30 May 2013

Pedal Effects: Buffer me, darling

This is a very short reflexion about how few do we now about our gear.

A friend of mine and me are preparing an occasional gig we have in few days.
He went home for a couple of days to work on the several songs for this gig and, used my gear.

He'd bring with him his loved Gibson Les Paul Standard, which I was really expectant to hear in one of my amps. Because of that darker tone of an LP, I've recommended him to plug it to my Night Train amp, while I was plugging my Stratocaster in my Princeton Reverb.

I've asked him, if he was clear about which effect pedals to use and, he answered me back that he had no idea on what to do and that he preferred to work with the guitar plugged straight to amp.
I said: "ok, let's start working on these songs. Let me hear your guitar and, we will decide later".

The only things he'd bring with him were the guitar and a guitar cord. Ok.
As soon as we started to work on songs, I've realized how bad his guitar was sounding. I was thinking: "this doesn't sounds as an LP should, this sounds muddy, dark and distant. We have to give some life to that axe".

I said: "ok, ok, let's stop and fix that axe, please. I cannot stand it anymore. Let me see what do we have here... don't tell me you are using one of that Planet Wave cables!".
I've explained to him the importance of using a low capacitance cable to avoid loosing high end (as happened) and, I wanted to demonstrate him that, even with a high capacitance cable, every guitarist has a nice tool to bring back the whole guitar' sound to life: a buffer pedal.

I went with him to my pedals stock (those that I've used some day but still didn't resold) and choosen a few pedals for him. I've choose the Mad Professor Red Ruby Booster to bring back to life that LP.
The Red Ruby Booster is an awesome buffer and booster pedal that incorporates also a Treble booster. A high quality tool that will bring back to life any guitar.

We tried it and a wide smile was drawn in his face. "Now, this actually sounds killer".
I said: "wait, we aren't still done. Don't you feel your sound is very 'in-your-face'?. We need to push back a bit the sound of your guitar in the mix. Let me add this delay pedal".
And I've added the Mad Professor Deep Blue Delay at the end.
His smile was still wider: "Man, that sounds as Heaven now".

I said: "Ok. We are done with your cleans. Let see what we can do for your crunch and distortion".
I've choosen the Mad Professor Little Green Wonder, an awesome overdrive, based on the Tube Screamer thing but, with enhanced tonal control. "This will bring you a nice crunch for blues and will help to make your guitar to cut the mix when necessary".
His smile was touching both ears, now.

Finally, "let's choose something for your soloing stuff. Here you are Wampler's Pinnacle. Try it alone and, then stack that Little Green Wonder before and... enjoy it!".
Man, that axe was sounding really killer. It remembered me to Slash or Bonamassa. What an incredible sound. I was thinking: "I will end buying some real Gibson Les Paul, some day. That sounds incredible good!".

The paradoxical thing is that this guy is a killer player. In fact, he teaches other guitarists about music, scales, techniques and so on. It was so strange to me to see how much he know about the instrument and how few about the rest of the tools that a guitarist have that we agreed: "ok, you teach me in musical stuff, I will teach you in sound stuff, ok?".

In previous entries, I've already discussed about the importance of cables and that they really make a difference but, even with bad or good cables, sometimes, the only way to restore the full signal strength and frequential content of your guitar is to use a quality Buffer pedal. That was the clearer example I've ever seen with my own gear.

I highly recommend Wampler Decibel+ and Mad Professor Red Ruby Booster as two of the best buffer/boosters on the market. Mad Professor's one is even more versatile, since it includes a Treble Booster, a Booster and a Buffer, while the Decibel+ has a Buffer and a Booster.
Carl Martin's one has also nice comments but, honestly, I didn't tried one so, I cannot opine.

Please, don't leave your axe to sound weak, muddy, dark, distant and poor. Make yourself with a quality Buffer pedal and leave her to shine.

Note: a low quality buffer can be worst than leave the cable alone!.
If you still don't understand why, I recommend you to read my article The Cost of the Cup of Tone.

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