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Chasing Tone 36/ Which is Better: Nice Amps or Nice Pedals?

It’s Monday again – which means another episode of Chasing Tone! Here are the short notes:

First up: Should you put your money on amps or pedals? So the big question is - do you 1.) buy nice pedals – but use a solid state digital amp? Or 2.) buy a nice tube amp and then get some pedals to compliment it? Travis hits the nail on the head with this one.

“It’s two different schools of thought – and you get what you pay for.”

Some of the solid-state amps that are coming out recently are just awesome! Quilter, Fractal, Axe effects, and Kemper (just to name a few) are producing some seriously awesome stuff! Looking at it from the other end, not all tube amps sound terrific. I won't mention any here by name specifically - but there are some tube amps out there that sound pretty terrible as well. So it really depends on the quality of your amp and your pedals and what sounds the best to you. Use your ears. If you like it, who cares what anybody else thinks!

Putting an EQ pedal in the effects loop of an amp. So here is quick tip from Brian that I thought was pretty cool. If you have an amp with an effects loop – try putting an EQ pedal through the effects loop to help shape your dirt channel. I tried this with my Fender Hot Rod Deville (2x12”) and had some pretty cool results. Totally changed the channel 2 (dirt channel) voicing of that amp!

Should Brian get a PRS (Paul Read Smith)? YES! Or at least something that is high quality with humbuckers. My vote is for a PRS Custom 22. That was THE locker guitar for me since high school. By locker guitar, I mean – in high school, some people had pictures of their high school sweethearts, or pictures of fancy cars, etc – I had a cut out a picture of a PRS custom 22. I even cut out a second picture, made it in to a magnet, and stuck it on my parent’s fridge as a long shot Christmas wish/ miracle… it is still on their fridge 10 years later and I still don’t have my PRS. If any is best friends with Paul and wants to make a dream come true… Lol. One day Max, one day….

- Max

Chasing Tone Podcast 35

This week we are continuing on with the 2 shorter podcasts a week format. So for those of you who still want the "meat and potatoes" of the show, with out all the goofy shenanigans - here are the highlights.

Humidity and guitars: Winter, especially here in Indiana, can be brutal for guitars. Because of the general dry air/ super low humidity that winter brings – the wood on your guitars can and will start to dry out (and some times shrink) with out proper humidity. Travis learned this with his Don Grosh S-style guitar a couple weeks ago. Accordingly to Travis the frets on his Grosh almost started popping off because of lack of moisture in his guitar. After a couple of days in a room with a humidifier going his guitar’s moisture levels started to right itself. So remember when it starts getting cold outside – start humidifying your instruments – I typically humidify my instruments about 8 months out of the year. (A $30 case humidifier can save you a lot of headaches and heartache down the line.)

Amp In A Box pedals: We also discussed Amp in a Box pedals – more specific the Wampler Black 65. A lot of those old Fender amps started to get a lot of bass response around the 4-5 mark and then from 5ish-10 didn’t get as dramatic of a bass response. A lot of amp in a box pedals, especially the Black 65, has the same kind of EQ response as those old Fender Amps. (So, don’t worry – after 4 o’clock and you just aren’t getting a ton more bass response – your pedal is working perfectly normal – I Promise!)

If y’all are feeling froggy and decided to listen/ watch the podcast – around the 21:30 mark – I reveal the world’s Best Worst Christopher Walken impression. I mean it’s pretty bad – I know it’s bad and don’t pretend like it’s good at all – but hey – it makes people laugh. Lol. Until next time Tone Chasers!

- Max

Podcast Episode 34

Starting this week on the Chasing Tone Podcast, we decided to try out doing 2 shorter podcasts through out the week instead of 1 large one. Let us know what you think!

This week, to my surprise – and probably to a lot of other listeners out there – we actually did a good job of staying on topic…. For the most part…. Don’t judge me…

The very first question of the podcast – was one that got some different answer between all 3 of us. “What is your favorite recorded Plexi tone?” Brian’s answer was early “Scorpions” in particular “No one like you” – definitely some cool points on that one. Travis and I both said Hendrix – but way different albums. Mine was “Axis Bold as Love” album is just awesome but the one that really grabbed me as a kid was the “Isle of White” performance. This actually isn’t the greatest album for tone – not by a long shot. Hendrix was fighting his tone most of the show – but it was my first “experience” with Hendrix – and as an 11 year old kid – I have never heard those kind of sounds before – still blows me away. Travis – chose the New Years Eve 1969 show – in particular “Machine Gun”. (Travis credits that song – as one of the reasons he plays guitar.)

