I confessed my many guitar habits a few weeks ago so now its time for the pedals. Like most guitarists I’ve spent ages trying to find the ultimate pedal board set up which seems to radically change the moment I think I’ve got it sorted. I sometimes play at a church in London where I use their house amp and ride in on my motorcycle. So I basically strap the guitar to my back and use a small portable pedal board with a variety of sounds. The latest incarnation of which is here. To be honest I’ve really got into the small lightweight, less is more style rig and a while back I wrote a series of posts on the minimum pedals you need to get going in a worship band, which was a good drive and a delay. So I thought I better make a board that takes some of my own advice – but then I couldn’t resist add a few things… as you do.
I use this board for teaching, a bit of worship stuff and some function band things too so I need it to be versatile, quick to set up, robust and not have the most precious and expensive units on it just in case it gets kicked about by a student/pogoing wedding guest/militant flag waving ribbon dancer.
In short it goes – Award Session Mixmatch > Visual Sound Compressor > Boss SD1> Timmy > Line Echo Park via Gigrig Virtual Battery > powered by a single one spot power supply + optional Digitech EX-7
If you can bear to read through and stay awake a more detailed rundown is as follows:
The signal goes into an Award-Session Mixmatch pedal which is my new secret discovery. This is really a four channel mixer. I use this for either balancing guitars live or for teaching where I can input students into the board along with an ipod/laptop etc for backing tracks to play along to. However channel 4 has a ‘Paftone’ switch which basically fattens up the tone a little and just adds a little bit of punch to the tele pickups. This just helps push the amp a bit harder and makes all the difference to the basic tone!
I use a compressor for adding a bit of juice to lead lines and big squashes for the function band disco numbers. Without the tone control engaged it can also be quite subtle too so it’s the sort of pedal you can leave on all the time if you want to add a bit of sparkle.
From there I go into a used Boss SD1 that I got for $25. I generally use this for heavier drives and I wanted to put it on the board to show that good tone doesn’t always have to be expensive. I’m soon going to try a $20 mod from Monte Allums which consists of a bit of soldering and replacing a few generic cheap stock components with some better stuff. I’ve heard their demo it really seems to take it up into a different league. So I’ll post my results.
Next I go into a Paul Cochrane Timmy pedal. This only cost me $90 as he makes them in his garage. The down side is I had to wait a year in the queue and I’ve heard the lead time is even longer now! However what you do get is a brilliant transparent mild overdrive with a gain level enough for most worship song sounds. Traditionally you are supposed to put your mildest drive 1st in the chain but by putting it after the Boss pedal I can run it into the Timmy and stack the sounds or use the Timmy as a clean boost for solos etc in a function band context. Either way the two pedals gives me three different drive or boost options at one time.
Line 6 Echo Park. This is essentially the favourite Line 6 DL4 delay in a smaller Boss sized package. The down side is a slightly fiddlier tap tempo that is shared with the main on/off switch and a noise issue which is where the Virtual Battery comes in. Basically all the small Line 6 tonecore pedals need their own isolated power supply and if you daisy chain your pedals together then the echo creates a noticeable hum. By connecting one of these clever little 9volt sized between daisy chain and pedal isolates it and sorts the hum issue – allowing everything to run from one power supply without the hassle of loads of power supplies. Genius!
One Spot power supply. These are lightweight, reliable, noise free, inexpensive and automatically switch between 110v-240v if necessary. Also genius.
Digitech ex7. For most function band and worship band stuff I find that the combo of drives and delays is basically fine but if I want to add some extra colour I’ll use the digitech in between the Timmy and Delay. The EX7 gives me two wahs, a Whammy, a Leslie, a flanger, a pseudo synth (think Holy Spirit pad sound!) Uni-vibe and volume pedal plus each sound has a distortion setting I can switch in if I choose. Ok it’s not the original pedals but its close enough for the occasional wobbly bit and doesn’t take up loads of room. The only downside is it uses AC power – so another power supply but I guess you can’t have everything…
I put this all into a bag I was given originally designed for a couple of Yamaha Magic Stomp units. There’s a pocket in the front for other gubbins and all in all I’m really please with my do it all mini board.
I hardly need say, but do be encouraged to confess your pedal addictions below.