Pedal Boards to the Max
When I say "To the max" I mean maximum features in my existing, compact footprint. I don't mean maximum size!
I decided long ago to minimize the size and weight of my setup and those who know me understand that I'm pretty obsessive about minimizing the things I have to carry without sacrificing features to the point of being obsessive about it.
So this is where it's at right now, as of May 2023. The pedalboards pictured are similar in their functionality, but have their own distinct voice from each other. I could use either one for any given gig and they would both deliver the range of tones I would probably need, despite their differences.
The basic format I like is to have several basic steps of gain from cleanish to hammering crunch (in a classic rather than modern, hi-gain sense). Then added to that I like to have a lead boost type of pedal for soloing, a chorus, mostly for certain cleaner tones and a delay pedal with a tap tempo.
I like all of that paired with a single-channel amp that performs well as a pedal platform. I like to eliminate as much noise as possible because hiss and hum seems to bother me more than it does anyone else I know.
I also want all of these things with as little cabling and connecting as possible, so I like to have all of this performance to sit on ONE pedalboard! In this case my pedalboards are about 17" x 13" in the carry case and this is the size that I have decided is the maximum size I will tolerate.
The format allows DI-only use or running through a guitar cab as well with up to 25 watts of amplifier power (it's pretty loud), several cab DI emulations to select the best tone for the stage I'm playing on and the ability to go 100% wireless & battery powered for the entire rig.
Amplifer: Quilter Superblock UK - 25w (or 1w) - "Marshall" & "Vox" voices.
Nux Atlantic Delay/Reverb - Dual output for independent DI and speaker cab signal path.
Noise Supressor: DemonFX Filtration G-String.
Programmable Loop Switcher (for gains): Hotone Patch Kommander.
Gain Stages: DIY "The Sag", Mosky MM Silver & D250X, DemonFX Precision Drive.
Chorus: Donner Tutti Love.
Tuner: Korg Pitch Black Mini
Impulse Response Loader: Sonicake Sonic IR (my favourite one!)
If I use the amp's power supply from the mains then I get my full 25watts into my 1x12" cab, but some gigs when I don't need to be that loud I can get away with using my pedalboard's powerbank, making my amp run at 1 watt. That will power everything on the board for hours. I can also go wireless from the DI out to the PA and I go wireless from my guitar into the board.
There are often times when I am likely to get away with running my amp at 1 watt. Usually this is when the drummer is playing an electronic drumkit to keep the stage volume fully controllable for the venue. My speaker cab serves mainly as a monitor for me (I have it tilted back on the floor in front of me.
If it starts raining when I'm playing outside it makes it much easier for picking up my rig and running for cover! This is a regular consideration for the gigs I play. You see, I've thought a lot about this... Really a hell of a lot! Over the years I've gradually added and refined things to this point. Obsessive it may be, but it makes the difference to me between grafting and a nice, enjoyable process.
My years of recording and mixing in my project studio have helped me put this together. These pedalboards can sound sweet and refined like a recording or raw and raucous whenever required. I can't wait to find out what new ideas I get to refine the setup further - because I know it will never end!
Amplifer: Quilter Superblock US - "Tweed", "Brown" & "Blackface" Voices.
Nux Edge Delay/Reverb - Dual output for independent DI and speaker cab signal path.
Noise Supressor: DemonFX Filtration G-String.
4-presets - for gains: Mooer Prime P1 with bluetooth footswitch.
Extra gain Pedals: Mosky BP Booster, Tomsline G-Fuzz & DemonFX Precision Drive.
Chorus: Nux Ukiyo-E.
Tuner: Built into the Mooer Prime P1
Impulse Response Loader: Sonicake Sonic IR.
The fuzz stays on all the time and I have a passive un-buffer/volume control in front of it to clean up. It allows me to use a wireless with a fuzz without ruining the sound. The passive volume control is housed in the shell of an old MXR Phase 95 that failed.
I can use the DI from the IR loader or the built-in amp DI... or both as well as running a speaker cab. There are lots of options for dialing in the right sound for the environment I'm playing in. I can even send a direct signal from the Superblock wirelessly to the other side of a bigger stage into a power amp and speaker or powered wedge for extra stage spread if needed.
This format of pedalboard is very compact, but it is also easily expandable to form a more complex setup for bigger stages if I want to bring more equipment!
I'll be posting more about other elements to my overall live sound. Both of these pedalboards also form the platform for my guitar recording, where I can record DI'd tones and mic'd up cab tones using my DIY Isolation cab.
The Black Wreck
Here is my old, beat-up black S-type "parts-caster". It's gone through many changes and is now subject to future pick-guard swaps due to me always changing my mind about what looks and sounds best for this guitar.
It's currently sporting two PAF-style humbuckers: A Vanson '59, alnico V in the bridge and a Vanson '57 alnico II in the neck. The neck pickup is wired with the coils in parallel, which makes it less muddy and fat-sounding. That makes the neck humbucker actually useable for me.
A tiny-value capacitor (a 222 - 2200 picoFarads) for the tone controls results in a subtle adjustment that pretty much only takes off extreme high frequencies. This is mostly to cut out RF noise as this guitar is unshielded and sometimes can buzz a bit.
I also placed another capacitor (even smaller 471 - 470 picoFarads) across the output to further cut out some extra high frequencies. It also has some effect on the overall tone by moving the resonant peak of the pickups, but it's not a huge change.
It's an odd-ball guitar. It gets me close to the Gibson-type sounds whilst being able to stay on my preferred Fender style scale length and familiar layout. It's had a lot of damage and a lot of physical abuse, but it plays beautifully. It has a very nice neck profile (a super-cheap £23 Kmise neck from Ebay) with a nice satin finish. The action is low, it stays in tune and since I made it a string-though-body (after converting it from a trem-route to a top-loading hardtail initially) it has become a very solid-performing guitar.
So, probably not much appeal to anyone else, but to me it's worth its weight in gold (so not much, seeing as it's a light guitar!) It's a proper work-horse and reliable instrument. It is ready to rock.
The Black Wreck Parts List:
I also have another pickguard (SSS) that will fit this guitar - a 50's style 1-ply for a real authentic look and sound of a 50's hardtail Strat and even when adding up the money I've sunk into it over the last few years, it still cost peanuts compared to an off-the-shelf Fender Strat.
It's not a guitar I think would be easy to sell as it's not worth much and it isn't that pretty, so I guess this one will stay with me until the end of it's life or mine. Whichever comes first!
All hail 'The Black Wreck".
Starting All Over Again
My internet activity has changed so much since I first started blogging and documenting my guitar and music adventures. There just seems to be less reason to keep spending so much money on web-hosting, so I decided to scrap the hosting company I had used for the last 15+ years.
I found a way of being able to host my website for free (at the moment at least), except I'll have to continue paying for my domain name. Well not everything can be free can it?
Anyway, after this nothing post that is not about guitars I will resume the guitar and music-related posting and if I find myself in a situation where I can make some serious money from this then I will probably rebuild a proper website again, but much better than it ever was.
I have a backup of my old posts from the last decade or so, but I'm not sure what to do with them here. I can't just import them into this blog as far as I can tell and I'm not going to re-type them!
So for now, I'm starting from zero, back to having a free blog to express my fanaticism of modifying, breaking, fixing and playing guitars.
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