Today’s pedal line is from Jon Patton. If you have a pedal line (doesn’t have to be in a board) for your rig, please email me a photo, bio, description of pedals and routing to email@example.com. Every Friday I’ll showcase a pedal line submission. Make sure you include any links to your band or music page.
I play fingerstyle guitar in an indie/folk rock band in Baltimore (Midway Fair), mostly along the lines of Mark Knopfler or Richard Thompson. This board was designed to add textures to a (mostly) clean guitar tone without having a giant setup to lug around or distracting me from my main job of playing and singing. The sound quality of all the pedals on the board is pretty high, and they’re all built solidly enough to gig with, but the best part is that none of them will break the bank.
Starting at the bottom right:
*Hartman Compressor*: This is an Orange Squeezer (OS) clone with an external gain knob, and it’s not only a fantastically built pedal, it’s also one of the cheapest OS two-knob clones out there. I’ve had others that didn’t sound as good or whose controls simply weren’t as smooth or functional. When the compression is rolled all the way off, it’s a clean boost. Although the pedal will go all the way to completely squished tone, I keep the compression at about 9 o’clock just to add a little OS character. I also use it to cook the tubes by turning up the gain past 2 or 3 o’clock. Its best feature? It’s amazingly quiet for a compressor. My original setup was just this, a volume pedal, and a delay pedal. And if I had to live with only one effects pedal, I think I’d go with this one.
*EHX Germanium OD*: Since we play a lot of coffeehouses, I needed something that would add some distortion and beef at low volumes. This is a fairly simple (and very cheap) pedal that you don’t see every day. It’s got the voltage/bias control on the outside, and a gain knob. Roll the volts back to 9 o’clock (about 4.5 volts) and match the bias to it, and it adds some lo-fi, classic garage-rock tweedyness without drastically altering the sound of your guitar. Most people complain that this pedal is “loud,” because if you want to use it as your only drive pedal, it will have a much louder signal than the dry tone. But if you drive your signal a little harder with a pedal you leave on all the time before going into this pedal (like the compressor), if the gain knob is below 9 o’clock, it won’t add volume, but * will* still add that yummy germanium grit and fatten up the tone. I almost got rid of the pedal despite how much I liked the sound before I figured that out. It definitely pays to fiddle with things!
*Ernie Ball Volume pedal*: I use it for violin stuff and volume swells on chords. These things are indestructible.
*Malekko Omicron Trem*: Really nice sounding analog tremolo in a tiny box. I use it for shimmering stuff on a few songs and sometimes for a really subtle effect, though more often I use the volume pedal for manual slow tremolo. It doesn’t quite sound like amp tremolo, but it’s the best I could find that wasn’t in a really big enclosure.
*Malekko Omicron Chorus*: In case it’s not obvious from the presence of *three* of their pedals on the board, I like Malekko’s stuff. This chorus is amazing – as long as you run it at 12 volts. (It’s the only thing on the board powered by a separate power supply.) I hate pitchy choruses that use a detune effect; this one simply sounds like a couple guitars playing at once with their tone knobs in different positions.
*Malekko 616 Delay*: Hands down my favorite bucket brigade delay. It’s the same price as the Carbon Copy, with a similar sound, but it’s quieter and, I think, cleaner. Really lush sounding, not too bright, and the buffered bypass option is nice. The modulation knobs at the top make a functional vibrato if I ever need to use that effect.
I power all these pedals except the chorus with a One-Spot and have no noise issues, even with a compressor in the line. I think that says some good things about how quiet they all are! I use a 3-pickup semi-hollow telecaster with Kinman Broadcaster, and all this goes into a Hot Rod Deluxe. My friend Keith built the board itself. It’s a wooden pedal train replica, so I got to paint it red to match my Chucks.