I bought my laptop in 2016. Actually, I bought my first laptop in 1996. In fact, in 1996, it felt like I paid a crap ton for a very mid-level laptop, a mini-printer, and a laptop bad that both would fit into. And I got it all out of Computer Shopper...which was how everybody I knew at the time got their computer gear. It was this super-thick magazine that was just page after page of ads and toll free numbers to order the gear. I think for all of it, I paid nearly $3k. I think it had like 64MB RAM and a giant 1 GB HDD and a respectably fast 24.4 modem. I think, back then, the top of the line laptops doubled those numbers. I used that laptop all the time until 2000, and the last time I remember using it was around 2006.
After that first laptop, I went through quite a few desktops starting in 2000. After all, I was trying to get into IT, and I needed a small test lab to learn how to do stuff. I think the most I had was 5 desktops at once all networked together, but, for a while there averaged 3 of them all hooked up to a couple of kvm switches so that I could line them up under the desk. I always had one designated as the one I use for everything, and it was either spec-ed out and built or bought off the shelf to be a good machine. The others I either bought or built on the cheap. Even after I got married, for several years, I ran 3 machines...2 under the desk and one in the little computer cubby in the desk.
That brings me to my first line. I bought my laptop in 2016. I kind of retired all the desktops and bought a laptop in 2016. Again, it was a good mid-level machine that had room for expandability. So, when I bought it, I, also, got a big HDD to put in it and I doubled the RAM. It was a great machine. Used it until just the other night.
A couple of days ago, I sat it on the little table next to where I work every day. I keep in there and turned on to keep up with email and, honestly, when things are slow, I put a youtube vid on or bring up my Amazon music and listen to tunes. When I set it down and opened the lid, I heard something pop, but didn't think too much about it. Got off work, closed it up and carried it over to the couch, and then I sat down to watch some Netflix and surf the web.
When I re-opened it that time, not only did it pop real loud, but the pop was accompanied by a loud CRAAAACK!! I spun it around and realized that not only had the hinge for the lid broken, but the whole bottom of the screen broke open. Taking a close look at it, there is no way to fix it without completely replacing the lid and screen.
Since the laptop is now (does the math: 2023-2016=7) 7 years old, I figured I should just replace it. So, balancing the screen very precariously, I spent the next couple of hours looking into laptops. Finally settled on a couple of different ones, and, out of those two, found one as cheaply at a local Best Buy as I could find online (actually $25 cheaper). About 11p, I went ahead and ordered it for pickup. Headed to the store about 11a the next morning to pick it up. Then spent the next 2 days trying to set it up. Which that will be another post on its own I'm sure.
Anyways. New laptop in the house. It's another mid-level machine. I spec-ed it so that I don't necessarily have to upgrade it, but there is an empty HDD bay in it, so I'm probably going to get one and drop it in. Other than that, I"m hoping to get 7 years out of it too. I guess we'll see.
First thing today, I was going back looking for something I thought I had posted and was having trouble finding it. Mostly because of the titles I give these posts. In a past life, I had a blog where the titles were all just random and didn't really have to do with what I was talking about. That kind of carried over to this one. Starting with this post, the title will have something to do with what I'm writing. Now more to what I wanted to discuss today.
I've had a bit of a moral dilemma lately. I may've talked about this before, and really think that I probably did. But I couldn't find it easily when I looked a few minutes ago. That dilemma revolves around klones and clones and straight up copies.
In the past, I have obviously not had a problem buying klones and clones of different things. Specifically pedals. After all, I've talked about the how some of the various klones have compared to my Klon and how various clones have compared to my Tube Screamers. And, for ease of talking, for the rest of this here, I'm just calling them all clones.
Each of the clones that I've bought in the past, have skirted calling themselves that in some creative way, but they made no bones about what they were. Some of them might add something to the original and some were pretty much the same, but almost all of them would say "based on a mythical beast of a pedal" or "based on a screaming overdriven amp" or something like that. But their enclosures were always different. They might be primarily green if it was a TS-type, but they had different names, and, looking at it across the room, there was no question that it was not the original pedal upon which it was based.
Enter this company whose pedals I've bought a couple of times lately. The first pedal I bought the first of this year. I bought it specifically because I was perusing Amazon looking at pedals, and I saw what I thought was a pedal I had been trolling for an incredible price. Granted, for the price, I knew it was a copy because of the price, but that price. Then I realized that the name on it was different. Everything else about the pedal was the same as the original, including the font on the name. It was one of those instances where you could set it across the room next to the original, and you probably wouldn't be able to tell which was which.
