New Pedalboard Set Up

A few weeks ago I purchased a Strymon Flint reverb and tremolo pedal at Chicago Music Exchange.

Flint Strymon

And now it is part of my pedalboard!

As I have mentioned or described in the past, I had an Electro Harmonix Stereo Pulsar¬†tremolo and EHX Holy Grail reverb that I got for cheap at a local thrift shop. The reverb just didn’t do it for me in the long run and as much as I liked the trem, it just wasn’t something I used a lot. And that is a lot of pedal board real estate. But my ModTone Vintage Analog Delay was not working as a reverb in the long run either. So I splurged and got the Flint after trying it with a bunch of other reverb pedals. It is fairly high price, but I justified it by getting a tremolo in the same unit. I would’ve spent the same amount of money on separate reverb and tremolo pedals anyway. Right? Right!Nov 2015 pedalboard

In order to keep my other pedals, including the looper/feedback modified OhHoNo pedal that currently has nothing in the loop, I took off my tuner. I haven’t noticed a big difference in the sound without the buffer that was in the tuner, but I am loving having dedicated reverb and tremolo back on my pedalboard. Combine that with my POG2 and the two delays with my volume pedal and I am having a blast with ambient swells and oceans of echo and reverb underneath what I am playing!

Or I can just go with the tremolo and feel it wash through whatever chords I’m playing.

And having a warm reverb is just incredible for those occasional blue notes that I hit just right!

I do need to put it on a wood block to raise up the pedal for the back row and to keep the pedal velcroed in place without putting velcro on the pedal. And eventually I’ll build a tap tempo pedal for controlling the trem. But I don’t know where that will be kept on the board. Things are a bit crowded. ūüôā

Chicago Music Exchange

I was in Chicago last week for work, but was able to make a trip or two to the Chicago Music Exchange.

SG Wall

Oh, hello row of 60’s and 70’s SG Juniors and Specials. Nice to meet you.

Gibson

Gibson ES-225

Hi 50’s guitars. I can’t believe I actually got to play a Gibson ES-225! So amazing. I still prefer the P-90’s of the ES-125DC, but this was very cool.

Epiphone Casino Gibson ES-330 red

Hi 60’s hollow bodies! John Lennon would be proud of that Epiphone. I enjoyed it. And that Gibson ES-330 is amazing in the “naturally aged” cherry. Something about a 50 year old guitar.

Rhoney

Hi history and art made from wood and metal and plastic. I finally got to play a Rhoney. I’ve been listening to their podcast for a while, but never seen one in the flesh. It was fun to play. The body was surprisingly small. I liked it!

Fano

The Fano is a guitar I have always wanted to play. When I first learned about the Fender Starcaster, the Fano was the only version I could find in production at the time. And it has a comfort belly contour. Perfect! And those pick ups! Perfection…but still out of my price range!

Reverend

And I finally got to play a Reverend. I really liked the neck on this one. Overall a great guitar, but not what I’m looking for right now.

Thank you Chicago Music Exchange for creating a space that feels as comfortable as my living room, as historic as a museum, and a positive shopping experience.

I will post about my Strymon Flint next time!

Back In Tune

unopened tunerIn my attempts to get back into blogging here on a regular basis, I bought a new tuner. Here is the box.

just open the new tuner

Here I am opening the box.

tuner box open

Gotta put the battery in.

using the tuner

Now I use it on everything in the house! Did you know my son vibrates at A sharp?

The Polytune clip on is pretty nice. It has a few negatives with the tuner not being able to rotate on the clip. It folds in and out, but rotation would allow me to set it exactly how I want. But the reality is that it is very accurate. And it works very quickly. It is bright. I generally use the single note tuner on each string and then use the polytune to see how all the strings interact with each other.

It looks like I will be taking my Boss TU-2 Tuner pedal off my pedalboard. Maybe I’ll add a reverb? Future post topic? Probably!

Dealing with G.A.S.

I have mentioned, discussed, shared, and complained about Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS) many times on this blog. Tone Reports recent article exploring what GAS is with such a healthy recognition that it exists and discussion of how to address it is probably one of the best and most timely messages for me.

