The Tone Journey & The Less Cool Pedalboard

I was trying to wait until the Timeline was finished being repaired, the Prairiewood had a new neck, and I bought another Hartman. I guess until my new ‘less expensive pedalboard’ was finished. But I’ve had so many requests to show my current board, that I’m just gonna go ahead and risk the self-imposed wrath of showing a fuzzless pedalboard.

So for those of you late to the party (I’m going to start referring to my blog as ‘the party on the internet’…I just decided), I’m on an all new board with cheaper pedals because of damage sustained to my guitar and amp a couple months ago. And as tone comes at least 90% from the guitar and amp, pedals were sold in order to fix said guitar and amp. Pedals also sustained damage in the storm, and so even more were sold in order to buy road-cases. (Yes, I gigged for seven years without road-cases. I like to live on the Edge. And no, I did not mistakenly hit capslock.) It’s been a fun journey, and a surprising one. Not to mention that the first week I had the new road-cases, it poured rain on the way to a gig while they were in the back of my truck. Worth every penny.

The New, Incomplete, and Uncool Board

The stain on the carpet is where the corner of my last pedalboard used to lay; may it rest in peace. The top left where the Midi Mouse is, is where the Timeline is going to go once it is repaired. The right side has the volume pedal for my pad rig, the click track for my home church, and the tuner for my acoustic. Eventually, those will probably go to a separate board so that I can fill that space up with fuzz. I miss fuzz. More than anything I can remember, and very possibly more than any person ever should.

It’s two pieces so it can fit in roadcases. The Pedaltrain Jr:

And the Pedaltrain Pro:

The Signal Chain

Godin Strat (while the Prairiewood gets put back together)

–This has been a huge surprise. Really, really good sounding guitar for incredibly cheap; so glad I tried these out at NAMM last year because when the Prairiewood went down, I knew exactly what to look for, for a cheap guitar that sounded good. And when the Prairiewood gets back, I’m actually going to keep this as my backup/single soil guitar. However, it is not the Prairiewood. Very good tone. But not the fullness, harmonic richness, and ability to cut through a mix like the Robert Dixon guitar. And for what it’s worth, Mr. Dixon has been great through this whole process. I’m hoping to have the guitar back soon, but he did warn me that it’d be a few months if I opted to have him do the work instead of a local luthier of his suggestion. But I felt much more comfortable with him doing the work. Looking forward to that day. But for now, the Godin has done a more than adequate job.

Fryette Valvulator

–Once you’ve heard your pedalboard with one of these, they do not get sold.

Loop-Master 6-loop true bypass strip

–This is a leftover from my previous board, as well. These are so convenient to not having your rig ever go all the way down. If a cable or a pedal goes out, you can troubleshoot on the fly by switching pedals and cables in and out of the signal path. Tonewise it keeps things purer, too. However, I did ask Dan over at This1smyne to build me a single relay bypass looper so that I can try out the silent switches and see how it affects tone. If it’s good, I might be switching all my true bypass strips to relay bypass strips.

Peterson Strobostomp (in tuner out)

–I actually sold mine, and this is my wife’s which she is graciously letting me use. Such a great tuner. And they can now be had for really cheap because of all the new tuners that are coming out in droves.

Ibanez TS7 (in Loop 2)

–My poor man’s fuzz right now. That surprisingly gives an incredibly harmonic, and wonderfully compressed lead/fuzz tone. This was actually on my board right as it went down, and will probably stay with me forever. On the hot mode, this is a total sleeper pedal. I do miss my Hartman fuzz, though.

Fulltone Fatboost v1 (in Loop 4)

–This is my overdrive pedal. Pushing the Matchless into its own drive. And, incredibly, I am loving this. I was wanting to try it out live since it did so well in my shootout this year; and it is surprisingly, quite good. As much as I love the Tim, the Tim is actually not on my short list of pedals I have to buy back as soon as possible.

Fulltone Fatboost v1 (in Loop 5)

–Another stage of boosting the Matchless into overdrive. Replaces the ‘boost’ side of my Tim.

This1smyne Super Duper clone (in Loop 6)

–Whoa. Got this for crazy cheap, and it is a brilliantly transparent overdrive. Lets your amp shine. My third and fourth stages of driving the HC30. Yes, it is a clone. It was cheap and I am a terrible person. I’m actually in talks with a couple people right now about buying a real ZVex Super Duper because I feel very, very guilty. And that guilt sounds really good on the board. 😉

Loop-Master 9-loop true bypass strip

–Leftover from my previous board as well.

Arion SPH-1 (in Loop 1)

–Whoa. So…everything Arion made in the ’80’s was awesome. No desire to get another phaser right now. Does not sound as good as the Moog. Sounds as good as just about every other phaser I’ve played, including the Subdecay which it replaced.

Danelectro Tuna Melt tremolo (in Loop 2)

–Best tremolo ever for $15. Not the best tremolo ever. Too harsh and too subtle at the same time. But gets the job done for now. Looking forward to getting my Dr. Scientist back or maybe giving the Swamp Thang another try.

George Dennis active volume pedal (in Loop 4)

–From the previous board. Killer volume pedal, little to no tone suck, and they don’t cost much at all.

(2) Boss DD20’s (in Loop 6)

–These replace one of my Timeline’s. They are the only other multi-setting delay (meaning 3 or more presets) that keeps your dry signal analog and untouched. There are two of them because I got spoiled with the Timeline’s 128 presets, and I need the two DD20’s so I can have 10 presets (if you use the manual mode as well). I’ve always liked the DD20; I’ve owned the Timefactor, Nova, EH Hazarai…and the DD20 sounds better to my humble ears. It does not have the beautifully fading repeats of the Timeline (due to its smear control), but it does have a bpm readout; which the Timeline sorely lacks. The little gold box in the corner sends tap tempo to each DD20, with the switch in the middle sending the tempo to both units at the same time. I will probably keep these until the release of the ‘Timeline 2’, or whatever it’s going to be called…provided it has a bpm readout.

