How about your footwork


When practicing your tap-dancing don't fall into the sink

 

The secret to SRV's tone, nah

 

A modern multi-effects unit

 

Binary number crunching,  the digital abacus...

 

A Typical pedalboard

Effects Pedals, stomp boxes, noise toyz, you either love em or hate em...

Back in the day there were no pedal effects available apart from what was on your amp, reverb, vibrato, or tremelo. But with the birth of the transistor in the early 60's, electrical components were now small enough and could be powered by batteries so the floodgates opened.

When you have exausted all the tone possibilities of your guitar and amp then it's time to look at the humble pedal. There are thousands to choose from and only you will know the one or twelve that sound right for you.

Pedal order, this is not a hard fast rule but only the recognized best starting point.

First of all wah, followed by compressor, then some kind of overdrive or distortion, then a graphic equalizer to shape your overdriven tone. If you have an effects loop in your amp then the rest of the pedal types can be looped through there, if not then following on from the graphic equalizer you have time based affects such as Phaser, Chorus, Flanger, Delay or Echo, and then Reverb, and if you want to, here you can add an enhancer which will try to recover some of the higher frequencies lost in the above process. You probably won't need all of the above pedals or then again you might need more but the choice is yours.

In the 80's pedal manufacturers realized that if they put a bunch of pedals together it would be more convenient and then the effects and their settings could be switched on and off by writing all the parameters into a patch. Thus the multi-effects pedal was born. So in reality you could now switch on several different effects and change hundreds of settings by pressing one or two pedals, clever huh. This also avoided the Guitarists tap dancing routine.

A "Patch" by the way is jargon left over from early synthesizers where you patched sounds through different filters and oscillators with a patch lead.

Digital versus analogue

We are now firmly in the digital age and digital technology is becoming cheaper by the minute, so it makes sense (to them) for pedal manufacturers to incorporate this technology into our humble analogue pedals. There is a thought that digital pedals rob your tone of it's organic qualities because the process involves converting your analogue signal into numbers then after a bit of number crunching re-converting it back to analogue again. This is how modern digital pedals have the ability to emulate real sounds, rather like a synthesizer emulates brass or strings.

Well, the jury is still out on this one. I have both digital and analogue delay pedals and enjoy both so I guess I am neutral here.

"Tone tip"  If you are using a old non master volume valve amp try a Treble Booster, this pushes the input of the amp into saturation using just the guitars volume control, producing a really nice clean to dirty effect and is in fact the basis of Brian May's tone.

"Tone tip"  If you have a digital delay pedal and are woried about losing the core part of your tone, then put it through your parallel effects loop, then in theory at least part of your untouched analogue signal will still pass through your amp to your speaker.

"Tone tip"  you can alter the pedal order and put a phaser or rotary type pedal before your overdrive or distortion pedal for those swirling Jimi Hendrix or Robin Trower type tones.