Alex Clay

Alex Clay

Top Tone Tip!

July 03, 2017

Recently I truly haven't had a lot of time to play lately, so when I do I've been trying to kick the habit of messing with my board and pedals so much and just focus on playing. That being said, I still like to use some varying flavors of pedals, but not like I normally would if I had my full board on hand. My solution was simple, and it went against everything I know about proper board setup and powering them: I sat 3 pedals on top of my amp (Compressor, OD and Envelope Filter), used a OneSpot to daisy chain them, and let loose and played like crazy. I set and forget them and only adjusted the Q of the filter occasionally and that was it. It was kind of liberating, and it was really nice having the pedal right there *if* I wanted to mess with it.

This kind of followed suit with my growing desire to minimize my gear and try to stop tweaking my settings constantly. If the knobs are there, inevitably I'm going to mess with them. Having them on top the amp wasn't beneficial at all for cutting them on and off, but quick changes on the fly were drastically improved. I saw a rig rundown for Billy Sheehan and noticed he keeps his pedalboard on top of his amps as well, and I totally get it now. 
 
So my question is, could I get away with just those three pedals at the jam we're having at my buddy's house next weekend? I'm seriously considering it. I do know that it is a bit noisier because of daisy-chaining, so a tiny board and a isolated power supply may be in the works. The main thing is having a solid amp to do this with, because if you're not in love with your amps base tone then it's not a situation that could easily work as well on some amps. The Bravado takes pedals like a champ, so that part is sorted.
 
What do you think of the idea of just a couple of pedals on top of the amp setup? What amp/pedals combo would you choose?
In this age of modern technology, information has never been more readily available and at our fingertips. There have been forums around for many years for all sorts of music-related topics. TheGearPage.net, TDPRI, DIY forums for learning to build pedals to name just a very few of the more popular forums out there that people have been frequenting for years. Now the newest evolution is the creation of guitar groups on Facebook (one of which we created and maintain). If you can't find information regarding a question or if you're trying to find a solution to an issue, there are a plethora of resources to choose from to share experiences and ask questions to a group of players of all skill levels from around the world.
 
These resources have helped so many people gain a wealth of knowledge, along with making new friends in the process. That's the intended goal of guitar groups, is sharing and coming together over our favorite instrument. However, there' s a flip side to such a great gathering place for musicians. Along with knowledge also comes a not so friendly side. I'm talking about trolls, bullies, jerks... whatever you want to call them. These are the people who judge (based on their own self-established authority) that a topic or picture is unworthy of the groups time, or if they don't agree with something that the group doesn't either or that the poster is a [insert vulgar adjective and noun here]. We've ALL been there and seen it happen. It's aggravating from anyone's perspective, but it's really disrespectful or hurtful sometimes to the people who are on the receiving end of the objection or trolling. If you have friends or people who want to defend the receiver, it grows out of hand VERY quickly.
 
This scenario has had me thinking a lot recently, and wondering WHY people feel they have any right to criticize or put down another person for wanting to learn or share something. TONE IS LITERALLY ONE OF THE MOST SUBJECTIVE THINGS IN THE WORLD. Nobody is right, nobody is wrong. It's whatever makes the player happy in their own chase for tone...there are no rules. Yes, there are common practices, but if players feel the need to switch it up and they dig it, then go for it. Nobody should be harassed or belittled for getting enjoyment out of their gear. So what if someone doesn't like relics or thinks Dumble amps suck, or they love Joyo pedals and think any pedal over $50 is a ripoff? There's a nice way to put it without being a jerk about it. Respect and tactfulness are lost arts these days.
 
What's the deal then? Why are people so quick to turn a friendly conversation into an all out war with words on a subject that's so subjective and different for everyone? The truth is we'll never know. Maybe they're just having a bad day (which we're all entitled to) and it's just the wrong place at the wrong time and that thread sets them off. That doesn't make it right, but it happens. Maybe it's jealousy? Unfortunately this is part of it as well, and with different incomes and lifestyles comes different opportunities for gear that won't always be available for everyone. There still should be no animosity over it, that's just the way the world is in all walks of life, certainly not just gear. What each person does with their own money is their prerogative, but not everyone sees that the same way. 
 
