06 June 2015

My Rig 2015 : What and Why

There are a lot of new things that I wanted to share with you all but, I'm not having personal free time enough lately. I really wanted to go for an individual pedal by pedal complete review but, I'm running out of time lately so, I had some time to do an overall review of my current rig, which includes all the new incomes.

In that way, instead on focus on every little detail related to every pedal, I can describe why I've choose these and, what I am trying to achieve with the complete rig.

After a bunch of years chasing my tone, I think I've reached the end of the search, with a very satisfactory gear. Unfortunately, there is only one true in Audio: you got what you paid. Audio is expensive as hell but, most of time I regret of spending lot of little money in cheap pedals that never satisfied me. But, even going for the expensive stuff, it's really difficult to get what you really need and, what you need depends only on your own.

The gear I'm introducing here was selected to suit my personal needs. If you have similar needs, this can be a good opportunity to plan your next acquisitions. If you don't have similar needs, to know how each pedal sounds can help you to definitively discard them.

The amp is a Fender '59 Bassman LTD. I've substituted the stock GT tubes with a set of tubes from Watford Valves, which I find that sound better.

Current production Jensen' speakers lack the magic that original ones had. I am always finding that new Jensen sound really nice alone but, they are lost in the mix, as soon as you play in a band context or with backing tracks.

I wanted to swap the four P10R speakers with four Celestion Gold but, unfortunately, the amp's chassis perfectly fits the carved rectangular shape of the Jensen's cone and, therefore, the round cone of the Celestions doesn't work there. So, I finally ended with a couple of Celestion Gold at the bottom of the cab and, a pair of P10R above.

After trying several amps, of any kind, what I've decided is to go for an amp with exceptional cleans that can take any pedal with ease and that don't mask my guitar's foundational tone.
The Bassman has some magic in its simplicity. Remember that the first Marshall (JMP 45) was based in a Bassman and, that both are mythical because of their tone.

The Bassman gives me one of the best Fender's clean tones and, it's so kind that takes any pedal with ease. This makes it a good platform to build any wanted sound with the help of some pedals.

But, it's an amp that needs some time to get what you wanted.
The normal channel is somewhat fat and a bit blurred, while the Bright channel is excesivelly bright.
I'm using it with both channels linked and, with the volume of bright channel more or less at 3, and the normal channel more or less at 1.

After tweaking a lot its controls, I find that the control that better definition gives to the sound is the Presence control so, I am setting it barelly to max.
For a balanced tone, tone controls (middle, treble and bass) work better for me around 7.
It took me a long while until I went to this recipe!.
Each amp has its sweet spots and, I find the Bassman is perfect with these settings.

I've already introduced my new number 1 in previous entries.
My preferred guitar, now, it's my make-to-order custom Southern Belle Guitars Strato.
I've ordered the guitar to satisfy my requirements. I wanted the sound of a pure Strato but, with all the little details that can improve the original model and, it worthed the money!.

If you want to know more about it, just read the previous entry in this blog.

Cables and Patch Cords
I've already discussed about this in previous entries but, not a bad idea to remember it.
I'm using Eminence Audio' stuff, only.
Sound quality is top notch and, they have a for-life-warranty. That means that if your cable breaks, they send to you a brand new cable. So you expend the money just once. And, it works like this (it happened to me)!!!.

For guitar-to-pedalboard or pedalboard-to-amp, I'm using their The Forte MKII.
For Patch cords, I'm using their Monorail, with SIS plugs (very easy to make your own cords!).

The pedalboard has evolved year by year. I think what I've got right now is the best combination I've ever had and, perfectly combines with my preferred guitar and amp.

Tuner - Peterson Classic Stomp
Not too much to say about the tuner. It's just the most accurated and, it has the possibility to use it as a DI box for Studio Recording.

Wah - Roger Mayer Vision Wah
Not my preferred Wah. I find its rocker's range as a bit short to my taste.
Soundwise, it's a great sounding wah and, highly tweakable.

You can select between 16 different wah voices, you can fine-tune the Q-Filter for each one and, you even have a booster or gain control.

But, what I really like about this wah is that is really quiet, compared to most of Wahs, which tend to introduce floor noise and which tend to introduce unwanted feedback. The RM's is one of the quietests of the market.

Vibe - Dry Bell Machine
My preferred all-the-times Vibe.
It has every original feature and, the original sound and, it goes beyond the original.
It's one of the best vibe sounds of the market and, it offers something that no others offer: a very friendly pedalboard size (except the Lovepedal Pickle Vibe, which doesn't sound as good).
It's easy to control, nice sounding and small enough.
This is a keeper for life.

Buffer / Enhancer - Klon KTR
Well, you know. There is so much hype with the Klon Centaur that, I had to check a Klon pedal.
Honestly, the prices of Centaurs are ridiculous high and, I cannot pay such a money for a single pedal.

But, Ok, I went to the web of his creator and, read about the KTR. According to his creator, he spent lot of years trying massive production components to achieve the same sound with the KTR as the original Centaur units.