Damage Control Timeline with Midi Mouse ( in Loop 8 )

–Well, when it comes in from the shop. Because I’ve been so stoked on the DD20’s, I’ll probably be still using them for main delay sounds. But they cannot get the wonderful decay of the Timeline; so the Timeline will be at the end of the chain for that great smeared multitap setting it has that I like to hide in the background. The DD20’s also have the annoying feature that to dub on the looper mode, you have to hold the on/off switch down. Just dumb. So the Timeline will also be used for its looper. And for it’s nice reverse setting can be padded after your chain. And, as it sounds fantastic, probably more things too. hehe With just these few settings, I should be fine with just the Midi Mouse to control it. For what it’s worth, I did try the Digitech Jamman Delay/Looper as it has 3 delay presets and a very powerful looper; I thought it might be an inexpensive replacement for the Timeline. I returned it the next day. One of the worst-sounding delays I have ever heard. Good looper, though. haha But I need one pedal to do both to save space and money. Ya, do not buy the Jamman Delay/Looper. Just get the looper.

Arion SAD-1 (in Loop 9)

–Just can’t replace what this pedal does at the end of swells. Plus, in its current condition, no one would ever buy this. hehe

Barge Concepts parallel looper with Behringer RV600 in the loop

–Long story short, in all the buying and selling, I got confused, and ended up with two parallel loopers. I put both for sale, and the This1smyne sold first. So I kept the Barge Concepts. The RV600 is great for the price. The only bad thing is that the tracking does get a little sketchy with good bass response flowing through it. So, I’m looking to replace it with the Verbzilla; or maybe even give the Blue Sky a second chance.

Matchless HC30

–I thought about selling this because it would provide enough money for a new acoustic and a bunch of pedals. But…it is quite simply the best thing ever. And you don’t sell the best thing ever. You just don’t.

Here’s the rig as of right now:

It’s out-of-focus because I’m artsy. I’ve still got the Furman Power Factor Pro, but in the rack. Each board has a VL PP2+. I’m keeping the Blues Junior to run my pads through, as well as my backup amp and my ‘small-club-you-can’t-bring-that-2×12-in-here’ amp, as it does sound quite good. I wills till always suggest the Blues Junior as the inexpensive amp that sounds better than things twice its price. I just changed the speaker to a Weber and the tubes to JJ’s, and it really does sing. Unfortunately, the singing paled when I a/b’d it with the Matchless. Which was a bummer, as that would’ve saved me money. But not pale enough for me not to recognize that this amp can hold its own as a backup/small gig amp. And it’s green, which is like a bonus round.

To be quite honest, I must say that I am relieved to hear firsthand that it sounds like I was right all those years saying that amps and guitars shape your tone so much more than pedals. Keep the pedals out of the way until it’s their turn to produce a texture, and then get them out of the way again signal-wise. With the Matchless, I’m pretty happy with this inexpensive board. Here’s the first actual song recorded with it. And with a mic and a laptop for the first one:

And then for this one, it’s the camera mic. And this is a literal on-the-spot improvisation, in which I do manage to use every pedal at least once. If I were to turn this into an actual piece, I’d probably go a little less on the noise-making section, but it gets the idea across, and it’s fun to just let things happen in the moment:

I’ve been very pleased with the tones; which is crazy for a cheaper board like that. I do miss the Memory Lane…nothing sounds like that pedal. And I desperately need fuzz. I’m also not crazy about hooking two pedalboards together, and I liked having the power conditioner actually on my pedalboard. So now that I’m happy with some of the cheaper stuff and might not save each month to buy absolutely everything back, I might go back to my old board (which I did not sell) and buy a custom road-case for it. Not quite sure yet. But overall…it just sounds disingenuous to say you’re glad your guitar’s neck broke off. So I’m not. But there’s always something to be learned, experienced, and made into a really good time and hopefully some heartfelt music in this journey of tone. And I miss fuzz…I may have mentioned this, but I figure just in case. :)


129 thoughts on “The Tone Journey & The Less Cool Pedalboard

  1. Love the new song Karl and so glad the new, cheaper board is working out for you. I’m really curious about how the relay bypass looper works for you. I’m trying to decide on a looper for the “pre-amp” side (fuzz, wah, drives, mods, etc…everything up to my volume pedal) of my board and I really can’t decide what I want.

    BTW, I have a verbzilla that I would love to give a good home to. I’ve been using an M9 for about 6 months now and I realized that I’ve really only used 3 effects in it so it’s coming off the board and I’m adding those three pedals. I’ve decided to use the M9 for my shimmer rig and looper (as well as my acoustic & bass rig) so the ‘zilla is coming off the board as well. I definitely don’t need to make any $$ from it so I can let it go for cheap and I’m in no rush to get rid of it so, if you’re interested, just let me know and I’ll set it aside for ya.

  2. Robert–thanks, brother! Hope you’re doing great!

    KennyG–I’ll totally let you know how the relay looper works out. Supposedly it’s full mechanical separation in the bypass, so I’ve got high hopes. The Timeline’s are relay bypass, and they had the best and quietest (both live and electronic) bypass I’ve ever used. So here’s hoping!

    And thanks on the Verbzilla! Can I let you know after Christmas? I put one on my list. hehe If I don’t get one, I’ll let you know; and if you sell it before then, no worries. :)

    Sam–thanks, bro. :) It’s not as colorful, but it’s doing a halfway decent job at least for now. A couple of them have blue led’s. 😉

  3. Man your pedal boards are huge. I keep my rig simple, but I’m looking for a better od pedal and still can’t find that ibanez de7.

    do you have any recommendations for a tube swap on a 60’s tweed blues Jr NOS edition? I put a jensen c12 in it instead of fender’s stock speaker and that helped, but every one recommends different tubes, figured is asked.

  4. Very cool setup. But always remember, (and I think you said this. And ever since I heard it, it changed my way of thinking) tone is in your fingers. That was great advice you gave, and I think we all need to remember that sometimes. Sometimes, for financial purposes, we need to scale down our pedalboard. Who cares? If we rely less on our tone coming from a Klon and a bunch of Cornish pedals, maybe we can actually focus on our playing. John Mayer didn’t get famous through his brilliant use of pedals. (Not saying pedals aren’t an extremely useful, though. They totally can be.)

