21 September 2014

Pedals: ISP Technologies G-String Decimator


Note: this entry was already published in my old Spanish version of this blog, around January 2012. I'm translating it here.

During the tests I did with my pedalboard based in Mad Professor's range of pedals, the level of the floor noise raised really high.
I've checked first the ISP Decimator pedal, trying to get rid of the noise but, such a pedal, completely removed the noise but with the drawback of destroy the tail of my sounds (decay).

Every noise gate directly affects sound's dynamics. As a compressor works over volume peaks, noise gates work as a downstream compressor, pushing to zero the signals below threshold's value.

Most noise gates are real tone-suckers, not just affecting artificially to the decay of the notes but, even modifying the character or the sound, making it sharper, hollow or altering its frequential content.

ISP Technologies' noise gates are well known as, probably, the most transparent and natural noise gates available.

The Decimator works just over a single spot in your chain of effects and, it seems to be enough if you have very few gain pedals.
But, the G-String seems to work way better in longer chains, where the Decimator isn't able to do the same work.

After discovering myself that the Decimator version isn't enough for my needs and, after reading some good reviews about the G-String. I decided to go ahead with the G-String.
I've tested it and, this is all about this blog's entry: my impressions with the G-String.


This pedal comes perfectly packed and with an user's manual short but good enough.
It looks as sturdy as his "little brother", the Decimator.
When you look at pictures, its size could seem similar to a Boss pedal but, is bigger in every dimension.
The swap of the battery is so comfortable as in Boss pedals. Practical. There is no need for a screwdriver.
It seems to have an iron core inside, because it weights considerably, like the Decimator.

Externally, it looks like the same as the Decimator. Differences can be found in the jacks. This pedal has 4 jacks, 3 on its right side (Guitar In, Guitar Out, Dec IN) and 1 on its left side (Dec Out).

As in the case of the Decimator, there is just a single control (Threshold). There are no other controls to fine tune the attack, door delay, compression level, etc.

Using it

While the Decimator seemed to work better at the end of the gain pedals, the G-String is the first and last pedal in the "protected" chain of pedals.

The idea is more or less like follows: the guitar will be connected to Guit In; the Guit Out goes to the first pedal to be "protected" and then, from the last pedal in the protected chain we go to the Dec In input. From Dec Out we go to the amp or to the first pedal unprotected before the amp's input.

So, I've put inside the protected chain from the Wah to the Fuzz and, out of protection, reverberation and delay.

Alternatively, you can link the output of the Fx loop to Dec In and, the input of the Fx loop to Dec Out.

G-String seems to analyze the original signal (the one coming by Guit In) and, it proportionally adjusts the noise level inside the protection loop (Dec In to Dec Out).

User's manual points you to select the threshold level with the guitar plugged and no other effect pedal active, just to remove the floor noise coming from your pickups and the cable between your guitar and the G-String.

My tests say that this works really nice in clean but, that you have to fine tune the threshold once your noisy gain pedals are being switched on.
What I did instead was to switch on the noisiest of my pedals, leaving the strings open and untouched and, gently working on the threshold until the floor noise disappeared.

Results were... IMPRESSIVE !!!

Same operation with the Decimator doesn't works. If I set the threshold level to get rid of the floor noise that the fuzz introduces and, I switch on one more gain pedal before, the noise level raises and the gate opens, creating some intermittencies.

With the G-String, just to test it in depth, I was able to switch off EVERY gain pedal simultaneously and, after mutting the strings, the sound and noise completely quieted.

In the negative side is the decay of the sound. While with chords everything seems to work fine, I had some issues with some sustained bendings and, while doing a vibrato while bending.
In those cases, sometimes the gate is being triggered and the tail of the sound suddenly deads.
Paradoxically, maintaining same threshold in clean, it doesn't seem to affect the continuity and natural character of the sound. The Decimator, with same Threshold affected really hard the dynamics of the clean sound.


I don't know of a better noise gate, in a pedal format. I don't mean that there is no better, just that I don't know any better one.

