Acoustic Guitar Pedalboard

After doing the whole DIY piezo pickup installation in a few acoustic guitars and the purchase of a DI box, I have started to think about putting together a small effects board for my acoustic.

I’ve chatted in the past about doing the same thing for my bass, but that will be a different post in the future.

So I ask you, dear internet, what do you put in your acoustic guitar signal path?  A tuner? Reverbe? Overdrive? Distortion? Delay? etc. Do you have an acoustic rig like nate at Let’s Play Guitar with Sonic Maximizer, distortion, boost, and analog delay?  It seems to me that a tuner could be in the signal chain, but for live performance, a headstock tuner would be even easier to use. But you may want some sort of kill switch or volume control so you can tune silently.

I saw Rob Dickinson on tour supporting his solo album and he had three pedals on a small wood plank going into a DI box.  He sounded great!

And hopefully you watched to at least the 2:59 point, but especially the 5:09 point, when he kicked in the distortion. Live it was such a boost to the overall emotion and power of the song. He did the same thing on Heal, but it was a bit more limited.

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DI Box

I found a DOD 275 active direct box for about $10 at a local pawn shop, so I got it!  With all the work I’ve been doing turning my acoustics into acoustic/electric guitars I’ve been looking at some sort of direct box.  Plus the acoustic stomp boxes…and owning a bass… a DI box seems like a nice thing to have. I haven’t used one before, but look forward to experimenting and learning about it.

A nice little find that made me happy!

Bass headstock

Met with my friend who owns the pink bass.  I showed him the 51 precision bass headstock template I printed out from the internet.  We both agreed that we want a little more bottom edge to the headstock so there is space for the military insignia he wants on the headstock.

We’ll still paint the face of the headstock black, but it will have a big metal military insignia where the brand name usually goes.

Maybe we’ll go with some sort of Pink Tank Prague-esque theme. Perhaps some military or classic pin up decals and vinyl sticker pin stripes will be put on the body a la vintage bomber style. I’m getting very excited about this project!

Wonder How To

Have you ever wondered how to actually use some of your guitar gear? When I had the score of a lifetime in effects pedals (a bunch at $5 a piece at a local thrift store), I suddenly had a lot more capability than I knew how to use.

As I’ve mentioned before, I still don’t play plugged in as much as I need to in order to explore my pedals, but amazing bloggers like Karl at Guitar for Worship share their own explorations.

This post is just to thank Karl for all that he has shared. I am grateful!

Installing Another DIY Piezo Pickup

After telling my friend how easy it was to install a home made, diy piezo pickup (with an end pin jack) into my garage sale acoustic, he decided he wanted one too.  He had inherited his daughter’s old Fender acoustic starter guitar and figured why not.

So he got the piezo transducer from Radio Shack and an end pin jack from our local guitar shop. I got it done in two evenings.  First evening was spent wiring up the piezo pickup to the end pin jack. Second evening was spent drilling and installing it.

This time I went with two coats of plastidip on the piezo and wires.  It feels stronger to me and dampens the high end a bit, which is my one big criticism with this simple piezo pick up.  Too sensitive to the high end and not enough low end.

Anyway, it went smoothly (although I did solder it twice. Once without the shrink tubing in place and then again with the shrink tubing in place).

The drilling went more easily than any guitar yet. The strap button was held in with a very small screw. Once I took it out, the hole it left was perfect for my 1/2 inch paddle drill bit. This little hole kept the paddle bit centered and made it all very easy.

Separating the strings was quick. My friend has some 10’s on this acoustic, which surprised me a bit, but to each their own.

Then I used a thin instrument cable to pull the end pin jack out of the hole and screwed everything together.  I placed the piezo pick up hanging half off the bridge using double sided tape. Once it was tuned up I plugged it in and viola, it worked!

Leather ideas

I have been following Crimson guitar’s workshop diary for a while and am always inspired by what they do, but last week they shared an idea for leather strap button washers instead of felt ones that just makes sense!

