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!
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.
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?