Before going for the G-String, I was visiting lots of forums where there were discussing about the few noise gates available and, it seemed that the MXR Noise Clamp didn't worked so good and, that the Boss NS2 was a tone-sucker.

If you are doubting between the Decimator or the G-String, I will tell you: G-String!, no doubt!.
This one REALLY works.

Demo video

An image worths more than thousand words and, in our case, a sound more than thousand words.
In the following video I am doing a comparison of the two pedals by ISP, the Decimator and the G-String Decimator.
I think the video is very helpful and will clearly see the different behaviour of both pedals.
Don't miss it!.

17 September 2014

Pedals: ProCo RAT Whiteface reissue


Note: this entry was already published in my old Spanish version of this blog, around March, 2012. I'm just reproducing it here because it can be of interest to someone.

I am quite sure that any guitarist that is searching his/her distortion pedal, probably checked at least one of the pedals belonging to the RAT family (ProCo is the builder).

Even that this is one of the very old designs, the RAT family grows from time to time with the addition of a new member. Currently, there are several ProCo pedals, all based in the original RAT but, incorporating some modifications to cover the needs of RAT users.

You should probably know already that the RAT pedal's design was based in the MXR Distortion+ but, the original design was modified to increase the gain, among some other sonic differences.

Some time ago, I've purchased a Chinese RAT 2, which has a bit more gain than the traditional RAT. And, it seems to be one of the classic distortion tones that I like more.

I wanted to check the differences between the cheap version (RAT 2) and the expensive RAT Whiteface reissue, since it seems that the last one was built with a selection of components closer to the original unit. Specially, the IC is the same as the original one.


This pedal was built in a very sturdy box.
Pots have a nice touch, not loose, not tight.
As in the case of the original, there is no LED that can inform you if the unit is switched on.
This is a true-bypass unit so, it doesn't affects the tone of your rig when switched off.

At the bottom of the pedal, there is a metallic door for the battery, with a big screw (that can be handled with the hand with ease). The issue I see is that such a screw is so big that it a mess to insert the pedal in my pedalboard.

Externally, the pedal looks like the RAT 2, with very few differences (pots, battery door' screw and the logo). The most important differences are inside, in the circuit.

An advertising shirt comes as a gift with this pedal.

Testing the pedal

I can just establish direct comparison with the RAT 2, since I've got no other ProCo RAT deriveds.

Respect to the RAT 2, the Whiteface has clearly less gain (a booster or a transparent overdrive before can be a good thing). The sound is similar but, the WF sounds a tad more refined, less processed than the RAT 2. The RAT 2 sounds a tad more raspy and wild.

So, there is not that big difference between the expensive and the cheap but, I prefer the sound of the WF.

While the RAT 2 has a lot of drive with volume and gain knobs really low, in the WF you need to increase more the volume to be able to make the distortion and filter knobs to deliver a similar response as in the Rat 2.

But, once you get the sweet spot of the three knobs (Volume, Distortion and Filter), to hear the neck pickup around the 12th fret is fantastic, generating a nice vocalish, guttural sound.

A light touch of a booster or clean overdrive before this pedal can help to get the best from the WF.
I am using the Xotic EP Booster before, just to meat the body of the Strato, before it reaches the WF.
I was setting the booster level while the WF was switched on, to get the best interaction between both pedals.

This pedal seems to work better with humbuckers than with single coils so, the extra gain that the booster gives to the single coils definitively help to get better results from the WF.

Additionally to this slight increase of transparent gain (that couldn't be necessary with pickups with a hotter output), the tone and grain of the distortion can be modified stacking some coloring overdrive before (OCD, TS808, etc.). In this way, you can achieve a more dense and sustained sound, with a color slightly different.

Wah, Phaser and Compressor work really fine before this pedal.
A excessive reverb or delay effect after, could "wash" the sound too much, pushing the sound back in the mix space and, stolling part of its energetic sound.

16 September 2014

Wiring DIY: Hermetico's HH X61 SD mod


Guitar Modded

LP-body with two Humbuckers but, only two controls: master volume and master tone.


