If you can’t make products people love, instead go and make less annoying products that people will use
I was reading a quote from the marketing guru Seth Godin a while back and he was talking about either making products that people love and if you can’t do that make products that become less annoying. Example; people love their iPhones and to an extent forgive the foibles. I don’t love my old Nokia, but would have been happy if it just worked well but it had a few navigational glitches that are just irritating to the point of wanting to change it. Old cars are the same. If you love your ‘classic’ then its little break downs aren’t annoying, they’re just part of its character, and if you give it a name things gets worse. Little Mabel is now free to throw all manner of automotive tantrums which somehow become part of her charm.
Annoying pedal boards
Bringing it back to topic, a similar situation exists for us guitarists and our pedals. We have a few treasured pedals that we love but the same can’t be said about our pedal boards. You know the scenario. You buy a board and then spend ages assembling all your pedals in just the right order and something doesn’t quite fit together. Maybe the board is just an inch too short or you can’t quite get the connectors to fit. Then one unit won’t stick with velcro and another needs an odd 26.5 volt power supply. It’s like a giant puzzle that takes hours to figure out. Once it’s all done you sit back, relax and remember you’ve forgotten to include the tuner. And the lid won’t close. So then you buy a bigger board. All your 37 pedals fit on but you pick it up and slip a disk. I had one student that actually used a metal door for his board. Then he needed a bigger car to carry it around…
Pedal solutions for worship
So in the real world, especially playing at church when there’s not a huge amount of time to set up, I just want a solution that works, quickly and easily without being annoying. I want quality sounds on a simple, lightweight board that can incorporate a few of my favourite pedals that all fits together and runs off one standard 9v power supply. Not too much too ask is it?
In terms of what I use, I’ve actually gone back to a crossover of traditional single effect stomp boxes for overdrives and distortions and multi effects for modulations and delays by using a Line 6 M9. It’s a cut down version of their M13 multi effects unit that contains all of Line 6’s modelling pedal effects. So you get over 100 drives, modulations such as tremolo, chorus etc, filters like wahwah, delays and reverbs. All in one easy to use unit with tap tempo and a good tuner. You can only access three effects at any one time but crucially it’s only about the size of their ubiquitous green DL4. And because of its size, it’s ideal to pair up with some of your favourite stomp boxes for your own familiar tones plus the flexibility to dial up weird and wonderful effects if you need them without having to carry around yet more hardware. To be honest this has been the idea of multi effects for years but this is the first time I’ve seen it executed in such a portable, easy and familiar format with such high quality digital recreations of all the classic stompboxes.
Any effect can be saved into one of 24 ‘scenes’. Each scene allows you to ‘place’ 6 effects on your board and access 3 at one time. So you could have your worship band scene, your originals band scene, your weird and spacey ministry time scene or if you are really picky, a scene per song.
But for me what makes it really accessible, (and I had to do a bit of digging to find this out) is it accepts 9volt AC or DC. Most other similar units don’t do this and although it needs a fair bit of juice this means you can run it together with standard pedals from one plug. I bought a 3000MA stompbox8 from effectspowersupplies.com (kinda like a large OneSpot) which doesn’t take up yet more real estate on your board like say a large Pedalpower unit does.
So for me it’s brilliant. I put just a couple of my favourite overdrives in front of it and use the M9 for mostly my modulations and delays and stick it all together on a Pedaltrain mini board. If the occasional song in church genuinely warrants and octave fuzz, I can find one quickly without having to take along a clunky unit and its weird 15volt supply. I think this is the first multi effects unit I don’t find annoying, and in time as our relationship grows, I may even learn to love.