Pedal Board Review

Satisfied with the results of my amp mods, I haven’t touched my pedal board for a while. After all, the best sound is a good guitar through a good amp. Rather than waste time plugging in, I’d rather just play.  Pedals usually make playing more fun, though. So why don’t I use them more?

To find the answer, I went back and reviewed the reason I bought each one. All of my pedals have been carefully selected for functionality, versatility and affordability. For example, the Tonepress is there for increasing sustain on an archtop, but also works as a nice clean boost. Same goes for my Nobels ODR-1 which makes a great clean boost, or overdrive for blues and hard rock. These pedals make the amp sound better yet I avoid using them.

The problem I realized was that I haven’t committed myself to what their function should be. The solution may be getting more pedals, or even get a second pedal board since settings for my pedals are different for my guitars. For example, I can use much more compression and gain on my G&L strat than my Ibanez archtop, and prefer an envelope filter to a wah with an archtop. Whereas any almost comp with do for a strat.

The confusion became unbearable when I modded my Budwah with a buffer/booster (Barber B-Buff). Now I had THREE pedals on my board to boost my signal and overdrive the amp, when I only need TWO at most. So I stopped using the wah for a boost, and decided to  let the other pedals do what their good at, which means the Tonepress sustains and clean boosts, and the OD-1 dirty boosts the bridge pickup into rock solo range.

As far as settings go, I looked at the pedals and realized they should be set from RIGHT to LEFT in most cases, though occasionally LEFT to RIGHT like the Nobels. Also, when making settings, imagine that the pedal only had ONE knob (like an MXR Phase 90 or Micro Amp.) Which one would it be? Set that one to get the sound or effect you want, and then set the others to compensate for any imbalances.

That one knob on the Tonepress that would be Sustain. The primary function of Blend and Volume  is to compensate for any loss of attack or volume. On the Nobels, it would be Drive.  Tone and Level are mainly there to trim for the high end loss and excessive that comes with higher settings. Delay? Delay. Repeats and E.Level just affect the audibility of the echoes, though they can be used to create extreme textural effects.

Of course, a more advanced approach where each knob on a pedal can be thought of as it’s own effect. The Volume/Level control on most pedals can be a dynamic boost effect. The Repeats on a delay an oscillator (and thus D.Time becomes a pitch shifter!) Discovering these extra other experimental sounds in pedals can yield some truly original sound. Some players spend more time with their hands on their knobs than their strings.

Most of us want to stand up and grab our necks,  not bend over and twist our knobs, right?



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