My Self Challenge

Saturday night I was placing my pedalboard in an order and got a wild idea: here are a few pedals I love, but have never played out! I have experimented in house with them, but never performed live. I decided to slap them on my board and make the most out of what I have to work with. I tried to be completely aloof and completely go out on a limb with a different rig… but had to slap my old trusty Zendrive on there just as backup in case my experiment went wild.

See, for once in my board’s history, I have been completely happy and haven’t needed (or wanted) to change anything. I decided I wanted a bit of a challenge and also wanted to see how my gear did. As I am getting ready for my big move, I am thinning my gear supply down and if I have something that is a “okay” piece, it’s best I sell it right now. I have heard wonders of these two pedals I placed on my board Saturday, but haven’t been too impressed at bedroom volume levels. However, I have really wanted to believe all the hype surrounding them…. Why not try? (and thus the backup overdrive is understood!)

Here’s the order:

Aren't they great!

That’s right: King Of ToneV4 to Zendrive to Dirty Little Secret (DLS).

So for our 2 services today I worked slightly different philosophies as the set and band rounded out.
For our Spanish set I used mostly the KOT for a ‘clean’ tone and overdriven one. I was actually pretty surprised at the dynamic response on the KOT- as I played it actually distorted more readily and heavily. I was a bit shocked. In lower practice levels the KOT seems like a ‘light’ overdrive. It can be as clean and transparent or as raunchy as you need it. I truly was surprised at how overdriven and gainy it turned out to be. I really, really liked my tone with this pedal pushing my amp.
I have the KOT set as right side overdriven and control the clean/overdrive by volume knob or dynamic playing. On the left side I tweaked the internal trimmer for more treble boost which provides a somewhat…. treble boost quality, like a dedicated treble booster pedal, but with an overdrive component. Stacked together, I had my base tone from the right side, with a nice ‘crunchy’ boost, which also gave some ‘silk’ feeling among the high b and e strings. And though stacked, the pedal remained transparent and dynamic. It just gave me more of what I had!
Overall this pedal is super transparent- giving out what you put into it. The EQ is pretty flat- no midrange boost. Just a smooth, smooth feel.

So for the next song I used the DLS. I also thought this pedal was a bit ‘flat’ at the lower levels. Wrong again. This pedal was very round feeling, with bit of a bouncy feel (in my rig). Transparent, but not as much as the KOT. A bit more weighty and darker feeling than the KOT was. It was also VERY dynamic with its overdrive. I could play soft and get a nice clean, then play harder and it would crunch. Actually it was crunching too much. I had to make a change.

There is a switch that switches two modes in the pedal: RAWK and ROCK. RAWK is a much more “distortion on its own” as a stand alone pedal. This mode gives more distortion and adds a bit of color to the overall tone of the pedal. Catalinbread states this mode is a more “Modern” distortion.
The ROCK mode is less gainy, more transparent, less color, and more open. I never liked this at home as It didn’t have any ‘oomph’ too it. AsI felt like the DLS was crunching too much, I flipped the switch down and became extremely happy with what my tone was doing and the spongy feel of my attack.

For a lead I used the KOT (right side) boosted into the DLS. I was very happy with those results as well, almost more happy than the KOT stacked together. This was more dynamic and yet ‘dirtier’ and ‘thicker’ than the previous experiment.

For our English set I started by using the KOT again. We had a second electric guitar join, and I quickly became lost in the mix. I decided that I needed a bit more midrange, and stomped on the trusty Zendrive. Cut through and thickened our our overall tone into a very nice texture. Wow, the Zen never ceases to impress me. Every time I get tired of it, it lets me know why it is my go-to drive. With simple volume and tone knob controls on my guitar I get everything from a smooooooth lead to a touch of a rude crunch. Thanks Alf Hermida!

So for a lead I clicked on the DLS and pushed it with the Zen and noticed how my tone was just a touch louder with more hair than before. With a touch of delay, a perfect lead tone.

I’m extremely happy with this board at the moment. I still need to experiment with these pedals to fully scope the tones I can achieve. For smooth singing “hot amp” tone the KOT is perfect. For a Marshally thick tone, the DLS performs well. And I love how I can cop chimey “Voxish” faux cleans from the Zen, yet have a great blues tone that doesn’t change my base tone. Out of these pedals in my rig, I feel the DLS changes my base tone from what I have set up, but the Zen and KOT build upon it perfectly and just heighten what I already have going. I honestly want to hear the DLS through a different amp as I feel this would work great with another amp…..

ah, keep playing!


6 Responses

  1. Love the KOT. It was a recent additon to my board. and it does stack very well. it gets along well with the other pedals on the boad.

  2. haha You’ve got so much dirt, bro…it’s awesome!! Makes me want to buy more things. 🙂

  3. Thanks guys!
    My overall weakness is dirt pedals. Man, it just feels so good to stomp that box and get that crunch.

    KOT is awesome, it goes well with everything…. I’m still amazed at how raunchy and gainy it can be when played right. It has some amazing “snap and zing” that rebounds from tight playing. Then when you play softly, it sounds clean! Amazing!!

  4. hey Larry … i am running a similar chain except i have a 1/2 Gainer instead of the KOT. very very happy with the setup right now … but like you, there are still a lot of experimenting to do 🙂

  5. Rhoy–
    Thanks! Yeah, I’m extremely happy with my setup, but I don’t wan to become lazy/stuck. I think when I push myself by experimenting with other effects I get a bit better when I go back to those I love and feel comfortable with.

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