It has been a long time since my last update! Life pulled a fast one at the start of spring and things haven’t really slowed down. In the past couple of months, some of my best friends got married, I moved into a house in Royal Oak, and I also ate peanut butter and I didn’t die. What a ride. I promise, throughout this crazy time of transition, I haven’t stopped playing guitar! Easter season, worship nights with IPM, a wedding, and of course, Sunday services- I’ve had plenty of opportunities to keep my chops fresh.
I’ve got to come clean though, I don’t know how much improvement I’ve had as a guitarist/musician in that time. Just a few months ago, it seemed I was learning a new lick or riff every other week. Now I’ve had to settle with weekly rehearsals and Sunday services, squeezing in practices where I can. These days, instead of crazy guitar adventures, my time seems to be filled with house projects. Instead of changing strings, swapping out pickups, or practicing hours a day, I find myself mowing the lawn, clearing out gutters, or mending fences. Don’t get me wrong, I also really enjoy all of these other things, but it’s just not where I expected to find myself.
But this is where the guitar stuff comes in. Perhaps you could sense this coming, but as I start this new chapter of life, I realize that I need to leave some things behind. DON’T WORRY I’m not giving up guitar. But as I packed all of my belongings in preparation for my move, I got rid of so many old clothes and other items that really were just sitting around, gathering dust. Naturally, I turned my attention to all the music gear I’ve amassed, especially effects pedals. Perhaps I got a little overzealous with the Marie Kondo-ing, but so far I’ve sold off a condenser mic, an audio interface, an old guitar, a couple pedals, even an old pedaltrain board, and the end is not in sight.
I don’t think any guitarist could ever turn down the opportunity to try out a cool piece of gear or stop searching for their next new sound. Ever since I starting getting more serious about electric guitar, I’ve been driven by a need to explore all of the tone possibilities that I could. As I learned about overdrives, compressors, reverbs, delays, modulation, shoot, even things like buffers, I sought to try out as many of these noise machines as I could. I fell in love with the way these stomp boxes could breathe new life into the sounds I was creating. Making this tone addiction even worse was the abundance of kind and talented musicians in my life who’ve lent me so many pedals to audition. The result was a large drawer under my bed, filled with pedals, each one sitting silently in the dark, waiting for the off-chance that I would need just that something extra to add to my tone. Sad. It would be a tragedy if these pedals didn’t find their way back to their original home or if I couldn’t make a buck or two off of them!
Don’t get me wrong! I still love pedals! I appreciate all of them for their different shapes/sizes, artwork, and of course sounds that they bring. Just the act of putting together a board is so enjoyable to me. In fact, in addition to my main pedal board, I’ll be keeping around other boards, like a tiny acoustic one and maybe a fly rig, but those will probably be their own posts for another time. Anyway, somewhere along the way I started figuring out my tone. That is, I realized which pedals created the sounds I liked, as well as the pedals that I simply needed to get the job done for the various ensembles I’m a part of. Since everything else in my life seems to be getting a reset of sorts, I’ve decided that now would be a good time for my main pedal board to get one too. To make things a little more fun and maybe even educational, I figured I’d share about this process in some posts over the next coming weeks.
The board that you see in the above picture is my main rig that has existed in some form for quite a while. You may have seen a couple of different things on here at some point, but in this current evolution, things are a mess. As my needs changed, and pedals got added or shifted, I got lazy and didn’t figure out a proper layout for each pedal. Sometimes, just trying to activate a switch turned into one big messy science fair. I mean, just look at my EP booster and red remote. Whose feet are going to be able hit those without knocking any knobs? OK, maybe most people could, but not my clumsy dogs. Also, the wiring job for the audio cables and power cables is a MESS and I can’t stand it. If you don’t agree, just look underneath. Or don’t. Maybe don’t. So for my first step, everything needs to come off. Clean slate. Fresh start. New beginning. Whatever.
For each of my next few posts, I’m going to go through each type of pedal that I use on a regular basis: drives, compressors, reverbs, delays, modulation, and other fun goodies. I’ll explain what made the cut for my main board and also highlight a few of my other favorites as well. If you follow my guitar instagram account, you might even find some audio samples of each of the effects I discuss. Maybe. That seems like a lot of work so we’ll see. Eventually, everything will go back on, with custom solderless audio cables and neatly managed power cables. I’ll also be unveiling a couple of other treats as well 😉 But for now, I have to prepare for a vacation that I’m about to take✌🏽. Keep an eye out for future posts, I’m really excited for this little series!
This is not meant to be a guide of any sort. Of course, I am not an expert when it comes to any of this. Over time, I’ve experimented and have been fortunate enough to figure out exactly what I want and need in my sound and I’ve just stuck with it. What works for me might not work for you. My biggest advice is to try things for yourself and figure out your own tastes. Rather than reading this as instructions for good tone, think of it as inspiration to try and figure out your favorite tone! Your rig might be way simpler or it might be way more complex. Either way you’ll have to experiment on your own. Have fun!