here.

    The price of boutique pedals may not be just because of the sound, but the manufacturing processes as well. If Paul C had the ability to crank out out Tims and Timmys like Boss can with BD-2s, then he would be able to sell more, make more profit and even sell the product at a lower price.

    Hand made doesn’t always equal better tone but it can lead to better quality control.

    Boutique companies can sometimes create new products or come up with an innovative spin on an already existing circuit. Love pedal has don this in spades, as well as come up with some fantastic original circuits of their own.

    There are some fantastic pedals from big names companies, even Boss. I use an MXR EVH Phase 90 on my board and an MXR Carbon Copy. Not the best Phaser in the world but it sounds good enough to me.

    Buying a big name product in Australia such as Boss or MXR, can cost as much as buying a boutique pedal online.

    Boss pedals can sound awesome in some people hands but not mine. If tone is in the fingers, then my tone doesn’t play nice with a DS-1

    Americans have it a fair bit easier price wise, than a lot of other countries but, Australia has better beaches and pretty good import laws so it balances out.

    An awesome finish may not make a pedal sound better (I said “may”), but they look cool and, can take more time or cost more to produce, leading to an increase of the cost of a pedal.

    Boutique pedal builders need to make a profit too.

    Wouldn’t it be awesome if boutique pedal builders teamed up with larger pedal manufactures to produce large quantities of boutique quality pedals at a price people can afford.

    People would still complain, even if the price of every pedal dropped because, they couldn’t sell the pedal for as much second hand.

    I’m not a great guitarist, I’m not professional, I don’t even have my own blog. ;) These are my opinions and I could very well be wrong. (It’s not likely since I’ve already been wrong once today, so what are the chances of that?)

    • Sam,

      Check out JHS pedals, they do a nice job of good sounding affordable boutique pedals, and they’ll do blue LED’s (or white, green, yellow, etc.). I do agree with your main point, I’ve seen too many Boss pedals on touring guitarists pedal boards to think they can’t sound good.

  40. Yeah, I’ve seen some awesome stuff from JHS, I was even considering getting something made from them but alas, I could justify it enough to do so. My wallet was pretty happy.

    • Sam,
      When you have the chance give them a try. I love the double barrel od and the angry charlie on my board right now. Fuzz will probably happen later this year. I will admit that there is an element of being an early JHS customer so that when they get big I can say “my 2010 angry charlie is one of the good early ones, now they are all junk :)”. Seriously, if they didn’t sound good they’d be for sale. At this point the prices seem pretty good for individually made pedals, but they are not cheap either. Good luck.

  41. Sam–awesome points. I do agree, there are a lot of benefits to boutique pedals. I’m not throwing in the towel, just exploring further…partly because of some of the reasons you mentioned, like the fact that a lot of touring guitarists use some of these cheaper pedals. :)

    Craig–same here on the touring boards. :)

    • Karl, some times I’m amazed at what shows up in some of the pics, but it’s kind of reasurring that “anyone” can get the same stuff the big guys use.

      I was thhinking about the M9 last night trying to see how much space it would take and what pedals could go away if I take the plunge.

  42. Ya, I agree. Although sometimes a lot of their tones are coming from some hugely expensive rackmount gear, I’m afraid. But it still is nice to see John Mayer stepping on a BD2. hehe Modded or not. ;)

    And don’t go to the dark side!! I don’t care if it sounds good, is less expensive, and is also more versatile! It’s still the dark side! lol :D

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