What's a good first effects pedal to buy?

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Mite
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What's a good first effects pedal to buy?

Postby Mite » Thu Nov 06, 2003 3:18 am

About a year ago I bought my first electric guitar (gibson sg) as a graduation present. Since I'm really an acoustic girl at heart, I want to get a pedal or two to help me make the adjustment to hard-core rocking. I sorta want to make my own distortion pedal (what good is a physics major you didn't need if not for attempting stupid projects?), but I want one or two more. Should I go straight for the waa? Make a stop at the ring modulator and the flange first? Help!

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grant
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Postby grant » Thu Nov 06, 2003 9:45 am

Well, what kind of amp are you playing through?

I own four pedals: compression (which I got just to see what it did), distortion (which I rarely use because I like overdriving the amp better), a VooDoo Labs tremolo and a DoD delay (analog, not digital, if that makes sense).

I get the most use out of the delay pedal. Turn it down, and it's a rockabilly reverb. Turn it up, and you're in space.

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Postby grant » Thu Nov 06, 2003 10:05 am

By the way, it's my understanding that a flange is the simplest electronic project. (I'm no authority on the subject.) A flange is called a flange because of how it used to be done - the studio engineer would take a signal, split it into two tracks and record each to a reel-to-reel tape. Then, the engineer would recombine the two tracks, allowing one to go in straight... but pressing on the flange of the reel on the other. That subtle drag would take the two signals in and out of phase.
I'm not sure how the wiring on the electronic version works, precisely, but the circuit does roughly the same thing - split the signal, then take one half in and out of synch with the other.

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John
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Postby John » Thu Nov 06, 2003 10:23 am

I have always thought the distortion pedal is the most useful first pedal, because it makes the guitar come alive at lower volumes. You can play at apartment volume but still sound like your amp is going crazy. It's the main advantage of an electric over an acoustic guitar.

I use three, (THREE!) distortion pedals in my live set-up. Each one does a different crunch, and they can be combined. The only other effect I use is a delay pedal and I agree with Grant that it is the most versatile of the pedals. Hours of fun.

The flangey, wa-wa-y, phasery, ring-modulatey effects usually sound great USED ONCE, in ONE SONG, for ONE PART. Chrous effects can be used all the time, but they get boring. Matthew Caws of Nada Surf uses a rotating speaker emulator on a lot of their songs and he makes it sound great. It's really distinctive, but he actually writes his guitar parts to take advantage of the effect.

I have owned probably fifty pedals over the years, but when I choose my pedals for live shows I always just stick to gain and delay.

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Postby Liesbeth » Thu Nov 06, 2003 11:47 am

Don't know if this is of any use to you, but seeing how your avatar has not only a guitar but open mouth too, I'll risk it.
My husband taught me how to use a delay pedal to record vocals. If done with moderation it kinda sounds like you recorded in a (modest) studio setting, rather than a 6 square meter room. If done without moderation, well...

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Mite
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Postby Mite » Thu Nov 06, 2003 4:45 pm

My amp is somewere between crap and passable - it's a Peavy Envoy 110. I hadn't really thought much about a delay pedal. I'll definitely check it out. And I always wondered how Nada Surf sounded like that.

(And the avatar just comes from www.catandgirl.com. Finally: A webcomic for the overeducated hipster in everyone!)

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Postby Liesbeth » Fri Nov 07, 2003 4:39 am

From Cat and Girl - Pop goes populism
Guitars are bourgeous, ok? They're expensive and the skill they demand is elitist!

Great link, thanks!

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Postby Goldie » Sun Nov 09, 2003 9:49 am

acoustic girl + physics major = electro harmonix (ehx.com)

you will come for the holy grail, you will stay for the big muff pi.

live the dream.

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Postby A Brutaful Smile » Sun Nov 09, 2003 6:00 pm

John wrote:I have always thought the distortion pedal is the most useful first pedal


not to be a suck up or nuthin, but i agree w/him. distortion pedal all the way.

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Endo23
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An admission... and a recommendation

Postby Endo23 » Thu Feb 05, 2004 4:25 pm

I readily admit to having Gear Acquisition Syndrome, and currently chain together some fifteen different pedals when playing electric guitar. I think I can even boast of having more distortion pedals than Mr. Roderick himself, if Fuzz counts toward my total.

Of course, The Long Winters prove that this sort of sick techno-fetishism is utterly pointless, because all you need to fashion flawless pop gems are three chords, a great melody, and intriguingly-obscure-but-emotionally-resonant lyrics.