In curiosity, I looked up the company's website, and it was even worse. I downloaded the instructions, and they were an exact copy of the original pedal's instructions. On the website itself, it even said that it was an exact copy of the pedal it was copying. For the price (about 20% what the original pedal was selling for), I bought one. I was really curious how they were getting away with such a blatant copy of the pedal. And I, honestly, expected for them to get shut down pretty quickly because it was so close.
I got the pedal, and it sounds really good. As I told a buddy, it may not actually sound as good as the original, but, even if it's close, I totally get why the original pedal costs $350. As penance, I haven't bought one of the originals yet, but it's on my Reverb watch list, and as soon as I see one used for $250 or less, I'm going to buy it. That's what I would've done anyways if I hadn't bought the copy.
Fast forward to a month ago. I was on their site again just looking. I saw a pedal that I had never seen before, and actually thought it was an original pedal. Granted, it's an overdrive with two sides, and neither side was an original, but they were both clones of already well-cloned pedals. So I figured they just had done the usual copy thing and then stuck the two pedals together, but as a pair, I had never seen the pedals together. Then I saw in the description that they had made a twist to one side that sounded really cool. So I bought one.
I should've known better. It came in, and I took a look at the instructions to see the if it mentioned the best way to get the twist to work. As I read through them, I got the distinct feeling that, like the other, they had copied them from somewhere else. So I started googling, and, within a few minutes, I found that the pedal that I had thought was an original was another $350 pedal that they were selling for 20% of that. Not only that, but looking at the original pedal, once again, it looked identical to the original, but they didn't even change the name this time.
And that is where my dilemma started. In the past, I've always said that everybody copies everybody else in the pedal industry, but that's ok so long as they're being honest about it and the copy isn't trying to pass itself off as the original. This new pedal company has crossed that line. And that's not really my dilemma.
Now I'm torn on the clones I've always bought. Where does that copying line start and where does it stop? Why do I think it's ok to buy an East River Drive from EHX but not one of these copies from the company that I will not name here today. Is it because I already have a couple of different Tube Screamers? Would it still be ok to get that EHX pedal if I didn't have the TS pedals already? Is it because the EHX pedal has, seemingly, the same circuit but it's in a different box? How is that really different than if they used the same circuit but in a green box that looked like the original? A copy is a copy is a copy, right? Or is it?
I'm asking myself these questions now because there's one other pedal that I saw on that website. It's actually another dual pedal that I've bought from a couple of companies lately. Two overdrives of different flavors put together in a way that folks like. But, like that second pedal, with an added twist that the others I've recently picked up don't have. So I googled the pedal, and, sure enough, it's supposedly an exact copy of another $350 pedal (I'm noticing a trend here). The only difference is that it has this company's logo in the place of the original company's. Once again, they didn't even change the name.
I might get it to try it. I might not. I don't know. I'm still torn somewhere between, yes, it's a copied circuit that I have half a dozen versions of in there and they're copying it so closely that it seems they're trying to fool folks into thinking it's the original. But then, for 20% the price of the original, everyone seeing it has to know that it's not the real thing, right? Also, it's being manufactured in that country that copies everything, and customs isn't stopping them when they come over here. And they're coming over in large enough quantity that there's at least one store I know of that stocks them and sells them.
So what do y'all think? How much of a copy is too much of a copy?
I've recently started doing something that I haven't done in many years. It was something that I'd do when I was a teenager. Truth is, back in those days, it seemed to be an extremely important activity to me. Important enough to me that it helped to shape the journey that I've taken over the years.
I don't recall that it was ever anything that I decided to quit doing. It's just one of those things that slowly faded away. Never noticed that it was fading, it was that slow and gradual. I guess it was slow and gradual. Maybe it was an overnight thing, and I just didn't realize it. I'm not even sure when it stopped, but I can now go back and see that there must've been a couple of times when it was missing more than other times by looking at my CD shelf. Looking at the gaps on those shelves shows me the times where life just got busy and things would get squeezed out.
That activity is just listening to music for the sake of listening to music.
Music is many things. It helps us remain grounded. It helps us say things we can't say with words. It's how our soul gets that relief that is so desperately needs sometimes. It is in everything we do because it's part of us.
