Guitar Effects Pedals Review
I thought that I would throw up a few reviews in one regarding my collection of effects pedals for my guitar and bass rigs. I have a major case of GAS (gear aquirey syndrome) when it comes to music equipment.
My usual guitar rig is either my Epi Les Paul Studio Pearl or Gibson Les Paul Menace and a Vox AC30CCX
MXR Zakk Wylde/Berzerker Overdrive:
I picked up this pedal after my TS7 TubeScreamer's switch died. I wanted an overdrive that was in the same vein as the pedal I was replacing.
Like every 3 knob overdrive/distortion/fuzz, very easy to coax the sound that you want out of this.
This pedal shines when you are driving a dirty tube amp or boosting another "dirt" pedal for a solo. It is an overdrive pedal and will not give you the high gain sound that Zakk Wylde uses on his recordings (note - he uses this as a boost for his solos) but for an overdrive pedal is has a pretty good range with the gain and around 3 o'clock does start to get into the low gain distortion but it will clean right up when you roll off the volume like a good overdrive does. A trick that I run with this pedal is to run the gain lower and use the output to drive my amp harder and get more overdrive.
My personal setting
Output - 3 o'clock
Tone - 11 o'clock
Gain - 9 o'clock
Would I replace this pedal if it was stolen or broke down - Yes!!
This pedal has lasted the longest on my FX board because of its versatility and has been through 3 amps and sounds great with anything that I hook it up to.
MXR Custom Badass '78 Distortion
I needed something between the Wylde Overdrive & Big Muff Pi, so I grabbed this one. Read alot of reviews on it and they were all pretty good.
3 knobs = Easy to set up. With this one, I set every knob at 12 noon and tweaked from there. This also has a "crunch" toggle button that adds another diode into the circuit to give you a mid boost and a little bit more drive.
I have been on a major Ramones kick and was having a hard time getting that Ramones-esque distortion from my pedals and this one nailed it right on. It sounds like they based it off of the Keley modded DS-1 which is a pretty nice sounding distortion. It has a good range in regards to the amount of drive that it has on tap and the crunch button gives you a little bit more. It is sad that you cannot toggle that with your foot though (it is hidden above the output knob).
This thing also does a pretty convincing early Nirvana tone too.
"High Gain" (when I only bring one dirt pedal)
Output: 12 noon
Tone: 11 o'clock
Distortion: 2 o'clock
"Low Gain" (when I bring more then one dirt pedal)
Output: 12.5 o'clock
Tone: 11 o'clock
Distortion: 8.5 o'clock
I would buy this pedal again. It is just too good not to and nails the tones that I wanted from it.
Edit- I now have 2 settings that I'll use with it: Low & High Gain. I still love how full this pedal sounds.
EH Big Muff Pi w/Tone Wicker
I purchased this pedal to replace an old Russian Big Muff Pi that died a horrible electronic death.
One of the main features of this pedal that I liked is that it is smaller then the original pedal and has 2 toggle switches that change the sound of the distortion/fuzz it produces.
The "Wicker" switch adds a high end boost to the tone and the "Tone" switch pulls the tone knob out of the circuit. The side effect of pulling the tone knob out of the circuit is a volume boost and a "fuller" and unfocused tone to the fuzz.
One thing that I have found with this pedal is that it is picky from guitar to guitar and pickup to pickup. It can get really muddy if you use a really bassy guitar or pickup and can get lost in the mix when playing live. A good EQ pedal can fix that but that is another expense.
Volume: 3 o'clock
Tone: 12 noon
Sustain: 1 o'clock
I know that it sounds like I don't like this pedal but it is one of my favourite pedals for when I am in a 2 guitar band because it will help fill out the "sound" live. Not that great with in a single guitar band.
Dunlop Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face
I have a thing for fuzz pedals.
This was one of those impulse buys when I went into the music store and looked behind the distortion pedals. It was love at first try when I plugged it through the AC30 that they had on the floor. It is a VERY simple circuit and it does have a learning curve to it even though there are only 2 knobs to adjust the effect (volume & fuzz). The volume knob does what it says - the volume of the signal coming from the pedal. I also find that the higher your set the volume you do get a little more low end in the signal and can overdrive the front end of your amplifier. The Fuzz knob adjusts the amount of fuzz and how bright the tone is.