Having recently paired down my gear significantly, I was feeling pretty good about myself. Then I started to see gear I wanted. And instead of being able to sell stuff I already owned so I could buy the new stuff, I just wanted to buy the new stuff. I deserved it. I now had the space for it. I even had a little cash left from past sales that could go toward each piece of gear I saw.

This became exceptionally apparent when a group of friends started talking about starting a garage band. In the past, I had everything necessary for us to plug in and play. That is no longer the case. I no longer own a microphone, let alone bass, bass amp,PA, etc. I can play guitar and someone can play drums, but that is about it. I sure hope it is an instrumental guitar/drum duet!

I have continued to¬†go back to why I sold my “excess” gear and how much happier I am with where that money went. It isn’t easy. But this article helped a lot by reminding me that I can figure out alternatives (see the part about “re-researching your own gear”). I can explore what gear I have already. My daughter has a practice amp. I have a POG2 for low octave stuff. I have friends with gear I can borrow.

Maybe someday I’ll have all the gear (even though they keep making more). But learning to live within limitations is the reality all of us live with, and we need to learn how to do so happily!

Wi-Fi For Your Guitar

My brother recently sent me an email asking if I had ever heard of Jack, the wireless guitar cable. I had not. They recently funded their kickstarter campaign.

I really like this concept. Having recently sold my mixing board and usb interface, I have been using my Digitech Jamman Solo to record my guitar and then import the filed onto my computer using the Digitech loop file management software. It gets the job done, but this looks great.

Plus I’ve always wondered what wireless play is like, but not enough to get a wireless set. The standard system used today seems very one dimensional now and overly expensive.

DOD FX-17

It arrived! It is easily half the size of my Ernie Ball VP Jr.

I like it, but it is certainly used. I had to try it out first to make sure it works, even before cleaning it. It also squeaks when I move it up and down, so the cleaning will be pretty thorough.

EB VP JR VS DOD FX17EB VP JR VS DOD FX17 sides

The travel for engaging the pedal is short, but I expected that. If I were doing a lot of swells or ambient stuff, I would probably stay with the Ernie Ball.¬†After cleaning it up, I¬†messed with the adjustment screws to see if I can improve it. I was able to dial in a decent taper so that almost the entire travel of the pedal works for controlling volume. If I want the entire travel to impact volume, then it doesn’t go completely silent when I have the pedal all the way down. So there are compromises.

dod fx-17 insidesDOD FX17 adjustment screws

With those settings on the adjustment screws it does not do the wah very well. I think reviewers who have said you get one or the other (wah or volume control) nailed it. However, I don’t use wah very often and it does work as a wah.

Overall I am happy with the DOD FX-17 wah/volume/expression pedal. It does what I need in the size I need (and the squeak went away with a little lube). I’ll spend the next few weeks reorganizing my entire pedalboard, but for now, here’s a picture of how much space it will generate.

pedal board changesMore posts to follow.

EDIT: And of course once it arrives, Boss announces a small form volume pedal with the FV-30H. It looks cool, but I can’t find any mention of what size it actually is. And I haven’t seen it sitting next to any other pedals. I’ll just enjoy the DOD on my board instead of GASing for something only seen in a press release!

Reverb newbie

Having recently sold over half my gear, I did buy one thing. I got a used DOD FX-17 Wah/Volume/Expression pedal¬†off reverb.com. ¬†This is my first time to use Reverb as an online marketplace. I’ve looked at gear there. I’ve used their price guides for putting stuff on Craigslist. I’ve entered all their contests. But I’ve never sold or bought anything through them, until now.

I’ve used Ebay a few times for making purchases, but never felt¬†truly comfortable with the sellers or the set up. Ok, it isn’t that bad, but I’m talking about how I feel. Craigslist works for me because it is local and I can see the person face to face (sorry, I guess I’m old school, plus I don’t like sending stuff through the mail). But the selection isn’t great, there is greater physical risk meeting someone face to face, and I don’t want to travel up to the bigger cities¬†where the selection is better. I have¬†used Amazon sellers for occasional purchases, but only because I get gift certificates from friends and family (I much prefer used gear). While Reverb is an ebay type online marketplace, it is specific to musical instruments. Unlike ebay, I don’t feel like I need to dig through all the crap postings to find good listings or trustworthy sellers. It isn’t perfect, but it is better.