In junior high and high school, there were times that I would take hours and just sit and listen. Then I'd get together with my brother from another mother, and we'd talk about our favorite bands and what they were playing and discuss their lyrics. Sometimes we'd talk about the profundity found in simplicity that it seems only a songwriter can find sometimes.
Even into my 20s, there was plenty of time to just listen. The job I had first put me on airplanes a LOT. I always had my walkman with me and several tapes in my briefcase. I'd sometimes spend several hours at a time just listening. Then I moved onto a job where I spent most of the day on a tractor. You'd think that I wouldn't be able to really listen doing that, but most of the work on that tractor was pretty mindless, so, again, walkman with a duffle bag full of tapes was the the norm.
Went from that to the restaurant, and I think that's when it started to slack off. At least that's when I sort of quit playing the guitar. I just didn't have time. Getting to work about 9 in the morning and getting off sometime after midnight will do that. On my days off, I either slept most of the day or I left town just to be sure that work didn't call me (that was back before everyone had cell phones).
Moved off and got a job in sales, but I was going to school at night. Weekends, when I wasn't studying I was driving back to my hometown. I listened to plenty of music then, but it was more to stay awake and not to listen. Went from there to a corporate job. Weekends were always on the road for one reason or another, but, on the occasion that stayed home, I started playing guitar again, and you can tell by looking at my CD shelf that I would spend some time listening. That was, also, about the time that I discovered Rhapsody and could listen to stuff that wasn't on that shelf.
New job and new married and now spend every moment not working with my favorite person. We had our favorite bands, and we'd go to a concert here and there, but I never really sat to just listen. Another new job that eventually turned into always working. Then another new job. And suddenly I haven't really listened to music in years.
I realized a few weeks ago that several times in the previous weeks I had just sat and listened. In those few weeks, I had re-discovered some old stuff and heard some other things for the first time. It's been refreshing. I didn't realize how much I had missed it until I realized I was doing it again.
Since 2010, I have made a concerted effort to continue playing my guitar no matter how busy I have been. I had realized back then how that grounded me. I knew that my mental health depended on it. After a hard day, one quick way to get back in a good head space is to hit my little music room and play for a few minutes.
Now that I've started just listening, it's something I want to keep up as well. Maybe it has something to do with the whole thing of just sitting and being quiet. Maybe it plays off the nostalgia thing since I'm now firmly ensconced in middle age. I don't know. But it's therapeutic.
If you haven't just sat and listened lately, carve out 30 minutes, grab an old favorite tape or CD or tee up your favorite album on your streaming service of choice. Then just sit and listen.
I became aware of this model guitar a few months ago...back in the spring sometime. The moment it entered my orbit of awareness, I knew I had to have it.
Those that know me know that I'm a child of the 80s. Yes, there are gaps in my knowledge of pop culture that get filled in occasionally (like it was the mid-90s before I saw Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller), but I was culturally aware enough to know generally what was going on. That included fashion. And one of my favorite fashions from like 85 through the end of the decade were the bright, neon colors. Bright yellow will always be my favorite color. Right behind it is hot pink. My wife knows that, these days, I tend to wear conservative, dark blues and greys and blacks and things that don't stand out. Back in those days, however, my favorite pair of jams were black with bright yellow and hot pink flowers all over them. Most of my other clothes had bright yellow and hot pink in them somewhere. My favorite car color ( and one of my favorite cars, although I never owned one) will that 1988 Honda Prelude that I believe they called canary yellow. That part of the 80s definitely influenced the colors I like best.
When I saw this specific guitar model for the first time, I thought there was no question, I had to get one. So I began trolling online and, especially, Reverb in hopes to find a good deal on one. Visited a couple of guitar shops, and they either had them regular price or didn't carry the specific model. Finally it happened. I saw 2 of them pop up on my Reverb feed for cheaper than I had seen any yet. In fact, they were both advertised as brand new, but their price was less than the vast majority of the used ones I was seeing. I messaged the seller to be sure that it was brand new. When they replied that the ad was correct, I pulled the trigger on a PRS SE Custom 24 in Bonnie Pink.
I've now had it for a month. And I can honestly say that I'm still as happy with it as I was on the day it came in. It's, also, the first PRS I've ever had. It's an SE, so it's part of their more affordable, import line. Thinking of it being in their import line, the most recent Squiers I've bought new have caused me to say I won't buy another Squier (they were that bad), but the most recent Epiphones and now this PRS have been excellent guitars and make me wonder why folks bad mouth import guitars.
