I’m starting to apply a modular approach to my guitar rig to make it as versatile as possible, whilst remaining as small as possible. So far it’s working out great!
I’m already able to choose whether to have my amp on the floor or on top of the speaker cab and I’m working on a 2nd board of effects that I can place either before or after my main board to expand the palette of sounds I can create.
The main or “Classic” board as I refer to it (pictured) is pretty versatile, while remaining fairly simple. From right to left:
- Pickle Vibe: This is a glorified phaser, but it sounds close enough to a Univibe to satisfy my desire for that effect in a small pedal. After messing with placement I found it sounded best in front of everything else, so it’s first in the chain.
- Donner Blues Drive (Tubescreamer clone): This pedal has two switched modes (warm & hot). Warm is like a standard Tubescreamer and I have it set quite bright, minimum gain and max level as I would normally use any Tubescreamer for overdrive. It’s a very focused, mid-range sound and cuts through. Great for muted power chords and biting lead.
- Donner Blues Drive (another one): Set to hot. This is for solos. In the hot setting it’s more like a clean boost. It has more low end, less treble and more output than the warm setting. What makes it different from a clean boost though is the fact that it has a more compressed quality, like a distortion, so sustain is greatly enhanced. If I add the “warm” Blues Drive to this one then it pushes everything over the edge. I have both Blues Drives set identically, except the switch position. If I want I can swap the order of these pedals almost instantly by flicking two toggle switches. They are also close enough together that I can simultaneously turn one off and the other on. Super versatile!
- AMT Japanese Girl wah: I am still interested in getting a Dunlop mini Crybaby, but what I love about the AMT is the switch on the side that changes the sweep range. It has a setting that provides an amazing treble booster kind of sound when pushed forward and when sweeping, sounds like a manual envelope filter – very funky and almost synth like!
- Dasetn EP Booster clone: Another cheap Chinese pedal I got off Ebay. I haven’t used an original EP Booster, but this thing is unbelievable! It is my main overdrive sound because it pushes my amp into overdrive nicely, but also just sounds incredible – bright, but warm. Just superbly classic. It’s turned up to max and interacts like a dream with my amp. This pedal is a bit of a magic ingredient on my board because when it’s on it transforms the effects of the pedals before it. When engaged, the EP Booster displays a wonderful lack of headroom, so as you push more level through it, it starts to creak and moan, so to speak. When the boost is on before it, it gives up this amazing “saggy” tone, which is similar to fuzz or Neil Young’s “thrashed amp” tone. It basically doubles all the available tones I can get with my existing pedals. Just magic!
- Donner Yellow Fall Delay: A simple delay, but perfect for my needs. I mainly have it set loud and kick it in when I want very up front echoes for rhythmic repeats or reggae-type effects. It’s also easy to set lower and shorter to do a good enough job of replacing a reverb, which comes in handy at times.
So basically I have a long menu of tones from my board with relatively few pedals. It can sit on top of my amp on the floor and is not much bigger than my foot!
I’ve had similar results from having a Donner Boost Killer on there instead of one of the Blues Drives, but at the moment I’m digging the Blues Drives because I have more tones at my fingertips, just a switch away.
As for being modular, a 2nd board is in the process of being conceived. Currently planned for it is an EHX Pitchfork, Modtone auto wah/Envelope filter and a Donner Boost Killer.
This is just too much fun…
I’ve decided to forget about the Pitchfork (octave pedal) and the auto wah for now. I found a pedal hidden away that I’d forgotten about. I’ve had it about 8 years and not used it for seven. It’s a little Danelectro French Toast octave/fuzz, said to be a clone of a 70’s Foxx Tone Machine. It’s currently doing a great job of providing some wacky sounds that are not unlike a synth.
I remember too that I got a Danelectro Tuna Melt tremolo at the same time I got the French Toast, but that stopped working a few years ago. I’m tempted to get a used one off Ebay. Combining the synth-like sound I can get form the French Toast I think it’ll do a good approximation of an arpeggiated synth. That’ll really set off my contemporary board!