So why the purchase? I’ve decided to clean up my pedal board so everything fits on it, but in order to do that I need a smaller volume pedal. I already sold my Wah pedals (a Morley and an Ibanez). The Morley just didn’t have the range I like. The Ibanez was perfect options wise, but was TOO¬†big and the automatic mode didn’t work. So they both got sold in this cleaning process.

I’m really focused on the FX-17 as a volume pedal that will be half the size of¬†my current Ernie Ball VP Jr. The range may not be as wide as the EB VP Jr, but I am willing to sacrifice that for space. Plus it with the flip of a switch the FX-17 is a wah, so I’ll get back the wah capabilities I lost when I sold the Morley and Ibanez. I could’ve gotten a Morley mini wah/volume pedal or the AMT Electronics Little Loud Mouth 2 (not a wah), but even used they were outside my self imposed price point. Anyway, I’ll be posting more about the DOD FX-17¬†itself after I’ve had some time to explore it…once it arrives.

Homeward Bound

This week has seen a few changes in my gear. Well, not a lot of additions, but certainly some subtractions. I sold my Lyon j-style bass to a nice woman who plays keyboard in her church band and is wanting to try out the bass. I listed my red burst partscaster, an old classical, my EH Holy Grail reverb pedal, some miscellaneous parts, and my dad’s old arbor licensed steinberger headless guitar.

All of this gear is stuff that I have decided to part with. To get down to just the gear I feel I need…and maybe add one single piece in place of all the less expensive pieces I am parting with. I must say that this process has made me more philosophical than I thought it would. It has made me wonder, again, what I want to get out of my equipment and even out of playing the guitar. So I have started, again, to try to learn to fingerpick and I’ve started with what seems like a very appropriate song.

Flanger into POG2

Wow! That did not work for what I was trying to do. My new pedalboard set up has my flanger going into my POG2 which goes into my EHX Pulsar tremolo. I use the tremolo a lot with an organ effect from the POG2. Last night I was playing an organ bit through the POG2 and kicked on the DOD flanger. The POG2 did a great job tracking the flanger signal.

image

But it was not the cool augmentation of the organ sound I thought it would be. I thought it would be like my use of the tremolo effect on the organ sound.
Obviously by having the flanger go into the organ rather than affect the organ sound on the other side was not going to give me what I wanted. But I could not imagine what it would sound like before I played. I had no idea what to expect. It totally caught me by surprise, which hasn’t happened in a long time. I usually have some idea of what something will sound like.
What sound has caught you off guard? What have you done lately that surprised you? Was it on purpose or was it just not what you expected? Was it a guitar? An effect? A room? Or something else entirely?

pedal purge part 3

PedalsAmpRig

After messing around with all these pedals, I have reconfigured my pedal board. The back end is pretty much the same with a volume pedal going into my Modtone Analog Delay, Boss DD7 Digital Delay, Electro Harmonix Holy Grail. Then there is the Digitech Jamman Solo going into a Morley ABY for the two preamp inputs on my Frenzel Super Champ Sportster. The new part of this is I have my gain turned way down on the Fender preamp and have the Electro Harmonix LPB-1 boost in front of it to raise the volume of the clean sound I have dialed in. The LPB-1 boost also helps the clean Fender preamp have almost the same volume level as the Marshall preamp does with the gain turned way up for a great overdriven rock sound. So I can use the Morley ABY switch to go between the clean Fender preamp and the rocking Marshall preamp without a significant change in volume.

Pedalboard6-2014

The front end of my pedal board still starts with my Boss TU-2 Tuner, but then it goes into the Boss SD-2 Dual Overdrive, EHX Black Russian Big Muff Pi fuzz, DOD Flanger FX75-B, EHX POG2, and EHX Pulsar. The overdrive and fuzz build well on the clean Fender preamp sound, but I haven’t experimented much with them going into the Marshall preamp. I’ll keep you posted on this.