    Oh, gosh, when is Strymon coming out with that darn delay? It feels like the whole world is sitting by and just waiting. Oh, and how do I hope and pray it has a bpm readout. Even if they have to add some more size to it, I’m cool with that.

    Don’t you think it’s funny that we all automatically call it the Timeline 2? To my knowledge, there is not a shred of evidence that this will be its name.

  5. Sam–if I have enough room on the board, it’ll be fun to shop around a bit. :) But I’m probably going to end up with at least the Hartman. I love that thing. And I haven’t tried the Lunar Module, but the Top Fuel was pretty great. I’m guessing the Lunar deal is pretty rad, too.

    Jared–haha Every band I play with wants something different…gotta accommodate them. :) What od are you using now?

    And my favorite tubes are JJ’s. I’ve heard people not liking them, but I’ve used them for 4 or 5 years now and have always had great success with them. I get them from , as Bob over there hand selects them.

    David–hmm…I’m not sure I ever said that tone is in the fingers. I do think that tone is partly in the fingers, but I also think it’s partly in the gear as well. It’s one of those things that for some reason, everyone always wants to boil down to one or the other. But in my mind, they are both quite important. Cement hands playing a D’Pergo is going to sound like cement hands. The D’Pergo is capable of responding very well to dynamics and string resonance, but it’s not getting any. But at the same time, John Mayer hands through a Crate is going to sound like a Crate. The hands will be giving so much in feel and dynamics, but the Crate can’t process signal that way.

    I know there have been times in my life when I have been in one camp, the other camp, and in the middle. And my best tones have usually come from when I’m in the middle; when I’m remembering to play with touch and feel in my hands, head, and heart, but also remembering to be selective about what gear will best help convey that same touch and feel out of the speaker. Just my two cents on the subject. :)

    And ya, haha. I think we call it the Timeline 2 because everyone still loves the Timeline; we just wish it had a bpm readout. 😉

    • In reply to David’s comment on tone in the hands…

      I read years ago back in the days when Van Halen was opening up for Ted Nugent that Nugent was curious as to how Halen was getting all those sounds. So during a Halen sound check he grabbed Eddie’s rig and started playing and to his surprise he still sounded like Ted… When I read this it changed my whole concept as to how I approached the guitar at the time. My thought process back then was I gotta get the right gear to get the right sound. After reading that article my mindset changed to I gotta learn to make whatever gear I have sound good. I am will to bet that John Meyer on a “Crate” playing a Japanese out of tune strat copy would still sound amazing.

      Yup, basic tone comes from our touch but the color of it happens as we add the gear. So the question is… how much color do you want to create? The only answer can be is that we want all the colors of the spectrum. The fun is trying to recreate what we all hear inside our heads… and make others hear it as well…

      • Great response! I agree that both are important; and that we shouldn’t chase our tails with gear only to end up sounding like ourselves again. I would add as well that the if gear is just the color that we add to the basic tone of our touch, then the color is probably pretty important…as we usually tend to see Mr. Mayer with a Two Rock instead of a Crate. hehe :)

        I would also add that I’d take Sal Hamby through a modded Carvin over John Mayer through a Two Rock any day. 😉 hehe But seriously.

  6. From what I’ve heard, the Lunar Module was created to capture David Gilmour’s tone from the Dark Side of the Moon album.

    The solo at the end of comfortably Numb is what initially got me interested in it, but other clips I’ve heard have made me fall even more in love with it.

  7. Karl- my od now is a fat cat overdrive, I needed one in a pinch and it was $15 cause my other one broke on me. It is probably the most box-y and distorted drive pedal ever. I read all over the net about tube screamers and different drive pedals but can’t make up my mind, I just know my fat cat one has got to go.

    I’m thinking of picking up that vox ac15vr, I did a side by sire with the ac15cc and they are pretty Dang close to each other, the od built into the vr is pretty killer. I dunno know though, feeling indecisive about my gear right now. Haha

  8. I can second the JJ tubes. I have a blues JR. with a webber and JJ’s in it and it sound ridiculous.

    @Jared, FYI, I had a tubscreamer and I like it. But there are better overdrive pedals. I know I have posted this before but this is in my opinion one of the better boutique overdrive pedals out there and it’s on sale right now for a $100.

  9. Hey Karl!

    I think it’s pretty funny that I asked what was on your board a few days ago, and I come back on to see a huge blog about it! haha… Thanks!

    So what do you meann by too harsh yet too subtle for your Danelectro Tremolo? I have the Danelectro Fab Tone Dist so I am familiar with their products… The Fab Tone is just the only one I have tried.

  10. Sam–that sounds great! That guy seems to have good feeling in his hands too. :)

    Chris–lol For some reason, that reminds me of Christmas Vacation: ‘Eddie, if I woke up tomorrow morning with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn’t be more surprised than I am right now.’ hehehe

    Jared–in my humble opinion, that Blues Junior is going to sound better than both the AC15cc and the AC15vr. I know a lot of people dig ’em, but I’m not a big fan of the custom classic series. If you’re looking for cheap Vox tone, I’d keep the Blues Junior (it already has the EL84’s), or look into Frenzel amps. Just my opinion! :)

    As for overdrives, the Tim will get you anywhere you need to go. On the cheaper side, a used Fulltone Fatboost v1 will only run you about $60-$70, and is fantastic. I’m using two, and not even missing my Tim. Also, the Boss Blues Driver and any of Barber’s stuff; all are good cheap solutions.

    Nater2–totally agree on the Blues Junior. :)

    Brandon–haha No worries!

    And the trem for me is too subtle in that it doesn’t cut through a band mix as well as I would like it to. And then it’s too harsh in that the actual sweep of the tremolo sound is not incredibly smooth. However, for $15, it sounds very decent and it’s hard to complain for that price. I’ll replace it eventually, but it’ll be one of the last things I replace.