So how do we combat this? Number one advice (you probably already know it) is don't feed the trolls. Getting angry and quickly responding usually escalates and feeds into their destructive behavior. Ignoring rude comments as if they don't exist doesn't feed into whatever trip their on, and it will quickly fade into the sea of comments. Another way we handle ridiculous comments on YouTube or Facebook (which any company gets on a regular basis, you'd be amazed at some of them) is to just kill them with kindness. A simple "Thanks!" or "Cool, thanks for the input" ends the conversation by taking the high road. Either way, meeting negativity with more negativity won't solve the problem, and it usually just adds fuel to the fire. Following the old saying of "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all" is a simple way to approach it, and that's how most people normally operate. If the average person isn't into a thread, they move on to another that they are into. 
 
If you see someone being bullied or a troll bringing a thread down, take the time to let an admin of the group/forum know what's going on. The end goal is to keep these great places of knowledge thriving and positive, and even a quick message can keep a bad apple from ruining the bunch.

Tone sculpting has become a bit of an art, and many players pay so much attention to all facets of their board and guitar. Every link in the chain adds up to the overall tone you’re going to have coming from your amp, and small adjustments in your chain can make a big difference e in the long run.

Picks – There are thousands upon thousands of options for picks, ranging from extremely cheap budget picks all the way to expensive boutique picks that are worth almost as much as some pedals are. If you’re ever looking for a quick adjustment in your tone for something different, try a different pick shape or material. Different material will have a different tonal result on your pick attack, the harmonics and even feel of your playing. Metallic picks (using coins, etc) will have a brighter, chimey-er tone, where using some wood picks will yield a much darker tone. There are a plethora of options in terms of the material used to create them, so do your research and find which material yields the tone you’re looking for. Different thicknesses will make a large difference as well. It’s a fairly inexpensive way to for you to approach your tone differently. Also, if you don’t normally use your fingers, try it! Your fingers and fingernails have their own unique tone, and can resonate differently than a pick can. Switching up your right hand technique can really help you break out of the box tonally and technically.

Cables and Buffers – These are a foundation part of your tone, so great cables can make a huge difference. Again, there are a plethora of options out there for soldered and solderless cables, along with varying ends and methods of creating those cables, along with shielding options and types of outer casings for enhanced durability. The key to finding a great cable is finding a set that creates minimal signal degradation. The cheapo $5 patch cables can suck some tone and cut your high end, which after going through several of those cables will yield a more muffled, dull bypassed tone. Buffers also play a huge part in keeping your tone pristine. Buffers alter the impedence of your guitar signal, which helps it travel through your board easier. Just remember that some pedals (fuzzes and wah’s) aren’t fans of buffers, so place them before it. The best judge of whether you need a buffer or not is to take a short guitar cable (10’) and plug directly into your amp and play. Now plug into your board and see if the tone sounds muffled or like a blanket is lying over your amp. This would be due to signal loss from not having a buffer or needing better cables.

Speakers and Speaker Cabs - Of all of your tonal puzzle pieces, these are literally the devices that project your sound into the world, so choosing the right speaker for the application can play a huge role in turning great tone into STELLAR tone. There are more options than I can possibly put into a single blog, but there are hundreds of speakers from various companies that can accentuate the amp it’s paired with, and subsequently the pedals and guitar that are running into it.

The key to finding the perfect voicing for the sound you have in your head is realizing what you’re intentions are for the amp you’re using. If you want clean headroom, your speaker choices can differ greatly from an amp that you’re intending to use as your dirt tones. Choices can be affected by what configurations you have as well, so a single 1x12” cab will sound different from a 2x12” and a 4x12” (or 4x10”, or countless other options). Having a cab that holds more than one speaker is beneficial because it allows you to mix speakers to fit the perfect application. One speaker may be designed for more aggressive lows and highs with less emphasis on mids, where you could pair that with a more mid-focused speaker to fill out your sound tonally.

