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.
I've recently been thinking about multi effects. I've got a couple of them. Sitting on my desk here next to the laptop is an old Vox ToneLab. It's what I generally use when I'm recording to my DAW. I may work up a patch for it that includes some effects and an amp sound or I may have my pedals on the floor and run them through the ToneLab to get an amp sound in the mix. It's one of the Valvetronix ToneLabs and not one of the original ones. I got it because my first "real" amp was one of the Valvetronix amps, and the tweed Bassman model in it was what sold me on tube amps.
Sitting on the floor next to the desk in front of my amp is a Fender Mustang Floor. I pulled it out of the closet a couple of days ago. When I did, I put the pedals boards in their respective bags and back in the closet. That was mostly to just save some space on the floor, but I digress.
I bought the Mustang Floor back like 7 or 8 years ago. I bought it for a couple of reasons. I had heard some good things about that original Mustang line (the v1 and v2 series), and so I knew it has some good sounds in it. They hadn't announced that the Floor had been discontinued, but I noticed that the were getting harder to find, so I got one used before everyone else realized the same thing and the price on them went up. They never announced that the Floor had been discontinued. Retailers just no longer had them. I'm not sure if they even made the Floor in the v2 line; I don't think they did. I also wanted something that was a one-size-fits-all piece of gear. You need an amp model or a small pedal board or both? You need a 1/4" out or maybe a balanced xlr out? The Floor seemed to check the boxes I had pretty well and was a good bang for the buck.
Neeways, they've both served their purposes well, and they continue to do so. But, I've recently been thinking that the tech in my ToneLab is the same tech that was in that old Valvetronix amp that I bought in 2007, and those Mustang v1 amps came out, I believe in 2010. That means that both of the multi effects that I use are running tech that is 12 and 15+ years old.
That got me to thinking, with the changes in modeling technology that have been made and the addition of IRs and other improvements to multi effects, I'm betting the stuff being made today is pretty good in comparison to what I've got.
I mean there's the Helix/HX Effects stuff that's supposed to be really good. Then there's the Fractal and Headrush units. You've also go Zoom still putting stuff out, and now Mooer and NuX and some of the other more budget minded brands have multis on the market too. So I've started asking around for opinions on what folks are using and what they like and dislike about it.
I think the big question I have to answer for myself at the moment is, if I get one of the new generation multis, how do I see it being used. Do I want it to take the place the ToneLab sitting next to me on the desk? Do I want it to take the place of the Mustang Floor sitting just to the right of my chair? Do I want something that will do both? Once I decide that for sure, I reckon I start to decide what I want to do.
I don't expect myself to do anything quickly. Heck, what started me down this whole line of thought was that I saw a NuX somethingorother last weekend on Amazon, and I almost made an impulse buy because I thought that I had to see what kind of multi that included amp emulation and IRs they were selling for $150. But I caught myself and didn't pull the trigger because the next thought was, if I'm going to spend $150 on something just to see what it was, I may as well spend a bit more and get something that I could be assured would be better than what I've got now.
So, come a couple of months from now, I might have a new multi, and I may not. Time will tell. What I do know is that I will hopefully have one of those MXR Duke of Tone pedals before too long. I pre-ordered it the day they announced it. I've got a Prince of Tone, and it's my current fave drive pedal. I'm anxious to get the DoT and try them side by side. They supposedly dropped today I think. So I'm hoping to get my ship notification on Monday morning.
Are any of you using a multi effect for anything? Let me know what you like or don't like about it.
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.