Friday, July 25, 2008

Guitar Pedals...Get the Effect Part III!

PHOTO: Custom road cases like these allow you to transport your individual pedals or floor multi-effector unit safely and securely. Once at the gig, simply lift the lid, plug in and play... right out of the case. Easy! Left to right: BOSS Digital Delay, BOSS Super Chorus, Keeley Fuzz Head, Keeley Compressor, Ibanez WD-7 Wah, BOSS TU-2 Tuner, in the back VooDoo Lab's Pedal Power II Plus. Fatso Flex Silent Plug Guitar Cable & Pedal Cables by Spectraflex. Pedal Board Case by Tarcase Co. USA. Guitar, Fender Strat.

Now we are going show you how to set up and transport your own custom pedal board with the individual pedals we're reviewed in Parts I and II. Likewise, you'll need to know the best way to power your individual pedals and effects rather than constantly buying 9 volt batteries or dragging along an adapter for each effect.

The Chain of Effects:
Now, you have these great pedals, distortion, phaser, digital delay, reverb, etc. ready to rock. Maybe you started out with a few but now you have a small herd you'd like to put to work. There are some basics, (not written in stone mind you), that will make sense as you daisy chain these pedals together. So from your guitar to your amp, you're going to have a set pattern in mind so that each effect can shine and allow the others to do their job as well. Here is a common set up for your pedals according to what they do:
Guitar > Buffer, i.e. TU-2 Tuner > Wah Pedal > Compressor > Distortion/Overdrive> Chorus/Tremolo/Flanger/Phaser > Delay / Reverb > Amp
If you use a volume pedal, that would fit in before your delay or reverb or next to last effect in your effects chain to the amp. This is so the fadeouts continue to decay after the volume is cut. Compressors are actually amplifiers and will increase the content of whatever is before them in the signal chain. Modulation pedals include chorus / tremolo / flangers and phasers. Since chorus likes to work on the entire tone, putting it before the overdrive or distortion will end up distorting the whole sound. When used after the distortion / overdrive, the tone is balanced. This is a basic set up according to many touring pros. You can and should experiment to switch things up for your own signature effect. Still, to optimize the individual characteristics of the effects you are using, this is pretty much the way it goes.
Pedal & Guitar Cables
Your pedal cables are just as important as your guitar cables. Noisy, poor connections will rob your guitar from the tone all these stomp boxes want to offer. That doesn't have to happen. I use Spectraflex's, Fatso-Flex Silent Plug guitar cables which were voted into the winner's circle of best cables in this year's Guitar Player Magazine. I use their Right Angle Pedal Cables between the boxes. They are fully shielded and colorful just like the longer guitar cables which helps me to organize my pedal board. For example, you can hook up red cables to your distortion and overdrive boxes to quickly identify them visually. Sort of like zoning your effects by color. Made in the U.S.A. Very cool!
PHOTO: Spectraflex Pedal Cables
Price: $18.95

Power it Up

The next and perhaps most important box on your pedal board is going to be your power supply. There are many on the market but the one that I see most consistently on the
pedal boards of the touring artists is VooDoo Lab's Pedal Power II Plus. Unlike some of the others that claim to take up only one outlet, the Pedal Power acts like 8 separate adapters. What this means is that there is less of a chance of loops forming between your pedals because they are essentially sharing one power source. This is not the ideal set up for your pedals. The Pedal Power II Plus comes with all the cables to connect up to 8 individual stomp boxes or effects. No noise, no hum. Packed in your pedal case, it looks like one of the gang but you'll find better performance from properly powered effects. Handmade in the USA.

Gotta Gig!

Undergirding all of this is my custom made Tarcase. Made in the USA, these individually designed pedal boards can accomodate individual pedals, wahs and floor multi-effectors. These are really well made and the fit is impeccable. It even has a built in rise for your volume or wah pedal. As they can be built to your exact specifications, the sky is the limit for your pedal board set up. Your stomp boxes, wah, volume pedal and power source can all stow neatly for safe transport to your venue. Lift the lid, plug in and start playing! Contact Jay at Tarcase Co. at: for more information on his custom road case pedal boards. You can check out all of the gear featured in this article by clicking on the banner ads to your left.

Next up!: The floor multi-effectors are coming! See what BOSS and DigiTech have been up to in the way of guitar and guitar/vocal multi-effectors. We're also going to discuss the pros and cons of using single pedals vs. a floor multi-effector. Don't miss this one!

No comments: