Pedalboard [rev.802447b]

Well, here’s the latest iteration of my pedalboard. [sarcasm] I know that my readers are always waiting with bated breath for the newest inconsequential pedal addition/substitution. [/sarcasm]

Anyway, Since my main amp has such amazing natural tube overdrive/distortion, I don’t have to use pedals with it. As such, I decided to experiment with taking all of my dirt pedals off the board. So, my signal is currently guitar – M13 (2 FV500H expression pedals) with the MXR EQ in the loop.

Pedalboard 12/29/09

When I use this live with my Sig:X, I’m going to set up the filters, comps, and drive effects to come before the preamp stage of the amplifier. Delays, modulations, reverbs, and EQ will be in the effects loop. At church, I just run this into a clean VOX AC15.

I have been experimenting the with the drives that are built into the M13 and some of them are surprisingly usable, especially the tube screamer, tube drive, and L6 drive. There’s a lot of tweaking that can be done with these sounds to make them very natural-sounding. Of course, a few of the models are just bad and should probably be tossed out. All in all, I’m still pleased with the M13 and I think that I’ll probably hang on to it for a while. Once I get some settings finalized, I’ll probably record some clips to give you an idea of what it’s capable of.

VHT/Fryette

I recently got a new faceplate for my Sig:X to reflect the name change of the company that makes my amp.

Before:
VHT Sig:X

After:
Fryette Sig:X

I’m not 100% sure about the accuracy of this story, but I read about it on the internets, so it has to be pretty much true. Anyway, in 1989 a guy named Steve Fryette started an amplifier company and called it VHT. Before long, VHT gained a reputation for manufacturing cutting edge guitar amps. Apparently, they borrowed some money fairly recently and used the VHT name as collateral. I’m not exactly sure about what happened next, but they lost the name.

Steve Fryette regrouped and started a new company and named it after himself – Fryette Amplification. He retained the rights to all of his designs and products – he just lost the VHT name. The company that now calls itself VHT bears little resemblance to Fryette.

I really, really like my Sig:X. It may not have the vintage look or boutique vibe of something like a Bad Cat or ÷13, but these amps were built for players, not collectors. The control panel of the Sig:X may look intimidating, but it’s not quite as complicated as it looks. My next major purchase is going to be a Fryette 2×12 speaker cab. Their cabs are supposed to be awesome, and they were designed specifically to mate with Fryette amps.

EQ

I’m about to start experimenting with an EQ pedal. I have an MXR 10-Band EQ on the way, and I’m trying to figure out where I want to put it in the signal chain. There are a couple of schools of thought about placement: pre- and post-distortion.

Pre-distortion EQ alters the harmonic content of the distorted tone, while post-distortion EQ shapes the overall tone. As of this moment, I think that I’m going to go with this chain:

wah > compressor > overdrive/distortion > preamp > (effects loop send) > EQ > modulation > delay > reverb > (effects loop return) > power amp

Anyone else use EQ pedals? How do you run them?

Line 6 M13: Initial thoughts

I have had a little time to spend with the M13, so I guess it’s time to share some thoughts. First impressions are that this thing is very cool. I haven’t messed with all the sounds yet, but a lot of them sound great.

First of all, the delays are awesome. There are a bunch of different ones to choose from, and they’re all very tweakable. I’m very happy about the inclusion of the Lo-Res delay from the DL4. I owned a DL4 for a couple of weeks, and the Lo-Res delay was my favorite sound on the pedal. Unfortunately, it was accompanied by an unacceptable volume drop, so it had to go. The M13 seems to have corrected this unfortunate situation.

Anyway, I used it at church on Sunday and it was really easy to dial up a few basic delay tones that worked really well. I set up two delays in series (tube echo dotted eighth > analog echo w/mod dotted eighth) and it was perfect for the U2/modern worship thing. I initially had the mix set too high, but it was easy enough to tweak on the fly.

The M13 has an effects loop, which enables you to place external stompboxes within the effects chain. On Sunday I didn’t have this set up, so all of my distortion pedals were in front of the M13 which didn’t work out too well. Because of this, I decided to try out a couple of the M13’s overdrive pedal tones. I ended up using the tube drive model, which is supposed to be designed to sound like the Chandler Tube Driver. Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised to get some totally usable tones out of it. Granted, the digital models aren’t as organic as the analog counterparts, but it’ll work in a pinch. My main gripe is that the digital overdrives don’t really clean up with the guitar’s volume control or a light pick attack. Since Sunday, I have rearranged my board a little and put the od/distortions into the loop. It sounds much better this way.

I really like using expression pedals with this thing. There are obvious uses like wah, whammy, and volume control, but you can assign the expression pedal to manipulate any parameters that you want. It can be as simple as using the exp pedal to control the gain setting on your overdrive pedal. However, you can use the pedal to change every setting on any given effect. In the heel down position, you could have a dry digital delay setting with low repeats, moderate feedback, and no modulation. The toe down position could be a very warm self-oscillating delay with infinite repeats. Of course, as you sweep back and forth, you get a blend of the two delay sounds which gives you a lot of flexibility in controlling your tone. Right now, I only have one expression pedal but I will be picking up a second in the very near future.

In short, I am pretty pleased with the M13. I have decided to sell my Timeline delay pedal as well as the Rocktron MIDI controller that I was using with it. If you’re interested, let me know…

We’re getting the board back together

Well, I’m working on the new setup. This is the new board, and it’ll probably stay like this for a while – at least until I can grab a second expression pedal. [EDIT: I moved some things around and put my dirt pedals in the effects loop of the M13 so that they can be after wah/filters/compressors/volume pedal, but before delays. I also cleaned up the wiring a little bit.]

pedalboard 12/04/09

I still have a long way to go in terms of figuring this thing out. There are just so many different doodads and gizmos in here. Delays, reverbs, phasers, flangers, whammy/pitch-shifting, boosts, compressors, overdrives, distortions, wahs, step filters, etc. They’re not all great, but a lot of them are pretty awesome.

I’m a little overwhelmed, but I’m mainly trying to get it figured out enough to use at church this weekend without going completely overboard. I need to remember that the M13 is not replacing my entire board (yet). For now, the M13 is primarily acting as my delay pedal. As long as I can get 3-4 good delay settings, I should be fine.

Line 6 M13 incoming

Well, I decided to bite the bullet and pick up an M13. It’ll be in my hands tomorrow. I’m pretty excited to start playing around with it. The plan for now is to put my overdrive, boost, and distortion in front of the M13. I’ll use my volume pedal as an expression pedal to manipulate things like delay feedback, loop volume, etc. in real time. Depending on how that works out, I may even decide to grab a second expression pedal.

I’ll either decide to keep it and sell the Timeline or return it and stick with my current setup. I think it’s going to work out, though. I think it’s really going to streamline my effects setup and allow me to do more with less tapdancing.