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.
–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.
–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.
- Live Ambient Looping, Studio Recording Tips, & Tone Walkthrough (Wexford Carol)
- Christmas Album, Charity, & a New Addition
- Baring My Soul in Music
- Twelve Things I Believe about Worship Music
- The Future of Christian Music is That Band I Listened to in Junior High While Playing Wolfenstein
- Worship Leading Choose Your Own Ending (Part 8)
- When God Says…Something Else
- A Guitarist’s Answers to Life’s Questions
- Survival Guide for the Boutique Age