  • HH layout, 4 conductors pickups
  • Two Triple Shot rings (Seymour Duncan)
  • 1 Swiftcraft 3-way switch (pickups selector)
  • 1 Master Volume and 1 Master Tone, both with pull/push
  • 1 4PDT on/on switch (blower-switch)

Difficulty Level



  • With all switches off, it provides standard HH tones but, with a single master volume and a single master tone.
  • Volume pot's pull/push switch is being used to put the Neck pickup Out-of-Phase (when the bridge pickup is also selected) and, reverses the split coil (if split).
  • Tone pot's pull/push switch is being used to put both pickups in series (independently of if they are split or with coils in parallel). It overwrites every position of the 3-way (so, you get the same combo in Treble / Middle / Rythm).
  • Triple shots are able to deliver following combinations for each pickup: split north, split south, coils in series and coils parallel, depending on the position of the two micro-switches on the ring.
  • Finally, the 4PDT on/on switch wants to be a "blower" switch (name often used for a feature that allows you to directly with your bridge humbucker, usually bypassing all switching system and controls). In this case, the user wanted to go for bridge full-humbucker but, thru master volume and tone, overwriting the rest of switches in this design.

Wiring Diagram

Click on the picture for full size.


Notes: white wires are being represented in light-blue and, bare wires in grey. Pickup's wire colors follow Seymour Duncan' schema.

The requester for this design was a Seymour Duncan's forum mate, who already had a working solution based in a couple of triple-shots and a serializer and phaser switches.
He wanted to introduce a blower switch, in a way that he could bypass both triple shot rings' switching, both pull/pushes and, the 3-way. He wanted to run the bridge pickup in full humbucker mode but, thru volume and tone controls (not a direct-out, as often is being requested).

There was a discussion saying that this blower switch couldn't be done with just a 4PDT on/on switch and that, a 6-poles switch would be necessary.

I had the impression that it could be done with just a 4PDT on/on switch and, wanted to go into design, achieving a working solution.

The big issue on this design is the Triple Shot system, since it's some kind of black-box, where the switching occurs in background. The inputs for the Triple Shot are the 4 conductor wires of its respective pickup. The outputs of the Triple Shot are a couple of wires (positive-white and, negative-black).

Internally, this is what happens:
  • Coils in series (standard humbucker): green to negative (black), red and white linked together, black to positive (white).
  • Coils in parallel: green and white to negative (black), red and black to positive (white).
  • Split to South: green, white and red to negative (black), black to positive (white).
  • Split to North: green to negative (black), white, red and black to positive (white).
Depending on what do you want to do after coils arrangement selected by the Triple Shot, you should ground the negative wire (black) or not.

In the case of neck pickup, we want to do an out-of-phase if the volume pull/push is up so, we cannot ground the negative before this happens. But, since the negative of the neck pickup could be put in series with the positive of the bridge pickup, when the tone pull/push is up, we cannot ground neck's negative until the serializer switch.
That's why in that phaser switch (tone pull/push), we are just deciding with of the two wires (negative-black, positive-white) will definitively be assigned to pickup's positive-orange, negative-dark green.

In the serializer switch, neck's negative (dark green) goes to ground (if the switch is off) or it's being linked to bridge's positive (white).

The tricky part is all related to the bridge pickup. If that blower switch wasn't there, we would just solder bridge's wires to their respective lug of the Triple Shot and, from there, we would run the positive (white) and negative (black) wires to the serializer, before to decide what goes to the 3-way switch, for pickups selection.

But the blower concept obliges us to route pickup's conductor wires first to the blower switch and, only if the blower is off, from that switch to its Triple Shot ring and rest of switching system.

Another issue introduced with this particular blower concept is that we need to choose between two different sources (whole switching system or just the bridge pickup) as input for the volume and tone controls so, at least, we need one pole to choose what to run to volume's input.

In principle, to completely bypass the bridge's triple shot, we would need 4 poles, one for each pickup's wire. This and and additional pole we need for volume's input makes 5 poles and therefore, this is where the discussion about doing it with a 6 poles switch comes from.