As soon as this one came in, I did my usual "clean-up" routine on it that I do with every guitar when I first get it home. My little routine allows me to go over the whole guitar and be sure that there's nothing major wrong with it. And this guitar's fit and finish out of the box was top notch. For a "budget" guitar, I was super impressed with its out of the box playability.
I pulled the strings off of it, kind of buffed it out a bit just to get anybody else's funk that might be on it off, oiled the fretboard, bumped all the screws with a screwdriver just to be sure that none were falling out, and then restrung it. Carried it into my little music room, kicked on an amp, plugged it in, and played a few chords. Sonically, it didn't do much for me. It's kind of like my Parker; it sounded like a humbucker guitar, but doesn't really stand out to my ear. I grade all my 'bucker guitars against my LP with Burstbuckers in it, and this one, although it sounded ok, didn't quite have that whatever-it-is I like about those BBs coupled with the LP.
But, the more I played around with it, I was really impressed with the guitar. It'll be a keeper for sure. So, even though it sounds like just a generic humbucker guitar, here are some of my pros and cons on it after playing it for a month.
After having this guitar for a month, the more I play it, the more I like it. I'm pretty certain that it will never be my favorite guitar, but it's solid enough that it has become one of 3 that sit out on the stand that I leave out to play. And it will probably stay there. I've had Gibsons that weren't this nice of a guitar. I've had Gibsons that were nicer. The same can be said of Epiphone and Fender. I, also, believe that it's noteworthy that my cons are more preferences and things that are average and not really things that are wrong with the guitar.
So the question I have to ask now is, knowing what I know after playing the guitar for a month, would I buy it again? Absolutely! This is a solid guitar. Bang for the buck, there's so much to like about this guitar. It plays really nicely and it doesn't sound bad. Truth is, if I didn't admittedly have a bias towards the BB-type pickup, as was evident when I introduced some drive in my little pickup test, I'd probably say it sounded really good. This is a nice enough guitar, even though it's out of the "budget" import line, as my first PRS it has impressed me enough that I wonder what their more expensive MIA line is like. If this one is any indication, those have to be killer guitars!
I really need to get off Reddit. It generally just makes me mad because, in a lot of ways, it just shows the worst in people. One reason I stay on it, though, is that I follow some gear threads, and they can be fun.
A couple weeks ago, somebody asked what I thought was a pretty interesting question. It was something along the lines of "are you a guitar player or an actual musician?" That made me think that, when I started taking face lessons with my teacher, he asked my goals, and my answer was to become a musician and not just a guitar player. And right behind that, the thought crossed my mind wondering if the two were mutually exclusive.
So that's kind of what I've been thinking the last couple weeks. What actually qualifies you to be a musician instead of just a guitar player? What even qualifies you to call yourself a real guitar player as opposed to someone who just plays a little guitar? Do you have to write songs to be a musician? But what about if you're writing guitar parts within someone else's song? That's still writing melodies within a structure of chords. Is it that you have to make money from it? If that's the case, does it need to be your main source of income? Do weekend warriors qualify as musicians if they're only gigging on weekends to fuel new gear? What about someone that likes to stay at home and just play to jam tracks? What is it that delineates one from the other?
For a lot of us, music is more of a passion. It's something that grounds us. It keeps us sane. It helps us make sense of the world and brings us that inner peace even if it's just for a moment. Doesn't matter if we're playing something that someone else wrote or something we wrote. It doesn't matter what we play so long as we're making music even though no one else may ever hear it.
If you think about it, for most folks, it's a hobby. I've got a buddy that spends way more on motorcycles than I do on guitars and amps. He gets out and rides at some point every weekend. That's his zen. For many of us here, music is our zen.
Maybe that's the key to it. We can call ourselves whatever we want. Guitar hack, guitar player, musician... I guess everybody that calls themselves by one of those monikers is making music at some level. So long as you're comfortable with whatever you call yourself, you are that thing. Thinking of that, I usually tell folks that I play guitar or that I'm a wannabe musician.
I'd love to be able to call myself an actual musician, but, in my mind, to do that I'd have to have a better understanding of music theory and play at a level that I could play any style with ease. I'm not there. I still struggle with some theory, and there are some styles that I know, some that I can fake, and some that I struggle with. So from that perspective, I'm probably closer to a hack. But I also know that there are some folks that will ask me to play with them because they know that, generally, they can throw a lot of stuff at me, and I can play something that will be appropriate. So, from that, I call myself a guitar player. I don't believe I'm at that musician level, but I know some folks that say I am.