    • Wait… why is the Tim, the pedal you swore by and the one pedal that remained on your pedalboard all those years, not on your short list to rebuy?? My whole world is crashing down before my eyes!

  11. Hi Karl!
    I haven’t heard of “relay” loopers. Can you tell me more?

    NPD yesterday. (That’s “New Pedal Day’ for the non TGP’ers here {That’s The Gear Page for non-TGP’ers})
    Wifey got me an El Capistan for Christmas. It was quite important for me to make sure it wasn’t broken so I tested it for an hour to make sure it wasn’t damaged before it got wrapped up and put under the tree. (I cried). It really does sound awesome and I’m blown away with all the optional tweaks to the sound you can make; such as adding spring reverb, tape bias, etc.

    Hope you’re well.

  12. Good thing about gear is all pretty much subjective … Your board is pretty cool with the music you can create with it, imho :)

    In the same way, I think my board is cool with all “boutique stuff” but I’m sure my playing will prove me wrong most times! Hehe

  13. Just curious, which Godin is it (model)? I was looking at some Godin online today then when I saw this post…”Oh wow, Karl has one!”

    I have a Verbzilla up for $90 on TGP right now if you are looking? (cheap plug… also an Echo Park… have to get my new amp somehow)

  14. I enjoyed your improv piece including the noise-making. I struggled to make a decent video today and from now on I will just play over loops. No more out of context, “acapella” guitar solos (coined by some guy on TGP) for me! I somehow pictured your new pedalboard being a little bit smaller so kudos on making it work with two pedalboards put together.

    @Larry – what amp are you getting?

    • @Dan… I’m actually pretty torn. I went to a store here in NC (FatSoundGuitars) and played every amp in the place and settled– absolutely LOVED the DrZ Maz 18NR, and the Matchless Avalon. Completely different amps, but both fit my playing and style very well. I’m going to go back at least 2 more times to play them both before deciding!

      • Sounds like fun! Have you been to Indoor Storm? I have a friend who lives in Fayetteville and runs a pediatric cardiology clinic for Duke. My friend and his wife drove down to visit but my friend neglected to tell his wife that he needed to stop by Indoor Storm to trade a couple guitars for a new Suhr. You can never get out of those places quickly. Can you say stink eye? 😉

  15. so just so im clear, you think i can get better tone out of my blues jr than a vox ac15? they sound way too different to me, but my blues jr definitely needs something done to it. it breaks up at 2-3.5 and gets so dirty and grungy. not good for leading worship or gigging with my band. the eurotube site has a max headroom retube kit which i will be ordering for myself for christmas (my fiancee doesnt want to get me anything cause she says “its too hard to shop for you guitar geeks” haha)

  16. Ben G–the Tim is still a brilliant pedal! It’s just that for my application of pushing an amp into a natural overdrive that I already totally dig from said amp, I’m enjoying straight boost pedals (albeit maintaining some fat bottom end and mids) almost as much if not just as much as I was enjoying the Tim. :)

    Chris–haha Great idea. I’m going as Chevy Chase with a pedalboard next year. hehehe

    Nater2–killer. :)

    Tom–sweet! And you had to wrap it back up?! Oh man! That’s gotta be torture. hehe

    And supposedly relay switching sends an electronic signal from the switch to mechanically open and close the circuit. Something like that. But it’s supposed to allow for still true bypass operation with full mechanical separation in the ‘off’ position, but also have quiter switches both ‘live’ and electronically. It also allows for spillover (if the switch is on a delay pedal). I wish I was more techy about it; all I know is that the Timeline switches are the best bypass I’ve ever used, and the loudness of my true bypass switches is starting to get to me a bit.

    Rhoy–I love your board and your playing! And I’m sure mine will be pretty boutique-y again by this time next year. Barring the neck cracking off on my guitar again. hehehe

    Larry–it’s the cheap SD model. Fat strat with maple body. The sound, for a couple hundred bucks, is actually quite good. I’ll probably keep it as my backup guitar. :) Definite sleeper guitars, those Godin’s.

    Nater2–definite beauty! Congrats!

    Dan–thanks. And lol on the guitar solo thing. hehe I’ve done that, I’m afraid. With terrible solo’s. And I tried to make due with a smaller board, and failed. haha

    Jared–well, I’m not a big fan of the Vox AC15 custom classic. A vintage ’60’s AC15 or the newer hand-wired series AC15 are different stories. Both those sound very good to my ears. However, the custom classic seems very tinny-sounding to me. Part of it is the Wharfedale speakers, so if you go with an AC15, I’d go with the Celestion Blue speaker, and I’d also upgrade the tubes to JJ’s. But yes, I like the Blues Junior more than the AC15 Custom Classic. But that’s just me! 😉

    What guitar are you playing?

    Matt–wow, that is huge! Ah, $800. That’s been around the price I’ve been quoted. hehehe

  17. My guitars are an all original 1979 Gibson les Paul standard (pre-dirty finger “dirty finger” p-ups) which sounds good in almost anything I play, and a 2008 50’s fender telecaster reissue (this guitar is what sounds way too dirty in my blues Jr).

  18. “Tone is all in the fingers” I think there are situations where the skill is 90%, like a world-class golfer beating the socks off of me using a $15 flea market set of clubs. But he isn’t going to beat me using a bag full of two by fours. Other analogies: a Ferrari running on tires off a Little Red Wagon?

    From the other point of view, good gear can make a mediocre player sound better AND ( BIG AND ) inspire him/her to play more and get better hands. Doesn’t have to be a $10,000 guitar or amp, but has to be good. I’m glad Karl’s focus of late is how to love your sound without going broke.

    So now I’m convinced I need to get a better tube amp. My guitars are pretty good, pedal board is ok for now, but more than one person has told me the Carvin Vintage 16 is really a budget amp. At the moment it really only serves as kind of a semi-loud stage monitor for me ( the congregation can hear it some ). It has the Celestion Vintage 30 speaker and JJs tubes. By itself at home I hate it. At church blended with everything else, not bad. But I’m afraid a Matchless isn’t in the budget. Maybe I should rent a nice amp for a month or weekend just to see the difference.