But, If we think on it twice, bridge's green wire will be always ground, directly when the blower is on but, thru the negative of the triple shot when the blower is off, also.
Read above the description of what happens inside the Triple Shot and, you will realize that the green input is always linked to the negative (black) output.

Therefore, I can solder the pickup's green directly to the Triple Shot and, since the rest of wires will never go to their inputs if the blower is on, I'm sure the only thing that will happens inside the triple shot is that the green wire will be always linked to the negative wire, which I have to always ground, in any case. That frees one of the poles and, allows me to play with a 4PDT on/on switch, instead of going for a 5PDT or a 6PDT (usually, rotaries).

Now, let's focus in the blower switch.
Red, white and black wires from bridge pickup go to their own poles (common lug, center lug on each column). When the switch is off (upper lugs, on diagram), each wire is effectively linked to their respective inputs on the Triple Shot, allowing the whole switching system.
But, when the switch is on (lower lugs on diagram), we avoid to send those wires to the triple shot and, we jumper white and red together (to put coils in series) and, we link pickup's output (black) to the input of the volume-tone-jack network.

Last pole is volume-tone-jacks input (in pink). We will choose between the output from the 3-way (upper lug, when switch is off) and the output from bridge pickup alone (lower lug, when switch is on).

Some additional comments.
Since the blower is being implemented with a 4PDT on/on switch, this solution is easily portable to a Fender HH Stratocaster and, we can use Fender's S-1 volume/switch for that blower switch, with will leave us a classy design, without altering the look of the axe.

15 September 2014

Pedals: Carl Martin Octaswitch MKII


Note: this is an entry previously posted in my old Spanish version of this blog, around December 2012. Pedals loaded in my pedalboard had changed a lot but, the illustration of some uses of the Carl Martin Octaswitch MKII are still valid.

In a previous entry, I've already described the Carl Martin Octaswitch MKII and its multiple (but limited) possibilities. After several re-configurations of my pedalboard, looking for the best utility, I've reached some compromise solution, which I would like to share with you all.

The Octaswitch allows you to combine up to 8 simultaneous effects in series and, send them up to two amps (two mono outputs) or, an stereo amp and, even to change the channel of up to two amps (or two channels of a single amp), when you select one of the 8 available banks.

The issue is that you have just 8 banks, or combinations. If we think on clean, clean with chorus, clean with vibe, clean with compressor, clean with vibe and compressor, blues, classic distortion, hi gain distortion, fuzz, fuzz with vibe, distortion with compressor, etc., we can see that the number of combinations we can need for a cover band can be a lot more than the 8 available in the Octaswitch.
So, there is no other way than to find a compromise solution that can be of real help.

After a lot of thinking, I've considered that the best approach was to leave inside the Octaswitch the different gain pedals, selecting different gain textures for each bank, from clean to extreme distortion and, keeping out the Octaswitch all those pedals that I consider as sound modifiers: filters, modulations, time effects, compressor, booster, etc.

Therefore, I could define the following banks:

  1. Clean
  2. Blues Overdrive
  3. Clean Overdrive
  4. Classic Distortion
  5. Modern Distortion
  6. Fuzz
  7. Extreme Fuzz
  8. Total Chaos

Assigning different combinations of gain pedals inside the Octaswitch.

Before the Octaswitch I would place the Tuner, the Wah, the Phaser, the Booster and Compressor and, after the Octaswitch, the Modulation and Time effects, by example.

Pedals connexion scheme

Please, click on the picture for a full size image.


All these pedals are True Bypass and, none was identified as a Tone-sucker.

The OCD presents some impendance issues, depending on which pedal goes before or after but, in this particular case creates no conflict with any pedal.

The Wah, even that base in an old design (Picture Wah) is "fuzz-friendly".

Mad Professor Red Fire Fuzz corresponds to a modern design and, therefore, I can freely place it in any position of the chain but, I've found it working better at the end of the chain pedals.

