If I had to do it all again… First pedalboard ideas

I’ve been dreaming about gear lately. No, really. In my dream I will be enjoying this SWEEET OD pedal (in my favorite color- TubeScreamer green) that is a box about the size of Boss Dual pedal, and people will just be giving me these wide-eyed looks.

“TONE, wow…. That sounds awesome. What pedal is that?”

Then, I tell them which pedal. “What is that?” they say. “I have never heard of that pedal before!”

“I know,” I say, with a wink.
Then I usually wake. I am not making this up.

I think this is fueled by Paul Cochrane telling me that my Tim will be ready in mid Feb, I won a Blackstone Appliance OD off ebay for a GREAT price, and that Toneczar guy let me know it will be about end of April. Then…. my King of Tone only has about 8 months left on the list. I am in boutique heaven! And for once…I really do not need more gear, I think I have all my options covered. I haven’t yet broken in all my other gear!

(Edit: don’t trust boutique guys’ timeframes!!!! The pedals took several months longer than expected!!!)

Anyway, I had a dream last night that my pedal board was stolen. Then I had to play another crappy pedalboard that one of the youth had at church (in the dream, not pointing out anyone has a crappy board)! This made me think- if I had limited funds like a youth/college student (heh, more so than now), and needed an inexpensive pedal board fast, what effects would I choose?
I’m talking versatility vs price, tone vs price, tone vs versatility- what would I prefer if someone asked me about what to use as a 1st pedalboard?
(again, wordpress shows what searches bring people to your blog- this is one of them!)

Honestly, I would choose a few simple Boss effects. Seriously, they are not that bad, and I have copped some great sounds from them in the past, and still have on weird occasion. I’m not talking about Mods either. And Bonus, for those asking: This is the order I would use:

So, if I had limited funds, then I would buy:

1) Primary overdrive: Boss SD1: Great ovedrive pedal, better when modded. Its cheap too- about $49 USD. A mod runs between 30-50 bucks depending on what is going on. You get a very good pedal for $49, or a GREAT one for $100. This pedal is very versatile, providing a great cleanish boost. It is also pretty transparent, and stacks really well with other overdrives- whether it be another pedal or your amp’s dirt channel. This is Boss’ version of the Tubescreamer, and has symmetrical clipping rather than typical ‘smooth’ TS asymmetrical clipping which provides more harmonics and volume available. In fact, I would recommend a TS9, but for the money, the SD1 unmodded is less money, and modded is about the same price as a stock TS9, but you get a better pedal!

For those interested in mods: Analogman is my favorite for this one- here is the order form if you want to send yours in to be modded: HERE or you can order new mod: HERE. I wouldn’t recommend the “silver mod” to a beginner- its too much money, and honestly I wouldn’t have appreciated it just yet!

2) Secondary overdrive: For either soloing, a solo boost, or textured feel- I have 2 choices:

a. Boss DS1: Again, not bad tone, and CHEAP at $39 bucks. A decent mod is again- up to $50, so even if you mod it, its still less than other pedals! Stock, this pedal is a bit noisy, but it takes the higher gain the SD1 cannot achieve. If you have the gain turned a bit low at about 10 o’clock, then have the SD1 run into it, you will get a beautifully smooth distortion for leads. This is what made me feel like a rock-god before I even knew a scale.

Mod again: analogman! Use the form above to send yours in, or buy new: HERE

b. Boss BD2: This pedal never crossed my mind before, but now I love the solo tone. I don’t care for the rhythm tone persay, but many do. The Christian rocker Lincoln Brewster uses a stock BD2 for his main overdrive. So it can’t be all bad, right? You will find it stock at $89 bucks, but a mod helps the noise at high gain levels and makes it a tad more transparent. That said, if you are using this as a solo only, or as a lead boost with the SD1 run into it, I wouldn’t worry about modding- its pretty good stock. (unless you have modding OCD like I do!)