So, is a name really important? Or is the important thing just the fact that we're playing and trying to get better? Personally, I'm of the opinion that the name is secondary to the playing. The playing is paramount.
By my own admission, I spend too much time on Reddit. I keep up with some of our local city's news through it. I, also, follow some threads that have to do with guitars and gear.
There is a thread that I saw the other day that kind of made me chuckle. It's not really anything that hasn't been talked about before, but I saw a new thing in it that made me laugh. The thread was basically a guy saying that he has seen a lot of pro-players and bands using modelers and multi-effects and ditching big tube amps and traditional pedal boards.
You can imagine the discussion it sparked. It was the usual folks singing the praises of the new generation of equipment and then those that have sniffed a cork or two in their day who talked about how a modeler will never sound like a real tube amp and a multi-effect could never sound as good as a single pedal. I'm sure we all have opinions on that subject.
That said, I did laugh out loud at one of the folks crapping on the question. They were talking about how no modeler could ever sound like a good tube amp. Then they went on to talk about how they would never use anything that required a firmware update. Then they rounded out their comments talking about how there is no multi-effect that would ever have the tactile feel of a good pedal.
The argument that no modeler will sound as good as a tube amp is just old and tired. Anybody that has been around the last 6 or 8 years knows that there are plenty of modelers out there that can be close enough to an actual amp that only the most discerning ears can hear the difference. And even then they sometimes guess the modeler is the amp.
The firmware comment? I guess they don't use anything digital or screened. They all require updates. And, personally, OS updates to phones are, imho, far more intrusive than a firmware update. Mostly because the firmware update you can typically skip if you want. Just don't update it. But you seem to have to go to great pains these days to skip OS updates. And, anecdotally, I've had more problems with equipment working correctly first time after an OS update that I ever had with firmware updates.
It was the last part that made me laugh though. I'm not even sure what they meant by it. The tactile feel of a pedal? In my mind, tactile means you can touch it and feel it and run your finger around, along, and over it. So I would think that they meant that you could reach down and turn a knob to adjust it. In my head, that's probably what they're talking about. But I've never had a multi-effect that you didn't do that to.
In fact, the one that I'm using right now, there's a small screen where you see your signal flow. You use a button to go to the specific effect that you want to adjust. Once selected, that opens a new menu with all of the adjustable parameters to that effect. Each parameter is over a knob. Then you adjust that parameter just like you would an old school pedal. For example, you use the arrow button to walk through your chain to the TS-type model. Click on it. Once selected, you look at the 5 knobs below, and you see that 3 of the knobs are now active. One is Vol, one is Gain, and one is Tone. Turn the knobs to get the sound that you want. In my mind, that's just as tactile as a pedal. In fact, that's the 3 knobs that are on my actual TS pedal, so the only difference is that I have to hit a button first to select the effect. From there, it's adjusted the exact same way.
You can start to menu dive from there and hit other parameters for the effect. Heck, you can start to menu dive and do all sorts of things. You can rearrange your chain however you want. You can go deep into the settings for the amps and effects. You can pretty easily change things on the fly that you would never be able to do with old gear. Don't like that Alnico Blue speaker? No problem, just swap out the speaker IR for a Greenback. That speaker cab not sounding right to you? Pick a 4x12 instead of the 1x10 that's currently selected. But that's menu diving, and you don't have to get to that level with it. The basic effects work just like a pedal does.
As I was laughing at the tactile comment, it occurred to me that maybe they were talking about what us guitar players like to call touch-sensitive. We seem to like those pedals that respond differently to our different pick attacks. Do we dig in? You can tell because it responds one way. Back off to a light touch? You can tell because that drive pedal cleans up without touching the volume. Maybe that's what they mean. But the multi-effects, depending on which effect model you're using, are also touch-sensitive.
So I have no idea what they were talking about referring to the tactile feel of a pedal.
Here's my take. Play what makes you happy. If it's a 50 lb tube amp and a pedal board the size of a Buick that does it for you, then play that. If it's a laptop and a modeler the size of your palm that does it for you, then play that. Whatever it is that makes you happy and encourages you to play, that's what you should be playing. I've got both kinds of gear.
