Monday, June 2, 2014

Do you really know how to use your gear?

Because I kind of don't... or didn't. Many musicians spend a good deal of money on the quest for that elusive tone. Of course there are varying degrees of this illness, but guitar players are specifically bad for it!

Take for example something I just went through. Over the years, I have acquired quite a few pedals. These are added and removed from my pedalboard with regularity. When not in use, they end up here

This is my version of a pedal 'time-out' shelf (sadly I have a good deal more than this!). This is where my pedals go to .. not die... but certainly wait - until the day they are needed once again.

One of these pedals, was a beautiful Fuzz pedal that I purchased a while back - the Fulltone SoulBender.  Fulltone makes amazing gear. This Soulbender pedal is used by many great recorded players, so it was selected to full all my Fuzz needs... Problem is... it just didn't sound good. I mean it was OK... but certainly not soulbending! So I have been on the lookout ever since for a different fuzz pedal.

Fast forward to today. In my readings, I came across a discussion of different transistor usage in fuzz pedals. The author was saying something along the lines of germanium ones being very specific about where they get placed in the signal path, how much current needed, temperature issues, all that... Then it occurred to me... Pretty sure the Soulbender is a germanium fuzz??

So off to Google I went and what followed lead me to the point of this article! Take the time to Google and research your gear before you make a decision about it! As it turned out, the Soulbender (and a couple other pedals on my board) were in the wrong place. So just simply shuffling the order they were in had a MAJOR impact on the quality of their tone. All of a sudden it sounded beautiful!!

The lesson here is: Sometimes different pieces of equipment are designed to operate in very specific conditions. A lot of this makes no sense to someone without a degree in electronics or programming! So Google is your friend. Before you pull out your wallet, take the time to read about each piece of gear you own. What you discover may give some of it a new lease on life.