I preferred the Monte Allum’s mod on this one, get it installed by CMATMODS: HERE

3) Basic Modulation: at this point, I do not like alot of modulation. I never have liked chorus, and I do like phaser, but it sounds outdated or I can only fit it well into a couple of songs. So we won’t look at most modulation right now, only that which I would use the most. Which is just one effect:

Tremolo: Danelectro TunaMelt: This is another cheap pedal at $38.99. But it was one that I have had for 10 years and still use! I have liked this pedal more than other expensive tremolos I have played/owned. It rarely leaves my board. For those looking for a tremolo, try this! It is not only a good first effect, but a good sounding one for any level. I just recently replaced it with an expensive ‘tap tempo’ tremolo that takes up 5x the space on my pedalboard. If I have a special service (like for easter) that I have to play where I need a range of effects, I would drop the tap temp in a heart beat for this effect to be back on the board. No mod necessary. This is great. I notice a very slight volume drop, but as I usually have an overdrive on when I click on this pedal, its not noticeable.

4) Delay: I have two choices here. They will depend a bit on what you plan to do and what sounds you want. First of all, delay pedals are more expensive than the other effects. Plan on spending well over $100 for a good one. Also, you may want to upgrade later to a better pedal that will give you several presets and that will run over $200 for sure. Or you could do what I did at first and buy both of my recommendations for easy dual-delay usage (stacked delays), and a variety of effects.

a. Boss DD7: the newest pedal in Boss’ delay line is absolutely wonderful sounding. It is a very clear digital delay that gives stunning repeat with crisp clarity. Several pedal modders state this pedal is great stock, no mods needed! This gives a nice analog model, some modulation and overall compatibility are great. I cannot tell you how much I like the digital delays this thing produces- very transparent and solid repeats. Not so great as an analog model, but  great for the digital realm.  Only downside to me- you really need to spring another $30 for an external tap tempo to get the best use out of it. So all in all you’ll spend $159 on the pedal, a total of about$ 189. You could just get a DD20 with presets for $199 for that!

or chose:

b. Line 6 Echo Park: this is a great delay modulator- it can cop some great analog sounds and has a preset dotted 8th mode for those swinging U2/Snow Patrol/Coldplay wannabes. I think the DD7 sounds clearer on the digital path, but this has the overall performance “ease of use” that one would like. You can tap tempo on the footpad at ANY time, only when you push down fully does the effect turn on or off. You can add modulation on the fly, can pop a tap echo etc… Very easy to use. Only way it could be better was if it was True Bypassed and had a few programmable settings in memory– oh wait, they did that with the Line 6 DL-4, but its $250. I’ll stick to this one at $149.

Power Supply:

I would make it easy on myself and power my sweet little line up with a One Spot Power. Its cheap, does really well keeping buzz and hum low, and for a small board like this, works great. Find the combo which can power 8 pedals at $34.99.

If you really really want a pedalboard to mount them all, I would recommend Lyt Pedalboards, particularly the short combo: Ultralyt 24. Its a steal for a bag and board at $85!

But for just the basic pedals here, you are looking at: SD1, DS1, TunaMelt, Echo park:

total of: $275.99 plus tax/shipping. Right now, I could get a setup for a weekend show- without being complete toneless and under prepared- for under $300 bucks.

I hope this helps someone out there!

For my other readers- What is a beginner’s pedal that you think I should add to the list, or what would you use if you had to do a show, had limited funds, and had to hit a Guitar Center an hour before the show?


17 Responses

  1. Barber makes some really great boutique pedals at great prices. You can’t get them at Guitar Center, but who cares?

    The LTD is a great little low-med gain overdrive. It’s better than any Tube Screamer that I have ever played. You can get them for ~$100.

    For the record, I have never been a big fan of Boss distortion pedals. In my experience, they tend to get in the way of the basic guitar/amp tone.

  2. I agree with Barber 100%. Great company, and emailed me several times when I was looking to buy their products. Their compressor is the best IMHO over all the others.
    I love their Direct Drive– and they have one with pre-modded parts for tweaking harmonics, gain clipping etc…

    I hear you on the Boss though– just saying that for the buck, the SD1 is pretty good and transparent, and run into stacked DS1 at low gain, you can cop some decent sounds to play a show. Thanks for the input!

  3. I would probably throw in a stock Crybaby wah to have on there as well.

  4. Good post! If you buy used you can get all that for 2/3 the price too. If I had to start from scratch with low $$ I’d do:

    Solo boost – volume knob on guitar – $ free
    TIM for two levels of OD in 1 – $155
    Line6 Echo Park – $60 used
    OneSpot – $35

    $250 total

    Speaking of the TIM. I love Paul Cochrane but his estimation skills aren’t the best. I ordered my Tim last may and he thought it would be done in August. It came this week. There were some circumstances that delayed things for him, but take Feb with a grain of salt… and then prepare to have your mind blown by the Tim 🙂

  5. Matt– I honestly thought about the Crybaby and putting it in there. I did, but 2 factors dissuaded me- 1) as first pedalboard/beginner’s board- It took me a while to properly use a wah. Its not the easiest thing- Almost an instrument in itself and 2) Wah is nice, but not used that much compared to say tremolo (IMHO).