When choosing your speaker, you need to pay attention to the outputs on your amps and what ohms they can put out, as well as the speaker and make sure they match up. If you’re not sure exactly how to do this, the easiest method is to email the company and let them know what amp you’re using and they can recommend the right product and ohm rating for you. Your amp can sound completely different based on whether you’re running at 4ohm, 8ohm and 16ohm and doing the research between the various options and what works best for your amp will yield some really fun and great sounding results.

Along with proper speaker choices, deciding on the right cab (as mentioned above) will play a part in your overall tone. Horizontal cables vs. vertical cabs can make a big difference on the tone you and the audience are hearing, along with which way the cab is facing and whether it’s tilted, off the floor, or even facing a different direction. The last thing the front row of a gig wants is to have your speakers blaring directly in their faces. Tilting the cab back (on combos) or getting the cab off of the floor will help diffuse some of the sound and disperse it into the air instead of directly at the audience’s faces.

Mix it up a bit – Do you normally run your delay into the FX loop? Try placing it before your dirt pedals for a completely different set of tones. There are typical “guides” and thought processes that come to mind when laying out a pedalboard, but when it comes down to it there are no rules, and what’s right is whatever sounds best to you. Experiment with signal chain order, especially stacking different pedals into each other to see what sonic tones you can coax out of something that would seem so unorthodox.

When I first started playing guitar, I’ll admit that it was solely to learn the cool parts of songs that I felt were the “best” guitar part at the time. I was 14 and had all the time in the world to play, so it was nothing to practice for 4-6 hours a day until my fingers bled or exhaustion set in. Ever since I’ve started though, I’ve always felt the absolute NEED to play a riff or solo exactly how it was recorded. It was an urge or obsession at my core level that I would be completely dissatisfied with myself if I couldn’t reproduce the exact tone and nuances on the tracks. I would get mad at myself and just keep hacking away at it, one note at a time until I could get it at slower speed and progressively sped up from there.

As time went on, I found myself becoming a riff-based player, very dedicated to playing those parts perfectly, but not working on my personal musicianship and my ability to play things other than just intros or cool riffs from my favorite bands. This became blatantly obvious when I was 16 and went to watch one of our local bands here in town practice. These were all college-aged guys and I remember at the time seeing them practice how much their attention to detail came into play. I was heavily into punk rock (which I thought was easy) and they were a rockabilly band with punk rock and ska influences, so I was in teenage guitar player heaven. Their singer and lead guitarist was known in our high school for being legendary because he could play Eruption note for note.

I proceeded to watch them start one of their original songs, play for 10 seconds then stop and the singer said “Again. it wasn’t timed right. We have to be tighter.” This proceeded on for an hour of them practicing just that part to be sure it was absolutely perfect, and I could identify with that based on my own experiences. Then after they were done, they let me grab one of the other guy’s guitars to play around with. (I’ll never forget the rig: Marshall JCM 2000 with the orange crunch tolex, and a black American strat that had been beat to living crap from playing out so much. No pedals, just guitar and amp.)

The minute they handed me that guitar and told me to just jam along with them, I froze and had no earthly idea what the heck to do. If it wasn’t an Incubus, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against the Machine or Green Day riff, it wasn’t coming out of my hands. I froze up and had no idea what to do, and just apologized and tried to stumble through the few riffs I could muster up as my nerves got the best of me. I was lucky because the guys remembered what it was like to be 16 and just really starting out, so they taught me a the basics of I-IV-V and  my mind was blown. I had heard blues players use that, but didn’t realize it was that “easy” (little did I know at the time how many songs are based around I-iV-V). I stumbled trying to get my pinky to cooperate as I played a 12-bar blues rhythm in G for an hour, all while listening to the other older guys taking turns playing solos. It was one of the biggest learning experiences in my life. There was no script, there was no restarting or do-overs, it was just rolling with what came along and having a blast.

