Sunday, 6 May 2012

Worship Guitar Pedal board update May 2012

Here's an update to my pedal board and setup, May 2012

(There is an update to this - here)

This is simply here just as I love to share any 'wisdom' (!!) or tips I have learned from many sources. Of course the main source for guitar, pedals and life is God - my main passion and aim in life!

The question is often asked which pedals to have on your pedalboard as part of your worship 'lead guitar' pedal setup. We have another post that looked at this in some detail, but this is an update post with some refinements as to what I'm currently using and why!

So the latest pedalboard setup... (apologies for grainy pic!)

First up is still the Visual Sound Open Road. This does what it says on the tin and is a transparent overdrive. I tend to use this for more 'beefy' sounds as it does that really well. So if I'm hitting power chords then this tends to be the go-to sound. It's set with a low overdrive sound but still has plenty bite, esp when using the guitar volume control which will boost the overdrive!

Second we run into the awesome Fulltone Fulldrive 2. This is my lead sound and one for playing the riffs that really need to stand out. For more bite, there's the boost switch. I tend to have this on the 'vintage' setting with more mids in it to get the sound to cut through. I'll also switch to the bridge pickup on the Fender Strat Blacktop to give even more bite.

Third we wiggle our way into the quite awesome Smooth Blues Driver by the Volt Amp Company based in the UK. This tasty beast does some incredibly creamy blues overdrive (so called 'dumble drive' sound), similar apparently to a Zendrive. I think it's amazing and I use it for bluesy type stuff (in my very limited capacity!!) as well as using it simply as a boost pedal.

Fourth into the trusty tuner. Essential kit. Get a tuner and use it often :)

Then it's in to the volume pedal for swells and muting! Very useful pedal and under-rated I reckon!

Next we find our way to the Boss DD7 delay which has a tap pedal separately to tap the song tempo in and keep it in. Great pedal as it does dotted eighths, triplets, plus has a pretty nice 'analogue' and even 'modulate' delay setting which are cool.

The next in line is the Hardwire DL8 delay. This to me has a far nicer sound than even the Boss delay. The analogue sound is incredible. However, Digitech in their ultimate (lack of) wisdom decided not to allow a separate tap tempo (at least on my model) which is an obscene oversight in my humble opinion. Without it, you spend ages (relatively, 2 secs on and 2 secs to turn off) holding down the pedal to turn the delay off and on. But it brings ambient heaven when it is on!

Then we keep the Hardwire theme going with the RV7 reverb which again is capable of incredible sounds. I mainly use the modulate setting for ambience and iHop style heavenly sounds (well, the pedal is heavenly, my playing is where the problems start...) But this is very nice. It doesn't do 100% wet (so that means just reverb without any dry signal) but will be more than enough for most.

Finally, we end the chain with the lovely TC Electronic Hall of Fame reverb (this has its own pic as won't fit onto my old board). This is an amazing pedal with a number of great reverbs on it. I use mainly the church setting. But the HOF has an amazing trick or two up its sleeve, namely the ability to download new 'reverb settings' via the Tone Print option (OK, only one Tone Print reverb at a time) via USB - or with the ridiculously creative new Android or iPhone app which can change the signal using your phone... I use Andy from Pro Guitar shop's huge reverb or the multimod one which has around 7 options within the one toneprint ! Awesome!

So what else have I considered, tried, removed??

Well the Wah pedal had to go. Basically I didn't use it. Is there a use for 'wah in worship'? Yes of course and many use it for 'filtering' overdrive sounds to create a different kind of sound. But for me it just wasn't worth it. Used it playing 'Shackles' a couple times but wasn't used enough.

Also tried the Boss TR-2 tremolo pedal from a friend who has it on his board. This is a more useful pedal and can be used for songs like 'We Never Change' from Coldplay (OK so I know it's not a worship track, despite Chris Martin's Christian heritage!) And it does have its uses in worship - many people like it. I am tempted by one more 'modulation' type effect, but with a Fender Strat Blacktop, I do have the option of adding the 'tremolo bar' so a trem doesn't make that much sense for me!