    • Randy, I put the “Hasse” mods on my V-16 and the amp is really brilliant sounding (v-30 speaker as well). Almost to clean. I think what it is missing is an additional speaker so I am going to have an ext speaker jack hooked up to it and try that. After the mods I did a side by side with a Fender Reverb and for the clean the Carvin wins but for the headroom the fender won and I think it was the multiple speakers that did it. So think about trying this first if your main function is for stage volume.

  19. Sal, since I seem to get some tube rattle/shreak even at 75% volume I may try an external speaker cab also, but instead of the built-in speaker, not in addition to it. ( just unplug the speaker cable and run a cable from amp out to cabinet. This is one of the weaknesses of combo amps — the speaker can vibrate the tubes. I haven’t tried any mods on this amp, but what I think I’m after is more of a full-range sound rather than a totally guitar-centric mid-rangey sound ( if that makes sense ). It’s kind of like how they used to describe Boston’s overdrive sound — smoothed out so you can “play it in church.” So I may try running the Carvin into a full-range wedge monitor just as a test. I need to make sure the ohms match.

    • I didnt mention that I have a mstr volume on my V-16 as well the mods changed the tone stack order for the better. The transformer has leads for 4,8 and 16 ohms. From the factory the 8ohm is the hot one when I changed the speaker I put a 16ohm in. Wedge monitor sounds like a good idea for sure I will try that as well.

      Either way this amp will not get the really full tone that you are probably seeking. I use another set up with a 100w head and 2/12 cab and that set up gives me that full range sound. Even switched to half power the two speakers make a difference.

      Jeesh…. tone…..

  20. Ok, so if the Carvin is just the wrong amp and I need a head/2×12 cab arrangement, I’ll have to see what’s out there under 30 watts. Maybe a used speaker cab I could leave at church, there’s only so much I’m willing to haul back and forth :-)

  21. Jared–very cool! Ya, in my experience with the AC15cc’s, they break up quicker than the Blues Junior. It also sounds like your Blues Junior perhaps could really use some new tubes. Just off the top of my head. And maybe check out Frenzel amps. :)

    Randy & Sal–ya Randy, I think Sal’s right…some mods to the Carvin could be awesome. :) Or a really warm amp like a ToneKing or something.

  22. Karl,
    you tried the strymon BSR and weren’t 100% satisfied? I have one and really like it for shimmer, but haven’t compared it to anything.

  23. Karl, you’r not the only one scaling back.

    I think I am going to open a ugly topic here but I am considering selling all three of my guitars and throwing some lace sensors into a squire strat so can pay off the last of my debt. To me it goes Amp>pedals>guitar. I have arranged it so I get to keep my pedalboard and amp ;).

    There is a Sufjan Stevens lyric that struck me:
    “For in life. As in death. I’d rather be burned. Than be living in debt.”

    As this is a worship/shoegaze/u2 tribute blog I am interested to hear everyones thoughts on collecting gear vs paying debt.

    • my take is, don’t buy gear if you are already in debt and don’t buy gear when you don’t have the money in the first place … every once in a while I fall victim to both, though. good thing my wife keeps me in line 😉

    • I did the Lace sensors in a Squire. Still have that guitar somewhere… I have played it up against many different strats and it holds it own just fine. I had liked the action before I switched tho. So make sure you like action before changing.

  24. Sal–lol Unfortunately for me, tone is in the Matchless, rather than my hands. 😉 hehehe

    Rhoy–thank you!!

    Ryan–ya, I was all stoked to get it, and then it just sounded a little synthetic to me. Although it also sounded like that was the sound it was going for. This was when I was running my RV3-POG shimmer setup, though; so I’m sure the Blue Sky probably sounds better than the Behringer or the Verbzilla. But on the other hand, I like the sound from the Behringer, but was underwhelmed by the Blue Sky. It could have just been that the hype from Gear Page either turned me off to it, or caused my expectations to soar so high that when I finally played it and didn’t wash my car, cook dinner, and make me rich, I was bummed. hehe I’ll have to give it another try in any event.

    Art–actually, I have a ton of respect for you for that. I’d sell off pedals first and then buy back cheaper ones, but that’s just me. I hope it goes well for you!

    Rhoy–hehe I fail way too often at that, too.

    James–what do you mean? That board in the picture is totally a Pedaltrain! And what’s better than one Pedaltrain? Two Pedaltrain’s! hehehe

  25. Karl, what mic are you using on your cab? I’m looking to pick up my own mic to use at church and I just can’t decide what to get. I’ve been using an Beta 57 and I’ve really like the results I get with it but I’m not sure if there might be a better option out there. I’ve been thinking about the Sennheiser E609. Opinions, anyone?

  26. Kenny, that recording was with a Sennheiser e609. I did a shootout a couple years ago (but didn’t keep it, unfortunately), between a 57, a beta 58, and the 609. The Beta 58 won, but not by a terribly noticeable amount. Unfortunately, I had to sell it or the 609 along with so much other stuff these last few months. I’m still using the 609 because it’s all dented and wouldn’t sell. hehe But both are very decent, as was the 57.

    • Sweet. I’ve been leaning towards the 609 if for nothing else than I think it looks cooler than a standard shaped mic pointing at the cab. And, as we all know, tone is in the looks! :)

  27. Hey Karl nice work. Seems like we are on opposite trajectories at present – you are “downsizing” your board (at least in cost anyway), while I’m going in a more boutique direction… and you still sound awesome :)

    Question about the DD20 – I can’t seem to get the Dual-delay part to work properly – no matter how I set the short and long delay times I can only really hear 1 sound, which is almost exactly the same as when I switch to standard delay. I’ve done a factory reset and still can’t get it working. Any advice? And any good U2 type settings for the DD20?

    … speaking of whom, I will be spending the next two evenings in the company of Mr The Edge, Bono, Larry, and Adam – finding it very very difficult to contain my excitement at this stage!!!

