pedal purge part 2

The other day I started my pedal purge with my overdrives and fuzz boxes. I’m pretty happy with what I am keeping and what I am purging. None of these pedals are bad, they just aren’t the sound I am using right now and I don’t have an excuse to keep them.

Anyway, now I am on to my other effects. So we’ll start with wahs. I have a Morley Pro Series Wah (PWA) that I replaced a while ago with an Ibanez Weeping Demon Wah. I can’t get the auto wah to work, but the manual wah works great. Both are big, but the Weeping Demon has sweep range I like better and has a lot more tweakability (is that a word?).

Then I compared my two possible reverb pedals. I have an EHX Holy Grail that I like, but I feel is limited because it only has a spring, hall, and flerb setting with only a mix knob. I want more tweakability. I also have a recently acquired Danelectro BLT Slap Echo. It is fun to play with, but after a lot of tweaking and comparing, I am sticking with the Holy Grail. The BLT didn’t give me the spacey reverb sound I like sometimes. And I could almost get the slap echo feel from the spring setting on the Holy Grail (if I played a certain way). Neither one allows for tweaking the delay time, but the repeats were not smooth enough on the BLT for what I want…which makes sense. It is a slap echo, not a reverb.

reverb flang chorus try outs

Finally, I compared my old DOD Stereo Flanger FX75-B to my recently acquired Danelctro Milkshake chorus. They aren’t perfect match ups (kind of like my reverb to slap echo comparison), but they sound close. I tested them a lot. I was able to do a lot more with the DOD Flanger just by using more or less of the four controls (delay, speed, width, regen) to get some workable chorus, phaser, and flanger sounds. I have tried this before no many occasions without success so I felt pretty happy that I seem to be learning something over the years. With that in mind, I am keeping the Flanger and not the chorus.

pedal purge part 1

And so it begins! I am in purge mode. Not to actually buy the Gibson Custom Shop ES-446 I think is amazing, but because it  made me realize that I have too much gear and I’m not using it.

First step has been to re-evaluate my overdrive and fuzz needs. I’ve been meaning to add fuzz back to my pedal board after taking it off years ago. And nothing is sacred. I took apart the bass pedal board I had made a back too.

ODFuzz

The first thing I did was dial in a true clean sound on my amp. I was surprised with how much gain I had to dial out, but it sounds so good! I then tested EHX LPB-1 boost and was surprised at how well the boost still kept the clean tone I had dialed in. It really did just boost the overall sound. Before this I had quite a bit of dirt coming from the preamp gain on my Frenzel Super Champ Sportster. Now I have a really good clean with boost. I think I may even put the LPB-1 after my Morley ABY switch so I can keep the volume levels about equal between the clean F-preamp and the distorted M-preamp.

I am keeping the black Russian Big Muff Pi (that has been modded for a power plug and true bypass switch). I am looking for a fuzz that really explodes with overtones. I’m thinking very shoegazer feel. Just a wall of fuzz. The USA Big Muff Pi is good, but just doesn’t give me the overtones I’m looking for. It seems to be a bit brighter than the Russian.

The BBE Green Screamer is out. I can dial in that Ibanez Tube Screamer sound pretty well with the overdrive channel of my Boss SD-2 Dual Overdrive. Not perfect, but not worth the real estate on my pedal board. And the Marshall Guv’Nor plus GV-2 can almost be replicated with the lead channel of my Boss SD-2.

Then came the DOD Overdrive/Preamp 250 I recently acquired. I love how it sounds. And with the new clean sound I had dialed in on my amp, this thing sounded even better. And it drives the Russian Big Muff well too. Always good when pedals interact well. But I kept going back to my Boss SD-2. Why couldn’t I dial in as good an overdrive. The SD-2 actually has more tone shaping controls with gain, level, and tone. The DOD 250 just has gain and level. I kept going back and forth…playing the same phrases over and over. It was driving my family crazy. Finally, I turned down the Boss SD-2’s tone control all the way down and I got it! So the DOD 250 is leaving and I have learned so much more about my gear and what tones I want. This is all very exciting!

