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How to Use Pedals to Their Full Potential (Part 2)

In the last blog we talked mostly about pedal order/ how to get the most out of your pedals. Most of the pedal setup I talked about was with the pedals being ran through the front of your amp. Well, what about the effects loop? What pedals should/ shouldn’t be run through the effects loop? Well let’s break some groups of pedals down:

Boosts/ EQ’s: Boosting and EQ-ing in the effects loop will definitely shape your tone. In the loop, a boost will add volume without boosting the front end of the amp. This will create less of an overdriven/ distortion effect and more of just a clean volume bump. An EQ Pedal, in the effects loop, will help shape the tone of the amp itself – rather than shape the overdrive/ gain texture of the amp. When you run an EQ pedal through the front of the amp – lets say after your tube screamer – it will help shape the tone of the gain structure. (On a side note: you can also “fuzz up” a crunchy gain channel by setting the EQ to be very bass heavy.)

Delays and Reverbs: I get asked about these two pedals all the time. A good rule of thumb is – that if you are using your amp’s dirty channel – you will want to put your delays and reverbs in the effects loop of your amp. The main reason for this is because – well… delay and reverb BEFORE your dirt/ distortion channel sounds kind of terrible…. It might work for some – but in every application we have ever tried it – it just didn’t sound good at all.

As discussed in the first part of this two-part blog – results will differ from rig to rig. We are all tone chasers and what works for one person, may not work for another. Tone chasing is a lifelong pursuit for most of us and I encourage each of you to get out there and see what works best for you!

- Max

 

 

How to Use Pedals to Their Full Potential (Part 1)

This week, I wanted to discuss a question that gets asked a lot here at Wampler HQ. “What is the best order to put my pedals in for the best results.” While there are no hard and fast rules on pedal order - this is the preferred order that we personally wire our show boards and the method in which Brian wires his personal boards.

Lets start from the beginning. If you are going to be running a lot of cable – or a lot of pedals – you should start with a buffer. (For more info on buffers specifically – check out this link) http://wamplerpedals.com/blog/buffers-un-baffled/

Right after your buffer you place your Phaser/ Wah/ Uni-Vibe pedals. After these 3 you can place your compressor.

The next section is the heart and soul of every pedal board – and personally my favorite section – the dirt. This would include your Overdrive/ Distortion/ Fuzz (possibly distortion/fuzz into your overdrive depending on your preference. Please experiment for your own tailored tones.)

Your Equalizer pedals will come after your drive section – to help shape some of those tones. After your equalization – will come your other modulation pedals: Chorus, Vibrato, Shifting, Flanger pedals. Following this would be your noise gate, if you use one.

Then come your delay and reverb pedals. Here at Wampler, we like to run our Reverb after our Delay pedals. We find that particular order allows us to create some pretty rich tones when stacked together.

For guys that plug straight in to the house – or when space is super limited and an amp cannot be used – a cabinet simulator is used next.

And last but certainly not least – you can use a level boost at the end of your chain to really boost the front of your amp.

While pedal order and pedal stacking is not an exact science, the pedal order we just discussed just happens to be what we have found to work best for us. We find that this order allows us to get the most potential out of our pedals. We know that pedal order can be a subjective topic at times and we strongly encourage you tone chasers to get in front of your pedal board and experiment!

-Max

 

Top 10 Rules to Follow at an Open Stage Blues Jam

10.) Bring your own guitar: Pretty straight forward. If you show up to an open stage blues jam – you have to bring your own guitar. Most times – the house band has spent a nice chunk of change on their personal instruments and understandably do not want somebody they don’t know or the drunk guy – playing their personal gear.

9.) DO NOT bring your own amp. You would think this one would be straight forward – but month after month, jammers will try to “sneak in” their Marshall MG100 half stack because they don’t trust the provided back-line.

8.) Do NOT use your STAGE NAME: Chances are your name is not really “Mojo” or “John – Indianapolis – Smith”, or any combination of blues buzz words – and/ or the city/ State you are from. Use the name on your driver’s license – it’s way more legit than “Hammer”.

7.) It’s NOT YOUR GIG! Some musicians forget this rule. Jammers usually have 3 songs or 15 minutes – this doesn’t constitute a gig. The point of a jam is to have fun and relax. You don’t need to micro-manage how everybody else plays and don’t thank the band. Keep it simple.

6.) NO Sunglasses, NO Fedoras, NO bowling shirts: The most straightforward rule. Don’t. Just Don’t….

5.) No original material. As stated in rule number 7 – blues jams should be fun and relaxed. Some jammers are way more experienced than others. Not every jammer will understand your complex changes and phrasing – save that stuff for your band’s gigs on the weekend.