I’ve been friends with those guys ever since, and I’ve learned a lot about guitar and musicianship from them over the years. Yes, they were dedicated to nailing the parts of the song that they were after at the time, but when it came down to it they enjoyed it, and after enough practice it became tighter and they worked the kinks out and it was like they were born to play those parts that tight. There were many occasions where they would play a cover and would just wing it on a solo, not following the one from the song at all, and really making it their own, and I loved it. It didn’t have to be exactly like the song, and very few in the crowd really cared if it was spot on (more often than not they enjoyed the showmanship of an added epic guitar solo).

After that day it dawned on me that no matter how perfectly you learn a song (which truly is satisfying), it serves yourself as a musician to get out there and learn the various scales and chord changes and absorb every bit of knowledge you can from more experienced guitarists to improve your improvisational skills. Learning those skills COUPLED with learning the riffs and solos helps to shape and mold you as a player, and subsequently finding your own “voice” on guitar. If you think about it, most of the greatest bands in history have never played the song note for note from the recording, and it’s that unique improvisation and adaptation at the moment that creates some of the most iconic live performances to date. 

 

I’m a gear and pedal addict, and I’m always scouring the internet for whatever is catching my eye at the moment (Gibson SG’s right now in fact). I find it interesting when I see magazine articles or YouTube videos about someone’s rig rundown (or when you see some big name artist like Prince or countless others) and their pedal board was comprised of almost all Boss pedals.

 

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but it led me to thinking; do we obsess too much over gear? Why do some obsess over “boutique” gear while others are just fine with Boss or some other more budget-friendly brand pedals? Is our pursuit of tone out of necessity to achieve “the sound”? Personal enjoyment? Acquiring the latest and greatest gear? Is it a culmination of all of the above?

I tried to narrow it down to three types of players, in a very broad sense. This is a generalization, so in many scenarios it isn’t quite that static but more of a general observation than anything.

“If it’s not broke don’t fix it” – These are players that love their tone just the way it is and has always been since they found “their sound” years ago. They have no desire to change it at all.  Many times the players that fit this idea have great amps that they’re accustomed to and know every nuance about them, and every tone they can produce. There are likely a few base effects, maybe a boost or OD, delay, chorus, wah, or fuzz (among other things). In many cases it’s not a massive pedalboard, but in many cases the player has learned to coax the tones out of a smaller board of older pedals, and they don’t need any more than that. There’s nothing wrong with this mindset, because it allows the player to focus solely on playing the instrument instead of twisting knobs and they know their tone and utilize every piece of gear with precision that fits the moment and what sound they need.

G.A.S. Hounds – (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) – These are the players that love to buy gear and search for new tones.  There hasn’t been any official proof of why GAS sets in, but millions of players are stricken with the insatiable lust for “new” gear (new can consist of new-to-you, which is why the used market is massive right now). It could be the newest DSP delay that has been released with MIDI input, or a Distortion with active EQ controls and multiple gain stages, or a new Fuzz that’s supposed to be identical to one of the classic fuzzes Hendrix or Gilmour used. In many cases, it’s solely curiosity that drives players to want to try out the new gear.

New gear also can greatly inspire a player to try new tones and thus new ways of playing, which can be advantageous in growing their skill and finding their own sound. This works really well when a player is stuck in a rut with their playing, feeling like they aren’t progressing no matter how hard they try. There are many factors that could be discussed at a later date, but in general the GAS hounds are consistently on the chase for a new sound.

This leads to “flipping”, where a player purchases something (new or used) and in turn after playing it, “flips” it by reselling it in order to replenish the funds to put towards more gear. This is a major advantage to buyers and sellers in the used market, which is why it’s thriving so well. There are a lot worse things to do with your time and your money. Some people like to go bowling or play golf; G.A.S. hounds like to try new gear.