Even that the booster (Xotic EP Booster) and the Compressor (Mad Professor Forest Green Compressor) can be considered as gain pedals, I am leaving those out of the loops because of the considerations I will describe when talking about each pedal in detail.

If we follow the flow from the guitar's input, we can see that the first pedal in the chain is the tuner (TC Electronics Polytune). This pedal is True Bypas and, as soon as you switch it on, it shut ups the whole chain, allowing you to just tune your guitar. Being True Bypass and not a tune-sucker, you could put it at any place in the chain but, it makes more sense to me to leave it at the very beginning, to completely shut up the rig (it works as a master switch).
In any case, the pedals type signal-followers (that requiere a clean signal to work their best), as the tuner, filters or whammy, are best placed at the beginning of the chain.

The output of the tuner goes to the Guitar In input of the noise gate (ISP Decimator G-String).
The noise game gets its input signal as a reference to correct the noise that will come (increased by gain pedals) back thru its Dec In input.

The guitar's input is directly linked to the Guit Out output, which we can see that goes to the input of the first pedal that we want to protect with the noise gate: the Wah.

The output of the Octaswitch (combination of one or more gain pedals, depending on the bank) is linked to the Dec In input of the noise gate, which closes the loop of the set of pedals protected by the noise gate.
The input in Dec In is being analyzed and contrasted against the input Guit In, to remove the noise, taking into account the original signal.
Once the noise was filtered in Dec In, the signal goes out the noise gate thru the output Dec Out, which in this case was connected to the input of the Delay effect (which is out of the protection of the noise gate, to don't cut echoes' tails).

Following the natural signal flow. We go from the tuner to the noise gate and, from the noise gate to the Booster (Xotic EP Booster). Since the booster is a gain pedal, it generates (well, just increases) the floor noise and, therefore, it makes sense that it remains under the protection of the noise gate.
I'm using here the EP booster just to feed the current intensity to make the stratocaster to sound a tad beefer. The boost knob never goes beyond 9:00.

The output of the Booster goes to the input of the Wah (Real McCoy RMC4 Picture Wah).
Theoretically, the Wah should be the first pedal in the chain but, I've already mentioned that this Wah has very few impedance problems so, I prefer to boost a bit the signal with the booster before and, to provide electrons enough to the rest of the chain.
Anyway, the Wah is usually switched off and, I only use it together with gain for certain parts.
It makes no sense to include it in Octaswitch loops since, I want to be free of activate it with any of the different gain textures (clean, overdrive, distortion, fuzz...).

The output of the Wah is connected to the input of the Phaser (Mad Professor Tiny Orange Phaser).
Even that a phaser is a modulation pedal and, its theoretical natural position would be after gain pedals and before delay, I find it sounding better before gain pedals.
Additionally, phaser creates some swatch white noise that can be only be eliminated if it is under the protection of the noise gate.

After the Phaser, we have the compressor (Mad Professor Forest Green Compressor). We are still out of the Octaswitch but, inside the protection of the noise gate.
Compressors have two natural positions, at the beginning of the chain (to compress the natural dnamics and add some sustain); or at the end of the chain, to compress the already processed sound.
I prefer it at the beginning of the chain in a pedalboard and, at the end with studio gear.
Compressor significatively raise the floor noise of the signal and therefore, it makes sense to put them under the protection of the noise gate.
Before filtering pedals (Wah...) and modulations (phaser...), it increases a lot the signal, giving a great strenght to the effect.
Placed after filters and modulations, it helps to better control the dramatic peaks of effects with a great range of frequencies, as the Phaser, Wah or Flanger, delivering a more consistent signal to the pedals after it.

With compressor, I am ending the chain of pedals before the input of the Octaswitch.
The output of the compressor goes to the input of the Octaswitch.

In the loop of the Octaswitch I've place 4 gain pedals, to achieve different gain textures.
In the first loop, I've got a classic bluesy overdrive (Mad Professor Little Green Wonder), similar to a TS808.

