Make The Most of Your Pedal Board Setup

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4f85428d-e806-40b0-ab05-3358e0598f3cIt took me years to get my pedal board setup up and running.  I’ve never been a “gear head;” it just kept getting put on the back burner. I was the guy showing up to gigs and pulling separate pedals out and plugging everything in manually.  It was just a mess and I knew I needed to get organized.

I think for a lot of guitarists, getting a decent setup is really daunting.  It definitely was for me, so I thought I’d share my setup and my thinking behind it.

Here’s what I use in order of the signal chain.

Rodenberg Gas 827 Overdrive. I got introduced to this pedal through Lee Ritenour. It’s the same OD sound he uses. I like this pedal because it gives you two levels of overdrive plus a clean boost. And has a unique feature called “go” which allows you to engage the only while the button is continually pressed. Once you step off the pedal disengages. Great for quick fills with less pedal pushing.

Pog 2 Polyphonic Octave Generator. This was more of an impulse buy. A friend showed me his and I was stunned with the sounds he was getting. It allows you to mix 1 and 2 octaves below and above along with the dry signal, plus some mod features. You can get some stunning shimmery organ-esque sounds and other amazing unconventional sounds.

Ernie Ball VPJr. I bought this used and it’s been great. Nothing fancy. I like the smaller footprint of the Jr.

Xotic SP Compressor. I kept seeing this tiny pedal on everyone’s board and now I know why.  It’s awesome.  The SP really helped solidify my overall tone.  From super funky and punchy to subtly evening out your sound, it’s perfect. Highly recommend it.

Strymon El Capistan dTape Echo. I use this as my main delay. I love this pedal for the beautiful “wow and flutter” modulation you can add to the echo. It’s very versatile and I love the way it compliments my overdrive. I found this demo video really helpful too.

Strymon Blue Sky Reverberator. Even though the m9 has reverb I like having a dedicated unit. I feel having quality reverb options is key to replicating different styles. I love the space this pedal creates. Perfect for adding some breath to your overall sound. It’s very versatile, but mostly I use one setting and use the favorite function.

Line 6 M9 Stompbox Modular. I like this unit for a couple reasons. Great options for delays, filters, reverbs, and modulation.  I don’t like the overdrive sounds that much though. Ability to do presets which is great for shows that require a lot of switching. It also has a great looper function which I use a lot for solo gigs. I also use this as my tuner.

Morley Alligator Wah wah. Not pictured. I’m not crazy about it.  It’s an okay pedal, but I’d like to upgrade to something better down the road.  For now it gets the job done.

So there it is. Nothing too fancy and not perfect by any means. I still need to better organize the power supplies and I probably could work on a better signal chain, but I’m pretty happy with the sounds and versatility I’m getting right now.

A couple things I would recommend when setting up you pedal board based on my experience.

  • Keep it simple.  It’s easy to get bogged down by too many options. I put off working on my board for years because I didn’t know what to buy. If you don’t have the time or money to try out a bunch of options, try asking some people you trust for recommendations.  I also would take note what other guitarists are using.  Pick some and move on.  You can change down the road if you really needed to.
  • Make it practical. I tried to create a board that gives me all the sounds I need while still being convenient, as opposed to lugging around bags of different pedals for every possible sound. I’ve noticed more and more guitarist opting for less options just out of convenience.
  • Get one strange unique pedal you love. For me this was the Pog 2. I use it less often, but it’s great when you need something very unique.
  • Get a multi-effects unit.  It’s great for filling in the gaps if you need a less common effect. Also, I keep one as insurance in case one of my other pedals dies. I can quickly go in and out of the M9 and survive.

I’m definitely still learning. Have any pedal boards tips/recommendations?


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