Of course they have the proper tools and supplies, but it doesn’t seem like it would be too hard to get some leather and start cutting it up.

I don’t think I’m conveying how cool this idea is to me. It is such a simple thing and doesn’t have a huge impact on tone or playability.  I just like it.

At the same time it reminds me that I want to punch some holes in my one leather guitar strap. I want to try playing my guitars higher up on my body, but I’ve got the strap set as short as it can go and the guitar is still not high enough.  Not having an awl or leather hole punch, I thought I would use a nail. But I couldn’t find one that was big enough, so I used a drill.

The important thing was to space the new holes evenly with the old ones so it wouldn’t be such an obvious hack. The holes were exactly 1 inch apart. So I taped it down to a block of wood, measured and marked out six more holes, and then drilled.

 It worked quite well…If you aren’t too worried about centering the holes…but they are one inch apart.

I really like where my strats (Wolverine and Warmoth project) and Epiphone Crestwood sit with the shorter strap. It could be even shorter, but I will stick with this length for now. I’ll let you know what I think.

However I am curious, how high or low do you like to wear your guitar?

Organ anyone?

I’ve posted so many times about my desire to get an Electro Harmonix POG2 that it isn’t even worth linking to any of them. I have wanted one ever since I heard a friend play the guitar through a whatever the previous version of a Roland GR-55 was. He was playing Brown Eyed Girl and it was awesome!

But I also saw how much the synth pedal and pick up cost.  Then I found out about the original POG and then the POG2 which seems even more versatile with 8 presets and a smaller foot print. It is still tops on my wish list.

I even tried to recreate an organ sound through my ol’ Digitech RP200 multi-effects pedal that I use at work.

Then I opened the most recent issue of Premier Guitar (July 2012 with the acoustic guitars on the cover) and the first thing I see is the add for the EarthQuaker Devices Organizer Polyphonic Organ Emulator. I quickly looked it up to find it for $185.  Much less than even a used POG2 and a whole lot less than a Roland synth thingy. Very cool!

But in my shock of something so cool that seems to fit my desire (but that is still outside my budget right now) I thought, “What else is out there for scratching that Organ effect itch?”

So I ask you? Anyone out there use their guitar to get organ sounds? How do you do it?

Do you do what is mentioned on page 38 of the same issue of Premier Guitar? Combine a Chorus or rotary pedal, EQ pedal, and overdrive pedal to get simulate the rotating leslie sound, boost the low frequencies, and provide a little dirt for some genuine organ character?

But you do have to admit, the POG2 is pretty versatile!

Foot Switch Finally

Months ago, as part of my overdrive quest, I made a foot switch button for switching between the two channels on my Boss Dual Overdrive SD-2.  It worked great, but it didn’t actually have an enclosure.

My tap tempo foot switch I had made for my Boss Digital Delay DD-7 was housed in an old video signal boost. I figured it would be easy to find something similar and put the foot switch and jack in it just like the tap tempo foot switch.  Six months later and I still hadn’t found a good enclosure.

So finally I gave up on some cool old piece of old school electronics enclosure and scoured a Good Will.  For 99 cents I got a cheap little metal bowl…and viola…foot switch enclosure!

String Tests?

Has anyone out there ever done string shoot outs by having two identical guitars to A/B different string brands, gauges, etc?

Here’s a few shoot outs on youtube, but they both restring their guitars.

Skip to the 19:24 mark on this next video to see what his conclusion is.

I have always used the cheapest guitar strings I can find, which has usually been the 6 string set for 99 cents total each summer at my local guitar store’s annual sale.

I just read an article in Premier Guitar about strings and it makes me wonder if I need to start exploring the world of strings.  But how do you really compare them?  How do you figure out the perfect set?  Does it depend on the guitar, pick ups, song, musical genre, etc?  Is it really just feel?  Is it sound? What do you use?