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.

17 March 2015

My custom Southern Belle Guitars' Strato is here!


One day many months ago, I was viewing some demo video about a new set of pickups that David Allen was releasing. Such pickups were mounted in a guitar that sounded really killer. It was a Southern Belle Guitars' Cabronita (Tele).

Just discussing about it with David, He said me that those guitars were fantastic and, that He wanted to buy a couple for his store and, asked me I was interested on having a guitar from them. Well, some days after, He introduced me to Morgan Mitcham, who runs Southern Belle Guitars. I justed wanted to know if She could make some kind of hot rodded Strato to my specifications and, since She had no issues, we had an agreement.

If it's difficult to see a woman playing electric guitars, it's even more difficult to know a woman that works building guitars !!!. That made the decision even more interesting to me.

4 or 5 months since I've ordered Her, 1 more month in Customs clearing and, half month for the final setup. Was a looooong waiting time and, when her finally came home I had a mix of feelings: exciting because her was here and, worried... would her sound that good?, worthed her the time and money?. I made some risky decision, would her be comfortable?.

My specifications

I wanted the following:

  • Mapple neck and fretboard
  • Compound radius (9.5" - 14")
  • Soft-V neck profile
  • Strato body with a beveled neck pocket, for easier access to lower frets
  • Cherry Burst color
  • Perloid pickguard
  • Black knobs and pickup covers
  • Staggered locking tuning keys, Schaller, preferently (as the Fender Deluxe Strato)
  • Fender Deluxe floating bridge or alike (Ultra Strat bridge).
  • My own wiring design, with an S-1 switch/pot
  • Bone nut
  • Absolutely not micro-tilt system
  • Preserve the purest strato sound, choosing the woods
Morgan guided me about the finishing (satinated nitro) and, presented several options, during our agreements.

What I wanted is to preserve the good things of a Fender Deluxe Strato and, to fix the things that I don't like so much.
By example, the soft-V neck provides just the right amount of extra wood, compared to a modern C-shaped neck, to add body and resonance to the instrument.
The beveling of the neck pocket of the Deluxe is of help but, not enough to my taste.
I don't like the LRS nut, because I find it as adding to much hi end, and giving a very metallic touch to the sound.
I don't like the micro-tilt system, because it creates a dumb area around frets 14-17 and, strings 2 to 5, that kill the sustain of the notes. The carved area and that metallic mechanism kills the overall sustain and, very specially affects to mentioned frets.
I find that a good bone nut makes the attack more snappy, something I like.
Maybe the color cannot be a key decision respect of sound, but I never liked any of the colors that Fender released for Deluxe Stratos and, I particularly love that Cherry Burst.

David Allen was going to provide a set of Furys (think on Robin Thrower) for this axe but, maybe we didn't clarified this point to Morgan so, the axe came with a set of Dovers (which are one of the best sets of DA Pickups).

Opening the box

The guitar came with neck and body separated. This is an overall look of the neck and fretboard. The fretwork was perfect (well leveled, sanded and crowned). The touch of the satinated nitro was really good, as suggested by Morgan.
A detail of the nut and peghead. Morgan decide to make the nut of Tusq, since She considers that Stratos sound better with such a material. I still want to check the sound with a bone nut. Maybe, I will come back to tusq, who knows it!.

And, this is an overall view of the body. That Cherry Burst looked killer, among the rest of components.

And, here a detail of the special shape of the neck pocket and area around, which allows a better access to low frets.

Testing sound and feeling

The guitar plays like a dream and, the sound is perfect. Her has a nice resonance, body and sustain and, bell-like sounds that are a pleasure. Compared with an Eric Johnson model I've tested in a Store, is maybe 3 steps over and, compared to the moded Deluxes I and my friend own, is a couple of steps over.

One of the things that firstly called my attention was her weight. She is surprisingly lighter than any other Strato I've ever tested. Maybe the wood has more open cells, I dunno.

Since I was experimenting D'Addario NYXL1046 strings for a couple of months in my Deluxe, and loved the results, that's the set of strings I've mounted in this axe, as well. I find this NY series as having more tuning stability and, third and second strings seem more consistently sounding.

I wanted that my fellow friend Robert Tirado make the demo of this axe, because this man has a magical touch that can get everything from an axe and, this axe owe it. I was just hearing the guitar, which is a more objective way of analyzing the sound.

My other fellow friend, Alex Tirado, brother of the former one, was the luthier doing the final setup, before the demo / test.  I wanted to make the test with my regular gig.

Robert went first demoing the typical five strato positions, from neck to bridge, in clean.
After we heard really excited all the bells, we wanted to see if the guitar was able to aggressively roar and, we tested it with a high gain configuration. Total craziness!. The sound was hitting hard our guts and, there was a really nice feedback effect; not uncontrolled whistles but, a really nice feedback effect.
Finally, Robert improvised over some backing tracks. The video has just two of the many that were played that day.

