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  • Writer's picturePeter

Pedal Talk

The greatest thing about playing guitar is that you get to collect pedals. Colorful little boxes with wonderful electric thingamabobs on the inside that magically transform the sound of your instrument. I think I spent the price of a luxury sedan on these stomp devices over the years. But now, I consider myself cured, which means I only buy about five or six new ones a year.

I came of age in an era when "boutique" (ie. made by some guy in a shed) and "true bypass" (supposed to keep your guitar tone intact - if you don't mind signal degradation through two 6 meter cables to and from the board and a dozen patch cables on it) were all the rage. And, of course I caught the bug, too. But I've purchased multi-effects, analog and digital pedals, the whole lot.

My pretty little pedal board.

Since I have stopped gigging regularly, my pedal board has been sitting in my studio and has seen very little in the way of change. My signal path looks like this: Digitech Whammy (check it out on Cul de Sac) › Boss Volume/Expression › Boss TU-2 tuner › Fuzz (alternating between a Z-Vex Fuzz Factory, an EHX Octavix, various Big Muffs and the Jam Pedals Fuzz Phrase pictured here that I used on Innocence) › Jam Pedals Retro Vibe › CAE wah-wah › Strymon Lex rotary emulator › T.Rex Gristle King overdrive/boost › Moog MF Tremolo › tc electronics Flashback x4 delay › Strymon Big Sky reverb.

Drawer full of goodies.

Of course, I still have one and a half drawers full of other goodies that I have accumulated over the years, that I still use from time to time. The Marshall Drive Master in the upper right hand corner here in the picture was the one that started all this madness. There's that huge Fishman acoustic modeling preamp, too, that I should really sell, as I haven't used it for years, but it's just so cool.

9 series pedals from Electro-Harmonix, NYC.

Nowadays, I tend to buy stuff that is more useful in the studio than it would be on stage, like these two from EHX, which emulate the sounds of classic keyboards. You can hear the Key 9 on Solstice and What it Means. The Mel (as in Mellotron) 9, I used on Shine as a pad in the choruses and i t features pretty heavily on an earlier instrumental, Mice '17. They are great, because I play keyboards like an elephant but I can get close enough with these guys, playing my guitar.

Guitar pedals are more than mere collectibles. Some of them, like the Big Sky and the Gristle King, define my guitar tone, they are nearly always on. Stomp boxes can be real catalysts in the creative process, spicing up an otherwise dull progression. I have based entire songs around a certain effect. Pedals, when used with the right taste, can add so much color and depth to an arrangement.

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