4.) Play Chords. Nothing says Noob or annoying faster than a guy that just plays a solo the entire time during a song. We get it – you can play fast or try to play fast – can you play a major 7 chord – do you know the right I -IV-V chords?

3.) No “Free Bird”. For number 3 we use the term “Free Bird” as a generalized term for any song that is over played. If you got to a rock show – the one drunk guy in the back that came by himself is shouting “FREE BIRD”. In the blues world – there are songs like Mustang Sally that are equivalent to Free Bird – don’t be that guy that requests it or plays it.

2.) TUNE OR DIE! Please for the love of everything good in life – TUNE YOUR GUITAR! Please, please, please – don’t tune after the first song – it’s too late by then. Tune before you get on stage or before the first song. The guys you are playing with and the crowd will thank you!

And number One….. drum roll please….

1.) No Harmonica “Players”. We are half joking with this one. There are some fantastic harmonica players out there. Guys that have honed their craft over a long time and really make their instrument sound musical in a band setting. Then there are the “harmonica players” that just purchased their “harmonica” from the Cracker Barrel gift shop the week before and are “ready” for the stage. The first group of musicians typically doesn’t come to a blues jam. Unfortunately – more often than not – the latter group does.

Check out our video for the Chasing Tone Podcast Episode 19 - where we go over each rule.

- Max

Congratulations Max and Shelley!!

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After many questions that are #hashbrownright and even more that are #hashbrownwrong, today is the day when Max and Shelley answer the one question that matters - saying #hashbrownido!!! - Yes, she is making an honest man of him!!

Congratulations guys, here's wishing you an amazing future together, with all our love from everyone at Wampler Pedals.

Pink Velvet Fuzz!!!

It's the time of year where everything starts going pink - and Wampler Pedals is no exception. This year, in support Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we have produced 50 limited edition fully functioning Pink Velvet Fuzz pedals for sale at the regular price of $199.97 (USD) direct from us here -www.wamplerpedals.com/charity/ - Remember, THERE ARE ONLY 50!!- and once they are gone - they are gone!

Every penny is going to The Rose Foundation. You can find out more about The Rose here.  (www.the-rose.org).

Pink Velvet

ABIGAIL YBARRA

It’s no secret that I’m a Stratocaster fan-boy. I love the way they play, sound, feel under the fingers, and the fact that they have left their mark on the history of music. Because I’m such a nerd, I also enjoy knowing the ins and outs/ history of the Stratocaster. From the Bakelite cooperation that used to make pickguards and knobs for Fender to how to read serial numbers on the headstock – I get a real kick on knowing a lot about the instrument. One piece of Fender musical history that not everybody knows is the pickup winding legend: Abigail Ybarra.

Hand-winding pickups is truly a multi-part art form: visually stunning and sonically beautiful. A pickup winder literally hand winds (also known as scatter winding) a piece of very long and thin piece of copper wire – roughly the size of a human hair – several thousand times around the pickup bobbin. Making each pickup uniform, each time, by touch, feel, and a masterful eye. AMAZING! And Abigail Ybarra, is arguably one of the best pickup winders in the world.

Abigail went to work for Fender in 1956. By the middle of 1958 she was hand-winding pickups for Fender. Ybarra’s hand-wound pickups have been included in Fender’s most popular instruments from the late-’50s to until her retirement last year. For us Fender nuts, most of our favorite tones have been a direct result of the time and care Abigail put in to each and every pickup she wound.

So today, I just want to tip my hat to the masterful, incomparable, pickup winding guru – Abigail Ybarra.

- Max abigail

Auction for Andy

Auction for Andy October 6-12 on Reverb.com: A benefit auction for the family of Andrew Richardson of ZVEX Effects

Andrew Richardson, sales/operations manager at ZVEX Effects passed away suddenly on September 1, 2014. Artists and gear manufacturers alike have rallied to raise money for Andy’s beautiful wife, Moe (Marisa) and 3 year old son Bronson, who must now carry on without him. His passing is felt deeply by the many who loved him.

Auction for Andy features over 150 items, including limited, rare and collectible items from 70+ manufacturers and artists!

You can follow the auction here: https://reverb.com/shop/auctionsforandy

wampler_hot_wired_brent_mason

Gear Settings: Bedroom -vs- Stage

Talk to any guitarist who’s played a small to medium sized gig and they’ll probably tell you the same thing. Don’t get too attached to your pedal or amp settings at home. Once your rig is on a stage in a weirdly shaped room with terrible acoustics, things are going to have to change. 
 