I've got my wall of Blackheart tube amps behind me with a pedalboard full of expensive pedals sitting in front of it. Then I have my little solid state practice amp next to me where I have a specific amp model dialed in and small pedalboard sitting in front of it. Then, next to that, I have my multi-effect and a couple of other pedals running in its fx loop that runs to my laptop. Each is a tool that has a purpose, and, to my ear, each sounds good. So ymmv for sure.
So. The whole Bad Monkey thing lately. This post is not about that. It's about Tube Screamers in general. Sort of.
The first drive-ish pedal I ever bought was a DS-1. I bought waaaaay back when. I had just bought my first electric after playing only acoustic for 15 years or so. Figured I needed a pedal to go with it. Ebay was all the rage and the newest way to get cool stuff cheap, so I hit Ebay and found the cheapest drive pedal I could find. Kept it for a long time. Not really sure what happened to it. I don't remember selling it or trading it off or anything, but I have not idea when or where I got rid of it, and it's not in any of my stuff anymore.
6 or 8 years later, I bought my first OD pedal that I figured I would use. It was a Visual Sound Route 66. The one with the compressor on one side and the drive on the other. I bought it because there was a guitar player I liked that swore by that compressor (the single pedal), so I figured it would have to be good if it had a drive attached. So I bought it.
Always liked the drive side. At the time, I didn't know that it had been modeled after the TS808. It was the only drive pedal I had for several years. Then, one year when we were on vacation, I happened into a music store and spent waaaaay too much time talking to the staff and playing with stuff in their shop. It was a mom and pop in nowheresville, so I felt like I owed it to them to buy something before I left. So I paid too much for a TS9. It had a little bit different character than the Route 66, but it did the same thing. It quickly became my favorite.
Sitting in the quiet of my little music room, I think I can hear the difference in a TS9 and a TS808, but, truthfully, they do the same thing, and I'm not sure I could hear the difference in a crowded room. So, at some point, I started into one of those collect-them-all phases.
At some point, in addition to the actual green Ibanez Tube Screamers, I have picked up (in no particular order):
After trying all those different TS-type pedals, I still believe that I like the sound of the TS9 better than the TS808. I'm not sure exactly what I'm hearing that makes me think that, but I do. All of the TS-type pedals made by everyone else are modeled off the TS808. I've, also, never tried a TS10 to see how it compares.
Here's how I would rank them at the moment from my favorite to least favorite. Also, the ones that I own are prefaced with an "o-" and the ones I no longer have are prefaced with a "g-". The ones actually on my current boards also have a "b" added to the preface.
So what's your favorite TS-type pedal?
I've been pondering a thought since the first of the year. Opened up the guitar forum that I follow, and another member had posted what amounts to the same thought I've had. Without directly quoting him, he said that he had LOTS of pedals and several multi-effects and the thing he has learned with all of them is that you have to spend time with each one to learn what it can and can't do and to find the sounds that you want from them.
That's something I've been thinking about the last few months, and it's something that I've been trying to do. At the moment, I'm a bedroom player. Although I have in the past, I'm not playing out anywhere or even with anyone else on a regular basis. Yet I have nearly 100 pedals in between the floor and the closet. And that doesn't count the nearly 20 pedals that I traded at the local GC a few months ago. I traded those on a multi-effect. That means I have probably half a dozen of those. And I'm not counting double pedals in that count. Those are just the ones that I have that have several effects included along with maybe some amp sims. In addition to the pedals and multi-effects, I've got a wall full of amps.
And the thought has been going through my head, why do I have so many? Seriously, for a non-pro player, isn't 100 pedals a bit excessive? I won't lie and say it's not. I've got at least 3 reasons for having them.
First, it's just fun. Buying and trying something I haven't played with before. You can get into pedals fairly cheaply, especially if you go to Amazon and buy a handful of the cheapest pedals they sell just to see if they're any good. I built an afford-a-board that way. When I was playing around with it and constantly swapping pedals out on it, the ones that I was getting were $50-ish or less. Most of them were pedals that I'd search on Amazon and get the cheapest couple that came up. So a lot of them were more like $20 or $25.
A couple of those "affordable" pedals I still have. Most are gone. To me, it's just a good time to get in a new pedal, try it out, and either stick it on the shelf to possibly use later or throw it in the trade/sell box.
