I just had a birthday. I got some cool stuff, but I also got some cash money! So I’ve been on the hunt for what to get myself. If you can believe it, I’ve made some non-guitar oriented purchases first, but I got better.
In a future post I’m going to describe my homemade pedalboard, but for purposes of this post, I’ll just say that my homemade pedalboard is so cramped that I have to use cables with bent plugs going into and out of the board. I am currently using a cheap, molded plastic cable I got for $1.50 at the local guitar shop to go from the pedal board to my Vox AD50VT (note I’ve got the original AD series, not the XT or VT series). Most recently I’ve been using a Boss CS-3 Compression/Sustainer pedal to go from my guitar to the pedalboard. Let me try to explain. Instead of having the cheap plastic cable go from the guitar to the pedalboard, I have a 6 inch patch cable with bent plugs go from the pedalboard to the Boss CS-3 pedal on the floor next to the pedalboard. Then I use my existing guitar cables with straight plugs to go from the guitar to the CS-3.
The only problem with this set up is that I don’t actually own the Boss CS-3 pedal. A friend from work got the Joe Meek FloorQ compression pedal and wants to sell me his Boss CS-3 pedal. So he let me take it home and play with it. He also let me take his Digitech CF-7 Chorus Factory pedal home to see if I wanted to buy it.
Just to make this story short, I’ve decided not to get either pedal. But let me tell you about what happened as I tested the pedals. As you know from past posts, I don’t play plugged in very often. So it was a real struggle to play with the pedals. But I did some late night playing with headphones and a little playing on the weekends when the kids were dancing to my attempts to make music.
Anyway, I could not get a good sound using the Boss CS-3 Compression/Sustainer. I got a decent volume boost for my single coils, but the effect was too subtle for me. I just didn’t get anything out of it.
The Digitech CF-7 Chorus Factor was a different story. Now let me first give my disclaimer: I do not like chorus effects. I think they sound cheesy and thin and processed and generally cause the same reaction as running fingers down a chalkboard. Sometimes a song uses chorus well. Sometimes it doesn’t. But I was able to play with the different chorus models on the Chorus Factory (7 in total) and actually get some nice chorus effects.
So after a few weeks of playing with these two pedals, I was pretty sure I wanted to get the Chorus Factory and not the Compression/Sustainer. So I took the pedals back to my coworker to see if we could haggle price. He wasn’t there that day. I took the pedals home and happened to be plugging in to play that night, so I hooked up the pedals to my pedalboard. My world was turned upside down. Well, not my entire world, but at least my portion of the world that I thought I lived in while comparing the CS-3 and the CF-7.
I turned on the Boss CS-3 Compression/Sustainer and everything sounded better! I turned it off and everything sounded flat and a little hollow. I can’t describe what or how it was better, especially when it was on. But when it was off, I could hear a difference. I didn’t like it off. I liked it on. My overdrive and distortion sounded smoother. The volume sounded good between my humbucker guitars and my single coil guitars. It just hit me right.
On the flip side, I could not get a good chorus sound out of the Digitech CF-7 Chorus Factory to save my life. They all sounded harsh and over the top and hollow. It just hit me wrong.
In the end I’ve decided to not get either pedal now. The prices my co-worker wanted were good used prices, but not great steals (Understandable, he wants fair market value for his pedals. I would too in his position.). I’m really only buying great steals (no, I’m not stealing, just buying at really low prices, which means I’m not buying much).
This now short story made long is just to explain that I need better cables with bent plugs to go from my guitar to my pedalboard and from my pedalboard to my amp. First, I dug around my old Guitar Player magazine issues to find the one with the guitar cable shoot out. I couldn’t find it, so I turned to the internet. Premier Guitar and Guitar Player online both have guitar cable shoot outs. I made my list of top performing cables I could afford and headed to my local guitar shop to buy said cables with my birthday money.
When I got there I did the obligatory walk through, checking everything they’ve got and saw a used Boss AB-2 2-way selector pedal…and it was cheap…and I had a coupon for any one purchase in the store. So instead of getting guitar cables I bought this AB switch and put it exactly where I had the Boss CS-3. I can now use my existing guitar cables to go from two guitars into the Boss AB-2 and then into the pedalboard. I can also use the Boss AB-2 to go from one guitar to two amps in I want to…or if I had two amps.
I still need a better cable to go from the pedalboard to my amp, but that is another purchase for another day. And just maybe, the second amp is another purchase for another day…