They just don’t care – There are a lot of players out there that don’t care what brand of pedal they playing, or whether it’s true bypass or buffered or if a pedal has the extra fancy functions. To them it is just a tool that they use to create music. It is like a carpenter who goes out and buys a hammer. He doesn’t necessarily need a certain brand name, just a good hammer that gets the job done. A lot of artists fall into this category. They know they need a certain sound, but they really don’t have the time, or care to compare delay pedal A to delay pedal B. They just need a solid functioning pedal that will get the job done and let them get their music out to the world.

So where do you fit in? Have you achieved your sound and are happy with what you have? Or are you the player that just likes to check out the newest offerings from the gear world out of curiosity? Or do you view pedals as just another tool in the toolbox, and it doesn’t matter what brand it is as long as it makes the sound you were hearing in your head?

The funny thing is, like most things in the guitar world, there is no right or wrong way to be. It really is about what makes you happiest, and what makes you want to pick up your axe and head to the woodshed.

2106, a year in review

December 31, 2016

Now that 2016 is coming to an end, we’d like to take the time to thank all of the tone chasers out there for all of the support this year. It’s been an interesting time to say the least, with one of the longest dry spells between releases that we’ve ever had (it was excruciating for us!). During that time we took the opportunity to buckle down and reformat our brand to make it a bit more cohesive across the line-up, with many of our pedals receiving a makeover, either cosmetically with graphics, or the conversion to soft relay switching and top jacks. The goal with this switchover is to increase the longevity of the life of the pedal by reducing the amount of pressure needed to activate the pedal, along with the highly requested top jack feature for squeezing more onto the board.

Along with the aforementioned upgrades, we also released the Mini Ego compressor, Pinnacle Deluxe v2, and the Faux Tape Echo v2. The Mini Ego is something that we announced back in January due to high demand and consistent requests for it, but finally got out to everyone after overcoming a few hurdles in production. It squeezes (pun intended) the great tones from the Ego Compressor standard into a mini enclosure, and has been met with great response so far. The tone and attack knobs have been converted into 2-way switches which are common tones that we've honed in on for maximum versatility in conjunction with the other controls, especially with the Blend knob.

The Pinnacle Deluxe v2 was something Brian had been working on for awhile, and he wanted to step outside of the “Brown sound” box and provide something insanely versatile and tweakable to achieve a plethora of great tones, potentially becoming the only distortion you could possibly need! He added a 3-band EQ, along with multiple gain stages that range from light gritty overdrive with the volume on your guitar rolled back, to a full on soaring wall of sound with both the gain boost and the footswitchable boost engaged. He also addressed a common issue where there was too much sag on high output guitars, so a SAG switch was included to accommodate those as well.

The Faux Tape Echo v2 expanded on the predecessor by adding one of the most requested features we’ve ever had, which is for subdivisions to go along with the tap tempo. The modulation section was updated with streamlined controls for depth and speed, deciding to forgo the switch for activation. We’re VERY proud of these new pedals and glad that they’re making it into the hands of the tone chasers that can put them to good use!

Finally, we released the Bravado 40w pedal platform amp. It’s an all tube, handwired on turret board design that is made specifically for the pedal addict who uses their pedals for dirt and that are looking for the perfect canvas to create their own tonal work of art on. Along with being the perfect platform for dirt pedals, the FX loop was also designed with Dave Friedman to have zero tone loss and make your time-based and modulation effects sound pristine and fantastic.

Going forward into 2017, we’re VERY excited about some of the things we’re working on. There will be something new at Winter NAMM, and many more things in process of being developed for our 2017 release schedule. We’re so thankful for the support and the feedback, and we’re looking forward to an even more exciting 2017!

There’s honestly nothing worse than the feeling of going to jam, and something isn’t working correctly in your chain. It’s a mix of emotions, from sad to angry to just generally a “What the heck?” moment. The next process involved is troubleshooting or searching on the internet for the answer. First and foremost we suggest contacting the manufacturer of the pedal for help. This cuts to the chase by going direct to the source, especially in terms of warranty and beginning the process for repairs (if necessary).This is just a helpful guide of sorts to narrow down areas to troubleshoot on your own prior to moving forward. These are common ways to troubleshoot that apply to nearly every pedal out there.