Well, I cannot talk about this, because I hadn't the oportunity to check the three pedals in a row so, I can only opine about what the KTR does and, how it fits my needs.

I don't like the KTR used as an Overdrive. Reason is that it introduces a very fat distortion grain, somewhat confussing and compressed, at least with middle amp's volume. Maybe it can make wonderful things with the amp really kranked but, I don't like that way.
In the other side, with the gain at 0, it's an awesome buffer and, helps you to round the sound, making it nicer but, without affecting your instrument's foundational tone.

It remembers me the combination of a Xotic EP Booster and a buffer or, the Wampler's Decibel+.
But, differently to both, the KTR has a tone control that helps to remove excesive highs and, to better round the final result. Used this way, I complete love this pedal and, it's on all the way, being part of my clean foundational tone.

The KTR has a switchable output buffer, which honestly works better switched on. This helps to feed the rest of the chain.

Compressor - Bogner Harlow
This pedal will be loaded out of my pedalboard. It's a mix of overdrive and compressor but, the bad side of all this is that you cannot control each effect separately, which is a mess.

As you add compression with the Bloom control, you are also adding what they called 'grit' but, if you go beyond 12 o'clock in the bloom control, the pedal introduces a very dirty, fat grain distortion that I don't like. Maybe, as in the case of the KTR, this could sound awesome in a really kranked amp but, it doesn't work fine in my case.

I'm planning to load in back the Wampler's EGO, which is an awesome compressor.

Overdrive 1 - Lovepedal Kalamazoo
I wanted to thank you to Rafa, by Auvisa, to introduce me to this pedal.
It's an awesome overdrive, super-versatile.

I think this pedal is on the line of the kind of pedals introduced by Mad Professor, with his Sweet Honey Overdrive. So, this is a warm pedal, with a very bluesy core.
Appart of Gain and Volume, if you play with Tone and Glass controls, you can achieve a wide range of overdrive tones.

It can go really dark and compressed, remembering me most of the Dumble-alike pedals (as the Hermida Audio Zendrive or Weehbo Dumbledore) or, it can go very clean Tweed, as most of Bassman-alike pedals (Wamplers '59 Tweed, etc).
Some people says that it can nails the better tones of a Centaur.
I don't think so, honestly, because what I like from the KTR is the clean tone and, what I love from the Kalamazoo is just the dirty tone.

The pedal alone is gorgeous sounding but, stacked into the Bogner Wessex is pure Hard Rock Heaven.

Overdrive 2 - Bogner Wessex
If the Kalamazoo is needed for bluesy old-school tones, the Wessex is needed for old-school crunchy tones. It's a very marshallish pedal, very crunchy.

The Kalamazoo into the Wessex produces an incredible nice old-school Hard Rock tone that I love.
The Wessex into the Bogner Burnley creates a Marshallish wall of sound, real hi gain tone.

Alone, has its own use but, I love it combined more combined with other pedals.

Hi Gain - Bogner Burnley
It's similar to the Shur Riot in any single sense, even the color but, the Burnley has a more refinated sound to my taste, with a very musical feedback, specially when pushed by some other pedal behind it.

As I've explained in other entries, Bogner's pedals have an OT designed by Neve, which make a great difference in sound and feel. They realy feel like an amp, in the way that the sound manifestates itself.

I've tested really good pedals, as the Wampler's, Mesa Boogie's or the Weehbo's and, all them were sounding awesome, until I've heard and played the Bogner's. End of story.

Volume Pedal - Boss
Well, to be honest, I even don't remember the exact model. It's just a passive volume control pedal.
I'm using it after the gain section to control the overall loudness, once the original sound was already processed by the gain pedals.

I want it to match the loudness to the backing tracks o to the particular sound I'm working at a time.
Of course, it can be used for sweelings but, not my case.

Chorus - Strymon Ola
I really need a Chorus in very few songs. The Strymon has a studio quality in all their pedals and, this one isn't different. I'm using a fixed chorus mode, very wide and clean sounding. Nothing special, but really nice.

Reverb - Strymon Bluesky
There are a couple of my amps that doesn't have a built reverb effect and, unfortunatelly, the Bassman is one of them.
I'm running the typical Springs Reverb mode in the Bluesky and, it helps me (together with the delay) to put my guitar in the right depth of the mix.

Delay - Strymon El Capistan
A great sounding Tape Echo pedal. I'm using just a fixed setting and, together with the Strymon Bluesky, its used to put my sound in the right depth of the mix.
The Bluesky, the El Capistan and the KTR are part of my foundational clean sound.
I'm sculpting the rest of sounds over those three pedals, which are active all the time.

This video has two parts.
The first part, I'm talking about my rig and sharing with you same comments you can read above so, you can skip that part, in any case.
Second part, I'm demoing the sounds of the rig, in clean and then, by adding some other pedals. Probably, the most interesting part for you, if you've read what I write above.