Today’s pedal line is from Rafael Rebolleda. 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.
Rafa here, from sunny Madrid, Spain. I’ve got to say I’m an avid reader of Friday Pedal Line to the point I read *every* single post when I discovered it a few months ago.
I’ve built several boards over the years (I’ve been playing for almost 20 years now, always very interested in effect pedals), but a few months ago I decided to sell everything and get the stuff I needed for the current sound in my head. I also wanted my sound to be as self contained as possible, so I also sold all my amps and went for one in the pedalboard that I could plug into any cabinet.
So, I started with the premise of a Pedaltrain 2, but after many tries, it soon became clear that I couldn’t fit all the stuff in it. I upgraded to a PT-3 with two Mondos below. I also use Lava cable everywhere. I’ve got to say I was *very* skeptical about the whole cabling affair, but after many tries it absolutely makes a difference, even a single latch cable between two pedals. I was very surprised, to be honest, but anyway… try it out and see if you like that difference or not. There’s no right or wrong.
Now, onto the line itself:
– Dunlop Cry Baby 535Q 20th Anniversary Edition: Tried and true, I went for this one because of it’s flexibility with different pickups and distortions or fuzzes. It weighs *a lot,*though. In hindsight, I’d be tempted to try the AMT Japanese Girl because of its smaller footprint, given all the issues with space constraints that I’ve
– Visual Sound Pure Tone Buffer: (below the wah) I went for a buffer because my chain before the preamp is seldomly on. It’s also probably cheaper to get a buffer than lots of low capacitance cable, so you might as well throw one in instead, depending on your set up. In my case, I might actually do without it.
– BOSS CS-2 Compression Sustainer: So this an ’82 version, which I like better than the Dyna Comp (very nice too).
– BOSS PS-6 Harmonist: I’m actually not very much into the harmony things, but I do use and love its momentary “slide” to pitch feature. It’s like having a momentary Whammy (which I love, but it’s damn big for my occasional use). I usually set it up to octave up and rather fast in and out, but it’s also very useful when set up in super slow-mo to two octaves down, for example. If I didn’t have the MicroSynth I’d also use it eventually as a regular Octaver.
– EarthQuaker Devices Arpanoid: EarthQuaker is one of the most refreshing and inspiring makers right now, IMHO. All their stuff sounds GREAT, and If I had more space I’d surely be using some more pedals by them. But anyway, the Arpanoid is an arpeggiator, with which you can do very interesting stuff like doubling, octaver, random notes, sweeps… very interesting if you’re into the “noisy” weird soundscapes.
– Electro-Harmonix Micro Synth: Another inspiring company, with many boxes full of secret sounds. As well as the usual suspects (synths, sweeps, filters, wahs, etc, all FANTASTIC stuff), the MicroSynth serves me as an outstanding, surprising and massive fuzz, octaver, extreme eq/filter and volume swell. Incredible piece of gear once mastered.
– AMT Bulava SS-30 Preamp: I love tubes just as everyone else, but after lots of tube amps, I wanted something with very low maintenance while responding nicely to pickup output, as well as an effect loop. The Bulava has extensive tone shaping controls and despite being positioned as a high gain preamp (and it certainly can be), I use it around 9 o 10 clock on both drive channels for a super-responsive boost/overdrive + classic distortion box. Sounds amazing with my SD Hot/Vintage/Cool rails in either single, parallel or series, or with Bare Knuckles Trilogy + Holydiver. However, I’ve got to say I didn’t like it when driven by P-90s, but I haven’t used it so extensively in that config. Bonus points for the cabinet emulation out, which I use for headphone rehearsing. A couple of interesting alternatives that I found along the way are the ADA Preamp + Guitar Cabinet Simulator (and there are other options just for this like the AMT Chamaleon), the very interesting Traynor QuarterHorse, or the Randall RG13,
– GigRig QuarterMaster: One of my goals with this pedal board was to reduce noise. Also, a looper allows me to have more freedom when laying out my pedals on the board without caring about tap-reachability. So the QuarterMaster manages the Bulava’s loop and the following effects go within.
– Mooer Noise Killer: I’m pretty sure there are better options out there (I’ve had excellent results in the past with the BOSS NS-2), but I needed something small. Works for me… on with gainy stuff, off with clear arpeggios and stuff like that.
– MXR 10-band EQ: I went through the BOSS GE-7 and the Mooer Graphic G , but both failed to have the nuance I was looking for. This is a very powerful tool to sit the guitar into the mix, which is a really important issue. Damn big and heavy though.
