Gear Confessional – my pedal rig (for those who care!)
I’ve started to downsize my rig lately. Partly because a) I can’t be bothered with multiple trips to the car, b) lots of amp and pedal companies are starting to cotton on to the convenience factor of smaller more portable gear, c) I sometimes take my rig on my motorbike (seriously!) and d. I think a lot of worship musicians need to seriously consider smaller, more convenient rigs, particularly with the stage volume restrictions of and tight set up, tear down routines of many local churches.
For the last few years I’ve advocated guitarists buying a few good single effect pedals and avoiding the ‘all you can eat’ multi effects units mainly because the quality of the individual effects wasn’t that good and the simplicity of changing a parameter quickly, on the fly wasn’t that easy or intuitive.
But in the last year or so the pendulum has swung back the other way with a few companies now producing multi effects units with very high quality sounds and operation based on how single effects pedals are used and tweaked.
Line 6 first came out with the M13 which hosted all the digitally modelled sounds from their popular pedal ranges in a Bob Bradshaw style board. Thing is, even though it was great it was still a little bit large especially when most guitar players want to combine with it their favourite overdrive boxes, and these days pedal board real estate space counts for everything.
So the geek in me got a little bit overexcited when they launched the M9 which basically has the very same effects as the M13 but in a much smaller package. It’s about the size of their famous green DL4 delay pedal, but still has every effect Line 6 model on it! So that includes all of their delay models, all of the modulations, plus the filters (wah wah etc), reverbs, distortions, a decent tuner and even a looper too. It doesn’t do POD style amp simulations but that’s not the point of it. It’s more for the player who wants access to a variety of effects to integrate into their existing board with existing pedals for a flexible, lightweight and compact setup. Perfect for me – so I got one!
The M9 has six effect selector buttons (+ a tap tempo) with 3 effects usable at any one time. If that doesn’t sound like much, I like to use a variety of effects, especially textural sounds for worship and I find I’ve got plenty of scope especially if all my drives come from my existing analogue stomp boxes. You also get 24 ‘scenes’ allowing you to set up virtual pedal boards for different types of bands (worship band, function band, originals band etc) or if you prefer, specific effects for 24 different songs.
There is some talk on the web about the overdrives not being ‘quite’ as good as the modulations and delays. Yes the delays and mods are excellent, but I have compared the overdrives back-to-back with a few choice pedals and I’ll be honest, I would choose my units over the digitally modelled one in a blind test. But in the real world, with a decent amp, good guitar but coupled to a bad church PA with a sound tech who probably wont EQ you right anyway, they really are fine on their own.
So for me the M9 plus a couple of stompers on a mini board is enough for most settings but for things like function bands I’ll just take the M9 out on its own and be really happy.
What I’ve found really helpful though is the way Line 6 have built the power supply. They are one of the only companies I know that have some pedals (e.g. this one and the big 4 button DL4, MM4 etc) that can run on AC or DC 9 volt standard negative tip power. The M9 is pretty power hungry, but if you can find a man enough power supply it means in theory you can run a few pedals and the M9 off one plug. As standard you get their own AC power adapter, i.e. the same one that comes with the ubiquitous POD but I find this bulky and heavy. A Pedal Power Unit could probably run it but I’ve found a solution in the Stompbox 8 from effectpedalsupplies.com. This (slightly larger) OneSpot alike unit has a 3000ma rating, comes with 8 daisy chain plugs, auto switching between 110 – 240 volts and even three different worldwide plug adapters, all for £30. Bargain! So now I’ve got a small, lightweight effects rig that covers a multitude of applications. If you haven’t fallen asleep yet, I’ll explain some more thoughts about my rig in further posts!
Just as a caveat – Line 6 don’t tell you about the DC/AC power option choice anywhere on their marketing material. I.e. they only recommend you use the supplied supply! This is something I discovered talking to a few people, and doing a bit of research. So please be sure of what you are doing before you plug in a different power supply to your pedal. If it goes bang, you have been warned!