The Journey to my First Pedalboard Part III
For this week’s post I continue to share my journey to building my First pedalboard. To catch everyone up, I’ve recently finalized a pedal board, a 10 year long journey of learning, exploring, experimenting, and finally ending up with a good platform that I’m happy with. It’s nothing unique, nothing too custom, but very practical for me. Feel free to read Part 1 and Part 2 of my previous posts. For this week, I talk about my favorite pedals and gear that have long tenures on my board. And although this is my final board, let’s face it, it will always be changing. So, I talk about what pedals are on my Christmas list. Let’s take it away.
Gear That is a Win
Korg Pitch Black Mini X Tuner
If you’ve read any of my blogs before you know I love Korg Tuners. The Pitch Black Mini Tuners are my preferred pedal tuner; for electric, bass, acoustic, mandolin, ukulele, etc. They are affordable, simple to use, accurate, offer a big bright display, and take up a small footprint. I still use version 1 on my tech bench and love version 2 on my electric board. My ultimate first choice for a pedal tuner. If you are a tried and true Boss TU-3 fan, give the Pitch Black Mini X a try, I think you'll find the larger and brighter display more satisfying, and it's half the size and weight.
JHS 3 Series Reverb
Just because you strip something down to the bare minimum doesn’t mean it can’t perform. For me, the 3 Series Pedals from JHS offer affordable pedals with simple controls. Those controls make a huge impact. The 3 Series Reverb is a shining example of this. From subtle to full wash, the 3 Series Reverb is simple and very effective. No nonsense and gives me exactly what I need for a Reverb. If you are looking for a simple Reverb with essential controls and no bells and whistles, give the 3 Series a try. JHS also offers a Hall Reverb and Octave Reverb in the 3 Series lineup.
Keeley Tone Workstation
If you need versatility out of your drive section in require an extremely small space I’m not sure you can do much better than the Keeley Workstation. Get this: Compressor, Boost, and Two Overdrives all in one pedal. It starts with the popular Keeley Compressor in zone 1 featuring a full and rich tone with great sustain. Zone 2 can be used as a clean boost featuring the Keeley Katana Boost circuit. Flip the switch and you have a Bluesbreaker style Overdrive. Zone 3 is the Keeley Red Dirt Overdrive providing anything from subtle breakup to soaring lead tones. The fact that it offers so much, and does them all very well, keeps me relying heavily on this beast. For a pedal that features 3 separate circuits it takes up very little real estate, just slightly larger than a single Boss pedal. A great value and great performance. Plus, 3 pedals that just use one power source.
Gator Pedal Tote Pedal Board
I’ve used a number of different boards and put a few together for folks. I must say I really like the Gator Pedal Tote. Many would say it's a bad option because you can’t easily access the underside and hide your cables under the board. I actually really like the fact that I can run all my power cables and signal cables on top of the board. With the Pedal Tote, the whole top surface has velcro so I can mount a couple of wire clips, zip the power cables together and channel them on my board. The board comes with a nice sturdy carrying bag and this system all works very well. There is enough room on the underside to mount a power supply too. This board works very well for me and is easy to make changes since all the cables are mounted on top. Still very clean looking and efficient. A great option as a pedal board, better than lot’s of more pricier boards out there.
Strymon Iridium Amp & IR Cabinet Simulator
This pedal has been the newest addition and most effective to my board. I’ve sampled a number of amps over the years. For my needs, I’ve hardly ever use the speaker of an amp. In fact, before the Strymon I used a Blackstar HT-5 combo and simply used the direct output. For where I play, reduced stage noise is a must so going direct is the most efficient way. So, why carry around an amp just to plug it in direct? The Iridium is the perfect solution as a pedal sized amp that fits snuggly on my board and gives me some options, but not too many options. In fact, it took me 5 total minutes to go through all the combinations of amp sims and cab sims, find the one I needed, dial it in, and use it. Instantly, I had more compliments on tone than I’ve had in a long time. Many thanks are due to the Iridium for being simple, very effective, and versatile enough for me. I haven’t touched it since I made my original settings, but I’m looking forward to trying out the other combinations more extensively…when I have time…if I have time.
Gear That's on the Wish List
I know I’ve said that I’ve finalized my board. But let’s be honest, there is so much great gear on the market that it’s impossible to never change your board. Especially as a store owner, it can’t happen. So, while I love the pedals I have, time will come when I swap out for these potential winners.
MXR Timmy Overdrive
Accessibility is important to me. I appreciate the players that are able to collect and keep rare pedals. For me I need something where lack of availability doesn’t drive the price up. MXR has done a great job of partnering with a few builders who's production can’t keep up with the demand of their pedal. The Cochrane Timmy is one example of that. The MXR Timmy steps up and makes this great pedal accessible. We've had the pedal in the shop and it sells very well. I’ve demoed the unit, but never put it on my board. But soon and very soon it will be added. The versatile tone settings and small footprint will make a perfect future addition.
MXR Duke of Tone
Basically, a repeat of the Timmy. MXR has made the King of Tone accessible and affordable with this recent release of the Duke of Tone. Whether I need/want both the Timmy and DOT that remains a mystery. I’m looking forward to pairing these two and seeing what transpires.
Line 6 DL4 MKII
Call this a little bit of nostalgia, but as owner of the original DL4 I’m looking forward to seeing what the MKII adds to the party. All the great classic delay sounds with a whole new round of modern additions. Plus, 2023 technology compared to 2000 makes a big difference. My only hesitation is the extra large size for a delay pedal. But I have the real estate, so let’s go.
Next week we'll wrap up this series. I share with you the tips and tricks I've learned from the actual install process. From layout, to install, to uninstall, to reinstall, unreinstall. Thanks for reading along and being apart.