Since I’m probably going to be writing a bunch of stuff about guitar gear, I thought I would start with what I use right now. As long as it is, this is mostly just an overview of what’s where, what isn’t, and why. Seriously. I can nerd right out on this stuff.
I’ve played bass since just after the Magna Carta was signed, and currently, I’m not playing bass in any bands at all. Weird. I AM playing guitar in three bands right now, each of which have different styles. This makes things interesting gear-wise. Despite certain fixations, I’m someone who likes to keep things as simple as I can onstage. I go through a bunch of stuff when rehearsing, and then only bring stuff I’m going to use to shows. A lot of good stuff ends up sitting in tubs at home, but I only have to hit buttons I need to live.
My band, 24 Hour Cardlock (http://www.24hourcardlock.com), does trucker music. There are two versions of the band, one in Vancouver, and one here in Omaha. In Vancouver, I play rhythm and sing lead, because we usually have about ten people onstage (keys and horns and guitars and cigar box guitar and harmonicas and whatnot). In Omaha, we are currently a three-piece, so I have to do a lot more guitar-picking.
In Fino*, I am really playing second guitar. Because the band was a three-piece based around a really good guitar-player for a long time, the singer-guitarist has some very clever parts (heh). My job is to either take some of those or write complementary parts. There is no two-dudes-playing-the-same-thing-at-the-same-time kind of behavior.
In the Second One*, it’s kind of the same thing in reverse. Two guitarists, but I tend to be the more out-front one.
I’m quite effect-y in the two rock bands, and have a very simple chain in Cardlock. As a result, I use the same pedalboard for all three bands, and just don’t hit many buttons in Cardlock.
The Big Rig right now is:
Gozinta old Boss CS-2 compressor, (level at 2 o’clock for slight gain, sustain at about 2 so it’s not really noticeable, attack wide open so it’s really slow)*
Gozinta Loooper dual effects loop pedal
—-> Loop 1 contains an old Boss FT-2 Dynamic Filter, which is a good-sounding, and my least breakable (I have proven this) envelope filter*
–> Loop 2 contains a crappy old DOD Octoplus pedal that is being used strictly as a gnarly boost (octave level all the way off, tone all the way up, clean level at about 3 o’clock) Sometimes I turn some of the octave effect up, and use the box’s unbelievably poor tracking to create sounds. That works particularly well with the envelope filter on.
Gozinta Loooper dual effects loop pedal WITH BLEND KNOB option. ( I don’t use the blend knobs. I rewired one to be a switchable feedback loop*, but I haven’t had the nerve to use that live)
–> Loop 1 contains a Boss RV-3 Reverb/Delay pedal, mostly used as a quick slappy-verb. Very useful for the Cardlock kinda sound, also nice for a pre-delay into long reverbs. This is also a fall-back pedal in case anything goes funny with my other ‘verb/delay stuff. I COULD probably use this pedal for everything, but it doesn’t sound great for everything, and it requires a lot of knob-twiddling between songs.
—> Loop 2 contains an old, old DOD Phasor 201. Mine’s yellow. It is just fantastic for guitar. Not swooshy pretend -flange phase, just a nice bit of movement in sounds. Of course, it would ideal if it didn’t cut highs and lows, had an LED, and was true bypass, but that’s why I have the effects loop pedals, after all.
Gozinta Yamaha Magic Stomp
This is a really great piece. You can deep edit the crap out of patches by hooking it up to a computer. It has a performance mode that makes sense. The reverbs and delays are incredibly good. The downsides are
- Lack of MIDI interface
- No Mac software
- Like a lot of companies, Yamaha acts like this thing stopped existing the second they stopped making it.
- The reverbs don’t tail off naturally when you switch them off. BUT the delays do. So you end up making fake ‘verbs out of multi-tap delays and saying “WTF?”
Live, I just use the MagicStomp for delays and fake reverbs. Usually just one of each.