Second is the collector in me. I like Tube Screamers. I have real Ibanez Tube Screamers. Lots of companies make their version of a Tube Screamer. Some of them are just straight clones. Some of them add something to them. I'm curious what their versions sound like. I've got 2 actual TS pedals and maybe 5 or 6 clones back there, and I've bought and sold or traded away another 10 or 12. Out of all those, I've got my 2 or 3 favorites, and they're the ones I always grab when I need that sound.
Third is where I've been thinking lately and what the forum member also mentioned. I don't spend enough time with most of the pedals to really know what they can or can't do or what sounds I can get out of them. Those 2 or 3 TS-type pedals I mentioned are the ones I always go to because I've used them long enough that I know what they can do. I know the sounds I like from them. And I can quickly find those sounds when I need to.
Sort of related tangent: I had a Bad Monkey for a couple of years, and I traded it away with the pedals I was getting rid of the end of last year. When I got it in, I played with it and managed to get it to do the TS thing. That was what I expected from it, and that's what I got it sounding like. It wasn't my favorite TS-type, so it got tossed in the box. I didn't play with it long enough to see what other sounds it might have in it. I think that's the point that Mr JHS should (and may be) making. Not that you can get a $50 pedal and make it sound like a super expensive pedal. What he needs to do an episode on is why you need to take a pedal and spend some time with it. Actually give it a chance and see what it can do. Don't immediately relegate it to the also-ran pile. Keep it on your board for long enough that you actually use it and know it's capabilities. Now back to the original blog post.
So I have 2 pedal boards on the floor. One runs to my practice amp (a Spark 40), and the other runs to my "real" amps (my Blackhearts). I, also, picked up a Line 6 PodGo the end of last year. I decided about the first of the year to figure them out.
For the pedal boards, rather than constantly changing out pedals, I was going to start with what was there in January, and use what's on the board long enough to actually learn those pedals. If I didn't like a drive, rather than just swapping out the pedal, let me start tweaking the one that's on there. Maybe I like it after all if I play with it a little more and give it more than the cursory 2-minute try out.
Since the first of the year, no matter what amp I was using, I have been using the "practice" board. It's to the point that it's almost turned into my main board. In that time, I have swapped out a couple of pedals, but only because I couldn't figure out (after giving them a legitimate chance) how to make them sound like I wanted. For instance, I swapped the vibe pedal that has been on it this whole time because it brings a dark quality to the tone that I can't get it to not introduce. After 3 months of using it, I decided that, since it was one of those super cheap vibe pedals on Amazon, it's just a dark sounding pedal. So, not a week ago, that one went away and another vibe pedal took its place. It'll stay there until I'm convinced that it's not going to work.
As for the PodGo, I've been leaving it sitting next to the pedal board I've been using. In the past, I use my multi-effects so sporadically that I never really learn to use them. I get a few basics down, and then never go any further. With this one, I'm trying to make it a point to use at least a couple of times a week. not just finding a sound and never altering it, but actually exploring how to create presets, how to change things in those presets on the fly, and how to actually make it a beneficial tool in my arsenal. Both with and without pedals in conjunction with it.
So take a look at your gear. That stuff that you never use, pull it out and give it a shot. That stuff that you think you know how to use, take another look at it. You might be surprised at what sounds are in it if you take another look at it.
Today is just going to be offloading some of what's been in my head the last week or so. Bulleted by subject just because of the randomness of it.
It's no secret that I like Epiphone guitars. I also like Gibsons. And Fenders. And a good Gretsch. Gosh, I just really like guitars. I also like modding and even fixing them sometimes.
That said, if I were to pick my top 5 guitars from my woodpile, they would probably be these, and in this order.
Four of those guitars have been modded in some way. The Strat is the only one that is bone stock. I kept saying I was going to swap out the pickups in it, but every time I decide it's time to do so, I pick it up and play it, and like the way it sounds. So it has managed to remain untouched. I guess I did add a couple of springs to it to deck the trem, but I'm not sure that completely counts.
The Gibson ES-339 is mostly un-modded. The only thing I've done to it is to swap out the bridge. I didn't like the bridge that came was on it when I bought it. I'm not completely sure it was the original bridge either. So I bought one and swapped it out. It came with 57 Classics in it, and that's how I'm leaving it.