The first thing to try when anything is acting wacky with a pedal is to isolate it for testing. This removes any other variables and focuses on the cleanest and simplest signal path to troubleshoot. Start with your guitar going out with a confirmed working cable to the input of the pedal, with the pedal having a fresh 9v battery (if applicable, not with minis) and disconnected from your power supply, straight into the amp. If the pedal behaves correctly, then you know the problem was somewhere else in the chain. If the issue is still occurring, document everything you can to better help identify the problem for the tech. If there’s no output, try cutting the footswitch off and on several times, if it comes on occasionally, it could be a bad footswitch. If you turn a knob and the sound seems really odd or has no effect at all, it could be a bad pot. Does the LED cut on? Any small detail will help when you’re going to have it repaired.

Batteries – Some companies ship their pedals with batteries, some do not. Leaving a cable plugged into the input of a pedal will drain the battery, even if it’s not being used. One good idea to practice is if you’re using a power supply to power your pedals, remove the battery to prevent corrosion over time. If you do use a battery, be sure to use a fresh, unused battery

Power – Digital effects especially are more prone to be noisy if you’re not using a dedicated, isolated power source to power the pedal. Daisy-chaining digital effects with analog pedals or other digital pedals will create substantial noise. Isolated power supplies can be a bit expensive, but they’re worth the investment in the long run. If you’re concerned it’s a power issue and you’ve tried it isolated with a battery, then there could be an issue with the cable from the power supply, or with the power jack. Note: Using the wrong power supply can render a pedal useless, and that is not covered under most warranties. Our pedals in particular require a barrel-type (Boss style), center-negative power supply cable. Some pedals have the ability to run anywhere from 9v to up to 18v (and anywhere in between), where some will be rendered useless if run above 9v. Check out this blog for an in-depth detail of which of our pedals can be used at 9v and 18v: http://www.wamplerpedals.com/news/blog/talking-about-gear/power-9v-or-18v

Footswitch popping during activation – If your pedal has recently started an excessively loud pop when you first activate it after moving pedals around on your board, there could be an issue with the impedance the pedal is seeing. For starters, try the first step and isolate it and see if that is taking care of it. If it’s no longer popping, then another pedal in your chain is causing an impedance issue, so try swapping positions on your board could fix it. Bad cables can be the culprit as well.

Crackling Pots – This would signal dirty pots, which can be solved by using an contact cleaner, which is discussed more here: http://www.wamplerpedals.com/news/blog/talking-about-gear/cleaning-the-pots-on-your-pedals

There are a multitude of different things that can go on based solely on the fact that you’re stepping on electronic devices repeatedly, so despite every builder’s best efforts things do fail. This is exactly why we personally offer a 30-day customer satisfaction guarantee and return policy when purchased directly through our website.

Scenario time: You’re at a gig and the show is going well. The band is tight, the crowd is loving the music and the bar owner is loving the way you your group have packed the house. You bend over to adjust the gain on your overdrive pedal, and you hear it… and the room hears it. That noisy, scratchy and crackling sound of a dirty pot. It isn’t a gig killer, but it definitely brings the joy down a notch. Resisting the urge to throw that pedal across the room in disgust, there is a way to resurrect it and get it back into full operating order once again. To get started we’ll visit Amazon.com to search for Deoxit Contact Cleaner. (Note, this is available at multiple different outlets, including some vehicle care places, and I’ve even seen it at Guitar Center before. We just chose Amazon out of simplicity).