After I was fully satisfied with what I've heard, it was my time but, nothing was recorded then. This will be my #1 from now so, any new video will be made with this axe (if a Strato is involved).

This is the video...

And the Gear...

The amp is a Fender '59 Bassman LTD, with a retrofitting set from Watford Valves, that includes a couple of NOS JAN/Philips 6L6 (well, in fact, they are 5881) tubes. The two lower stock Jensen P10R speakers where swapped with a couple of Celestion Gold. Here you are the settings:

And, here an overall view of the pedalboard:

The gain section is absolutely new. The three Bogner's and the Lovepedal Kalamazoo make a killer combination. I will probably swap the position of the Kalamazoo with the Harlow but, alone or combined these pedals rock hard !.

And here, the settings for each individual pedal, so you don't need to ask.

03 March 2015

Bogner Wessex - First impressions


Not so long before, Bogner released three pedals (Ecstasy Blue, Red and Uberschall) that had a good acceptance by musical world. Those three were designed to cover mythical Bogner amps' tones and, they deliver such tones really nicely.

Now, Bogner seems interested into create a line of pedals that don't try to mime Bogner amps' tones. The aim of these new pedals is to interactuate with your amp and, provide virtual "channels" but, respecting the soul of your amp.

This new line has something really interesting. Each pedal works with an audio transformer designed by the studio guru Rupert Neve. In studio's outboard devices and, in amps, transformers are a key part of the sound and, the finest audio devices have very carefully designed ones.

The only pedal that I personally remember having a transformer is the Butler Audio Tube Driver. It's a toroidal transformer, maybe, needed because of the 12AU7 tube that drives the tone. Maybe, other tube-based drive pedals have one, I dunno.

The fact is that the new line of Bogner pedals catch my attention a lot more than their Ecstasy line. This line of Bogner-Neve pedals had the Harlow (a booster with some compression available), the Oxford (Flexdrive, whatever it means), the Wessex (Overdrive) and the Burnley (Distortion).
It seems that the Oxford finally dropped out of the series.

I was accidentally in a musical store (Auvisa) and, tried the Wessex (the only one they had there). Well, the pedal finally came with me to home!.


Everything in this pedal, from the box to the pedal itself is classy. The pedal is built like a tank but, with a very clean and cute design (case, knobs, everything). There are versions of this pedals with the top of the case in bubinga wood. Not mine.

Knobs are: Level, Gain, Treble and Bass and, there is a two positions switch that changes the circuit behavior from Normal (N) to Enhanced (E) modes.

Components are first class. You just need to read the tech specs to understand that every component was carefully choose to achieve the tone Bogner had in mind.

Everything smells quality and, it's probably one of the best made pedals I've owned or seen.


It's a very transparent overdrive, in the sense that every string is clearly heard, even with complex inharmonic chords.
The voice is crunchy, uncompressed, clear and defined. But, it respects the soul of your amp and guitar, anyway.
Tone controls have a wide range and, allow you to fine tune your sound.

The gain range is surprisingly short, specially in Normal mode (the most transparent EQ). If you are after an overdrive with a good amount of gain, this is not your pedal. In every sense, it remembers me the Xotic BB pedal but, with a better sound. The amount of gain is similar and, the voice of the pedal is alike, very crunchy (but, one of the best crunches I've heard).

The Enhanced mode adds some low and high end to your sound and, provides a bit more of gain.


I see it to be used to put tubes on their sweet spot and, it covers very well light overdrive tones. Provides a nice 'crunch' virtual channel and, it's very suitable for Rock & Roll songs.
It can be used to feed other gain pedals also, but, it hasn't gain enough itself for dirty lead tones.
Imagine a Wampler Euphoria on its crunch mode or, a Xotic BB and, you are in the ballpark, respect of overall sound and gain levels but, the Wessex has its own sound and, I liked it more than the former ones. I'm just missing a pinch more of gain, maybe.

I'm waiting three more pedals that I would like to test combined with the Wessex: Lovepedal Kalamazoo, Bogner Harlow and Bogner Burnley. Will do some video with them, after I find the best combinations of all them.

A bit more about the Neve transformer

It seems that the transformer designed by Rupert Neve is used in the same way an Output Transformed is used in every amp, to deliver the final sound to the speakers.
If you are familiar with amp's OTs, you already know that transformers are a key piece for that final sound and feeling of the amp and, every great amp designer takes very seriously the OT.

Swapping the transformer can be a great enhancement. You will know a lot of people going for Mercury transformers to upgrade their Marshall amps, by example.
Probably, it shouldn't be part of the tone, according to pure electrical magnitudes but, the truth is that they are part of the tone of an amp.

Exactly the same occurs with studio gear, where the magic of Rupert Neve (among a very short group of gurus) is worldwide acclaimed.