In the second loop, a more modern Overdrive, more general (Fulltone OCD V3).
In previous tests, I've realized that the Little Green Wonder likes more to drive other pedals than to be driven by other pedals. If it gets a strong input from other pedal, it saturates too much, compressing the sound.
The OCD handles better this kind of previous saturation.

In the third loop, a classic distortion pedal: the ProCo RAT Whiteface (reissue).

In the fourth loop, a modern fuzz, the Mad Professor Fire Red Fuzz.

Those 4 pedals allow several combinations:




* Fuzz

* LGW -> OCD

* LGW -> RAT

* LGW -> Fuzz

* OCD -> RAT

* OCD -> Fuzz

* LGW -> OCD -> RAT

* LGW -> OCD -> Fuzz

* OCD -> RAT -> Fuzz

* LGW -> OCD -> RAT -> Fuzz

Evidently, there are more available combinations that switches (banks) in the Octaswitch so, there isn't more option than to choose just 8 from those.
But, once the 8 gain textures were selected, we can open the sonic palette by adding any of the other sound modifiers that are out of the Octaswitch:

* Wah

* Phaser

* Compresor

* Wah -> Phaser

* Wah -> Compresor

* Phaser -> Compresor

* Wah -> Phaser -> Compresor

Sure, this obliges you to some feet dance (if you need more than one modifier at once) but, since those are often used for certain "accents" or "details", they effectively multiply the possibilities of the 8 gain textures already chosen.

Remember that the Octaswitch has one more additional switch called Bypass that, will link its input with its output, bypassing all the loops and, therefore, you can consider that Bypass as your "clean channel", having 8 gain textures additionally to your clean channel.

From the Octaswitch, we exit by one of the two mono exits to the input Dec In of the G-String, therefore closing the loop of pedals under the protection of the noise gate. Therefore, we will have protected (when active) the following pedals: booster, wah, phaser, compressor, overdrives, distortions and fuzz.

Finally, from the G-String we go to the input of the delay (Mad Professor Deep Blue Delay) and, we reach the amp thru the exit of such a delay.
The delay stays out of the protection of the noise gate, to avoid to cut the echoes' tails.

Thanks to the excellent behaviour of the G-String, this is enough to set the Threshold while in clean (no active pedal), up to your floor noise disappears. It doesn't matter which pedal will be active after this setting, the G-string will magically get rid off any noise.

Of course, there are infinite ways to use the Octaswitch but, you will always have to decide about just 8 possibilities. In my case, this solution is "the best" for my needs but, your imagination and needs can lead you to a very different set of solutions (that you could share!).

Where am I?

Where am I?

Long time I am not posting in my blog. It could seem I am not interested in guitarist stuff anymore but, nothing farest of real thing.

I had some personal troubling waters, specially related to my job. I'm just one more of the employees, resulting of this deep crisis. So, excuse me if I am kissing the sky.
Holidays took their time, also.

But, parallely to that bad stuff, I had great things in my guitarist's life.

I'm actively collaborating with David Allen. He was so kind to send me several sets of his pickups to test and, I have to admit that those are the best pickups I've ever tested and, I would recommend it to every tone-lover, with the eyes closed.
I'm doing wiring designs for his own customers and, this is something I love to do.

I've put in contact a Spanish store (Auvisa) with DA, to create the first store in Europe that is allowd to sell David Allen' stuff (pickups and pedals). Don't miss Auvisa offer. Get your DA pickups there, if you are in Europe!!!.
I'm doing this for love to DA' stuff. I'm not receiving a single cent. But, I love to push what really surprises me.

Thru David Allen, I knew about Southern Bell Guitars and, I had to order my dreamed customized guitar, which I hope will become my number one. But, this will come in around 3 months so, I have to wait for a while.

I'm also in the project of doing some demo videos about David Allen pickups, at Auvisa. Something that should happen very soon.