In this post I’m going to write about three aspects of tone that change drastically when you move from your bedroom to the stage.
 
BASS
 
The amount of bass you hear coming from your amp/cabinet will vary greatly in different venues, and even what part of the stage it’s on.
 
You’ll probably need less bass on tight indoor stages, and more bass on larger outdoor stages. Of course, there are exceptions.
 
The key is to use your ears. Listen closely, not just to your amp, but also to how your amp interacts with the room/stage. Forget what you think “normal” settings are. “0” is a perfectly acceptable setting in certain situations.
 
GAIN
 
Even with good a good PA system and fantastic stage monitors, cleaner tone will be easier to distinguish than heavily distorted tone.
 
This will vary from one style of music to another, but let’s use blues as an example. Most blues players use some form of overdrive. Using an OD pedal to push an already overdriven tube amp can sound glorious in your bedroom, but perfectly muddy on stage.
 
The guideline I use is this. Set the amp a bit cleaner than usual. Set the pedals a lot cleaner, but for more boost. Your mileage may vary, but for what I do, this approach works. Cleaner tone is easier for everyone to hear, even the audience (which I’ve been told is important).
 
I can hear some of you already thinking “but what about my sustain, MY GOD, WHAT ABOUT THE SUSTAIN?”
 
Don’t worry, here’s why your precious sustain will be OK.  
 
When you’re on stage, your amp will be (probably) be louder than it is at home. If you’re at a good venue with a good PA system, you might have the luxury of hearing your guitar through your own personal stage monitor. This extra volume around your guitar acutally increases your sustain.
 
This means that you can get the same “feel” (more sustain) using less dirt.
 
MIDRANGE
 
Midrange is a huge part of why your guitar is either heard or buried in the mix. Midrange can feel like the enemy when you’re standing in front of your amp at home. You might dial in a fat, shimmery tone that sparkles like unicorn tears and think it’s the last tone you’ll ever need.
 
But the noise of a band can bury your fat, shimmery tones. Your fat low end and sparkly treble can disappear from a mix as soon as the drummer and bass player get excited and begin playing louder. 
 
Being heard is more important than having perfect tone. If you’re the primary melody maker in the band, the music will sound worse if you can’t be heard. To be heard, you need to have enough midrange to cut through the mix.
This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, only a solid start. I’m curious what the working guitarists at Wampler Pedals could add to this list. If only they had a podcast where they could talk about such things...
- Anthony Stauffer Texas Blues Alley

Check out Anthony on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TexasBluesAlley Check out his awesome website! http://www.texasbluesalley.com

Typical Day At the Office

I’ve had a few people email in – wondering what it is like working at Wampler Pedals HQ/ in the pedal industry in general. So I thought I would take you through a regular day here at the office and debunk a couple misconceptions about working in the pedal industry.

So what “IS” a typical day like in the Wampler Pedals office? Playing guitar all day, geeking out over gear, attending guitar shows, NAMM, hanging out with rock stars, and generalized Tom Foolery – is exactly not it at all. (Well the Tom Foolery - sometimes.)

Most of my day is spent right here at my desk – checking email, answering emails and phone calls; making sure that anybody that needs warranty work on those road worn pedals or needs suggestions on tone settings – is covered. The rest of my time is spent pouring over the gear forums, administrative work, writing our blog, and contributing to our podcast “Chasing Tone” once a week. For those of you who haven’t checked out Chasing Tone – do so, stop reading this and go check it out! http://www.wamplerpedals.com/podcast/ I can’t speak for the rest of the guys – but I’m pretty funny. Brian and Travis are all right I guess.

Guitar shows and NAMM.

Facts about the shows – lots of gear, loud noises, usually filled with gear nerds like you and me. Shows have tons of great gear – made by some of the greatest people you will ever meet – and as a worker of your booth or room – you usually don’t get to see or play any of it. Just like any other worker at a tradeshow – guitar shows – especially NAMM is a lot of hard work. This past winter NAMM we were next to the drums – Drummers for 10 hours a day! Oh the humanity! Now, I’m not saying we don’t cut loose and have a good time after the show. I’m fortunate enough to have some great co-workers, and in case he’s reading this - a GREAT BOSS, so hanging with each other after you worked 14 hours a day or  traveling together – is pretty easy. It also helps that at the end of each day at shows, your boss walks with you to the beer cart and gets you a beer. (Not too many people can say their bosses do that.)

Although this industry is harder work than most people think - working for a pedal company does have it perks. I get to test new prototypes when they come out, I get to share laughs/ indulge in the occasional inner office prank with some fantastic co-workers, and I get to work in a field that I am truly passionate about!

- Max Jeffrey