Sunday, September 13, 2015

Pedal Party

See the thing is I rather like playing without pedals -- through a long guitar cable -- directly into an amplifier. Typically this feels to me like I have more of an intimate control of the way the amplifier speaks back to me as a guitarist. This may be completely psychosomatic and without regard to reality. But it does feel that way.
But even with the Kemper it's somewhat impractical to be completely pedal free. Huh. Now I say that but thinking about it all my recordings are guitar-cable-amplifier. Hmm...
But in any case for live work things are different. And the big difference is that the guitar hits a buffer. Now thesedays having a hard-wire-bypass in all pedals is very popular. But as soon as one pedal kicks in, the game is all over, you're buffered.
Which typically is a goode thinge. The buffering keeps the signal from being dragged down by each effect. And the fact is I'm not sure you can hear the thing I was complaining about there at the top of this post. It may just be that one can feel it. And maybe it's all psychological anyway.

And the fact is that sometimes one really wants some effects. Especially in a live situation. I find that with the City Samanas and Diatomaceous Earth I want to have my very sweet MXR Carbon Copy analog delay. I feel I might find that I want to use an Electro Harmonix C9† (and by extension a Strymon Lex Leslie emulator*). The other thing I find critical to playing live with a mostly clean sound (especially when I'm playing with Greg Bartus) is an attenuator so I can "turn down" while playing rhythm parts.**
But what else? I'll tell you what else. I don't want to deal with Velcro. It's icky and yukky. So what does one do? Most pedalboards are all about Velcro. But there are some non-Velcro options.
One can use Bicycle chain links in order to screw the pedals down into or onto your board. This dude has a post all about that.
  • Now you can also buy special links specifically for this purpose.
  • Pedalboots is an Austrian company that makes boots for a variety of pedals. I'm not 100% sure if one can actually buy them in the US.
  • Pedalock makes special "boots" for MXR, Boss, and Wah-Wah pedals.
But as far as I can tell there's only one manufactured pedal board which is made for machine screws. Those are the Temple Audio boards. The irony is that they have their own mounting system -- which looks pretty cool (even if it does involve putting sticky stuff on the back of your pedals) but it would seem would also work with the above boots and links.

†A B9 is shown here because the site I put this together with did not have a C9 picture. Also note that a compressor before the C9/B9 is something you want -- even if you end up not wanting to have a compressor in the rest of your guitar sound.
*And optionally a mixer so that I can choose how much of the Lex I want in the signal because sometimes, you know, you just want a little bit of Leslie in your sound and not have the whole signal go through the Leslie. You know you want this.
**Fun fact, the Morley optical volume control has a "minimum volume" knob which does exactly that. And here I was thinking I was the only one who needed this control.

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