    • I was actually pretty disappointed by the dual delay on the DD20. Unless I’m doing something wrong, I can’t get the short delay side on a long enough time (I know that sounds odd but, it’s true). I can’t remember what the max is on the “short” delay but, it’s just a bit too short for what I want out of it. Other than that, I love it though.

  28. Karl. I was wondering how your tap tempo switches were wired and where you got it from. Tried making my own with SPST switches but didnt turn out how i wanted. Does your dd20 register the delay time when you press the switches or when you release the switches?

    • you want momentary switches/a momentary switch. toggle switches wont work because they latch into place. If you want to control 2 tap tempo pedals with one tap tempo switch get yourself a dpdt momentary stomp switch and two jack sockets. wire up the middle left lug and bottom left lug across ground and signal of one jack socket and then do the same with the middle right lug and bottom right lugs across gnd and signal of the other jack. leave both the top lugs unsoldered to anything.

      • Thanks james. I’m looking to do more what Karl did. I was wanting two switches and two outputs. The first switch would control both outputs and the second switch to control just output 2. Both switches where the tap is registered on the depressed signal not the released signal. Any ideas?

  29. You can use a y adapter to run 2 tap tempos as well, there is no worry of signal degradation because it is not carrying your guitar signal.

  30. Sal–ya, totally. And condensers are good too, but expensive. hehe

    Baggas–so stoked (and jealous, haha) that you’re seeing U2. :) And as for U2 settings on the DD20, the modulate setting at around 130 bpm with 3-4 repeats, tone at 12 o’clock, and the modulate set with rate at 30 and depth at 65, is pretty much Streets. And I think around 97 bpm is Bad and 109 bpm for the intro to Boston’s Fly version. hehe At least those work for me.

    And I’m sure I’ll be back on the boutique train soon enough. 😉 hehe

    Baggas & KennyG–yes, the Dual setting is not the best. I think the max time for the short setting is like 50 ms (without the ability to switch to bpm), which is almost useless except for ambient trails.

    Trevor, James, KennyG, and Art–ya, you want momentary switches. And they usually respond when the pedal is released rather than depressed. For two DD20’s or two delay pedals taking quarter inch input’s for tap, you can totally use one momentary switch with a Y splitter. However, you then lose the ability to tap just one of the pedals; for instance, if you want your second delay to stay at an ambient time setting but you need to tap in the tempo for a rhythmic setting on your first delay. The tap pedal I have has three switches…one for each delay individually, and then a third one that sends tempo to both at the same time; very useful depending on the situation. I got it from Pedals Ahoy on ebay:

    And ya, Dan at This1smyne makes great ones, too. :)

    • I built a tap tempo pedal for my dd-20 and learned the hard way that there are “normally closed” momentary switches and “normally open” momentary switches. Boss calls this “polarity” . If I remember right the dd-20 looks for “normally closed”. What this means is that if you use the wrong one it will work but it will set the tempo based on when you lift your foot off of the switch instead of when you push the switch down. If your momentary switch has three lugs or more however then it can be either depending on which set of lugs you connect.

  31. if you guys are talking about multi delays and cheaper guitars, has any one ever checked out the SX or Agile guitars at every since you guys started talking about getting rid of the good guitars for more modest ones i feel like a jerk playing my super classic guitars. I know they have some awesome looking les paul and fender knock offs but i would want word from some one who has actually played them.

    you guys and your modesty kicks….PFFFT! 😛

  32. @Jared – Don’t feel bad bro! I’m not selling anything! :) Granted, my guitars are a bit more on the modest side as far as price goes but, I’ve never liked my sound more than I do right now so, I’m just fine with my American Special instead of an American Standard strat. I actually like the CBS-style headstock a little better than the smaller ones.

  33. yeah, i dig my 79 paul and 50 reissue….i just know that it doesnt matter to God what we play, it only matters whats coming from our heart.

    some times I just feel caught up in the whole “my gear is amazing” kind of thing that musicians compete for. thanks though, i always toy with the idea of selling my guitars and then i stop and think “i will never have a classic guitar like this again…what am i thinking?!”

  34. Hey Karl!

    I’m looking for a new amp… I’m ashamed to say it, but i play live out of a 12-wt Esteban Acoustic Guitar Amp! lol. I am getting some good sounds out of it, but I have borrowed Fender Tube amps from friends, and they can not be compared to mine! haha.

    I am a highschooler so price is important- what are some great amps for $150 and under?

  35. @Brandon, I know I’m not Karl but in my experience (and a lot of other peoples too) tubes sound better. Honestly the best tube amp I’ve heard in that price range is Vox AC4. Just my two cents.

  36. @brandon ac4 is great, and the vox pathfinder amps get great reviews too. I really enjoy my fender champ600. 5 watts, all tube fender tone.

  37. The AC4 is amazing! And it’s great for worship because it can have virtually no stage volume but still give you that great tube break up!

  38. Sorry everyone, been sick. :) Can’t remember if I said this or not, but my single/dual tap tempo pedal is from pedalsahoy on ebay. Don’t know if he has a site.

    And huge apologies to be the odd man out, but I didn’t like the AC4 as much as the Epiphone Valve Junior. In fact, there’s a combo called the Valve Special which isn’t made anymore that’s 10 watts (?…I think), and can be had used on ebay for around $150 I think.

    However, so many people dig the AC4, that I could very well be wrong. :)

  39. Timeline 2!!!!!! I don’t know how many times I’ve gone to the damage control/strymon blog site and stared at the pictures they have of the prototype (it’s definitely not my screensaver I never said that! haha) anyways…what’s your thoughts on if its really a timeline 2 or maybe a glass nexus 2??

  40. Hey guys. This is a pretty cool rig you have now, even if it is way too big for my taste. My whole board is on a PT-1. I really like your delay sounds. The dd-20 has been my staple for like two years. I recently got a memory lane for like 200 off ebay and it is awesome. great for swell kind of stuff. Try the dual head tape delay on the DD-20. Set to quarter notes mix at 10:00 repeats at 11:00 and tone on zero. really cool sound when run into the memory lane with a lot of repeats, a dark tone setting and a lot of modulation.

    in that price range try the jet city JCA2112RC. like 250-300 bucks and has a much bigger tone and headroom than the ac4tv.