In the meanwhile, I bought a Fender Bassman LTD (for which I will open a new post) and, I am still dealing with it. I would probably swap the Jensen P10R speakers. I'm sorry but, new Jensen's never cut the mix. They sound awesome alone but, they simply don't cut the mix. I've got 4 Celestion Gold ready to mount in that Bassman.
I've already bought a re-tubing set from Watford Valves, with NOS JAN/Philips 6L6WGB tubes and, tested several alternatives for V1 (12AX7, 5751 and 12AY7).
So, I've got a lot to talk about this amp, also but, I still need some time to get the whole picture.

Finally, I've got two new pedals from Strymon, the BlueSky (Reverb) and the Ola (chorus and vibrato). I've found the Möbius too complex and, I prefer the more user-friendly formats of the El Capistan, BlueSky and Ola, instead.
Something that will need one or two more entries in my blog.

Well, that's a short note to let you know that I'm still active and testing stuff and, that I will post something else when I am more familiar with all these new stuff so, keep in tune!.
Rock in!.

Pedals: Mesa Boogie drive pedals


I've ended with the four pedals that Mesa Boogie is offering, without taking into account the EQ pedal and, drive pedals with EQ versions.

I've already said that I was highly surprised with the quality and tone of those pedals, while accidentally testing them in a shop.

Currently, those are my gain pedals, for every style and, I would like to share my impressions about each one.

Let's go...

Mesa Boogie Gain Pedals

Here you are an overall picture of my current pedalboard (could change tomorrow, you know!).
Just click on images for full size.

And, a detailed view of the four Mesa Boogie's.

I'm running this pedalboard plugged to a Fender Bassman LTD, because I prefer a great clean channel than a complex front-ended amp, with several channels.

As you can see, the entry point is the tuner, which is true bypass.
Second pedal is the Wampler Decibel+ buffer/booster and, it's there just because I've got a very fluctuant mains power and, I need that booster to correct the current intensity, depending on the day.
It never goes beyond 8:00 o'clock. The buffer helps me to drive the rest of pedals, because signal drops with a large pedalboard.

After the Decibel+, the Wah (maybe I should put the Decibel+ after it) and, following the wah, the compressor and the vibe. This is just what is before the four MB's.
After MB's, a Modulation pedal (mainly used for Chorus) and a Delay pedal.

Tone Burster

Probably the pedal you will never choose, since it seems to do nothing, right?.
Well, I see the Tone Burster as some kind of good Xotic EP Booster, with complete control over Treble and Bass frequencies.
When I tweak my pedalboard, I first directly plug the guitar to the amp, tweak the EQ and hear.
Then, I plug the guitar to the pedalboard, adjust output level with the Decibel+ (same as directly plugged) and then, I switch on the Tone Burst to help to get the same tone I had directly plugged.
Sometimes, it means to add or remove some highs or lows.

I set up the gain just to produce a nice beam of electrons, without affecting the tone.
But, you could use this pedal to really push your pre-amp, as any good clean overdrive could do.
It's up to you.
My take is just to use it to restore what it was lost or altered from the input of my guitar to the input of the gain pedals.

This pedal could bring you a good amount of gain and, even hot your pre-amp without issues.
But, since the rest of MB's are in the chain, I prefer discrete settings for it.

Grid Slammer

Well, this seems to be MB's own take of a Tube Screamer but, somewhat more open and detailed.
To get TS tones, you would need to roll off the Tone knob.
I am using it for Smoking cleans and also as a must-have pedal to drive the Flux Drive, which complements really nicely.
Together with the Flux Drive, it delivers great Marshalish tones, very old school tones for great classy Hard Rock stuff.
Alone, it gives you that presence and light break of the TS and, drives your pre-amp section as good.

This is probably the only pedal I could substitute with any other good light overdrive, like Wampler Euphoria, TS, David Allen Bazooka, Timmy, Jetter Jetdrive, etc.
When pushed hard and used together with the Flux Drive, the feedback in your amp is high.
I also find it as cutting the sustain, if the gain control isn't rolled in enough.

