(5 questions we ask artists – the same 5, every time)
Pedals and Effects coming at you with another new column! We’d like to introduce you to our newest feature, called “The Pedals and Effects 5”, where we ask musicians of all styles and all walks of life how they first got into pedals, and what pedals are currently inspiring them. It will be the same five questions every time, so be sure to keep an eye out to see what your favorite artist has to say about their favorite pedals and effects.
Photo credit: Travis Schneider
1. What is your number one/go-to pedal on your pedalboard and why?
Probably my Fulltone OCD, that’s been my main lead sound for many years now. It seems to work great with whatever amp it’s in front of. It just has the right flavor ya know? It’s an overdrive, but a very gain-y overdrive without being like a distortion. It cuts through the mix of the band very well for my lead moments.
2. What is your favorite combination of pedals? It can be a combination of 2 pedals or multiple pedals!
For a swirly/chorus-y effect I’ve always liked the Dunlop Rotovibe. It seems like not a lot of people use it, so I like that it’s (kind of) unique. It pairs very well with delay. I’ve been using a Keeley modded Line 6 delay pedal for a long time. It sounds great, does a lot of different things and tap tempo is crucial for me. It ends up being a spaced out psychedelic thing that sounds great on chords and arpeggios. I can build tension by increasing the speed of the rotovibe. I like that it has that manual control. For example maybe at the beginning of a bridge it will be slow, and then I’ll gradually increase the speed up until the next section so by the end it’s “spinning” so fast it’s dissonant.
3. When did you realize a pedal(s) could evolve your playing/sound and what pedal(s) was it?
I don’t think I’m probably the first to say this, but that Wah pedal opened up all kinds of expression right away. I couldn’t stop playing with that as soon as I got my hands on it. Creating walls of sounds and textural landscapes became possible with my first Boss Digital Delay. That definitely changed the way I was playing.
4. In the future, what would you like to see pedal builders create (from scratch) or modify on an existing standard?
I’d really like more pedals to be TRUE bypass. I find that a lot of pedals that claim to be true bypass actually greatly alter my signal path even when not engaged. Me and my tech, Mike Buffa, only discovered this after super anal A/B testing when constructing my main pedalboard years ago. Now I be sure to have any pedal that goes on my main board get modded to make sure it’s not altering the sound.
5. What advice can you give to musicians who are trying to expand their musical horizons with pedals and effects?
Practice your pedal moves the same way you would practice scales or chord progressions. Hitting the downbeat of the big chorus can be difficult if you have to tap dance your way across the board. I find that when I use my feet in rhythm, hitting cues at predetermined musical points… EXAMPLE: I’ll disengage the delay on beat one so I have time to hit the overdrive for the pick up into the chorus. Or I’ll practice using the war as a filter sweep over the period of four bars. Stuff like that!
Make your effects MUSICAL. Make them serve the music and the song. You might be really into a new pedal because of its novelty, but is it actually doing something that is adding to the performance? Does it actually sound good? (Or bad if that is your desired effect?)
Be cognizant of what your pedals are doing to your signal path. A/B your signal directly into the amp, and then with the pedals. I bet you’ll often find a huge “tone suck.” If so, isolate the pedals one by one and then find the guy in your town that can open that pedal up and make it true bypass. Or find a different pedal that does the same thing, but better.