The following is another great guest post by Kevin Ian Common. If you are interested in guest posting, please contact me!
Hello Kind Readers 🙂
The last month has been a little hectic for me. The Common Men have been really busy working on new material and preparing for shows and some music videos.
Not only that, but my previously planned columns have been put on the back burner because my camera is not working properly. Until I get that issue resolved, I thought I would take a look into some philosophical matters involving the guitar. The first issue I’d like to tackle is pedal order in your pedal board.
This is a very subjective matter because just like tone, there really is no “right” answer, but there are norms associated with it. I will go over them and then explain the different variations of pedal order. I will reference my own pedal board as well. While there was a Pedal Line Friday dedicated to my rig, it has changed dramatically since–a true testament to the ever-changing tastes and needs of gear-minded guitarists.
Something Typical Something Atypical.
The basic order when dealing with pedals is as follows:
Guitar – Tuner – Compression – Modulation/Filter – Overdrive – Distortion/Fuzz – Delay – Reverb – Amp
The general belief is that the compression evens out your signal before anything else. The modulation and filtering effects (chorus, phaser, wah, etc) come afterward so you get a rich effected clean signal. The overdrive is your first line of dirt, and is usually low/medium gain. Your distortion is more lead-based so you would have a fuller tone. Here, you would stack your dirt pedals for either high gain uses or leads.
My order is as follows:
Barber LTD SR – Barber Small Fry – Devi Ever LP – Spectacular Aenima
My Barber LTD is my go-to overdrive. I am also currently borrowing it until I can afford to purchase it from a fellow musician. It’s wonderfully rich and full of growl. The Small Fry is my main distortion tone. It is the most rich distortion I’ve played and I have the internal trimpots set to a small mid scoop, slightly boosted presence and bass with a very tubby note shape. The LP is a lovely pedal I have reviewed before. It has a random hiccup sound, like it’s broken. I use it mainly as a stacked dirty tone with a random stutter. With the control knob all the way, it sounds very fuzzy and almost undefined–a thing of true beauty. The Spectacular Aenima is almost always set to a glitch motor-boat sound or bit-crushing madness. Since I am a big fan of weird tones and high gain when doing my solos, I prefer my stacked distortions to be unique and strange.
The delay comes after to fully take in all of the other effects and apply a delayed signal. Reverb is generally the last pedal in your chain if you use it. The philosophy is that reverb is the final augmentation, so it would follow everything else.
Of course, there is no real set way in pedal order. You can put your modulation effects after your distortion. However, you will get an added white noise swirl into your sound. Also, there tends to be a light volume boost with putting your modulation effects after distortion. I have switched between placing my chorus and vibe pedals before and after my distortion. I love the white noise aspect added to my sound.
Another interesting idea is putting delay before distortion. With the decaying delayed signal going into the distortion, the natural compression that takes place with distortion is striking. It makes you sound faster than you actually are! Give it a shot, it’s pretty crazy. I prefer the dying decay, and most people do, so this is a very unnatural decision.
I use multiple delay pedals. I really enjoy stacking delays and using different settings to create cascading delay sounds.
Here is the order as per my pedal board:
MXR Carbon Copy – Behringer Echo Machine – Digitech Digidelay
My MXR is set to quick U2-like delays with the Mod switch on at all times. That feeds into a long multi-tap delay on my Behringer. The final delay in my chain is a long reverse delay with very few repeats on the Digidelay. My thinking is that I feed the delays in order of short to long to special effect settings.
I have spent weeks changing my boards and chances are I will change it again a few more times by the time I finish another column. It will take you just as much time, but you will be surprised at the rewards associated with a little experimentation.
I have included a picture from a recent show that has both my boards in the picture. I will talk about my feedback looper and my texture board in the next column along with a little musing on the idea of cheap vs. expensive pedals.
This is meant to spark debate and experimentation. Happy stomping!
– Kevin Ian Common
Kevin Ian Common is a multi-instrumentalist who would love to plug in effects pedals to drums. He is currently in The Common Men, a Post-Punk trio from Northern California. You can find them @ www.myspace.com/thecommonmen.
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