Today’s Pedal Line Friday submission is from Matthew Stutts . 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.
Pedal Line Friday – 10/6 – Matthew Stutts
A bit about me. I started playing guitar more seriously around 2008. I studied with various pro jazz players in the DC area for some time and played and gigged with a local group of musicians that were all about at the same skill level in a jazz band for nearly two years. While I do still like jazz and I believe it grounded me in some deep theory, I came to the realization that trying to be a mediocre jazz guitarist was happening at the expense of my other musical interests. So, I made the decision to sell off much of my jazz gear and focus more on acoustic fingerstyle while I slowly began building a more ‘experimental’ board. I’m interested in SOUND as much as music. I’m also a bit of an introvert and am raising a young kid, so I don’t have time or interest these days in playing in a band. I do, however, work on lots of ideas for songs and catalog them for later, as I hope to produce an album in the future as well as do some work scoring commercials or film. I combine many of the scratch tracks I develop with my love of experimental video and try to post these clips under my Instagram page
My board itself was a gift from my wife and was built by Creation Music Company. I think people look at that board and the effects I use and assume I’m a worship musician. I love those tones, and I do play through a stereo set of Vox amps, but I am not interested in that music or having any religious associations.
The first pedal in my line is the TC Electronic HyperGravity compressor. I don’t have any major complaints with it. I use it for sustain and that’s about it. I used to use a MXR DynaComp but just found it rather noisy, and I liked to idea of possibly mixing up the availability of compression tones so I changed it out. Frankly, it’s a ‘leave it on and forget about it’ pedal and I don’t feel the real need at this time to spend any more money on this effect.
I run the signal into another TC Electronic pedal, the Sub ‘n Up Octave pedal. I used to have a EHX POG2 in this spot. The POG2 has two main things going for it over the Sub ‘n Up. First, I love that you can adjust the attack and secondly, you can store up to eight presets. But I replaced it with the Sub ‘n Up b/c it’s half the size and I found that I was only using small variations and didn’t need that many memory slots. Now, I do REALLY wish I could save at least two presets on the pedal itself but I try to simply by keeping it on one basic sound most of the time.
Next in the line is the Strymon Mobius. This pedal has only been on my board for about a month so I’m still getting used to it. I replaced several pedals to buy this one effect and ended up saving both time and space on my board. One pedal I removed was a Boss BF-3 Flanger…very under-rated. But the Mobius has allowed me instant access to a whole variety of effects. I don’t know if I’ll keep it forever but it’s been very fun to play with and helpful to use with its built-in MIDI capability.
The Mobius has a built-in effect-loop option and that’s where the Chase Audio Brothers sits. I don’t usually play with a lot of dirt. My signal is clean 80% of the time but I wanted something with MIDI and needed an effect that could also get somewhat of a fuzzy distortion. I like it a lot but I’m still really playing w/it and haven’t fully explored the dirtier tones it offers.
The Brothers loops back into the Mobius and then out to the Ernie Ball MVP Volume pedal. I’m not sure how I ended up with this pedal but I’ve had it for quite a while now. The pedal has built-in OD, which I never use, and I probably could have gone with a slightly cheaper and simpler volume control. Honestly, I use it almost entirely for swells and not to adjust the signal going into a dirt section, which is why the Brothers sits before this pedal. I should note that the string in it recently broke and the pot was getting scratchy. I wasn’t happy that I had to spend $55 plus shipping to have this fixed but Ernie Ball customer service was fast and responsive. Still, I’m now wary of pedals with breakable strings. Be warned.
Now we hit the fun stuff. Next up is the Strymon El Capistan. And this sends a stereo signal out to the Strymon Timeline. I really love the sound from the El Capistan. But I find I leave it on one or two settings most of the time. The main reason I keep it is for the built-in looper. I love looping. I use this looper and the Timeline looper mode simultaneously quite often. I especially enjoy adding minimal tape age and wow/flutter and letting the loop very slowly disintegrate. You can’t do that in the Timeline or in most other loopers.
The Timeline is my most important pedal and the last one I’d trade out. It pretty much fits every delay need I have and I’d buy it again in a heartbeat. I also think it has one of the more intuitive loopers built into it.
Next is reverb and here I am using an Eventide Space. I have a love/hate relationship with this pedal. It’s got some very creative effects built into it. I won’t say that Blackhole is my favorite, though it is for most other people. Some effects like the Dynaverb I find difficult to really dial in. But I personally like playing with the Hall, Room, Spring, and Mod modes myself. However, because all of my effects sit before my amp, I have found that the Space can be the one pedal with a persistent noise issue. Sometimes I have to adjust between Relay and DSP modes to figure out where the noise is even coming from. Thankfully, I’ve managed to find a series of settings that really minimize any noise to acceptable levels but I think this particular pedal was meant to sit in an effects loop and I simply don’t use it that way.
Finally, everything goes into a Boomerang III looper. I use this pedal in spite of its lack of memory banks b/c it’s fairly (sort of) compact, has a decay function, and lets you loop up to four tracks in different modes. For me, it works. I’d LOVE to be able to store ideas here for later but over time I’ve learned to just save my work in a DAW if I come up with anything interesting. However, it’s the last effect I recently added that really helps in that matter…
I use a Disaster Area DMC-3XL to control and store presets on the Mobius, Timeline, Space, and Brothers OD. This has been a massive help b/c prior to this, I was having to take handwritten notes on every setting combination I came up with. Not practical!
Everything is being powered by a Truetone CS-12. I haven’t had any particular issues with this box. It seems to do its job well.
Just one last comment. it’s easy and fair to look at my board and many of the boards on this site and think, “Why the hell does that guy have a $2-3k board but doesn’t play professionally?” I get it. Personally, a lot of my stuff was obtained b/c I had older gear sitting around and was able to make shrewd trades and sales. I listen to a lot of experimental, ambient, neoclassical stuff and the ability to produce some of the sounds that I hear in my head is what ultimately makes me happy, regardless if I’m playing mostly for myself. As soon as I have more free time, I do intend to play out more and combine it with the visual videography I do.