The secret to this pedal is using the volume knob & tone knobs of your guitar also adjust the effect and find "your sound" (you could also use a volume pedal to do the same thing) As your turn down the signal to the pedal you notice that the pedal reacts like a tube amp and cleans up, becoming a little more "overdrive-y" (I turn my volume down to around 4-5 to achieve that the sound Neil Young gets in Cinnamon Girl).
The only complaints are the lack of 9V jack on the pedal (it is based off the ones that Hendrix used), it NEEDS to be the first pedal in my signal chain (doesn't play nice or sound as good if something is before it) and it takes up alot of real estate on a pedal board compared to my Boss & MXR effects.
Volume - 4-5 o'clock
Fuzz - 3.5-4.5 o'clock
(adjust with guitar volume knobs till the notes "bloom")
Would I get it again - Yes!
It is an awesome pedal when you learn how to use it and nails the tone that I wanted for my rhythm guitar sound and sounds fuller then the EH Big Muff Pi.
Way Huge Swollen Pickle Fuzz MKII
Again, I have a thing for fuzz pedals and felt the itch to get a new one around my birthday (had extra money burning a whole in my pocket)
I have watched alot of videos showcasing. The effect is designed off the older era Big Muff Pi circuit (Triangle or Ram's head) with a few alterations to the circuit to make it more usable then your standard Big Muff Pi.
There are 7 knobs to adjust this pedal (Loudness, Filter, Sustain, Scoop, Crunch, Clip, Voice), 2 of which are hidden in the pedal (you don't need to adjust them that much once you find a sound that works). With all these knobs, you are going to have fun finding that right sound for you. It took about 2 hours of adjusting knobs to find a sound that worked for me but all that time setting it up is worth it because it sounds awesome.
The way I approached it was to adjust the Loudness, Filter & Sustain (like my 2 MXR dirt pedals) to get my basic sound, adjust Scoop to adjust the midrange to where I liked it, adjust the Crunch to open up the Fuzz a little bit (acts like compression: counter-clockwise - compressed & buzzy, clockwise - open & fuller tone). I only adjusted the Clip setting slightly and left the Voice at factory.
One thing to note is that all the controls are interactive: turning one knob usually means that you will have to adjust another Eg. Adjusting Crunch usually means you have to adjust the Loudness
I nailed the sound that my old modded Russian era Big Muff had (I moddified the circuit to allow for a flatter midrange curve). Anyone that has Big Muffs knows that they scoop the mid frequency and can get lost in the mix without the use of a EQ pedal.
This pedal can go from an insane scooped mid fuzz to an opened up "Fuzz face" style fuzz.
My favorite part is that the Filter knob does not work like your standard Tone knob. At its start it is fairly sludgy (lots of low end with no high end), brightens up as it is turned clockwise but never gets to that "Ice-pick-in-my-ears" high end at the end. It still retains the low end thump for palm muting at the maximum.
This pedal also has alot of volume to it and can definitely drive the front end of any amp in to overdrive.
Loudness: 9.5 o'clock
Filter: 2.75 o'clock
Sustain: 12 noon
Scoop: 1.5 o'clock
Crunch: 10 o'clock
Clip: 9.5 o'clock
Voice: 7 o'clock
Would I replace this pedal if it was lost/stolen: YES!!!!
It is the Fuzz sound that I have been looking for since my modded Russian Big Muff went missing in college.
Way Huge Angry Troll Linear Boost Amplifier
I have been looking at replacing my Zakk Wylde Overdrive for a while and going with something a little different the a TS style overdrive. I used the pedal more as a boost then a overdrive with the settings that I have here so I researched what pedal would fill the void on my pedalboard. I thought back to my old Boss FZ-2 HyperFuzz and the Gain Boost setting that I used to pummel the preamp on an old Traynor amp I borrowed off a friend back in the day. Around Christmas I had some money burning a hole in my pocket and bought this after a bunch of research.
