Updated December 2017
I have several boards for different situations but I don’t really collect pedals. They all need to serve a purpose, wether its for practice, stage or recording.
Years ago I started out with a Korg A4, which had some pretty nice tones but the internal memory kept erasing my presets so I eventually replaced it with a Boss GT3. This was my main effect unit for years when I portrayed David Gilmour in a local Pink Floyd tribute act. The GT3 was mostly set up for delays and I had a second board with stompboxes, which I routed through the GT3.
Some pedals, like the Electric Mistress, has always been with me and while I often swap around the overdrives and distortions, the collection or type of pedals has been fairly consistent over the years.
Coming from the Floyd tribute, my boards was very much inspired by David Gilmour during the first Airbag albums. I guess it still is to some extent but during the last 3-4 years I’ve started to replace some of the old favourites, including the Big Muff, with something slightly different for a more classic rock, Marshall oriented sound, which I guess, goes back to my Sabbath, Whitesnake, Kiss, Zeppelin influence and guitarists like Iommi, Wylde, Gibbons, Page etc.
I’ve always been more comfortable with having all the pedals spread out in front of me, with easy access and in a certain layout. I used to do a lot of tweaking during a show but now it’s more about habit and comfort. I’ve never really cared much about keeping the boards super tidy and clean but I do have carefully placed buffers, proper powering, high quality cables, shielding etc to keep things balanced and transparent, with as little noise as possible.
My stageboard is custom designed by Custom Pedalboards, with a flat mounting surface and a tier for the back row pedals.
One of my biggest influences tone-wise, is Zakk Wylde. I’ve always loved his tones going all the way back to those early days with Ozzy. The Dunlop Rotovibe has always been an important part of his tone and personally I prefer this one over a UniVibe. It just blends better with high gain pedals and I often use the expression pedal to create wild tremolo effects during a solo or ambient part.
My signal travel straight from the guitar into a CotaLab Buffer, hidden under the board’s tier, to the Dunlop Rotovibe and then into a Dunlop Cry Baby.
The signal then travel back to the board and into the Effectrode PC-2A tube compressor. This is pretty much on all the time when I use single coil guitars and often kicked in during certain parts on a solo where I need more sustain. It’s set for a slight boost and fairly moderate compression.
For years I had a Gollmer Composus, which sounded like a mix between a Boss CS2 and MXR Dynacomp but I love the transparent character of the PC-2A and its ability to make everything more balanced, without squeezing too hard.
The next one is a Xotic Effects EP Booster, which is set with the control backed all the way off for just that hint of volume and mids boost. I pretty much leave this on for everything.
I used a BK Butler Tube Driver for years but as I went from that mid rangy Hiwatt setup to a slightly more scooped (at least in comparison with the Hiwatt/Reeves) with the Laney Lionheart, I found it a tad too bright and boomy. The Buffalo TD-X addressed those issues right away and I instantly swapped the two. The TD-X is my go-to overdrive that I use for rhythm stuff, cleaner solos, overdriven solos and in combo with other pedals. It’s just incredibly dynamic and versatile. I use it a lot for recording too.
The JHS Charlie Brown is one of the latest additions. I’ve tried a bunch of Plexi/JTM pedals but none of them really fit my setup. They’re either too bright or they don’t have enough output. The Charlie Brown is very similar to the TDX but it has noticeably more mids and compression. Mine is pretty much set up like an EQ, with a bit of boost and always used with the TDX for whenever I need the TDX to cut through more during a solo or a specific part of a song.
I’ve always loved the Fulltone OCD. It’s been on and off my board during the last decade and I often use it for recording. It’s currently my main high gain pedal used for heavier riffs and lead stuff, often stacked with just a hint of the Deco modulation to smoothen the top end and a bit of delay.
Next is the Strymon Deco, which has become one of my favourites. It’s amazing what this pedal is capable of! The overdrive or saturation is not that different from the EP Booster but it has a much wider sweep from clean boost to pretty nasty overdrive, with tube-like compression. I mainly use this for adding a bit of grit to cleans but it sounds amazing for the more bluesy stuff as well.
All of the gain pedals, including the compressor, are set with the volume or level control fairly high at about 65-70%. This will boost the front end of the amp quite a bit and add more compression and mids from the tubes. This could be an issue if you stomp a pedal from a clean tone, but I always have at least one of these engaged for all of my tones so the output stays nicely balanced.
The Strymon Lex is in my opinion the most authentic Leslie simulation out there. I don’t really use it that much but it’s featured on one or two songs and occasional ambient parts.
Probably my all time favourite pedal is my ’99 Deluxe Electric Mistress. It’s become such a huge part of my tone and palette. It’s old and just too big for my board so it’s now retired to studio use only and replaced by the Mooer ElecLady, which is a great sounding alternative, without the annoying volume drop and noise.
The signal now travel into the Ernie Ball Jr volume pedal and into the FX Amplification Heartbeat delay. I mainly use this for textures and ambient stuff. It sounds very close to the old Memory Man, with a lush almost reverb-like character.
Next is a TC Electronic Flashback. This is my main delay unit, mostly set for either tape simulation or 2290 digital delay. I use the tap function for most of the songs. Last is a Hall of Fame that’s set for a huge church reverb that I’m using for some pad or swell stuff. The Flashback is set for true bypass, while the Hall of Fame is buffered to balance the signal into the amp.
Cables are all Evidence Audio, with a Reveal between the guitar and board, Monorails and Melody custom patch cables and a Melody from the board to the amp. The amp head and cab is hooked up with a Siren. All the pedals are powered by two TRex Fuel Tanks, except for the PC-2A and Heartbeat, which are powered individually with proper voltage.