Pedalboards: I love to hate them

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Pedalboards.  I love them and I hate them.  I love pedals and the different tones but I hate depending on them.  When The Fallen Stars had a keyboardist and other guitar player – there was less need for me to have pedals.  I could keep things really simple like in the first picture here.

Picture #1 This was probably my favorite pedalboard. My life was so easy then. Pedalboard circa 2007.

Over the years the board has grown, expanded, shrunk, expanded again – kind of like our band. I liked having a big band but it’s really difficult to find the right folks, it’s difficult to book rehearsal time and it’s difficult to tour.  It’s nice having other folks around but at some point you just stop waiting around and just get on with it yourself.  That’s when I needed more pedals.  

 

Picture #2 I some how got convinced that to be “alt.country” I needed a Timmy and a Klon. This was an expensive time period. I blame the land down under. Circa 2008-’09

At some point I joined a gear page, well not a gear page – I joined TheGearPage.net and that’s when I learned about a lot of stuff I didn’t know existed, like the Timmy pedal or how important it is to own a Klon.  (See Picture 2)

I’ve been using a Pedaltrain Metro 24 1See picture #3 for most of a year now and I really like the size of it, it’s easy to grab and go but I have found myself having to continually swap pedals out depending on the gig and often not have a thing I need or just “make-do”.

90% of this is not even noticeable to 98% of the audience 2Not actual percentages, no studies were done but it bothers me and if it bothers me then it’s going to affect my performance.

That said I dug out my Pedaltrain PT-2 3See picture #4 that has just been sitting in storage waiting for a rainy day.  When I got this board I made a deal with myself to never use a board bigger than a PT-2.  It’s already huge and with the hard shell case – I wish I had a roadie just to carry IT.

The changes made:

Picture #3 Pedaltrain Metro 24. I like this size, it small, light and travels well. But I can’t fit what I need on it. I wish I could! Circa 2015-16

I kept switching out the Tech 21 Blonde pedal and Model B depending on whether the show was going to be acoustic or electric but when you switch back and forth – it’s annoying and there was not enough room on the Metro 24 for both.  Now they can both live on the board.

The Tech 21 Blonde pedal I don’t use with my electric guitars at all, it’s strictly for the effected or second pickup on my acoustic guitar.  4See: How to distort my acoustic guitar blog  I like it because it has a speaker simulator that combined with the magnetic pickup on my acoustic and sent through a PA system is quite nice and complimentary to the clean acoustic signal.  I can set this pedal with just a small amount of dirt so the signal isn’t “clean” or I can really crank the drive and wail and solo with it.  This pedal into a regular guitar amp typically sounds…bad.  I have never liked it used that way – either with speaker simulator on or off.  But here’s the thing – plugged into a PA system or direct for recording – it’s quite nice.  I’ve gotten some keeper tracks on my albums recorded direct with the Tech 21 Blonde.

PIcture #4 This is the Pedaltrain PT2. I refuse to go bigger than this. Circa January 2017

The Model B is the pedal I wish Bearfoot FX would make. 5Model B is technically made by Bearfoot FX, it’s their Model G and their Baby Pink Booster put together in one box  Yeah, it’s just 2 of their pedals under one roof but they are the two best for me.  The Model G is based on the Gibson amp circuitry so if I crank my 1961 Gibson Maestro GA15rv or crank the Model G – it’s damn near the same sound.  And the Baby Pink Booster is my favorite clean boost of all time.  I used to use an MXR Micro Amp and a Linear Power Booster but the Baby Pink6I should also mention that the boost is after the overdrive in the chain even though it opposite on the outside of the pedal, inside is what counts is so smooth and musical it made the other two sound like bulls in a china shop.  Now as good as this pedal sounds with a Telecaster or a Gretsch it sounds like complete ass with the second pickup from my acoustic. Just horrible.  

