OK so we've looked at this issue before, but here's my Spring 2015 updates and thoughts on pedals for worship. Fundamentally, as someone wrote in a post on a guitar forum, good tone is good tone in any context! And yes, strictly speaking you don't need any pedals!
Who am I anyway? Well, I'm grateful to God that he's opened the door for me to play lead guitar (and bass) at church on a regular basis; play at conferences; lead worship at churches and ministries and lead guitar at other events. I'm no superstar, just a regular guy called by God (just like you, the reader, or woman of God) - so hopefully my experience in playing in worship over 15 years or so can help you! And feel free to add your thoughts so you can help me!
My latest thoughts are these...
For worship I'd say that you want these things:
1. A tube amp.
2. An overdrive pedal and maybe another different one (e.g. a tubescreamer based one and a transparent based one - eg. I have Fulltone Fulldrive and Visual Sound Open Road). Or an overdrive pedal and a booster pedal.
3. A delay pedal, especially one with a tap tempo or the ability to add a tap tempo pedal.
4. A reverb pedal that does various levels of reverb
5. A volume pedal.
These are the basics and will enable you to play most songs. Yes, there are other pedals you can get. But these are the basics.
What else could I get that I may use?
1. A compressor.
2. A tremolo.
3. A POG.
4. A wah-wah pedal.
5. A chorus pedal.
6. Possibly even a whammy pedal.
So should I get separates or a multi-fx unit?
Aha! This is a well-asked question and I guess this depends on a few factors...
1. How do you personally feel about the tone? Do you find a multi-fx good enough or prefer separates? I have found that very often in life, it's how I feel (and not how others feel) that matters. If you feel good about what you're playing (as long as you're not totally deceived!) that really helps free you to play.
2. Does your church allow amps on stage or do they have a policy of no amps? If no amps, maybe a multi-fx with an XLR out is the way to go.
3. My pedalboard is fine but the case is a beast that needs lugging! A multi-fx is small, simple and light! How I often wish for something small and light. Strangely, I've also had the odd unhelpful comment about the size of the pedalboard from those who don't understand and this has sometimes made me a bit self conscious.
4. The overdrives and amp modelling, even in things like the latest Line6 series (currently the HD500X / Pro or Firehawk FX) still don't quite match the actual tone of separates / amps.
5. If you think about your church, 95% of people won't be able to tell between your separates and your (even dated) multi-FX!
6. Do you like playing around and being able to create / download new tones on the multi-fx unit or via software on your computer or device? Or do you prefer the simplicity of separates?
7. Do you need the ability to record quickly and directly? If so, maybe a multi-FX will help.
8. What do you already have? I spoke to some guys in a music shop and they listened to what pedals I had on my board and said - keep them - ahead of getting a Line6 HD500X.
So what's my next pedalboard move?!
I've found that I don't use one of my overdrive pedals at all. So that's going to be going. This is going to be replaced with a compressor which I will use for compression, sustain and boost depending on the situation and need. The compressor will sit after the overdrives.
I've also found that while I love my one delay pedal, the need to hold down the pedal for 2-3 seconds to engage or disengage is just a pain and actually impacts the ability to use it. So that's going, maybe to be replaced, maybe not.
I have two reverbs on my board and this is just excessive in my view. So at least one of them is going, probably both of them and coming on board will be a Strymon Bluesky. I may even consider getting a Zoom MS70 which does reverb, delay and other effects. It's not the greatest pedal but its ability to do more than one thing interests me.
Finally, the daisy chain is fine for what it is but not ideal and does add some kind of noise recently - so I'll be replacing this with a Voodoo Power Plus 2 which isolates each power supply (instead of daisy chaining them).
And I am also considering whether to keep say one of the overdrive pedals, sell everything else and buy an HD500X - it's compact, small, light and will do everything I need it to do - for electric, bass and acoustic. I do have the Zoom G3X but to me at least it's not enough or quite good enough. To be honest, I don't think the HD500X or the M9 quite cut it. Maybe I just need to downsize the pedalboard case!!