Preamps and effects
The constant searching for tone has taken me through many journeys. I have used so many amplifiers, so many pedals, so many things. As you develop as a musician, so does your taste for equipment. I'm not sure if it is just curiosity for something else, or technology improving or the grass is greener on the other side, but I always seem to want to try new gear. Every time I feel I get that bit closer to equipment bliss, l my goal posts move, so the chase begins again.
My very first guitar effect was a Boss Chorus pedal. I remember spending months researching and months deliberating over what to buy. At the time one of my favourite artist was "The Police," with Andy Summers as the guitar player. He used chorus as one of his primary effects, so I figured to get that sound I would get a pedal like his. I loved the lush tone of chorus, how it filled out the mix and made the guitar sound larger than life. I'm still a bit of a chorus addict, except now I've change to think you can have too much chorus. The second pedal was a Boss Metal Zone. This was very out of character for me as I really wasn't into the metal sound at the time. I loved the over driven huge grind this pedal produced. All of a sudden my guitar would sing, scream and melt the paint off the wall at the same time. But soon grew tired of this tone. The next pedal was a Boss Super Overdrive. This suited my taste so much better than the metal zone. I started playing in a covers band which the overdrive could deliver the tone for. I remember being very content with the 3 pedals, and this remained my line up for several years.
Following on from this period, I recall contemplating the need for another 5 or 6 pedals to get all the tones I wanted, or should I rephrase that, a minimum of 5 or 6 pedals. At the time this was way out of my budget so I found another route, multi effect pedals. I friend of mine and a great mentor had just bought a Boss ME10 multi effects. This blew my mind what it could do. I remember thinking that it contained every pedal in existence, and there was nothing it couldn't do. I remember going over to Steves place and listening to him play. He was such a nice guy and so incredible at guitar. He constantly inspired me to learn more. He gave me lessons for quite some time and not only was a teacher, but became a friend and mentor.
My next purchase was to be a multi-effects, mainly inspired by Steve. I sold off the Boss chorus and Boss Metal Zone, and saved for what seemed like eternity for the unit. The unit of choice was the Boss GT5. When the day finally came to make the purchase, the local music store had a big sale and fortunately they put some of the biggest discount on the Boss brand; big score for a young Peter. So the GT5 joined the family and I took my trip to tone heaven for the next few years. The boss unit could produce every sound I could think of. Every week I would find new things it did, and manipulate the old sounds I'd already discovered into new sounds. To this day I remember the joy this unit brought me. It inspired me and spoilt me for choices. The flexibility of the expression pedals and the ease of setting up tones was revolutionary at the time. Thank you BOSS for opening my eyes.
In the mid 90's I received a local sponsorship from Australis Music, for Ibanez Guitars and Peavey Amplifiers. I sold the Boss GT-5 effects processor to use the new Peavey Profex II. At the time I really enjoyed this unit, but I never overly liked the tone. It was very digital and processed, and lacked the warmth found in other units. As a result, I found my use of very effected guitar tone dropped considerably to a raw amp tone. The amplifier I used at the time sounded great, a Lovely half stack Peavey Ultra (see the amplifier section for details.)
The Boss multi effects and the Peavey Profex II served me for many years until the day I went to the studio and heard the newest advancement in technology, amp modelling. Sure there had been modellers around for several years, but none of them struck my interest. Line 6 brought out the POD, a red kidney bean shaped little monster. It could sound like all my favourite amps and had most of the basic effects. The proceeding weeks after hearing the POD only led me to disappointment with the BOSS unit. Not that there was anything wrong with the GT-5, just the POD tones were so much better. The Boss went on the market later that year and my family was greeted with a shiny new red toy. I loved this unit for many years, recorded with it, gigged with it and practiced with it. My tone had gone so much further due to Line 6. I recall there was only one draw back, it never matched the Boss GT-5 for control and editing. Due to the GT-5, I was a huge delay fan, always manipulating the effects live and needed to be able to control the wet / dry mix. The compromise was worth it for raw tone these unit produce.
For a short time I bought the Line 6 AX212 Amplifier with built in effects. It sort of contained a POD inside the combo. I found my self always going back to the POD as the AX212 was a let down and a step backwards. The POD became my staple go to box for everything.
