The Buyer’s Gear Guide : Effects 1
Buying new pedals is often the most fun part of creating your tone. There’s so much to choose from and with a handful of effects you can achieve a quite convincing Gilmour sound. However it can also be a tricky and sometimes disappointing experience. In the first part of this guide we’ll look at the do’s and don’ts when you’re designing your tone. In the second part you’ll find comprehensive list of recommended effects.
First of all, before you buy any effects, I recommend that you decide what kind of tone or which Gilmour period you prefer. No use in buying chorus pedals and flangers if you’re only looking for that classic Pompeii setup with a wah wah and a fuzz. Or vice versa. For an authentic tone check out the David Gilmour Gear Guide and make a list of David’s pedals from your favourite albums or era. You should also do some research on which effects that will best suit your amp and guitar. Perhaps you’ll realize that some compromises might give you a much better tone that what you first decided on.
The David Gilmour Gear Guide
– Check out David’s gear and settings on your favourite Pink Floyd and David Gilmour solo album and tour!
Overdrive and Distortion
– Some tips on how to select the best overdrive and distortion pedals for your amp.
Equalizers and Compression
– Some useful tips on how to use these two effects.
Looking at Reverb
– A critical look at the pros and cons of reverb.
A question that I get all the time is “why can’t I get David’s PULSE tone from my Big Muff?” There are many answers but usually it’s because the guitar/pickups and/or the amp are different than David’s. It’s very simple really; – unless you have an exact duplicate of his rig and are standing on the same stage as him you can’t expect any of your gear to sound exactly like his. It’s a brutal and frustrating fact but it doesn’t mean that you can’t get close. Far from it! My best advice is to keep things simple. Don’t get confused by David’s sometimes jaw breaking rig but try to see his tone in a bigger context.
I know that everyone’s dream is to get a Big Muff, Tube Driver and a Cornish P-2 but what’s more important, – getting a great tone or getting David’s rig? Perhaps the answer isn’t that easy but pedals, guitars/pickups and amps goes hand in hand and if your mostly playing at home you should consider maybe scaling it down a bit and perhaps even do some compromises to achieve a better tone. More on this here…
Buffered pedals VS true bypass
True bypass means that the signal from your guitar travels on a separate line inside the pedal when the effect is off. This leaves the tone clean but with many true bypass pedals on your board you’ll get many more feet with cable, which will drain signal and again cut treble. As a result one increases the treble on the amp and the tone get’s too bright.
Buffered pedals lets the signal travel straight through the effect and small buffers or preamps inside the pedal makes sure that the signal is balanced and strong enough to travel through long instrument cables. However, buffered pedals do not go well with many vintage effects like fuzz and boosters and in some cases the signal might appear to be brighter and a bit harsh.
It’s not easy to explain the differences or the pros and cons but here’s how I see it. If you care about these things you should always have some idea behind the pedals you buy. If your board consists of classics like a Cry Baby, Fuzz Face, Colorsound and a Big Muff you will experience a slight alteration in your tone when you introduce say a Boss DD-3 delay, which is buffered. Some people don’t mind while others think that it completely fucks up the signal. On the other hand, if your board includes a lot of Boss, Ibanez, Digitech etc pedals you should be aware that you’re using all buffered pedals and that buying the fuzz you always wanted might turn out to be a huge disappointment because fuzz units simply can’t stand buffered pedals.
It should be added though that there is a huge difference between Boss and Pete Cornish’s pedals. You might ask your self why David insists on having a board packed with buffers but the problem often caused by buffered pedals lies in the cheap components used by Boss and many others. Not in the concept it self.
My best advice is to use mostly true bypass pedals and have one or two buffered in the chain, – ideally a compressor first in line that buffers your signal through the board and perhaps a delay at the end buffering the signal to the amp. If you feel that the true bypass pedals cuts too much treble then be careful when you try to adjust it.
If you’re uncertain of how this affects your rig then unhook everything, listen to the signal from your guitar to the amp and add one pedal at the time. Stop when the signal is dramatically altered and see how the pedal causing the problem is affecting the other pedals. Be sure to use the same cable brand and lenght to/from each side of the pedal board or you’ll might have different colouring from the cables!
With the fear of sounding like a snob I think that those multi coloured “shoelaces” should be banned for all eternity. All they do is suck tone and clutter your board. The most effective way to eliminate noise and tone loss is to use good quality patch cables. George L’s lets you measure the length you need between each pedal. Just cut and fasten the plugs. A step up would be the Monorail from Evidence Audio.