Another great question from a fellow tone chaser was – “How does a guitar’s volume affect a pedal’s tone?” Immensely! For example, if you are using a Wampler Pinnacle – you will probably want an amp that has more headroom. If you are using an already dirty/ overdriven amp and try to use the Pinnacle – your guitars tone might become too compressed or flub out. Sag definitely is an issue at that point.

Speaker Impedance: This past week, Travis ran his old Rivera amp with an 8ohm speaker output – into a 16ohm speaker and absolutely loved the tone. It added midrange and added a lot more headroom by moving air a little differently than his old 15” 8ohm speaker configuration. Warning though: Do not put a lower ohm speaker rating in to a higher ohm amp output. This will seriously damage your amp!!!

Until next time tone chasers! Check us out on Facebook and Instagram (Chasing Tone Podcast)

- Max

Plexi Drive Deluxe!

I guess you've all seen by now our social network posts detailing the new Plexi Drive Deluxe that is going to be released on February 27th 2015!!

We are stoked to bring this pedal to you, the long awaited big brother to the almost legendary circuit (and Brian's all time favorite), the Plexi Drive.

We're gonna be working real hard to bring you demo videos as soon as we can, but until then, enjoy this video from FLO guitar Enthusiasts from Winter NAMM 2015...


Chasing Tone Podcast Episode 33

So it's Monday once again - which means another episode of the Chasing Tone podcast! For those of you who want the abbreviated version - here it is.

For those of you that have watched this podcast on YouTube – we started out this podcast with me cracking up at the beginning of the podcast over a video that I was “YouTube-ing”. (If you don’t want to watch a video of a dog in a teddy bear outfit running on a trampoline – skip down to the next paragraph.) With that said, if you need a good laugh this Monday morning - follow this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVmBL8B-In0 If you don’t laugh a little bit – you might not have a soul.

So, what makes an amp pedal friendly? (Kenny Stein asked) In a nutshell – “flat responding” amps are usually the best for pedals. Flat responding amps are typically do not have a lot of sway over the treble, mids, or bass; the EQ is very neutral sounding. According to Brian, a pedal friendly amp doesn’t have a whole lot of presence or resident frequencies. Some amps, like a Fender Twin or a Dr. Z have their own tonal characteristics that shine through no matter what pedal gets thrown in front of them – and that definitely isn’t a bad quality at all for an amp. With that said – if you want to use your pedals for all your dirt (or if you work for a pedal company that needs to demo pedals) you might want to consider a flatter sounding amp. Neutral/ flat response amps – typically bring out the most characteristics of pedals. One of our favorite amps to use in the studio and on shows – is the Port City Pearl (2x12”). This is amp is super neutral and allows the true tone of the guitar and pedals to shine through.

Brian’s picking attack. For those of you who have listened to the podcast before or have ever met Brian in person, know that he has no love for Stratocasters. Travis may have stumbled on to a theory of why Brian doesn’t show any Stratocaster love – picking attack. For the most part Strat lovers/ players – this writer included – have a tendency to move their whole arm up and down while picking. Tele pickers – like Brian have the tendency to just move their wrist. (Brian plays a Strat a lot like a Tele – probably why he has never found one he likes.) Brian did say – that he would have to move his strap down sometime and try it. I won’t hold my breath. Lol.

That's it for this week - stay tuned next Monday for Chasing Tone Podcast episode 34!

- Max



NAMM Quest Part 2/ NAMMthrax's revenge!

So we made it back in one piece. (This time we didn't miss any flights.)

Between unveiling our all new Plexidrive Deluxe (available Feb. 27th), seeing old friends and meeting new ones (cough cough Marc Ford), blowing out of voice talking over super drum cymbals (I'll never yell at my drummer again), and shaking a lot of hands - I am happy to report we have yet another successful NAMM under our belts! I am however sad to report that the NAMMthrax has finally gotten me.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term NAMMthrax - it is a term that has been coined from the massive amount of germs that is spread between everybody at NAMM shaking hands or talking in close proximity to one another. Usually it never gets to me - but this year - NAMMthrax has sunk it's teeth into me and infected me with a cold. So today's Blog is brought to you from my couch instead of the office. Time to get some rest. Before I go - I'll leave you with a picture of cymbal booth next to us. (if there was such a thing as my least favorite part of NAMM - that would be it. lol.)


- Max

Chasing Tone Podcast 31 in Review

This week we wanted to try something just a little bit different. If you want to catch up on the podcast but don’t necessarily want to sit through 30 plus minutes, or don’t have the time to, – you can read the highlights below.

Guitarists vs audience perceived tone. Can the audience really tell the difference? It honestly totally depends. If you are playing a Boss Medal Zone on a George Straight country song – the audience might pickup on the out of place tone. AKA – “That fella doesn’t sound right.” But for the most part – that audience typically can’t tell the difference between a $3,000 guitar amp vs a $4,000 guitar amp. With that said, better sounding gear to a musician can instill confidence and therefore create a  better atmosphere/ show that the audience can pick up on. 

