Today’s Pedal Line Friday submission is from Michael Senchuk (aka newmusicmichael). 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.
My board’s been a work in progress over the last few years since I finally got around to starting to play the bass and electric in my early 40’s. I’m actually without an official project right now, though I keep looking for something in the indie/psych/folk/gaze realms that could use a bassist, and maybe the odd extra electric from time to time. No luck so far this year, though. I was in a cover band last year for a while, and at some point just decided I wasn’t into it anymore. I’ve been writing a blog on new music at http://www.newmusicmichael.com/ for the last five years, so the idea of learning and playing songs from the 1970’s eventually just lost its appeal. In the meantime, I have been penning some originals for myself down a couple of paths. The first in sort of a noisefolk sort of vein on the electric; the other more of a DFA1979 bass/drums concept.
As far as guitars, my two primary instruments are an Ibanez SR300 bass; and a Squier Jaguar electric. I have a couple of backups, of course (and a couple of acoustics as well), but the tone of these fit perfectly within the sound I’m going for in each of the two projects. Especially the Jaguar. It’s one of those instruments, and I’m sure many of you have had the same feeling, that, from the moment you made the first strum, you’re like, “this is the guitar for me”. Bought it used off a guy in a math rock project, he hadn’t even removed the plastic off the pickguard yet.
The chain through the pedalboard (which I built myself out of 1X4’s) includes:
- TC Electronic Polytune – we start with, what else, a tuner. I have found, though, that for the Jaguar, a Snark I keep nearby seems to work better, especially for quick downtuning.
- OVNIFX Smoothie – a bass compressor, which I leave on pretty much 100% whenever playing the bass. I find it keeps things in the pocket exceptionally well.
- VFE Triumvirate (Bass Version). This pedal starts off the overdrive/distortion segment of the board. Acquired it as part of a kickstarter funding project for some other pedal of theirs. I wasn’t interested in the project pedal, so much as the opportunity to get this pedal in a custom color for the same price as their standard offering. It’s quickly become one of my go-to pedals for both the electric and the bass, I just love how you can dial in the gain and level for the three different EQ levels. Keeps in the clarity, adds in the dirt.
- Walrus Voyager. Definitely my favorite overdrive/distortion pedal for the electric, my most-used pedal amongst all the material I’m working on. Great overdrive pedal, with brilliant crispness throughout its sweeping vistas of possible ranges. I sometimes move pedals in and out of the board setup just for kicks. This has been in the same exact spot since I built the board.
- Boss Overdrive ODB-3. I use this solely for the bass. Sometimes I really like what it’s doing to the tone; and sometimes I don’t. Really depends on the song. Kind of a standard for bass overdrives, though, which is why I bought it, and it remains on the board. Maybe I’ll replace it with a Dwarfcraft Hair Of the Dog unit I have in reserve, which also works nicely for bass and electric. It takes up considerably more space, though.
- EHX Micro-POG. Up one octave, down one octave. Nice little octave pedal from EHX. I like to use it to add considerable depth to tracks. Typically I’ll add an ‘up octave’ if I’m playing bass, and a ‘down octave’ if I’m playing guitar. It sounds really good doing DFA1979-type material to get that fuller, “lead bass” sound.
- Earthquaker Afterneath. I was attending a local workshop hosted by Juan Aldrete for a demo of all the Earthquaker pedals a couple of months ago, and his one statement that struck a chord with me was “sometimes a pedal just speaks to you”. This is the one he kicked on that did it for me. Bought it that night. Earthquaker calls it an “otherworldly reverberation machine”, and that’s pretty accurate. But it’s got this growl that you can add that sort of makes it a fuzz pedal, too, and the things you can do with this pedal will completely blow your mind. From subtle harmonics all the way through absolute corruption. The longer I have it, the more it gets used. Truly one of my best purchases, maybe even more so than the Jaguar.
- EHX Electro-Mistress. Initially purchased this pedal for its flanger effect that was required for a cover band I was working with as bassist. I still like the concept, though it doesn’t get used as much anymore. But I still feel like I absolutely want it on the board, too. I’m sure many of you have pedals like that.
- Earthquaker Dispatch Master. A combination reverb-delay pedal that can again be used for its tame subtlety, or used to create a complete wall of sound. I use it quite a bit on a variety of tracks, especially, I’ve found, ones that don’t need a lot of noise, just a little something extra.
- TC Ditto Looper. I keep meaning to use this more to practice, but it gets used more to just create crazy loops of sound that I just keep playing overtop of, adding more and more sounds until you can hardly discern anything. C’mon, tell me you don’t like to do that occasionally too.
Could the POG be better used later in the chain? Maybe. Sequencing is one of those things I feel like I should always play with more, but then when it comes down to it I’d rather just pick up the guitar or bass and play some music.
Finally, on the other end, of course, is the amp. For gigs, I have a 250W Hartke 115C for bass sessions. Otherwise, I use a peavey VYPYR VIP2, which you can plug a bass, electric, or acoustic into. It’s got all sorts of cool features, and modeled amps galore. Not sure it wouldn’t get lost if I was playing a larger venue without mics, but honestly, all the local clubs mic all the amps anyways. So it’s totally fine for now, even if I got a gig as a rhythm or lead guitarist.
You can always find me on twitter, by the way – @newmusicmichael. I mostly talk about new music I’m listening to (and posting about on my blog), and, of course, guitars, pedals, and the like.