  41. You got a Memory Lane for $200? Ah man! I really miss mine.

    I like the idea of modded anything with Mercury Magnetics. haha

    And I don’t have any inside track on Strymon stuff…wish I did. hehe They were quite kind in their appreciation of my Timeline videos, and are great guys. But I’m not nearly famous enough to know what’s going on with their new stuff. lol So, what I say next is strictly speculation…but for them to discontinue a pedal like the Timeline that was in such high demand, I’d assume they are coming out with some other delay with multiple presets (more than the 2 available in the Brig or Cap), just simply because it seems to make sense from a business standpoint. However, with all the M13 and M9 hype a few months ago, and now the ever-increasing number of M13’s and M9’s popping up for sale, I’d say they might be smart to produce a multi-effects or Nexus 2 I suppose, before the Timeline 2. Although I’d love a delay first, personally. :)

  42. Do you have any experience with the Mercury Magnetics? I didn’t buy the AC4TV plus their mod, their mod are too expansive, even cost more that the amp itself. Also with the same amount of money, I could have get a Blues Junior. But I ended up buying a AC15 Heritage. I haven’t tried the new AC15 Hand-wired series, it miss the EF86 channel on my Heritage.

    • Try hammond transformers, they’re very good quality but unfortunately don’t come with the extra hype of the mercury magnetics transformers.

  43. I’ve played a couple amps with their transformers, and really liked them. I had a handwired AC15 for a while a couple years back and it was quite decent. Just my experiences. :)

  44. Nah, I haven’t tried that one. Bjorn’s tubescreamer-ish pedal and the Candy Apple fuzz are both great, though, so I wouldn’t mind trying this one. Have you demo’d it next to a v1 Fatboost?

  45. No, but I’ve heard things along the lines of knocking off Fatboosts. I’m not saying get rid of both, but maybe try it. I figured the Master Volume would help too.

  46. Ya, the Little Green Wonder is the closest I’ve ever come to keeping a tubescreamer on my board in the last few years. I thought it was a fantastic pedal! :)

  47. So I’ve been thinking about getting a tap-tempo multi-setting delay and selling my Visual Sound Axle Grease–in the price range, the DD-20 and TC Electronic ND-1 Nova Delay look pretty good. You mentioned you liked the Boss over the Nova. Could you give me some pros/cons? Thanks–btw, same Caleb here that asked about the volume pedal–is your george dennis active because of your p/ups? They don’t seem to sell much here in the U.S., but I’m gonna keep my eye out. I’d go with the Visual Sound volume but I hear they don’t work great for swells (b/c the lowest setting is simply no volume).

    Thanks man–I’m finding the tone journey a little less simple than I thought–but a good learning experience. I’m pretty sure I’m gonna part with my octave pedal. It makes a difference when you think of a band context when buying pedals, hence the tap-tempo as well.

    • I think the main difference between the DD-20 and the Nova delay is that that DD-20 does not run your dry signal through an AD/DA (alalog -> digital/digital -> analog) conversion so you get a “pure-er” tone out of it. That’s not to say that the Nova Delay is a bad unit though. Many people can’t really even hear the difference that the AD/DA conversion makes. As far as sound quality goes, it’s all up to your ear and weather or not you’re getting the sound you want.

      That being said, I love my DD-20. It’s very versatile and has almost all of the functionality I need. My only problem with it is that the dual delay times don’t work for me (the “short” delay time is too short for what I want to do with it). However, that does not stop me from using it as my go-to delay.

    • I have both the Nova and the DD-20 – both great pedals but for me, the Nova is my “go to” delay. Personally I think the tone sounds great and I can’t detect any tone suck when it is off. The reasons I prefer it are that I find it easier to dial in really good delays, especially Edge style dotted-8th stuff. The dual subdivision modes are awesome, which I cannot replicate on the DD-20 (as Kenny says the dual mode isn’t that good), also I prefer the modulation on the Nova, which can be applied to all modes. 9 presets which are easy to navigate, built in tap, and a smaller footprint.

      Tape mode is better on the DD-20 – I really like factory preset 2 on the DD-20 (Roland space echo), and haven’t been able to replicate that on the Nova. But I’m getting an El Cap soon which should blow them both away in that department.

      They are both great pedals but for me the Nova is the keeper. I don’t want to get rid of the DD-20 but if this new Strymon pedal turns out to be the Timeline 2 with all the features everyone’s suggesting, the DD-20 may have to go to pay/make room for it. I have a new policy for 2011 since I am seriously short of funds : all new gear purchases must be funded (mostly) by the sale of existing gear… might have some tough choices ahead 😛

    • I don’t own either delay unit but I have played both extensively and I’m considering owning both units. I think both delays are equal in sound. I don’t think either sounds better than the other. I want to have a Nova for all of the same reasons as Baggas. I like the multi setting better and having 9 presets plus manual is better than the DD-20s 4 plus manual.

      The 2 things I really like about the DD-20 is the amount of selectable subdivisions (I like that I can do half notes) and the looper. External tap tempo is nice too.

      I am probably going to buy the Nova first and have it modded by Dan at This1sMyne so that I can have an external tap and preset select.

  48. Thanks for the advice–my dad said when I finished my grad school writing sample (finally!) he’d buy a volume pedal, and I convinced him instead to get me the Nova. Got it for $199 off eBay (store display unit) with full factory warranty. It’s on it’s way–I’m stoked! 😀 I also realized I could simply return my Axle Grease delay since it’s less than 45 days from purchasing at Musician’s Friend. I’m actually returning my Cool Cat Tremolo too because one of the screws simply won’t come lose on the bottom, which prevents me from adjusting the internal trim pot. Plus it was brand new and I hadn’t stripped it, from my first attempt it was just stuck (slightly loose but unable to be taken out with a screwdriver).