The signal then goes to a Boss Volume pedal.  Now I have had many volume pedals and this has been the best, most rugged and longest lasting of any of them.  The only reason I wasn’t using it on the Metro was it didn’t fit.  Now as far as how durable it is – this one has been serviced by the factory once.  I’ve had it for 4 years and have toured it quite a bit – so that’s a pretty good track record.  There was one tour I decided to take an Ernie Ball because it was smaller and in a month and a half I broke two Ernie Ball volume pedals and one Fender volume pedal.  

I use my volume pedal a lot.  A.  Lot.

After the volume pedal is the Line 6 M9.  The octo setting on this thing is worth the price alone but I also have it set up with presets for a sweep delay, a short delay, a slap back, a tremolo and a tiny bit of a Leslie simulator 7Used very rarely and because it resembles a chorus pedal I often refer to it as the “Devine” setting for my friend Christopher Devine who is a chorus freak. He’s into that sort of thing that sometimes gets used when I get real e-bow and spacey.  I have yet to find a distortion sound in it that I like though.

Then comes the blue box, also known as “Bobbo’s Fancy DI”.  Now this pedal is not great for the Piezo side of my acoustic guitar8See article about 10 Megaohms! but it is great for the Magnetic or the second pickup on my acoustic AND with it being an ABY pedal – I can send my signal to either my electric amp 9when playing electric guitar or to the PA. 10when playing acoustic guitar  This is a luxury pedal to have because technically I can go straight into my electric amp for the second pickup from my acoustic but it sounds better if I send that signal to the PA.  When I switch from acoustic to electric guitar, I switch this pedal to go from the PA to the Amp.  It’s a simple solution for me.  

Lastly the Nano Holy Grail.  I love pedals with only one knob.  If it only had the “spring” option I’d be ok with that too.  I have never found a use for the “flerb” setting or the “hall”.  Even with all the settings and verbs in the Line 6 – I still prefer this for it’s simplicity and sound.  

I almost forgot about the clock on the top right.  It’s a small travel clock I got on eBay for like $5 and you would be surprised how helpful this simple thing is.  Not so much for those long gigs but some of those shorter sets where the venue gives you 35 minutes and 25 minutes in they are giving you the “one more song” signal.  You can look down and tell them definitively “No, we still got 10 minutes left.” 11Another trick for this – if you know it’s going to be an issue beforehand, write up your set list for the soundman and put the length of each song next to the song and show a total running time. This will show professionalism to them and courtesy of time.

Any questions – shoot me an email at bobbo@guitargeekwarning.com

Notes:   [ + ]

1. See picture #3
2. Not actual percentages, no studies were done
3. See picture #4
4. See: How to distort my acoustic guitar blog
5. Model B is technically made by Bearfoot FX, it’s their Model G and their Baby Pink Booster put together in one box
6. I should also mention that the boost is after the overdrive in the chain even though it opposite on the outside of the pedal, inside is what counts
7. Used very rarely and because it resembles a chorus pedal I often refer to it as the “Devine” setting for my friend Christopher Devine who is a chorus freak. He’s into that sort of thing
8. See article about 10 Megaohms!
9. when playing electric guitar
10. when playing acoustic guitar
11. Another trick for this – if you know it’s going to be an issue beforehand, write up your set list for the soundman and put the length of each song next to the song and show a total running time. This will show professionalism to them and courtesy of time.

3 COMMENTS

  1. I’m actually pretty spartan with effects, as a bassist; all I use is the Zoom B3. It’ll run three effects simultaneously, so I’ve got it dialed into emulate a Hartke head, then I’m following that up with either a compressor and chorus or a chorus and delay.

    Zoom do really good spatial effects like delays and flanges, and the amp emulators are pretty good, but I find their compression and distortions are lacking. I’ve got a Zoom G3 for guitar that I use and the distortion just isn’t up to snuff unless I want to palm-mute E barre chords all night. Having said that, that G3, combined with an Ibanez Prestige RG1570, gave me the absolute best clean sound I ever got out of a guitar.

  2. Bass and delay/time effects always seems…tricky. Like you would start to lose the timing unless you’re locked in tempo wise but I’ve never used bass and delay. I can imagine it being cool with the modulation effects though.

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