Deoxit is designed to clean, lubricate and preserve contacts and conductivity, by dissolving the dirt and grime, and it does a great job of it. Though it’s in a liquid form, it is quick drying and will not hurt the pedal at all. Deoxit is effective, but it is also quite strong so some precautions are in order before using it. Being an abrasive substance, you want to use it outdoors in a well ventilated area and not on a windy day. To be extra careful it wouldn’t hurt to wear a face mask to prevent breathing in any of the fumes. The same goes for your eyes, you don’t want this getting into your eyes by accident, so some glasses or other form of protection wouldn’t be a bad idea either. Once you get done with the following steps, be sure to wash your hands as well to prevent some from accidentally getting where it shouldn’t.

 

Step One:

Take the pedal apart to access the pots. Remove the back cover to expose the inner pots and circuit board. If you’re uncomfortable with this process, it’s best to take it to an experienced tech that is familiar with electronics.

 

Step Two:

Each potentiometer has a small opening that will allow the cleaner to get inside and loosen the dirt that has collected in there. As you spray liberally turn the knobs back and forth quickly. This will work the dirt loose and restore the contact needed for clean transitions in your adjustments.

Step Three:

Put the pedal back together and test it out. That scratchiness should be gone. This method can be used on switches as well. Just work the switch as you spray to ensure they are free of dirt and are well lubricated. Deoxit can also be used to clean your inputs and outputs, and even your AC adapter jack can be cleaned this way. Just don’t do it while attached to power. It could void your warranty and/or seriously hurt you.

Now, this is a technique that works most of the time, your mileage may vary but it could save you some time instead of having to go through process of submitting it for repairs.

Brian covers this more in depth in his latest vlog: How to clean dirty & crackling pots (potentiometers) on a pedal...

Product update - 2016

October 28, 2016

The day that we felt would never arrive is finally here! As you all know, we announced the Mini Ego along with some other pedals in January of this year at Winter NAMM. From that point it has been a metaphorical rollercoaster trying to get the final product out to the players.. Admittedly the announcement was done a bit prematurely, and it was an exercise in frustration trying to get the Mini Ego’s into full release.

In the process, we’ve also had a lot of things going on in the background, with the eventual goal of wanting to convert the entire line to top jacks and soft switching. This is a set of features that players have been requesting for years, and we wanted to make good on our promise to eventually make that happen. With the delay in production for the Mini Ego, we decided to go ahead and pursue the process to make those conversions a reality.

Today, we’re very pleased to announce that our entire line-up has converted over to top jacks and soft relay switching (with the exception of the mini pedals), with several pedals receiving a graphics facelift to signify our next step in evolution. Rest assured that NONE of the tones have changed whatsoever, it’s merely switching to a more advanced, reliable switching system with the added space-saving factor of top jacks. You can check out our website to see the newest versions available. These will be available world-wide (ask your local dealer) as well as direct from our site.

Along with the line-up overhaul, we’re happy to announce that we’re also releasing a new version of the Pinnacle Deluxe, as well as a new Faux Tape Echo! The new Pinnacle will feature an 3-band EQ, Modern and Vintage tone selector, a Gain boost switch, and a footswitchable pre- volume/gain boost (yep, 2 different boosts!). The boost operates by the volume and gain going up simultaneously and despite being standalone, is made to really kick the Pinnacle to the next level of clipping and distortion. The Pinnacle was originally designed with the “Brown sound” in mind, but with this new version Brian wanted to take it a step further and make it one of the most versatile distortions he possibly could. He also decided to include a SAG switch. Players with active pickups or extremely hot pickups sometimes experienced enhanced levels of compression and sag, often requiring the player to lower their pickups. This switch helps solve that issue quickly and effectively.

The new Faux Tape Echo will feature 4 subdivisions, 1/4 note, 1/8th note, dotted 1/8th, and triplets. Along with the graphics and subdivision overhaul, the controls have changed up a bit too. There’s a Delay knob that sets the amount of delay time (up to 600ms of clean repeats, but maxed out around 800ms with some grit added to the notes), Delay Mix that lets you blend in the delay with your dry signal, Repeats lets you select the number of repeats, from one repeat to self-oscillation past the 3pm range. The modulation on/off switch has been removed and we now have dedicated Rate and Depth knobs that let you adjust quickly without having to mess with a switch. Turning these knobs fully counterclockwise will result in no modulation on the repeats. The Tone control controls the repeats only, from darker aka warmer to brighter and a bit more of a digital feel.