Gozinta the amp.
I have two amps: A Traynor YCV40WR*, which is excellent, and a Carlsboro Fatboy*, which is excellent. I use one or the other. The Fatboy mostly does Cardlock stuff, and the Traynor does everything else. I’ll probably do proper (read:long) write-ups on each of these, but the biggest difference is that the Fatboy is a single sealed 12″ and that works better for the clean sound I like in Cardlock. The Traynor is more easily versatile, and has two channels, which makes it easier to get a lot of sounds while playing. The Fatboy is a single-channel with a gain boost switch. The boosted sound is ferocious, and anything under 45 pounds should be tied down or moved out of range of it.
All the pedals are powered by a Visual Sound 1Spot, except the MagicStomp which uses its own power supply. Everything is connected with cables I made myself.*
You might notice a few odd things about this set-up:
1) No distortion or overdrive or fuzz pedals! Whaaaaaat? I use the amps for overdrive, and I love it. Of course, I am going to have to get some kind of overdrive pedal at some point, or the League Of Guitarists will come and take my fingers away. I own two fuzz pedals: A Ronsound Stone Machine and a Roland Double Beat. They are both awesome, but I am only allowed to take them up and down the driveway on Sundays. They are too scary for the nice people I am playing with now.
2) No wah pedal. WHAT? I do fakey-wah using the volume pedal into the envelope filter. I’ve done that for quite a while, and I like it. Honestly though, one reason that I do not have a wah on my board is that I don’t have room for it. I am building another board that will. I have three possible wahs: The Double Beat, which will BEAT YOUR ASS, a Korg Mr. Multi, which I hunted for 12 years and MUST get into my rig, and an old Cry-baby which I do not love, and needs something sick done to it.
3) Yes. I do Delay into phase into reverb. It is great. You should do this. No, I do not do it in stereo. Because if I did, I would probably never leave the basement. Just keep playing long notes until I drowned in my own drool. WHOOOOOSSSSSHHHH! I love it.
4) No Modulation. For a guy who makes a lot of weird noise, this seems odd. I have a very old EH Clone Theory, and I just love how it sounds. I don’t have room on this board for it, and even after several hundred bucks in repairs and upgrades, it is still pretty noisey. I have sick plans for it though. Flanging pretty much always bugs me.
– I just got a Nobels ALEX. It’s a remote effects loop (Jeez, he really likes those things!). The idea is to use this in the effects loop of the amp, in order to switch a couple of rack units in and out. It works just dandy, so all that remains is to simplify things so that it travels and sets up quickly. I’ll still be one of those wanky guitar players with a pedalboard AND a rack, but at least I’ll be a tidy one.
– Longer term I should be looking at some kinda switching system, like the GCX or the Rocktron Patchmate or something*. But those cost money I don’t have right now. And I’d go all nuts. So later.
– I might perhaps, maybe, just use a couple of ALEX boxes–or some more easily accessible equivalent–to do things like switch the Clone Theory into the amp effects loop somewhere. Used BEFORE a reverb, the noise actually DOES NEAT THINGS. Or at least, it disappears into the wash.
– I must–I simply MUST–get this Mr. Multi into the working rig.
– Disto pedal. I dunno which though. So far, I have hated a few, thought many were OK, and loved a few. Right now, the main contenders are: Fulltone Fulldrive, Fulltone OCD, Carl Martin Drive n’ Boost, Vox Satcherator (SRSLY. The only Satriani-related product I have not loathed or laughed at), Vox 810 overdrive, modded Boss Blues Driver. But the list keeps growing*. And I keep just using the amps, because I like how that sounds.
– TC Nova Delay. Holy crap! I played with one of these when I was last in Vancouver, and it’s like they designed a pedal specifically for me. Brilliant.
Anyway, there it is. Thrilling, is it not?
I welcome your comments. If you have read this far, you deserve an opinion. Also, you are a nerd.
*More on this at a later date
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