Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Guitar Effects - Keepin it fun!

Guitar effects are really a blast. I love being able to put something between me and the amp and have weird things happen. The sound is shaped, time of the signal is twisted, signal distorted, squeezed and its all just wrong. As they say, IS IT? Well, if I am playing my bebop I would probably not show up with anything other than a volume pedal. My rock purist friends also would have nothing but caustic diatribes regarding this subject but alas, I know they won’t read this far! The point of playing the guitar is to keep it fun and every now and then achieve and eargasm – LOL.

Let us get the negative aspects of the pedals out of the way. Pedals do in effect (no pun intended) drop your ultimate signal value so the tone changes even if you have the entire pedal systems turned off or inoperable. You can add boost to your signal but noise will be boosted as well. However, you can add noise gates to decrease the noise. Does this system seem like a loop of problems? The truth is too many pedals create the need for more pedals unless you build your system smart. Another problem, AC adapters! Oh those wall warts and the various voltage ratings, the positive and negative polarities – cannot be mixed. Doing so will be the certain early demise of your expensive pedal. I recommend color coding your AC adapter cables to the proper pedal – I have destroyed at least one pedal by using the wrong polarity. Therefore, signal drop, added AC consumption, effect footprint, stage clutter and proper voltage and polarity could be some negative aspects of utilization of pedals.

Now this is where I go back to engineer geek/snob. I love checking out the pedals on YouTube. I think the people there marketing their wares as well as those giving us insight rock the planet. However, too often they don’t list the amp used, the volume of the amp, size of the room, type of microphone used for recording, placement of the microphones blah blah blah. Ever listen to Led Zeppelin One? Jimmy Page recorded that using a Telecaster than Jeff Beck loaned him. Page used little amps pushed to the edge of burning up to get that sound on the album. To me the sound is similar to what I would think is a wall of amplifiers. Wrong, it’s all in the art of recording. Therefore, I wish more information would be given (but at least they post while I have not!) because it’s hard to tell if we are hearing a super bitchin amplifier or effect. Often the testing is confounded due to convoluted testing where there is a vast lack of information. Where is the pedal in the signal chain, what type of amplifier (A, A/B), what brand amplifier, speaker, wattage, room size, analog or digital recording, and more ad nausea. Therefore, concluding that the effect pedal will warm the cockles of your heart is still very subjective even with the lovely technology available today.

Effects can be mixtures of each fundamental type of signal modification. There are many hybrids and many large and boutique manufacturers. In my opinion the greatest innovation comes from the boutique small business environment. The effect world can be confusing so let’s start off with the fundamental effects.

  • Dynamics
  • Tone
  • Time based
  • Frequency

Effect chain usually work well in the following order:

  1. Pre amp
  2. Compressor
  3. Distortion
  4. Wah wah
  5. Chorus/Flanger
  6. Delay
  7. EQ
  8. Noise gate
  9. Volume pedal
  10. Digital reverb

This list is just a baseline effects chain you can do what sound best to you.

Embedded in this post are a few samples of effects. I chose these posts because the author shares a lot of information and this will only lead to good things. Whether the effect will be your ultimate sound is not for me to determine. Sound and tone are very objective and doing a scientific test is silly in this regard. Be certain to take into account whether the author shares the amplifier information as this will color the tone witnessed on the video/recording media. It is best to test with your amplifier and guitar but this will rarely be the case. One would hope that given fair return rules, most manufacturers and retail outlets would allow exchange or money back if you are dissatisfied with the tone. However, be responsible! It’s not fair to anyone to return damaged goods or simple go on a testing spree at the establishments expense.

This FULLTONE MINI DEJA VIBE 2 pedal sounds pretty killer. My good friend Rogers (awesome skater from Brazil) has it recommends it as it does the Voodoo Chile sound pretty. Kudos to Rogers on this gem!

Another Fulltone pedal is the OCD. To me this pedal has a little more kick than your standard Ibanez Tube Screamer 808.

Wampler effects that rock

Pro Guitar Shop site

No comments:

Post a Comment