My first pedal porn post is my first pedal board. For years I’ve avoided a setup like this because I don’t want anything interfering with the natural sound of my guitar and amp, but effects are needed for recent gigs. So is a way to organize and transport them.
Stomp-box roll-call from right to left/bottom top:
1.Barber Tone Press (Compressor) -This gives me a thicker and longer sound. Mmmm.
2.Robot Factory Meatwad Envelope Filter – Like a wah-wah pedal, but touch sensitive. Ahhh.
3.Maxon 0D820 Overdrive – When I want to get dirty, I turn this baby on. Grrrrr.
5.Boss PH-1 Phaser – A swirling effect that I use once or twice a night.
6.Line6 Echo Park Digital Delay – Echos and psychedelic ambiance.
4.Hughes&Kettner TUBEMAN Preamp – Ensures my basic sound is bright and warm.
0.Craftsman PS-008 Power Supply – Provides the juice for the boxes with minimal noise.
The numbers above are out of order because the signal path does not follow the layout exactly. Since the TUBEMAN is always on, I don’t need to reach the foot switch so I placed it up and away from the the others. You can see the patch cable looping under the bottom of the big, ugly green box (OD820) in the center. It’s connected to the smaller green box next to it (PH-1), which goes to one more green box (Echo Park) that connects to the amp. It’s quite a squeeze down there because of the power cables running through the gaps from the power supply above.
Despite the shunt to the big German-made tube-preamp and Paranoid Android filter clone with 6 knobs and 6 switches below it, I think this is a pretty conventional and even conservative pedal board. It follows the basic formula of comp/wah/dist/dly/mod (actually delay comes before the modulation here.) What’s unique is that the first three pedals in the chain all can mix the original guitar sound it with the effect. This is more or less intentional because I want to preserve my clean sound as much as possible. Even my dirt boxes run clean!
The best sound is still a good guitar plugged directly into a good tube amp, but I’m pretty satisfied with this setup. Everything’s very versatile, too. For example, I can use the TUBEMAN for heavier distortion or even as an amp simulator direct into the mixer if I need. In that situation, I could use the Tonepress or OD820 for solo boosts. The Meatwad and Echo Park are also capable of a very wide range of sounds. The only problem I have with it are the phaser and delay which don’t sound so great switched off. These are not true-bypass. Whenever possible I run these through the effects loop of the amp, rather than before the preamp.
The great thing about having a pedal board is that it’s modular and mobile. All the devices can be velcro’d to the board so they don’t slide around on-stage or in transport. When it’s time to go, I just unplug it, pack up my cables and lift it into a soft carry case. It gets really heavy though, and cuts into my shoulder. So I literally have a “light version” of my setup which consists only of essentials like the Tonepress, OD820, Echo Park, and a tiny Guyatone Wah Rocker to use in place of my Meatwad. It’s not actually that much lighter, but it can run on a 9V battery which means I don’t need the heavy power supply! This is a good setup for a nice tube amp.
Mesa Boogie is sending my me a new 12AT7 to replace the one I replaced the pre-amp tube I smashed after the Hosei Bunkasai session. The rattling I heard was not shards of glass in the chasis or even another tube damaged by the clumsy step-up transformer — it was just a defective tube.
Until it arrives, I’m using a NOS General Electric 6021 that I found in Akihabara in V4. This is the tube than drives the reverb, and I prefer the sound. To track down the rattling problem, I did some deeper than usual research about Boogie amps and vacuum tubes in general, which in turn prompted some deeper experimenting and listening with my Studio.22.
My conclusion is that I need a new amp with more clean headroom, power and a speaker-mute for silent practice. However I don’t know if I really have the budget for that. Even though I found some good amps being auctioned for a few ichi-man notes, it’s hard to justify the expense when I probably will only gig with the thing twice a year.
Meanwhile, I’ve been shopping for overdrive pedals as a substitute for my H&K Tubeman. I found a Barber Direct Drive auctioned at a good price, and got it on a whim. The compressor on my pedal board is also made by Barber, so I figured it was worth a try. It sounded great, but it wasn’t the sound I wanted.
I was lucky to find a Maxon 0D820 for only 10,ooo yen on Yahoo. It’s a shade of green that could make you hate the color green altogether, but it operates at 18 volts and can be used as a clean boost with no special effort. Driving it with my Barber Tone Press gives me a very warm, subtle edge for solos with my GB-10.
Speaking of which, I replaced the original wooden bridge with the black ABR-1 I originally got for my Tacoma. The intonation on the G-string is a bit sharp, so I wanted to give it a try and it just happened to fit the GB-10’s base. Besides fixing the intonation, the sustain is MUCH longer now. The guitar sounds a bit brighter and louder, too. That could also have something to do with set of GHS Bright Flats I just string it with yesterday. I can’t wait to see how all this stuff sounds at my next gig on December 9th in Shibuya.