It seems that Neve's design was oriented to provide nice musical harmonics on high and low ends.
The Enhanced mode of the Wessex is clearly different from the Natural mode. In the former one, the harmonical content is specially rich in the high end range of frequencies and, the sound is, overall, beautifuler and, cuts the mix with a better attitude. It remembers me as the magic that happens when you switch on the Xotic EP Booster, everything seems to be the same but, the sound is just better, without understanding what goes in the background.

I think Butler Audio, in his Tube Driver, is using that toroidal transformer as an Input Transformer, instead of an Output Transformer, because the pedal is being directly plugged to your wall socket.
If that's true then, Bogner's pedals with designed by Neve OT pedals are unique in pedal effects world. No one, before Bogner, used that approach.

Youtube videos always lost quality and, specially in the range of frequencies that have the finest nuances. I would recommend you to test this line of pedals in a physical store. Better if you do that with a guitar equal or similar to yours and, in an amp that's equal or similar to yours. They deliver some harmonic richness that is difficult to find in other pedals (even previous Bogner's ones!), while maintaining a great string-by-string, note-by-note separation.

The final sound can or cannot be your wanted sound but, they worth the time to try them.

25 January 2015

Waiting for my Southern Belle Guitar

The story...

David Allen introduced Morgan Mitcham, who runs Southern Belle Guitars and, she only uses David Allen's pickups, what in fact means that Morgan cares about tone.

I don't usually buy luthier's guitars, since they have no value if you think that you could resell them later. But, I am thinking on the specifications of my dreamed guitar since long time ago. After testing several guitars of any kind, now I knew what I wanted and, unfortunately isn't in the market at a reasonable price. Therefore, this was a golden opportunity to have my dreamed guitar at a reasonable price.

Well, I've watched the very few videos where you can hear a Southern Belle Guitar sounding and, I loved the sound and sustain of such guitars, and very specially, the sound of a Tele Cabronita, with a couple of David Allen's Rebels (Fitertones). So, I thought that if she could build my guitar with such a big tone, I would be fully satisfied and, probably the seek for my number one guitar will finish.

I was in contact with Morgan to check if my specifications were feasible and, since they were, I've ordered the guitar. David is providing me a set of Furys (think on Robin Trower) for that axe, which I expect will work for my personal style.

My Specifications

But... what I wanted?.
I wanted, basically a Stratocaster but, with some twists.

The body should have some carving or beveling on the area of the neck's pocket, to allow a better access to lower frets. Morgan show me some body model that had such a beveling but, without altering the classic look of a Strato. First smile.

The neck should have a soft-V profile, with a maple fretboard and compound radius, starting on 9.5", as any regular modern Strato. No issues?. Nice, second smile.

Tuning Keys should be auto-locking staggered ones. No issues?. Awesome, third smile.
This is one of the things I love in the Deluxe Strato.

Bone nut, please. Right.

I want the Deluxe floating bridge and tremolo bar. No problem.
This is the second thing I love in the Deluxe Strato.

I want Pearl pickguard and strings cover. No problem.

I want black knobs and pickups covers. No problem.

I want her painted in Cherry Sunburst. No problem.

I want to wire it following my own Wiring Design. No problem.

Please, I want not the Micro-Tilt system. No problem.
This is one of the two things I hate in Deluxe Strato.

Building process

It took a long while but, the good things take longer times so...
Here you can see some pictures about how she was taking her final look.

First, Morgan was focused on the neck...

Then, it was the turn to paint the body...

Yeeees!. That's the look I wanted. Beautiful!.

Working on the wiring. This is how it would look, more or less...

Aha!. This is exactly the look I wanted. Perfect!.

She's coming and, I am counting the days to put my hands on this beauty.
I will make some demo video of the guitar, once the final setup is made and, everything goes as expected.

Testing David Allen Echoes set


Quality of David Allen' stuff can never worry me. The big issue is to choose between hes different sets of pickups. He tends to create sets of pickups that remember a certain tone and, he does that with the best materials and taking care about tone, independently if materials to achieve it are vintage-correct or not.

The distance between poles, their size, shape and material can change from pickup model to model. In fact, you cannot reuse any replacement Strato pickup cover for DA pickups because of his approach to tone.

While most pickups makers offer sets of pickups where the three or, at least two, are exactly the same (usually neck and middle are exactly the same and the one that's different is the bridge one), David, instead, engineers each position individually, to get the best on each one.
His sets are well balanced respect to the tone he's after for every set.

In this entry, we are going to make some comments about DA Echoes set, which is after the tone of David Gilmour and, tries to cover from early vintage tones to the most saturated recent ones.

David Allen's Echoes

As usual, the set comes "complete". Appart of the pickups herself, the box comes with a PIO .0047 mF cap and, with a pull/push 250K pot to control the two taps of the bridge Echoes pickup.