Nonetheless, I love bizarre sounds and if it's pedals you want, start with a DELAY. Really, it's the most versatile gadget of them all. Spend $100 on a used Electro-Harmonix Memory Man and you can do passable early U2/late Floyd imitations, lunar landing soundscapes, cascading waterfulls of "One Rainy Wish" lead guitar, whatever. Throw a mic'd hi-hat through it and you've got Dub Fever. Throw the whole kit through it and you've got a Phil Spector rhythm section playing live in your basement. Try it on vocals and basslines. Delovely. Delicious. Buy now, thank me later.

P.S. I recommend the Memory Man specifically because it is an analog delay, meaning it sounds warmer/murkier than digital and can be manipulated in real-time for some really freaky results (think the ending of "Karma Police," where your speakers sounds like they're about to melt). Digital delays are cheaper and have longer delay times, but you'll never really use a 2-second delay in a song... unless you're copping King Crimson or something.

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Postby Dan » Thu Feb 05, 2004 9:25 pm

I love my DOD "Milk Box" compression pedal. A mere $15 used, and the nicest, most compressiest sound ever.

Boss makes a really cool overdrive/distortion combo pedal, the OS-2, which might be a good first pedal to check out. You can do some really interesting things with the color and drive adjustments that combine the two effects; I like to zero it to the distortion setting, overdrive my amp, and, as the kids say, "rock out."

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Postby junkyardtodd » Fri Feb 06, 2004 6:21 am

but if you want to build your own (which i think is an incredibly cool idea)
start looking for schematics of the original devices (ie: without chips and printed circuit boards) such as Roger Mayer's early stuff, Vox or Sola Sounds Tone Benders
i got a Vox Tone Bender-it was too unpredictable to use live, but you could make it do all sorts of weird, 'amp about to blow up' kinda things,

for a easy to find $15 used fuzz box, check out the danelectro daddy o, n fabtone pedals

fuzz out!

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Postby Dez » Fri Feb 06, 2004 3:36 pm

How about the Ibanez Tube Screamer? Nice crunchy sound and still sounding like a guitar instead of a drill. And like John was saying (back in November) chorus is almost always way too much.

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John
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Postby John » Sat Feb 07, 2004 11:48 am

I learned a cool tube screamer trick from John Bird, soundman to the stars. Turn the volume all the way up, and the gain and tone knobs all the way down. This is the way to a very 'warm' yet 'punchy' distro.

Also, I couldn't agree more about the elctro-harmonix memory man deluxe. It has the capability to make the perfect "just on the verge of feeding back" delay.

And... I've changed my tune, (ha), as it regards chorus. I've recently acquired an h20 stereo chorus/delay and it is Phat!

word

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Postby zeoscope » Sat Feb 07, 2004 3:05 pm

I like my wah pedal a lot although I think I should have bought a distortion pedal first, cause now I really want one but have no money to buy one. But since I only have a wah, I've tried to make the most of it. A good way to get more usage out of your wah is to not rock it. Just set it at a position you like and cool tones will emerge. I learned this little trick from trying to learn Dire Straits' "Money For Nothing". During the main riff of that song Mark Knopfler has a wah pedal attached and pushed all the way down to get some cool high tones.

And Mite, I feel for you. I, too, have an Envoy 110. I keep telling myself "at least it isn't one of those really lame cheapo amps that they package along with Rogue Squires for around 50 bucks". I just wish I had something that could make my Strat scream the way I want it to.

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Postby junkyardtodd » Sat Feb 07, 2004 4:43 pm

ok, check this out....set yr amp for way bitchin' fuzz, then back off the volume on the guitar. let rip at will!

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Postby b.fierce » Sun Feb 08, 2004 8:49 am

Rat pedal.

Good one to wet one's feet. Classic, basic distortion.

They look cool, too.

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Dez
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Postby Dez » Sun Feb 08, 2004 12:10 pm

John wrote:And... I've changed my tune, (ha), as it regards chorus. I've recently acquired an h20 stereo chorus/delay and it is Phat!


So the new TLW-album is gonna sound like David Gilmour playing through The Edge's set-up?

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Harry Kellerman
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Postby Harry Kellerman » Sun Feb 08, 2004 1:59 pm

when i first picked up guitar i picked up a boss ds-2 distortion (like the $40 ds-1 but it has more control and was $80). i like it a lot because of how versatile it can be. i find myself able to play with a generic overdrive or able to (try and) play along to refused, when i want to.

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Endo23
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H20, huh?

Postby Endo23 » Wed Feb 11, 2004 4:46 pm

I was curious about that pedal in particular because I have their Dr. Jeckyl & Mr. Hyde, which is basically a tube screamer and a heavier, Marshall-type distortion in one pedal. Visual Sound makes great gear: boutique quality pedals for mass-produced prices, and you always get 2 pedals in 1.

As much as I love my Memory Man, he's not that functional when playing live because he sucks tone and volume out of my setup. Maybe the H20 would make a good substitution...

e


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