With the release of the floor version of the POD, I quickly upgraded. I used the
With the Release of the floor version of the POD, I quickly upgraded. To gain the control back and the expression pedal was invaluable. The XT Live was used for many gigs and recordings. It still was not an amazing unit for effects, but the tones were outstanding. The XT Live was replaced with a newer version, the HD500, and again I loved the tones for several years. I also had a POD pro for a period to use in the studio with protools. I guess as I look back I could have been a poster boy for Line 6 with all the gear I have had of theirs. Thank you so much Line 6 for many years of satisfaction and pleasure.
Return to stomp boxes
Around 2010 I borrow a friends stomp box pedal to try. I have always had a few pedals laying around that I used from time to time. I like to keep up with equipment and try different things as I often have students asking for advice on what pedals to buy. I would often sit in the local music shop and try my way through their cabinet. Various artist caught my ear from time to time so I explored their equipment to figure out how they get their sound. One artist, John Mayer, has an incredible tone. I was so curious how he gets the sounds of some of his arpeggiated runs. I bought a Roger Linn Adrenaline and found new ways to build a tone. I used to put this through the effects loop of the POD. I lost many hours to this unit, as I explored the guitar sonic possibilities deeper with the Adrenalinn. I returned back to a valve amp and found the stomp boxes getting more and more use. The POD always one out in the studio due to flexibility, but stomp boxes have something about the tone that digital modelling cannot do. The library of pedals started to grow again.
And so it began, the collection grew and grew. There are hundreds of awesome pedals around and I love sounds, well thats my excuse. Every guitar will know the obsesion and the only way to get counselling is to get more pedals. Sounds logical to me. The picture on the right show the layout of the board. At the front was the bypass looper strip and saved me from doing the pedal dance. All the drive pedals had their own loop and the output from this went through the mobs, timeline and the Adrenalinn. I'll list some of my favourite pedals and why I chose them.
I love drive pedals. One of the holy grail of drive pedals is the klon centaur. The Kalamazoo is an amazing clone of this. The way this drive breaks up is so tasteful. I still have this pedal and will definitely keep it. Pure tone bliss.
The Voodoo Lab Sparkle Drive is another sensational drive pedal. I often layered this one with another drive pedal, or used this as a clean boost. Play hard and it breaks up like a tube amp does, and back off and it cleans up so nicely.
Joe Satriani has always been a huge inspiration, so naturally I had to buy his array of pedals. The Satchurator give that sweet lead tone of his and the Ice 9 has a great breakup warmth. Every drive pedal has its own voice. Its the same as everyone has there own voice, their own way of speaking, so does every pedal. You can never have to many drive pedals.
The Time Machine is a great analogue delay pedal. The controls are very simple and you really only need to step on it and it works. I used this for my long delays. You tempo sync it with its tap tempo button and it sounds amazing.
Current Preamp and Effects
Around the beginning of 2013 I had a large collection of effect pedals. So much that I bought a pedal train grande (largest they make) and I still couldn't fit them all on. After using this board for a long time, a friend suggested I look at a Fractal Audio Axe Fx II. I really wasn't interested as I was happy with my tone and spend years collecting various pedals. I had tried the digital route several times before with Line 6, Vox and Boss to name a few. They were great pieces of gear, but never the end of my search. I check out Fractal Audio's website and was blown away by the players that are using the Axe Fx, so I did months of research and found a local dealer with one and went and tried it. Big mistake, as I found what I was looking for. I kept asking myself "is there any sound I can't get from this unit?" I'm still trying to find something it doesn't do, and do well. Check it out, you will not be disappointed.
I use Mission expression pedals. I currently have five on my rig as I love to have real time control over the effects. They usually are set to be volume, wah, delay mix, drive and pitch.
Sounds have always intrigued me. I love sounds that evolve over time and move, or as I like to say, they are organic. Roland have always produced great gear, so when they made a guitar Synthesiser I had to have one. I usually connect this across to other modules, primarily the Roland XV-5080, or directly into a DAW (digital audio workstation.) My Godin Multiac nylon string guitar has a roland GK output, so I can directly plug into the GR-33, and directly midi connect to the XV-5080. If you haven't tried controlling a synth from your guitar then there is an entire world to explore. No longer are sound exclusively for keyboard players. Layering a pad under the guitar tone can fill up a mix so beautifully.