– Mooer Eleclady: Basically a clone of the EHX Electric Mistress, but I actually like this one better. Great sound, very flexible and bonus points for the filter switch. Subtle or crazy, I love this unit, and it doesn’t get any better in terms of size. I also have a vintage ’86 BOSS BF-2, which is great, but I like the Mooer better.
– MXR Phase 99: Quite the classic, but twice: parallel or series, vintage or modern. I’ve got to say that I dearly miss a MIX knob on all MXR phasers, so you have to be careful with the pickup output and drive that goes in (it also plays nice, but noticeably different, in front of drives). I love the series and out-of-phase setting which approaches the sound of a Uni-vibe (of which, by the way, my favorite is the JHS Warble Tron, for which unfortunately I have no space left on my board). I also tried the Mooer Ninety Orange (see, I was attracted by their footprint and tried lots of them), but the 99 is way more polyvalent. I’ve tried different BOSS in the past too, but with no satisfaction. I have very fond memories of the Coron P-400 Phaser, though.
– Dawner Prince Starla Tremolo. Sounds great and does everything I expect it to do, like really killing the sound on square waves. My only complaint is the on/off switch is not latched, so every time I power on the board I have to press it to play nice with the QuarterMaster. I would’ve liked to find a tremolo that was this size and quality and had more versatility (like some of the nice stuff the BOSS Slicer does), but I didn’t find it. In my search I tried the Mooer Trelicopter (doesn’t kill the sound) and the ZVEX SuperSeek Trem, which is great but too big and heavy for this particular occasion. I also considered the smaller Seek Trem and the Sonar, but what I’ve found is that the ZVEX guys need some UX fella to help them out with laying out the features. They sound great and are full of interesting features, but many things are obscured and the information displayed can be misleading. It’s a pity, really. I also think the Empress Tremolo 2 is great, but again too big for me this time and the Starla was a very good fit in terms of pure geometry.
– Empress Vintage Modified Superdelay: Delay was one of the holy grails for me, so it took me a while to get to this one. In all honestly, I find it too expensive. It definitely sounds great, but it’s almost too much. Anyway, I tried the -of course- Mooer Reecho (just… somehow lifeless and boring) and the Moog Minifooger Delay, which sounds absolutely AWESOME but it’s too dark and muddy for many of MY uses. The Empress, however, was very clean (the LPF and HPF help), and also features the reverse feedback mode, pioneered (at least in my mind) by Eventide (and somewhat summarised in the PitchFactor and greatly emulated in Native Instrument’s Guitar Rig, which appears sadly abandoned), which I love. EarthQuaker has several delays that sound absolutely fantastic in different ways and which I almost fall for. Anyway, I wish it was cheaper and smaller, but it is undeniably great and I’m a very happy owner, make no mistake.
– EarthQuaker Devices Afterneath: Great name for a great pedal. I fell in love instantly the first time I heard it. Fantastic for ethereal and ambient soundscapes as well as some random short delays to add texture… do check the demos. I love it with the MicroSynth, for example. I don’t think it can work as a regular reverb, but it all depends on what you’re looking for (see next).
– Malekko Spring Reverb: How can I put it? I think this is the best reverb ever, when thought of as an amp extension. I tried -here it goes- the Mooer Shimverb (meh) and the TC Electronic Trinity (basically a tuned version of the Hall of Fame), which sounded ok, but IMHO, no spring emulation (and this is what I was after) comes close to Malekko’s. It *feels* great. Now, I’ve got to say I was tempted by the HardWire (DIgitech) Supernatural Reverb for it’s ambient stuff, but once I found the Afterneath, it was clear the Trinity was out and the Spring was in. AWESOME stuff, seriously. The Spring is the last one in the QuarterMaster, so we go to the loop return on the Bulava.
– Mooer ABY: Between the Bulava and the amp I’ve got this ABY box to switch between the amp and an IK Multimedia iRig HD which I use to record on the iPhone or the Mac. I’ll probably get rid of it though, as I can already use the Bulava’s dual output (straight and emulated), so I’m looking for something useful that fits in here. I might go with a Loop Master Passive Micro Mixer to rehearse while listening to some music. Suggestions welcome!
– ISP Stealth Power Amp: At first I thought I’d use the EHX Caliber 22 & 44, but it turns out they don’t have much headroom beyond their 50% output. The Stealth, on the other hand, has plenty of headroom and power to rehearse with a band. It also can’t get any simpler, and that’s something that I appreciate given the rest of the rig.
All in all, it took a lot of trial and error to get the sound that I was looking for and and the config that suited me, but I have to say I’m very satisfied with this rig and I foresee a long relationship. Feel free to ping me if you want more info, and keep the lines coming… they’re a great source of knowledge and inspiration.