The Echoes bridge pickup is one of the very few that DA brings to you with some tap. In this case, we have a very vintage bridge pickup when using the regular output tap and, a strong and beefy bridge pickup when using the hot output tap, which helps you to saturate gain stages and, achieve a creamy and thick lead sound.

For early Pink Floyd sounds, the regular tap is the most useful while for more modern stuff (think on Sorrow and alike)  the hotter tap is the one you wanted.

The question is, can DA Echoes nail David Gilmour tones?.
Well, the pickups can but, can you?. Not an easy player to copy. I did my best in the demo video but, Gilmour is Gilmour.

But, we want pickups that can cover a broader territory than just DG tones, right?.
How they deliver tones for other tones / styles?.

Well, I did some video that starts with Pink Floyd' Shine on you crazy diamonds but, it continues with other stuff and, as I designed a very particular wiring for this axe, I can check how DA Echoes work when making special combinations (Virtual Neck Humbucker, Virtual Tele SS middle position, Virtual Humbuckers in parallel, Virtual HS middle position, Virtual Bridge Humbucker).
And, certainly, this set can really cover lot of ground with ease.

The Video

I could do a video showing the pickups direct to amp, clean to demo their own sound but, this is a way I personally don't like. What I really want is a set of pickups that can sound good, cutting the mix, doing the real job.
I've found many times stuff that sounds impressive alone but, once you use it with the rest of your gear, the sound simply doesn't cuts the mix.

That's why I always try anything with the help of backing tracks and, testing the several pedal effects I've got in my pedalboard before to determine if such stuff does its job for me.

Well, not surprise here. As with practically any DA set I've tested, the job is covered with spades.

The video was recorded, as always, taking the room' sound directly with a Zoom Q3HD recorded. There is no post-processing. I am not using Pro-Tools to make it more studio-alike, by example.
I'm just using the Classic Compressor and the Brickwall Limiter by IK Multimedia in the video editor to restore the original loudness (since I  have the Zoom's mic in low sensibility, to avoid limiting) and, avoid overs in peaks.
No Noise Gate or whatever, not delay or reverb added. So, what you hear is what you would hear if you were in same room as myself.

The video has some improvisations over backing tracks (sorry, not my best day):

Shine on you crazy diamonds (Pink Floyd)
Middle funky blues (unknown)
Jazzy blues (unknown)
Stairway to heaven (Led Zeppelin, to check alternate positions)
Talk to your mother (unknown)

The Gear

I am using a Fender Deluxe American Stratocaster, that originally was an HSS type with Samarian Cobalt pickups. For this set of pickups, I have designed my own wiring, to achieve 10 different sounds that should help me to cover most of musical styles.

The axe has the 5 regular Strato tones but, it has 5 more alternate combinations, that allow me to add a virtual LP and, two virtual Tele middle positions (SS and HS).
Also, since the Echoes bridge has a hot tap, in whatever alternate combo where the bridge pickup is involved, I can get more modern tones by selecting such a tap.

This time, I am checking a new set of strings, NYXL model, which differentiates from standard XL models because provides different stress to some of the strings of the set. It seems to me that the G and B strings are more "consistent" with this approach and, also, the D string seems less stressed.
I don't feel big mechanical differences while playing, but the sound seems to be improved somewhat.

For cables and patch cords I am using Evidence Audio stuff. As explained in previous entries, it's expensive but, it's a one-time expense and, EA covers your cables for the whole life.

The amp I am using is a Fender '59 Bassman LTD but, since I find the new Jensen P10R speakers sounding good alone but, lost in the mix, I've tried to swap those with 4 Celestion Gold. I've failed, since you can simply don't swap the upper speakers. The amp's chasing lies just over one of the two horizontal cuts that those P10R have so, once I've put there the Celestions, I wasn't able to fit the amp's chasing. Because of this, the amp is now working with two Jensens on top and, two Celestion Gold below. The amp cuts the mix way better now.
I'm using a Watford Valves' retrofit set of valves, which include some NOS Philips 6L6 (well, in fact, they are 5881).

On pedalboard, I'm using the following array of pedals:

Peterson Classic Stomp (Tuner)
Wampler Decibel + (Buffer to help to drive the rest of pedals)
Real McCoy RMC4 Picture Wah
Wampler Ego (Compressor)
Dry Bell Vibe Machine V1 (Vibe)
Jetter Jetdrive (double Overdrive)
Mesa Boogie Throttle Box (Hi gain distortion)
Boss FV-500-H (Volume pedal, to adapt the loudness to each backing track)
Strymon Ola (Chorus)
Strymon Bluesky (Reverb)
Strymon El Capistan (Delay)

I'm not using the Mesa Boogie one in this demo and, the Boss FV-500-H was set once for the whole video.