effects pedals

lately this week i have been thinking a lot about guitar and bass (and other instruments as well) effects pedals. Coincidentally, the winter NAMM, or the National Association of Music Merchants, festival/conference/convention is happening in california this week. these little boxes with buttons and knobs and lights may seem irrelevant or trivial to most people, but I argue that they are to a musician what different kinds of paints, pencils, pastels, pens, markers, etc. are to an artist.
Currently, the pedals I use are the Diamond J-Drive MK3, the classic Electro-Harmonix Big Muff, the MXR m234 Analog Chorus, and the Electro-Harmonix Canyon delay and looper. This setup that i have is subject to change, but for right now I enjoy the tones I can get and the easy use of 4 pedals on a small board. This will most likely be the setup I run for a while, likely until I get a new amp. When that happens, I would like to add some kind of preamp pedal like the Xotic EP booster, another thicker-toned distortion or fuzz pedal like maybe the Stomp Under Foot Ram’s Head or the ZVex Double Rock, and some more modulation effects like a flanger or tremolo. However, I still want to be careful and keep my tone how I want it. I like to have it fairly clean with some grit and enough gain to hit my amp strongly. I want to have that base tone, but then work to replicate the guitar tones of bands like Chastity Belt, Kurt Vile and the Violators, Dinosaur Jr., Courtney Barnett, Naked Giants, Together Pangea, the Strokes, etc.
A lot of interesting things are happening in the music gear world right now. One cool thing that has happened in the past few years is the huge explosion of “boutique pedals”. these pedals are made by companies like JHS, Earthquaker Devices, Red Panda Labs, Stomp Under Foot, ZVex, Walrus Audio, and Death By Audio. These companies have been producing a lot of WEIRD effects. Earthquaker is well known for their echos, reverbs, delays, etc. Pedals like the Spatial Delivery, Avalanche Run, Transmisser, Ghost Echo, and many more are loved by musicians across genres. Contrastingly, Death By Audio, ZVex, and Stomp Under Foot pedals are mostly employed by musicians playing some kind of hard rock, dreampop, or shoegaze. An acquaintance of mine, Elliot Malvas from Swirlies and You’re Jovian, is a die hard fan of Death By Audio and ZVex. He often uses the DBA Reverberation Machine, DBA Fuzz War, and the ZVex box of rock to produce some very dark and ambient shoegaze tones.
A lot of interesting things are happening in the music gear world right now and I am very excited to see what happens next. Huge innovations in technology that have revolutionized the world are being employed every day by electrical engineers who are committed to their craft and spend their days creating new circuitry to make weird sounds. These weird noises and sounds are being employed by musicians in every genre from goth rock to jazz fusion and these little boxes have completely changed the way music is played and created. Next time you’re at a concert, look at what the musicians are stepping on, it’s far more interesting than you’d imagine.

One Reply to “effects pedals”

  1. Wow! I’ve never really thought about how much more there is to music than I had previously thought. I’ve personally only ever dabbled with making music, having gone through that ukulele phase everyone seems to nave gone through at least once in the past couple of years, and have had beginner-level voice and piano training while in grade school. I find it really interesting that the equipment that you use can really affect how your music will sound, and I’m sure that our world’s increasing access to technology will continue to enhance the music industry in this and many other musical tools.

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