A trick that you can do with tube amps (and some solidstate amps) is to boost the signal hitting the front end of your amp to the point that it starts clipping. It is a different type of overdrive then what you get driving your power amp till it clips. Both Brian May (Queen) and Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath) are known for running treble boosters in front of their amps to get their signature guitar tones.
This pedal is works like a vintage mic preamp and has 2 knobs: Volume & Anger.
Volume does what it says: turn it to either boost or lower the signal hitting the front end of your amp. Unity volume is around 12 noon.
Anger has 6 settings set apart by the size of the fist: larger the fist - more gain and treble hitting the circuit.
This can work as a clean boost on the "no fist" setting and can be run at the end of a signal chain to help with signal loss and "warm up" the signal in a long effects chain. You can also use this to compensate for switching between single coil and humbucking pickups
As you go up in the Fist settings you will notice that you get a a slight jump in volume, gain and treble hitting the circuit resulting in overdrive. I find that around the 3rd or 4th fist is the best combination of overdrive and boost.
I run it at the front of my signal chain to drive pedals like my Fuzzface harder and make them more responsive to my neck pickup.
Volume - 12 noon
Anger - 3rd fist
Would I replace it: I don't know just yet. It is still pretty new and fun to tweak
This is the swiss army knife of metal distortions. I have played is plenty of hardcore bands where I need the savage amounts of gain this thing has on tap. With the Mid Frequency Knob you can dial in where you want your mids to be boosted or cut. I have found that this pedal on all my guitars loves the neck pickups over the bridge pickups. The one thing that I don't like about this pedal is that it doesn't come into its own until it is in a band setting. It is great for filling in that area that is "missing" in a live situation. Just goofing off with it in your house, you will be constantly tweaking it. The way that I set it up is set my EQ knobs to noon and distortion to 9 o'clock and fiddle with the EQ till it sounds right and then add some gain. I have never thrown the pedal past halfway with the distortion myself.
My personal setting (based off the manual's Fuzz setting)
Level: 12 noon
Low: 12 noon
High: 1 o'clock
Middle: 3 o'clock
Mid Freq: 3 o'clock
Dist: 11 o'clock
This pedal is my way of turning my Vox AC30 into a fire breathing high gain monster when I need it. I always have one around just so that if I need it for a show, it is there.
Edit- Since I have picked up the WH Swollen Pickle Fuzz, I don't use this pedal that much because the Pickle fills the gap that I needed the Metal Zone for better
Danelectro Daddy-O Overdrive
This pedal sits in that line between my Zakk Wylde Overdrive and my 78 Distortion in sound. It does have tones of gain on tap and can go into that heavy metal type of high gain overdrive/distortion and has more gain then both of the other pedals. It is a clone of the Marshall Gov'nor pedal with a few tweaks to the tone and gain circuits. It does have more EQ knobs then the previous pedals so it has more tweaking that can be done to get that special sound out of it. I found that the secret with this pedal is the mid knob. Turn it counter clockwise and you get a more distorted sound. Turn it clockwise and it goes into a more overdriven sound. It does have alot of adjustment range to the low and high frequencies. I run it so that it sounds more like an overdrive then a distortion.
My personal settings:
Vol: 12 non
Bass: 1 o'clock
Mid: 3 o'clock
Treble: 12 noon
O Drive: 9-10 o'clock
This pedal is for those times that I just want to bring a very small set up and need a little bit more flexibility and don't need the crap ton of gain that the Metal Zone has. It isn't as indispensable as my Zakk Wylde Overdrive or 78 Distortion but in a pinch it is a good little pedal and has a wide range of sounds.
MXR Carbon Copy Delay
I Have been looking for a good analog delay pedal for a while. Sure analog delay pedals do not have the longest delays (600ms) but they do have a warmer tone then digital delays.
Again.... 3 knobs, Regen, Mix, & Delay. There is a Modulation switch that adds a slight chorus to the pedal and is also adjustable through 2 trim pots inside of the pedal. I have not found a setting that I do not like on this pedal unless I really crank the regen up and it starts to feedback.
It has a really cool slapback delay/reverb setting that I like more then the spring reverb on my Vox.