    Mike- staying away from Boss too,eh? No one agrees with me on the SD1??? hehe
    on the Tim– yeah, I know about Paul C’s time tables, but I think he hired someone to help catch up, because Aug, Sept, Oct, and Nov orders are all due in Feb. Interesting.
    But I have this tweakable Blackstone to last me until then.
    Btw, I got my Echo Park for $60 used. I run it into the DD20 🙂

  6. My TIM’s supposed to be ready next week too!

    I’m totally with you on the BOSS pedals and the Monte Allums mods. I have an SD-1 modded by Monte to his “GT” specs and it’s KILLER. I also have his BD-2 but, like you, wasn’t that impressed after a while (especially for rhythm). I WAS also impressed by his Opto Plus CS-3 mod.

    What do you think of your Blackstone?

  7. Jeff— Blackstone— Well, so far, I’m not sure. I am swamped with exams and clinic duty, so I have only played on it about an hour. Haven’t been impressed by it yet, but its so tweakable and it looks HOT. If it looks that good, its got to sound good!

    I have tweaked it some, but the internal controls are sooo sensitive. I have to spend more time on it when I get a chance to give it a fair chance. Honestly, It may be too harsh sounding/too dynamic for me.
    If you have tips for dialing it in, let me know!
    Good news is that it was cheap on ebay, so If I sell it, I’ll definitely get my money back!

  8. my first board has 3 Boss pedals on a Boss pedalcase (MT-2, BF-2 & an AC-2) … i didn’t know any better! I don’t have any of this in my posession but I do miss the Flanger every once in a while 🙂

  9. My actual first pedal was an H and K Tubeman. And that pedal rocks. Rocks hard. I loved it. I actually didn’t own many Boss pedals until years later.
    I really had some good sounds coming out of an Epiphone 40w Solid state amp with the Tubeman running into it. I used a little phase, and a litle tremolo and the preamp did everything else I needed. And made my sound not suck as bad as the tube in it smoothed everything out!

  10. Great post! I think I would only add the Boss TU-2… or at least the TU-12. How important is it to be in tune… especially on a beginner board?!

    I’m not a lead guitar player but play electric on occasion when I have to. So my board is pretty basic. My buddy Karl over at Guitar for Worship helped me put it together a few years ago. Originally it looked like this…

    Ernie Ball 6166 Volume Pedal
    Boss TU-2
    Boss DS-1 (Modded)
    Boss DD-20 (almost bought the echo park instead)

    I’ve added the following since then…

    Visual Sound Route 66
    Boss FS-5U

    I added the Route 66 for a meatier overdrive (bass boost switch) and the compression/sustain channel. It’s nice to have it all in one pedal. (I’m not sure Karl would approve) 😉

    I added the FS-5U tap tempo for the DD-20… I use that a lot.

    I’m going to have to try the Danelectro Trem. Sounds like a steal.

  11. Hiya! I’m new here, but I would add that I think the new Danelectro Cool Cat pedals are extremely high quality pedals. I think you could put together an excellent sounding pedalboard with them as your core. Of course, they don’t have a delay pedal right now, but their fuzz, overdrive, distortion, univibe/leslie sim, and chorus are top notch. They are even true bypass.

    So you could have your modulations and overdrives/fuzz/distortions be the Cool Cats and then add a good tuner (that has a good buffer in it) like the Korg DT10 and a good delay/reverb like DD20 and still be in the 300$ range.

    Of course you would need to get the DD20 used, but there are plenty of them available as far as I can tell.

  12. Mike— Talked to Paul Cochrane about my TIm. Yeah, the estimation skills were off. I’m looking now at end of March (End of April is my Bday, which would work great!).
    He got behind again!