Cool Guitar

My local guitar shop has a really cool guitar that I’ve never played before. It is a Gibson Custom Shop ES-446. Way out of my price range, but it feels so good to play! And it is beautiful

Here’s a forum discussion of one here with some pictures.

The thing I really like about it is how much of a blues machine it can be. The more I try to figure out “my sound,” the more I think I like either really clean blues that almost goes into jazz tones. As much as I love Stevie Ray Vaughan, I’m not really a screaming blues guitarist. I’m more of a T-bone Walker tone wise…or I’m into the shoegazer wash of sound of the 90’s…or I’m into the harsh tones of punk…or whatever else I’m into at the moment.

And here’s one in action!

And because of this guitar I have gone through all my gear to see what I can/would sell, what it would go for, and if that is enough to buy this beauty of a guitar! I doubt it will happen, but just going through this process is going to help me purge some gear. Stay tuned!

Fretboard Conditioning

I’ve been meaning to replace the strings on my Warmoth project guitar for a while now. And when I actually broke the high E string, it seemed like the perfect reason to condition and clean the ebony fretboard and throw on a new set of strings.

When I took off the strings the nut came off too. This is one of those Tusq nuts and came with the Warmoth thurnderbird style guitar neck I have on the Warmoth strat body. The three spots of glue had stopped working at some point and were totally crystalized.

ebony fretboard

Sorry for the lame picture, but I must of deleted the other ones I took. Anyway, I used a polishing cloth and the edge of a credit card type… well, uh, card from some retailer membership club to clean the grime off the fretboard. It was nice to see I’m putting some wear and tear on the fretboard. Better than a pristine neck that isn’t getting used! But even after cleaning it, you can still see where I play the most. The stainless steel frets are doing wonderfully well and don’t need to be polished (unlike all the frets on almost all my other guitars).

Then I got some sandpaper and an exacto knife to take the glue residue off the nut and nut slot on the neck. That went fairly quickly, but I moved slowly so I wouldn’t damage anything. And since I had the guitar strings off I started looking for the graph tech bridge pieces I had picked up over a year ago. And I couldn’t find them. I actually ended up taking everything out of my work bench and then putting it all back together. I was so frustrated with having lost those bridge pieces and spent so much time looking for them that I put a few dabs of wood glue on the nut and strung up my guitar…without conditioning the fretboard!

I’ll wait a few weeks (or months) to replace the strings and try to remember to condition the fretboard then. And thanks to a recent article I read, this time I’ll use a tooth brush to work the oil into the fretboard instead of just spreading some on, letting it soak in a bit, and then using a paper towel to remove the excess. I’ll probably still have to remove excess, but it sounds like a good idea to me!

Maybe I’ll even find those graph tech bridge pieces by then.

Play Quietly, but with a big foot

After my little purchasing binge from a local guitar shop clearance bin, I spent the evening playing with all my pedals. The new ones were fun to add and I liked trying them for the first time.

This was a lot of fun to do. The kids were asleep and my wife was in the other room playing video games, so I wasn’t bothering her. But I was still very conscious of my playing volume. I used the master volume control on my amp a lot to adjust for each pedal. And when I plugged in my whole pedalboard and started using my Jamman Solo looper, I still kept everything quiet.

As I got into playing, I started really mixing the effects up. I played a lot of combinations that got some weird stuff, but all at whisper volumes. I cannot tell you how much fun and how relaxing it was to do this.

Finally, my wife had tired of her video games and reminded me that we had a busy day ahead of us. So I shut everything down and headed to bed.

My wife complimented me for my quiet playing and then told me that my footswitch stomping was the loudest thing in the house. So for those of you trying not to disturb others with your late night playing, don’t forget those stomp box switches make noise too!