My settings (there are 3)
Regen: 7 o'clock
Mix: 12 noon
Delay: 7-8 o'clock (depends on the room)
Regen: 9 o'clock
Mix: 12 noon
Delay: 9 o'clock
Regen: 11 o'clock
Mix: 12 noon
Delay: 12 noon
This pedal is amazing. It adds a great sound to any solo when you need a little depth to it.
If I had to I would grab 2, it is that great.
If you have an effects loop, I would put it there (well mine sounds better there)
DeltaLab Stereo Chorus
Needed a Chorus to add some depth to when I run the guitar clean. This one is not as lush as some of the more expensive ones but gets the job more then done. If you want to make your sound become really "wide", plug a second amp into this and it will take the sound to a whole different level. I run this and my delay in my FX loop on my amp to buffer it a bit from the gain that the distortion pedals produce. It does have a pretty wide sweep in both the rate and depth and you can adjust it to what ever setting you want.
My personal settings
Rate: 9 o'clock
Depth: 5 o'clock
Level: 12 noon
Would I buy it again? I don't really know. With so many modulation pedals like this one on the market, I would buy something that would fill it's spot on the pedal board. If I find this one again, then I would replace it but any chorus, flanger or phase will do the job this one does for me.
Edit- I have picked up a Boss Flanger and it allows for me to run the guitar in stereo with the effect off and was more the sound that I was looking for.
Boss BF-3 Flanger
When I was in my teens I had and old Boss BF-2 Flanger. It could coax chorus'y sounds at the lower end of the spectrum to a "jet plane" style flange at the far end of the spectrum. It was pretty fun but had to give it back to the friend I borrowed it from after a few years of using it.
The guitar store that I frequent had a sale and I had money. I was looking for something different but in the same vein as my chorus. I tried a a few different modulation pedals (Small Stone, Phase 90, Electric Mistress, Stereo chorus, etc) and this little guy stood out. It wasn't the cheapest or most expensive, did what I wanted and had more then enough adjustment for me to get the sound that I was looking for. Boss retained the pinkie purple paint and 4 knob look (left knob is stacked) that the old BF-2 had but has updated the pedal with 4 different modes (momentary, gate/pan, standard, ultra) controlled by the right most knob.
The reason that I bought this over other pedals was the momentary setting. When you step on the pedal it engages the effect & when you take your foot off of the pedal the effect goes off. Nice for timing the effect with your feet.
This also allows you to use a guitar or bass through it. When plugged into the bass jack, you do have less delay (.3-6.3ms) in the effect but more low end in the signal. I also use this pedal as a signal splitter so that I can run 2 amps at once.
Manual: 1 o'clock
Res: 1 o'clock
Depth: 3 o'clock
Rate: 9.5 o'clock
Would I buy this again? Yes, for the money is is an awesome little stomp box. Even though I shy away from digital effects, Boss built a winner here. It has fully replaced my chorus in my effects chain and doesn't have to be on to have it run in stereo.
Danelectro Rocky Road Spinning Speaker Emulator
Ok this pedal I got at a music store that was blowing out some pedals. Got it for $20 and for that money it was worth a shot. It is a simulation of a spinning speaker cabinet, which have a sort of chorus-y sound to them. It is a tiny pedal and makes my MXR pedals look fat. This little guy has ALOT of gain behind it. When you switch it on there is a large gain boost even with the gain all the way down (i have tried it in my FX loop and in front of the amp). MY major qualm with the pedal is that I cannot tell how fast the effect is going because once you hit switch to turn the pedal on the LED is on and doesn't pulse in time with the effect (like my chorus does). It does have a ramp foot switch that speeds the modulation up and down.
My personal settings:
Speed: 12 noon
Drive: 7 o'clock
With how cheap the pedal was, I couldn't resist but I would like a better version of this effect that at least has an LED that pulses in time with the effect so that it can tell me when it is on the fast ramp or slow ramp.