    Like you Baggas, I am more limited in my funds, so instead of replacing the Cool Cat, I’m gonna get a refund and perhaps save up for a Tap-tempo tremolo. I am selling my Octave pedal, which will be better placed for car insurance. Oh, and I got an Ernie Ball jr. volume pedal ($20 more than online but you gotta support the local music store every now and then). Wait, what was that about saving money? 😀 Oh well, back down to four pedals at the moment.

    Anyway, thanks again guys, I appreciate the advice I get from lurking/commenting here–it’s informative without the stereotypical “I’m better than you and thus must engage my [tube-driven] douche-ness.” Which is sad because tubes deserve better.

    Btw, any thoughts on a good tap tremolo? One that combines function and form (i.e. still sounds good)? Or if you find it necessary in live applications?

    • Well done on the Nova. Sounds like you got a good buy. Hope you love yours as much as I do!

      On the topic of delay, the new one from TC electronic “Flashback” stompbox delay looks pretty awesome. Heaps of different modes and it does dotted 8ths and quarters + dotted 8th in all modes. Plus you can download a “Tone Print” preset to it via USB. Sounded pretty nice on the demo video I watched. Only downside to it is it doesn’t have external tap tempo (although you can do “audio tapping” which in my opinion is much less practical). Won’t be replacing any of my existing delays but as an entry level pedal or if you need a stompbox sized versatile secondary delay it will be hard to beat.

  49. That’s cool your a doctor man. My dad is a “general surgeon” here in the States (Minnesota).

    The only thing I’ll be yearning for now (probably) is a tap-trem–my board is home-made and can only fit so much–I like this as it somewhat keeps me in line. But the Diamond Tremolo (which I’ve just started looking at) is pretty mine-worthy. $240 for a trem–what’s happening to me?

  50. Hey Karl, Just curious if you have a long term plan for reverb on your new board? I’m seriously considering selling my M13 and getting one of the new Timelines. But there are a couple things i would need to fill in the spaces and one is reverb. It would be mostly for ambient style stuff.

  51. So I officially tested out the new rig tonight at worship practice (and for whatever reason it’d been a while since I played, like a month and a half or so!). I’m running guitar > Boss TU2 > BBE Green Screamer> Ernie Ball Jr. volume > TC Nova Delay, and to be honest, it sounded really good! I didn’t even turn on my reverb from the BJ, the modulation on the Nova is pretty musical (I used the third stage–it’s more chimey than the rest). Set the BJ on the edge of breakup and zounds!

    Now I have the tools (ha–like I’ll ever have enough stuff), I just need to learn how to implement them–i.e. I have a ton of settings for delay, but am figuring out how each is playable. That said, maybe because I hadn’t played for a while, but the team sounded good together, especially for the first couple high-energy songs. I threw in an ascending octave riff on the spur of the moment (Life Song) and it totally fit. As much as I want to swell every chord with my new volume pedal, the songs we played change too fast through the progressions for that. I managed to get a couple quick swells on one song–I’m gonna try and do the “violin” thing if I can. Probably way more than needed. 😀 It really is a learning curve, but my goodness, with the delay, tap tempo makes SUCH a difference. For the first time my delay was actually usable with no “what garbled goo are you playing” looks from the rest of the team.

    Add that on to the fact that I got my velcro shipment/mini-outlet in today from Amazon and rigged my board for the least setup/cleanest look as possible, and it was a good day! Oh happiness! There’s grace for all of us!

    Now I just have to decide if I’m gonna add another dirt box like the MI Audio Blues Pro or something–the more I thought about trem the more I decided it’s a less necessary effect.

    Oh, and I find the Nova sounds much better at stage volume than bedroom levels–it’s probably the natural echo of the building. Only thing I forgot to do was calibrate it, but I went through and edited all the patches to my liking (roughly).

    😀 Again, 😀

  52. Ya, that Flashback looked pretty cool until the ‘strum tempo’ thing. Way impractical in my opinion as well.

    And I’m still up in the air on reverb. I may go with a RRR from Dr. Scientist, with an RV3 for the odd digital stuff. That’ll be a fun journey when it comes around. :)

    And Caleb, stoked you’re diggin’ your tone, and that that tone is from a Blues Junior! :)

  53. Worship went great today. I’m not one to get a big head about that stuff (though I can about other things), but it made me happy that people enjoyed it so much. I think I got 2x-3x the normal amount of compliments today.

  54. Say what Weber did you throw in your Blues Jr.? I know you like the Alnico Blues-type speaker, but I read on BillM’s website that they don’t always fit.


    Speakers that Don’t Fit:

    Eminence Red Fang

    Eminence FDM (Flux Density Modulation)

    Tone Tubby Alnico

    Celestion Alnico Blue (sometimes juuuust barely fits!)

    Weber Blue Dog (seen ‘em fit, seen ‘em hit the chassis)


    Thanks–as of now I’m happy with the stock speaker (v. 2), but I may not know what I’m missing. The point it seems you were making is that the Alnico Blues-type speaker is needed for more of a U2-type chimey sound. I also appreciated your recommendations on tubes. I’m using the stock Groove tubes right now, but will replace with JJ’s when they wear out (I don’t have the extra money to just change them now).

    Ha, I looked at the price of the Matchless and wow! Yeah I won’t be having that kind of money anytime soon. Even the Weber Blue Dog is a bit expensive (for a $500 amp), but I may decide to pursue that route if it’s really worth it–we’ll see.

    Thanks again man! I know this isn’t even your job but I appreciate the heart and soul you put into it! You’ve even got me thinking about that Hartman fuzz!

  55. Hey Caleb, it’s an alnico in there, but not the Blue one…a Weber 12a150b. And it literally fits with about an 8th of an inch to spare. haha And that’s without the bell cover. It’s not the most chimey…that speaker is more of a Fendery sound…but it fits well with the Blues Junior sound which isn’t very chimey anyway. Great sound, though!

    For what it’s worth, I am selling that Blues Junior with the Weber over on Gear Page if you’re interested. 😉 Oh ya, you’re in Britain though, right?

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