Finally, I am in the long and arduous procedure of moving over my pedalboard to one I got very cheaply online from Flightcase Warehouse. It is admittedly a huge pedalboard with industrial levels of both size and protection... However, my previous 'Kinsman' one exploded all my pedals out onto my drive around midnight one night and although I temporarily put them back (using gaffa tape to strengthen the hinges!) I don't want to go back there!

So it's been a case of getting some leads off Weardale Electronics off ebay, some cable bases and cable ties to hold down power cables, some right angled daisy chains from johnnyshredfreak and some insanely strong 'pedalboard tape' stronger than velcro stuff off ebay.

So that's the update and I have a feeling this is as far as I'd like to go for now!
As you can see from the pic, the pedal board setup is slightly incomplete at the moment! But these are the parts and bits and bobs needed. I did consider drilling through the plywood insert inside the case and then using cable ties around the pedals to hold them on, but went for the velcro option in the end!

Other pedals I have considered

Thought about the Strymon Bluesky. Utterly awesome sound but at £250 or so, it's just too much for me. The same goes for the Eventide Pitchfactor. Incredible in so many ways but just such a high price! Then I'd possibly consider a compressor - even the Behringer one has good reviews. Finally a BBE Sonic Maximiser is another good idea.

Power Supplies

Sadly, due to yet another ridiculous law passed by the 'delight' that is the EU, the awesome power supplies that Johnnyshredfreak were selling are no longer available.

Your alternate options are varied. You can pay out for things like Voodoo Labs Pedal Power or Pedal Power 2 which will silently power away varied pedals with isolated individual outputs. Or there's the similar Dunlop Brick DCB-10 to do same, acting as a 'power conditioner', presumably because you're worth it.. Cheaper option is the Diago Powerstation (which is exactly like the original johnnyshredfreak one...) and this is also a great power supply.

If you're looking to power fewer pedals (say around 5 ish, tho you can usually add more), there is the Diago Micropower 9 which can support up to 6 pedals, or the Visual Sound 1 Spot 9v Combo Pack which supports up to 5 pedals. Both these two are very similar and both come with various adaptors to help you (daisy chain / battery connector adaptors etc).

I actually use a Visual Sound one to power a couple of Behringer pedals I use when playing acoustic guitar (I actually have the Behringer pedals in a Boss BCB-30 pedal board thing that looks like you're carrying a tool kit!).

They just about fit but due to the Behringer power being on the right of the pedal next to the input jack (bizarrely!) they can be a bit of a fiddle. But that's another story...!


Get a good amp first before you spend out on pedals. I can't emphasise this enough. Your amp is essential, even above your guitar (to some extent!) Save your money and buy a good tube amp. I have the Fender Blues Junior with various modifications to the tubes and the speaker. Or get a Vox AC15 which would be my number one choice of amp personally.

What about modeller type all-in-one pedalboards?

My personal preference has been to use individual stomp box type pedals. However, you may be someone who prefers the flexibility and portability of an individual all-in-one unit. The company to look to for this in my view is Line 6. The POD range has become a classic, with the top of the range model the HD modelling POD HD300, HD400 and HD500.

These are excellent and if you haven't bought a load of pedals and want something with upgradability via USB, flexibility and the ability to combine several sounds / create your own patches, I'd strongly advise considering this. Have a listen in a decent music shop and see what you think.

One thing it does provide is an easy to carry option! Its down side is that if it goes wrong, you'll lose all your pedals (on a board of separates, you can carry spare leads etc). But increasingly, some players prefer these. You'll probably have heard of the incredible Lincoln Brewster. He uses a modeller, or two for his sounds. I've also seen at least one guitarist at iHop (don't know his name but he's probably the best lead guitarist there) use a modeller (or at least a midi trigger board) hooked up to a Macbook Pro with some virtual amps.


Keep practising guitar! Said it before and I'll say it again... And remember that God and his presence comes first, everything else follows!

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