Sunday, June 29, 2008

Guitar Pedals...Get the Effect!

Photo: Beach Boy- Al Jardine and his Surf City Allstars
on tour this summer. Fender Strats and pedals down the line.
Notice the EWI Direct Box in lower right hand corner.
Hear them in action with "Surfin' USA" on the left.

One of the things nearly every guitarist wants to explore is how to expand on tone. Even acoustic guitars utilize boxes that bring out their unique, pure sound so that you can hear the "wood's" subtle nuances. Whatever you may be looking for, we've put together a short list of some the best stomp boxes in the business. In fact, many of them are used on professional recordings and by performing artists. I have been checking the pedalboards of bands like Carlos Santana, Los Lonely Boys, Jewel, The Jonas Brothers, Al Jardine of The Beach Boys, Peter Noone of Herman's Hermits, Billy Squier, Hamish Stuart, (both of Ringo's Starr's 10th All Star Band) and many other pro guitarists, live in concert. I see what works on stage and which boxes hold up on tour due to construction and reliability. Here's our list of must have effects for both electric and acoustic guitars:

BOSS Super Chorus CH-1

This is the standard chorus by which all others are judged. BOSS Chorus pedals have been used by many top bands and recording artists since its release in the 1976. This is what you hear on most classic rock albums.

The CH-1 adds extra dimension to your guitar's sound almost like a watery washing of harmonics through your chords. Swells the impact of both electric and acoustic guitars. Stereo capable, it offers a light, transparent tone when played through a clean amp. Built like a brick, this box is truly road worthy and tour compatible.
List: $139.50
Street: $89.99

Marshall Amps RG-1, Stereo Modulation

The Regenerator offers five effects in one pedal. It is probably one of the most sought after pedals in the industry because if offers a lot for one slot on your pedalboard.

A vintage and modern chorus, flanger, phaser, step phaser and vintage vibe are what this box is capable of. This stereo pedal is not heavy handed but very light in its tone coloring. VERY well built in a classic retro design with a tough button switch.
List: $199.00
Street: $119.99


Slapback to echo! The BOSS DD-2 premiered in 1984 so the DD-3 is second generation digital delay. Three different delay times from 12-1/2 to 800ms. Digital Delay is one of my favorites and is usually added towards the end of your chain of effects pedals. Endless repeats on demand in HOLD mode.
Turn the level down and set the delay time back to short for a light echo. Reliable box with all metal, solid construction.
List: $209.50
Street: $109.08

These three pedals are a good place to start if you are just beginning to delve into sculpting your tone. All of them can be used with electric or acoustic guitars that have an onboard pickup installed. Experiment with positioning them in your chain of effects but most pros will have the delay at the end closest to the amp. Use something like a BOSS TU-2 tuner as a buffer higher up. Chorus is generally placed in the middle. You can also power your entire chain of pedals with an all-in-one unit such as Voodoo Lab's Pedal Power II Plus.

Next up!!!: Part II of our series will show you how to build THE perfect road-kickin' pedalboard. We'll also go a little deeper into effects which are more genre specific. We're talking rock, heavy metal, funk and blues. This is the land of electric guitar distortion and Wah so hold tight for some serious leads! You ready?