  13. Ok, so like I said I just started playing guitar a little while back (I’ve been a drummer my whole life though)…and I’m especially new to the pedal and effects scene, because I’ve mainly been focusing and working on learning chords, scales, technique etc. So I just recently added some of the pedals that you recommended in this particular post and was wondering what you might recommend for the particular order and setup for those pedals…I just want to be able to get the most out of my sounds and effects. My current pedals are as follows:

    Dunlop – Original Crybaby
    Boss – TU2
    Boss – OD1
    Boss – DS1
    Ibanez – TS9
    Line 6 – Echo Park
    Danelectro – Tuna Melt
    …and FYI, the next pedal that is in my sights is probably some kind of a compressor (most likely an MXR or Keeley if I can afford it).

    Any advice that you could give for this particular setup would be appreciated. If you don’t want to take up space commenting here, then you can hit me up at joshuaklane@gmail.com. Thanks.

    – Josh

  14. Josh-

    Boss – TU2

    Dunlop – Original Crybaby
    Ibanez – TS9
    Boss – OD1
    Boss – DS1

    Danelectro – Tuna Melt
    Line 6 – Echo Park

    For a compressor, I cannot recommend any more highly the Barber Tone press. Its way cheaper than the Keeley, and has lots of great tones. Here is my review (if you haven’t gotten there yet 🙂 ) https://lespaulplayerdoctor.wordpress.com/2008/11/01/the-barber-tone-press-compressor-review/

    It can compress and sound like a Keeley, but you can “blend in” the natural guitar signal so it doesn’t sound completely lifeless. I love it.

    I would also highly recommend you send the TS9 to analogman for the “brown” or “808” mod (or “basic TS9 mod”), it goes by different names, but is the same mod. Same for the Analogman DS1 mod. Its incredible. Though its not on my board, its still in my possession. I would put the tuner before the crybaby as it just seems to help (having a buffer in front). I would ask cmatmods (from cmatmods.com) if he could make the wah true-bypass (about $30 bucks I think) as that will save your tone A LOT– wahs suck the highs out when off unless they are TB.
    I love a slow tremolo into a slow delay. Thats why I did that.

    BTW, I hope you aren’t buying most of these new— check out thegearpage.net and the buy/sell forums and then “effects”. I buy/trade most of my stuff there. If you are patient, you can get most of your stompboxes for 75-50% the new cost.

    I like the TS9 first due to the smooth assymetrical clipping– the thing just sounds sooo smooth. Then, the OD1 for bass symetrical clipping (harmonics/rougher sound). Stacked together- TS9 into the OD1- you should get a nice smooth, sparkley lead. And then you have the DS1 for more rock stuff, but then push it with the ts9 for a harsher lead sound. The mods really help out on this! Just be careful of the volume, and take time to set it all up to your amp.
    Good luck,

  15. Hahaha! Sigh… I happen to be one of those “youth at church” My main OD’s happen to be an SD-1 and BD-2 haha, stock, sorry. I also use a Hardwire Tube Overdrive. Its great, but too colorful and digital-y, ya know? Haha I have a Tuna Melt and DD-7 as well. My board is hand made from wood and is a major pain to carry around though. I’ve got like eleven peds on it, but I really need to get a job and buy a professional board haha.

    Anyway my point is that when you try to go the budget route… well… sometimes you have to pay in other ways, haha.

    Great blog, man. Keep it up!

  16. Hi. I’m kinda new to pedals/effects and I have absolutely no idea where to begin. First off, I can’t decide whether I want to get a distortion or OD pedal. Or should I get both?

    Anyway, I have two pedals that I have my eyes on:
    Ibanez TS-9
    Barber Dirty Bomb

    Probably a noise suppresor or compressor. I don’t know the difference yet.

    I’m aiming to play songs that have somewhat gainy ODs or distortions during chorus/verse. Somewhere in the songs there might be clean parts but I can’t figure out how to switch without having to simultaneously pressing on the amp channel and pedalboard switches.

    I’m really sorry if I wasn’t clear enough. I’m not sure how to sketch these out in words.

  17. Jason: those pedals will work great! I like to run a 2 pedal setup– OD and distortion. Give you great tones, and you play with running them both on to give you a third tone type. I wouldn’t worry with a NS or compressor until you play and get the feel you need one.
    Try to play ‘dynamically’ with your amp’s distortion set to where you want it and play “CLEAN” with your guitar’s volume turned down. That dynamics makes a big difference. When you want to play dirty, you just turn the volume up! (or like on a Les Paul, leave one pickup all on, and dial the other back to ‘clean’ and then its one click on your guitar to change your clean and dirty side!

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