Flux Drive

It seems to be a Marshallish tone but, a tad dark and, mimes MB's Mark IV amps.
Alone, has its use and, I use it for certain driven sounds (as some dirty blues) but, I love it specially when is being pushed by the Grid Slammer (or any TS alike pedal).
A TS pedal before fills the slightly recessed mids of this pedal, helping it to better cut the mix.
Grid Slammer and Flux Drive together, at reasonable gain, instantaneously give you Deep Purple's sound, by example (among many other classic Hard Rock tones).
In any case, their active tones will allow you to better shape the frequential content of this pedal.
A very good classic gain pedal.

Throttle Box

Ha ha ha. Here is where MB's hi gain tones live.
The Mids Cut control allows you to shape the overall frequential content of this pedal and, it's naturally dark, dense and sustained.
I prefer it more open and then, the Mid's cut is barely totally rolled off and, the tone knob is around 2:00h, for a better cut.
It provides infinite sustain and all that wall of sound that you needed for liquid hi gain solos.
This pedal is made with two PCBs (I've never seen a more complexer gain pedal before!) so, you can imagine the amount of Electronics Engineering behing it.
Absolutely, a keeper. My hi gain tones are coming from this pedal.
If you overdo it, the sound can be too much compressed but, the good thing is that this pedal covers anything you need in hi gain drive. I prefer it to Weehbo Bastard, to Wampler Triple Wreck, to Bogners, etc.
I love it.

Final comments

Gain pedals are, probably, the most swapped pedals on a pedalboard and, I am not an exception.
I've went along with all the classic (TS, DS-1, SD-1, RAT, Distortion+) and most of boutique (Wampler, Xotic, Mad Professor, Fulltone, Bogner, Jetter, MI Audio, ...).
Nowadays, MB's are my preferred ones. Maybe, I like Jetter's for classier tones with kranked amps but, MB's allow me to get nice tones at lower levels.
If you are in the market for a good set of gain pedals, don't forget to try those in your store.

Maybe, I will have some time to demo this pedals, some day...
Rock in!.

Accessories: Evidence Audio Monorail + SIS plugs system


As it happens when you try to download a file from Internet, where the weakest (the narrower band width) node in the net sets your maximum speed, the worst gear in your rig sets your sound quality.

I've already did some fair guitar cable comparison long time ago and, there were two cables that were identified on the top of the pyramid: Evidence Audio The Lyric II and Vovox Sonorus.

Some time ago, I've also tried EA Monorail cable but, with George L's jacks, since EA stated that they were compatible. My experience said the opposite. Monorail doesn't easily fits George L's jacks and, combining both is a waste of time.

But, here we are the SIS plug system, which is somewhat similar to George L's system but, easier, faster and tighter.

Monorail and SIS plug system

The Monorail cable is really thin and, very interesting for pedalboard patchcords (as George L's are, indeed). Monorail has the quality sound of EA' stuff: not coloring the signal, good punch and strength, good noise rejection, no microphonics issues...

The SIS plugs are even easier to handle than George L's ones and, while I had to redo several times George L's, because they internally disconnected while playing, after several months of use, I had not a single issue with SIS plugs. Once plugged, they seem to create a tight link.

The small size of SIS plugs' head allows you to create really short patch cords.

As in the case of George L's, the issue isn't the cable (reasonably affordable) but, the price of jacks. But, as in the case of George L's jacks, SIS jacks will last the rest of your life so, it's just an investment that could be re-used as many times as needed.

During my cable tests, George L's cables where coloring the signal in middle-low frequencies and delivering great punch. Monorail seems to deliver an even EQ signal, in the line of EA products.

Look at these pics:

As you can see, the Monorail is so thin and the heads of the SIS plugs so small that, allow you to stack pedals really close in your pedalboard and, to minimize the length of  your patch cords and, collaterally, the length of the virtual cable that goes from your guitar to your amp, thru the pedalboard.

To mount a patch is a childs game, as soon as you have some wire cutter tool.

If you still doesn't have a solution for your patchcords in the order of George L's or SIS, I highly recommended you Evidence Audio Monorail with SIS plugs. If you had issues with George L's disconnecting from time to time (I had it!!!), maybe is time for you to try EA SIS system with Monorail.

I love the results, after several months. Not a single issue.