All of these products are now available to buy, in store or direct from us via our webstore, which is right here!

G-Bender, in a nutshell

October 24, 2016

After the new shots of the Paisley Drive were posted, we received a lot of messages through Instagram and Facebook regarding the bridge configuration on my Crook Custom Telecaster (pictured above). I just wanted to run through the configuration and mindset behind the bridge setup and give an insight into it after using it for a decade now. I love this guitar dearly, primarily because it’s my father’s. He and I both ordered a Crook at the same time, and they’re identical in terms of pickups and wiring and hardware, but he chose a red paisley with silver flake underneath and a rosewood fretboard, where I chose to pursue a new prototype paint job with a green paisley and the silver flake underneath with a birdeye maple fretboard (pictured).

Let’s start off with low E and A strings. This compensated saddle is made of aircraft grade aluminum. Bill Crook was telling me during the development process that he uses this type of saddle because it provides and extra bit of bite and snap to the lower strings, which can sometimes flub out and sound a bit too undefined (especially using dirt pedals). Next up is a single saddle for the D string, which is also stainless steel. Again, it provides a great bite and twang without being offensive or ice-picky. We’ll skip to the high B and E strings for now (the G string will be discussed in a moment). For the high B and E, Bill decided to go with a brass compensated saddle. He mentioned that after extensive testing that the brass would retain the killer tone without the ice-pick sometimes associated with teles and those strings. The bottom two string are very warm and have loads of sustain going on, but never get muddy.

So the big question is, what’s going on with that funky looking saddle on the G-string? That’s a McVay G-bender mechanism from Charlie McVay. Charlie is a lap-steel player by trade, so he was naturally very affluent with the bending systems in those instruments. Brad always preferred a G-bender to a B-bender  because he felt it was more musical in nature based on what bends you could accomplish. It’s Brad Paisley, so who am I to disagree? Being the superfan that I’ve always been, I got one installed too. Essentially what is going on is a level system that’s installed into the body, with an small “arm” lever that you attach your straplock to instead of directly to the guitar. The way it works, when you pull the guitar neck down towards the floor, the level actually raises the G-string by one who step. This is incredibly fun to include in your regular playing because it allows you the ability to do open string bends to really get twangy. I’ll be the first to admit that I abused it when I first got it, and had to train myself not to rely on bending the g-string with that at not my fingers too. There are two distinct tones between using the bender and manually doing it.

As an example of using a G-bender, I wanted to take a look back at one of my favorite country tunes that’s not too technically difficult, but incredibly fun to play and a great introduction to Brad Paisley’s playing style and the idea behind the bender. (There are two versions of the tab, one without a bender and one with). I loved Brad’s song “Old Alabama” from his album “This is Country Music”, so at the time of release I sat down and tabbed out the intro. In regards to the tones, I use the Ego Compressor for a light squish (sustain at 10:30) but with the blend low(Noon to 2pm) and the attack fully clockwise (slowest). This helps adds that feel of your amp compressing and also smoothes out the notes without that heavy squish on the initial not attack. Next I ran into the Paisley Drive, with the gain said relatively low (10am) and treble to taste. I was using a bright amp (Dr. Z RXJr) so my tone was set at 10:30. The key for me was using the mids in the UP (medium mid hump) position, which is closely based on Brad’s Z-Wreck tone. The volume you want set right above unity. Following the Paisley Drive I went into the Faux Tape Echo set to a light slapback, set with the mix knob just below unity, (repeats fully counter-clockwise, time knob at 9am). This gives the perfect slap that adds the depth and feel to the note to complete the full tonal package.

-----------------

-----------

And here’s Brad discussing his G-bender (and he’s actually using his prototype Wheelhouse Delay that Brian created for him!)