The Journey to my First Pedalboard Part II
Hello there. Today’s entry is “The Journey to my First Pedalboard Part II”. Recently, I put the pieces together for a pedalboard that I can officially call my own. From choosing the pedals, to picking out a board, to organizing the cables; it is complete and it was quite a journey. For the longest time I used a Line 6 Vetta Modeling amp for my main rig. It wasn’t until I opened the store when I really started to experiment with different individual pedals. I share my full experience on my last post; “The Journey to my First Pedalboard Part I”. Feel free to check it out. This week I discuss my favorite gear that I’ve used over the last 10 years and what eventually led to what I have today. Let’s dive right in.
Actually, let’s hurry up and stop. You know me, I can’t get right to the point. I want to talk about my experiences using multi-effects units compared to a pedal board and amp. Throughout these years of experimenting with gear there have been a number of times I have tried to ditch my amp and pedal board and just go with a multi-effect processor. No amp, plugged directly into the PA or headphones. Most of these were Line 6 products. Since I used a Line 6 Vetta for 10+ years I have a familiarity with Line 6 products and I’m a fan. I’ve used a POD HD300, POD Go, and even messed with a Helix a little. What I’ve learned is that I’m not a multi-effects player.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate multi-effect units, but they are not for me. I think it takes a certain type of person to really utilize the full potential of multi-effects boards. One of the greatest benefits of a multi unit is the vast unlimited options. But too many options can actually be a curse and cause you to chase a rabbit-hole. I find the limitations of physical pedals help me to focus and dial in something quickly instead of using infinite combinations of amps modelers, effects, and all the parameters. Another thing that frustrated me with the multi-effects is the final product which differ depending on the setting. I would often find that whatever parameters and settings I would save on my presets would never fully translate when ever I used the unit live with a full band. Just always felt like I was lost in the mix and couldn’t make quick adjustments on the fly. So while I think multi-effect units are great, they are not for everyone. I know many guitarist that use them, even professionals, and they sound amazing. So when you look for your next rig, know your personal strength and weakness. If deep and editing and multiple options is what you live for then go with a multi. If simple and straightforward is all you have time for then an amp and pedal combination is the way.
Now let’s talk about gear:
Hanging around a music store all day prompts me to experiment with the pedals and amp. So a lot of these pedals were the ones on the shelf that begged me to play them and ultimately I started piecing a pedal board together. Here is a highlight of the gear that I've used over the years but have let go.
Better to have loved and lost…
Line 6 M5
One of the first pedals I experimented with was a Line 6 M5. As a player who used a Line 6 Modeling amp forever this was an easy transition when switching to a individual pedals. The M5 pedal has over 100 different effects built into one. I loved having tons of options and the layout was simple so I could locate each effect, understand the parameters, and use it as I wanted. The main limitation on the pedal is that only one effect could be used at a time. So while this pedal had lots of great delays, reverbs, modulations and more I could not use them together and that was a real bummer. Ultimately, I let this pedal go. At the time I didn’t have an Isolated Power source and felt this pedal was a little too noisy. Plus, I wanted to try something different from the Line 6 effects. But, if you are looking for a simple multi effects unit to fill in the gaps for some effects you are missing then I would give this one a go. A great pedal at a great value that you can still find new for $169.99
Korg SDD-3000 Digital Delay
I'm a huge fan of delay and I love the tone from U2’s The Edge. So when Korg released a floor version of the SDD-3000 Digital Delay I went for it. It was grossly expensive, especially since it cost more than the amp I had at the time. But it was very cool. The SDD-3000 has a lot of controls for a pedal that doesn’t feature a digital interface. 8 different delay types, waveform controls, as well as modulation control and filter selection. This pedal offered a lot and had some amazing delay effects. Again, I had this pedal early, before I owned a power brick, so it too was noisy and too much for the modest board and amp I had at the time. Definitely miss it but due to the fact Korg only produced it for a year I was able to resell and make a little extra money off of it.
So, Tube amps are the way…at least that’s what I hear people say. So, the most affordable option I could easily get was a Vox AC4C1. A small 4 watt all tube with a 10” speaker, based off the AC30 circuit. The version I owned had a limited Red tolex wrap and it looked stunning. I loved the tone the little amp provided and it was plenty loud. Unfortunately, it didn’t take pedals that well. Especially with overdrive, the 10” small combo had a “boxy” sound I couldn’t dial out with my overdrive pedals. The amp by itself was great, but with a board full effects I felt there was a better option out their.
EHX Soul Food
Did you know this was a Klon Klone? I had no idea… at the time…and I didn’t know what a Klon was…at the time. I did enjoy this pedal. A great affordable overdrive pedal. I didn’t know how to fully utilize it but could get some fine tones with the AC4. As I mentioned, I did have to fight with the amp to get it to work and ultimately scrapped them both it in search of a better option.
T.C. Electronic Alter Ego 2
Early on I found T.C. Electronic to have a wonderful catalogue of pedals. As soon as I found a dealer source for those pedals I reached out to my sales rep and ask him to send me a Flashback. My sales rep suggested and Alter Ego instead and boy am I glad he did. The Ego has more vintage voice echo models that provided some rich warm delay effects. I ended up selling this pedal to get the SDD-3000. After finding out this pedal was discontinued I regretted selling it off. A unique and fantastic experience for those who dig echo units.
Most of those pedals I miss and wouldn’t mind having them back on the board. But as everyone knows, you only have so much space and if you want to try new things you’ve got to let go. Next week I’ll take about my current setup. I’ll take about the gear I love, the gear I tolerate, and even mention a few items that, well let's just say it didn’t work.
As always, thanks for reading this week. I appreciate everyone who takes time to check it out. I try to put out a blog every other Wednesday around noon. Cheers