The Epiphone 339 has had the pickups swapped out and two of the knobs have been swapped. The original shipment of those that Epiphone sold were advertised to come with their Probucker pickups. When I ordered mine, and even when it came in, they were still advertising those as the pickups. However, when I got mine in and checked it, it had the Alnico Classic pickups. I found out that, after that first batch that came over, they had swapped the pickups in all the 339s, but they hadn't updated their ads or specs on the website. I was disappointed, but the ones in it didn't sound bad. Still, I always wondered what the Probuckers would sound like in it. A year ago, I ended up with an extra set of Probuckers, so I finally got to hear what the 339 sounded like with them in it.
The Epi LP originally came with Probuckers in it. A Probucker 1 in the neck and 2 in the bridge. I really liked them. In truth, I saw no reason to change them out. Played it for a year and a half or so with those in it. Then one day I got a wild hair and decided to grab a pair of Burstbuckers (a 1 and a 2) and drip them in to see what they sounded like. Honestly, I liked the Probucker 1 better that the Burstbucker in the neck, but the Burstbucker 2 sounds better than the Probucker 2 in the bridge. Because I'm lazy and didn't want to mess with it again, the Burstbuckers have stayed in the LP.
Those Probuckers out of the LP were what went into the 339.
The Epiphone 335 came with the Alnico Classic pickups. I was quite happy with those. They sounded as good as the 57 Classics that were in the Gibson 335 that I had traded off a couple years previous. I had no plans to replace them. I played it for a year with it being bone stock. Then, back in December, I unplugged my cable from it, and the jack fell back into the guitar. Then, while I was trying to fish the jack out and back into the hole, I screwed up one of the pots. So, since I didn't feel like I had the time to I decided to carry it into the my local luthier. And, since I was carrying it in for electronics work, I started making a list of what I wanted him to do to it. Basically, put in another jack and replace the push/pull pots in it. Since I was doing that, I decided to pick up a couple of 57 Classics to put in it. When I dropped it off to the luthier, I have him do all of that at the same time. Got it back, and have been super happy with the sound of it.
You'll notice that, by and large, it's the pickups that have been swapped. I know that there are a LOT of different pickups out there, and a LOT of those pickups sound really good. You may notice that all of the pickups that I have talked about are Gibson branded in some way. That's mostly because I know what they sound like because I've played them at some point in time. So I've stuck with them. I know that Lollar Imperials are supposed to be super good. I've also been told that the Bare Knuckle brand is super good.
By my own admission, with the humbuckers I've always picked, I have always seemed to chase that PAF sound. In the Gibson stable, the 57 Classics and the Burstbuckers are both supposed to get that sound. Of the Burstbuckers, the Burstbucker 1 and 2 would be closer to that vintage 50s LP kind of sound. In the Epiphone world, it has been my understanding that the Alnico Classics are the Epi version of the 57 Classics and the Probuckers are the Epi version of Burstbuckers. I once read that, from a PAF perspective, the Burst/Probucker 1 & 2 combination would be that 50s sound. The Burst/Probucker 2 & 3 combination would be that 60s sound. And the 57/Alnico Classic combination would be that 70s sound.
So, except for the Epiphone ES-339, all of the pickups were just swapped from the Epiphone version to the Gibson version. In that 339, I just swapped from one Epiphone version to another Epiphone version. In the case of the ones being swapped from the Epi version to the Gibson version, the Gibson pickups do sound better. The Epiphone ones sound good. They're not bad. I could absolutely play them and be happy. But, since I swapped them out, I'll say that the Gibsons seem to have the edge when it comes to clarity and range. I think there's a reason that they cost twice as much, and isn't just the name on the box they came in.
Maybe some day I'll try some other pickups like the Lollars I mentioned. I hear the low-wind Imperials are just the best. In fact, I've got a buddy that said that's what he has in his 335, and his guitar sounds amazing. Course his overall tone is a step above mine too.
All that to say, if you don't like the sound of the guitar, try some new pickups. Heck. Even if you like the sound, try some new ones and see if you like them better. Or leave them the same. At least for me, half the fun is in the tinkering.
Snarf is a wannabe musician who currently resides in the great state of Texas. His wife is his favorite. He believes chocolate milk made from milk that is anything less than whole milk is basically water and deserves to be dumped down the sink so nobody has to suffer through it. He hates having to shop for clothes. But he has a thing for really cool bags, and, consequently, has more gig bags than guitars and a closet full of messenger bags and backpacks. He still misses his dog who was taken by cancer years ago. Check out his Reverb shop and see if he has any gear he's trying to get rid of.