There are exceptions to the rule. If you Jack Pearson – you can play a $100 Squire Strat and make it sound fantastic. Seriously – it’s a real thing – check out the Allman Brother’s tribute on YouTube. Honestly – take a break from reading this and go check it out – it will make you hate your gear.

Wooten’s Law: Victor Wooten- bass player extraordinaire, came up with a pretty cool rule “Study a style of music you hate.” You might learn something tonally, melodically, or rhythmically that you might not have thought of. I spent the weekend doing this and learned a lot of stuff I can implement in my own style of playing.

E-Bay Woes: Travis finally found his dream (Marshall Bass and Lead 20), went to buy it, and somebody else had already purchased it. Tough break dude - wasn’t meant to be.

Princess Bride: Probably one of the best cult classic movies ever – and Brian has never seen it. “Anybody want a peanut?” was a quote we used by the character Fezzik (played by Andre the giant). If you haven’t seen “The Princess Bride” you need to watch it after you read this blog. It’s a very family friendly movie and it has Andre the Giant in it. The guy was huge and holds the world record for drinking the most beer in one sitting (127 beers in one sitting) – who wouldn’t have wanted to party with that guy?

Guitar Tone Words: “Fizzy” what is fizzy? Travis summed it up as: "If you cranked up the highest frequency on a parametric EQ, it will typically generate “Fizz”. Some pre-amp distortion can sound fizzy as well. 'Think JCM 800'."  We’ve also found that if your amp has a bright switch, it will make a lot of dirt pedals sound fizzy. This isn’t the case all of the time – but most of the time we have created that fizz sound by playing with some high-end frequencies in conjunction with dirt pedals.

Humbuckers: Brian wants some new humbuckers for his Les Paul. Although he has a setoff hand wound pickups from Mr. Seymour Duncan himself!!! – he still hasn’t installed them yet. Why do I have a feeling that I will be installing these in his Les Paul in the future? Travis mentioned that he has heard rave reviews about the Joe Bonamassa signature pickups. I’ve checked them out – I hate to admit how good they sound.

If you would like us to talk about a specific topic on the podcast - please email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Thanks for reading!


Buzz Words!

Happy New Year Tone Chasers. It has been a minute since I posted last. Between the holidays and with NAMM 2015 in less than 2 weeks - we have been keeping busy on new stuff to bring to you in 2015!

Recently I received an email asking me if I could define some buzz words that get thrown around a lot in the industry. A lot of the buzz words out there can be a silly/confusing at times but I guess it does go with the territory of guitar geek talk vernacular. Over time they just become a part of what you hear in different pieces of gear. On my honey moon back in October my wife and I went on the Bourbon Trail through Kentucky sampling bourbons. (Would you expect anything else??) The person leading the bourbon tasting would throw around buzz words too like "Oaky". What does "Oakey"taste like - I have never chewed a piece of oak. But without hesitation many of us new exactly what they meant. Guitar tone buzz words - are often used in the same way. While there are ton of buzz words out there - these are 6 of my favorites.

Fizzy - usually has lots of top end/ treble type frequencies - the top end freq. tends to break up creating a sometimes un-desirable tone.

Mid-rangey - a tone that has a lot of mid range frequencies in it.

Woody - I use this term to describe a sound of slightly lower frequency, with a more acoustic resonance.

Boxy - has a tendency to sound very compressed.

Chewy - one of my favorites - use this word when using lots of thick gain
- where can still hear the defined original note, but it definitely is overdriven - think
Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top - Marshall on 10 with a Les Paul - tone so thick
you could chew on it.

Transparent - this is another big one. This is used to describe tone when
you apply a overdriven signal but you guitars natural tone (with out an
amplifier) can still be heard through the mix. The pedal doesn¹t color, or
take away/ change the tone, of your guitar and amp combination.
While there are a ton more buzz words out there - these are some of the more popular ones I hear on a day to day basis.

- Max

Chasing Podcast 26

After odd frame rate occurrences on the camera and a freak incident where it was deleted all together -the video for Chasing Tone Podcast 26  is finally back up and running! In between talking about beer pairings, keeping track of Brian's Germ-X use, my fleeting attempt at growing a beard/ No-Shave-November, the word "husky" and its various synonyms,  Travis' juvenile stomach problems, and battling with my cold/ constant sniffling - we actually talked about some good gear related stuff.

This week - we covered picking attacks and how it effects your tone, different pedals paired with different amps, digital power draw, and some common as well as some uncommon power issues.

- Max