EH Nano Doctor Q
Again needed a cheap envelope filter to make my soloing and noodling sound cooler. It wasn't that expensive and was a decent little investment. It is no where as adjustable as when I had a Q-Tron+ but that pedal is also $300. It has a really simple layout of one switch (bass boost) and a frequency knob that controls the sweep of the filter. You do have to adjust your picking style to make this pedal work for you. If you are like me and play really heavy handed downstroke punk rock, it is a bit to get used to but after you master the pedal, it will sound amazing. I do find that the pedal sounds thin if the bass boost is not engaged. I set mine to do more of a wah pedal sweep.
My personal settings:
Sweep: 9-10 o'clock
This is a great little pedal for those times that you want to noodle a bit on your guitar in a solo.
Edit - Since I have the Bassballs now, I use this less and less.
EH Nano Bassballs Dynamic Envelope filter
I bought this because it sounded pretty cool and it is one of those "noodling around" pedals that brings out the creativity in songs. It has two filters that are controlled by the way that you play the guitar. It also has a toggle switch that turns on a distortion circuit that brings out the harmonics in the pedal. There was the same learning curve to the pedal that I experienced with the Doctor Q (adjusting how I used my pick on the guitar).
I also found that when the distortion circuit is engaged that if you turn the response knob almost fully counter-clockwise with another distortion/fuzz pedal in front of it, you get a sort of busted AM radio vibe out of it. I have fun with that when I do intros or parts where I want the bass guitar to come out.
My settings (AM Radio - needs a dirtbox placed before it in the FX loop).
Dist. toggle - ON
Response - 7.5 o'clock
Not essential to my sound but lots of fun to use. If it went missing/stolen, I wouldn't be too heartbroken. It has taken over the spot of the Doctor Q on my pedal board and i like the tone of it a little more
I got this because I was having problems with the amount of hum that I was getting from all my pedals. I has 2 settings (normal/strong) so no real tweaking that you need to do. It does alter your sound though and you might need to tweak your amp to get it to sound right.
I don't really use this pedal that much anymore because I found the reason why my amp was humming and fixed it and I wasn't impressed with the change in tone.
I have an EH metal muff that I love myself. :clapping:
There finished them all.
Hope that this helps those out there looking for some insight into guitar effects.
Pretty good. I tried the metal zone but ended up going with my metal muff because I felt like it was a more flexible pedal.
Updated reviews of the effects that I have
bought a few more in the last few years & cleaned up how things look to make things easier to read
Had a Dunlop Rotovibe that I bought at Sam Ash for next to nothing... wish I kept it because they are ridiculously expensive now.
It's a very impressive pedal and because it's setup like a Wah/Volume pedal with the foot lever you know the speed and can adjust the speed easily (turning nobs with your toe is a PIA). Solid build. Unless you STOMP on it you won't break it.
I had one of the Electro Harmonix Deluxe Memory Mans... the last run that still had the 110v cord (no trasformer dongle!!!!) that were made around 2002 or so. That is a neat pedal.. but at the time I wasn't all that good of a player and couldn't take hardly any advantage of all it's full spectrum of abilities. Again wish I kept it because I like that version a lot better than what is available now. And I can't afford it now.
Ibanez TS-9 Tube Screamer... bought at the some time period as the above... fun pedal and built really solid. If you want more out of this pedal you can always send it to the analog man for new chips/caps and other bits to make it Scream even better:
Ibanez TS9 and TS808 Tube Screamers, Maxon OD9 and similar effects pedals and mods
Those boss distortion pedals can really do the trick. Great price and work fine for the heavier stuff!
I am still toying with the idea of sending in my TS-7 to get modded and have the switch repaired.
The one pedal that I regret selling off was my Q-tron+.
Bought it when I had more disposable income (living at home & paying $200/month + food). I never really explored all the fun stuff that it could do.
If anyone else has gear they want to post of their thoughts of: feel free to....
I use three things, an old Roland analog tape delay, a Lexicon digital delay and a T-wah. Other than that I never used a pick other than throwing at people like ninja stars.I had a Talk box but sold it. The T-wah is a Boss pedal from the 80's and gives you that Sussudio bass effect from Phil Collins. I use a 5 string with frets. Have a 4 string fretless but when your drinking intonation is a bit of a bitch! Peavey Max head and a 8X10 cab. and a folded 18 inch cab. Feyd.........
Thread needs pics... :)
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