I think it’s time to shed some light on an epidemic that is sweeping the world by storm, turning good hard working people into ravenous PEDALPHILES, lusting over guitar pedals day and night.
Much more insidious yet some might say just as addictive as crack cocaine, this addiction can start with a seemingly harmless gateway guitar effect, such as a Boss DS-1, and before you know it you’ve converted most if not all of your liquid funds into an endless array of sonic merrymakers. From the mundane to the wildly unnecessary, these little boxes of joy can worm their way into the hearts of even the most “plug straight into yer amp” purists who now all of a sudden want to be the next Kevin Shields.
Full disclosure: I MYSELF SUFFER FROM THIS TERRIBLE AFFLICTION.
But rather then go the autobiographical route, let’s instead consider the case of a young man, we’ll call him G, though he prefers to be referred to as ‘Lil Moses.’ Once a most prolific and creative writer, G now finds himself uncontrollably slavering over guitar pedals. He sends me multiple emails a day describing pedals for sale all over the net.
Exhibit A – witness the most recent post from G’s blog:
Not to get everyone too excited….but I have a pedalboard. The Pedaltrain Jr. Not so big, not so small. Enough for a Crybaby, my fuzz/overdrive and a booster, tremolo and a delay–and maybe a beer cozy?
And I realized something hunting down delays the other day that I thought was amazing and important to share.
You know, I’m not a delay type person. I just want a little slap back for solos and some ambient stuff that is light. But Lordy did I try a lot of them! Did you know that there’s a used Fulltone Tape Echo at Guitar Center for about $900. It sounded amazing. But not practical at all if I’m also going to have a beer cozy on the floor when I gig.
That is the sound. And if you can’t get analog tape because its not practical to gig with? Who emulates it the best? I came across the Strymon El Capistan and it does sound oh-so-gooey and good.
From what I understand, the thing that separates a good tape emulator from a bad one is how close it can mimic the residue sound of the analog tape with “wow and flutter” which is almost like a modulation of the trailing delayed notes that you hear in real tape. Some sound real good like El Capistan. Some use a chorus type modulation or vibrato, like Electro Harmonix, and that sounds odd. Even the Empress Vintage Mod thing or Wampler, not so good for my ears.
The thing about tape echoes, is that they are so ethereal and gritty at the same time. I don’t know how else to describe it, but if sexual asphyxiation had a sound–no, not the muffled sound, but what the experience seeks to achieve–this would be it, aurally.
And i want that sound. Oh do I ever. I don’t want the sexual asphyxiation so much.
And after trying out different pedals, and not really being sold on any, I realized I’ve got this Bigsby on the guitar that I rarely use. But that is the sound! That light tremolo, slightly pressing it gives the sound of the modulated tape “wow and flutter” better than anything. (its still early in the game, but I think I’m right about this).
How about that! So I can pick up that TC Electronics Flashback Delay for now, because it sounds fine for the slap back and light ambient stuff, and use the Bigsby for the “wow and flutter.”
Why the Flashback? Its sounds as good as others for subtle use, but also has a looper on it! Like 30 seconds, so that if I hammer it out, I can nail a live situation with Fred where I put down one JB guitar line and play the other on top.
And then I can squash this shopping spree that’s taken over my mind..this is what happens with free time in the Fall. I pedal shop instead of actually practicing to get the sound I need. That, and I watch John Boorman’s Excalibur at least twice.
Oh, I want this:
And thousands more
Please, if you or someone you know is on this road to nowhere, let them know that with herculean self control and possibly lots of therapy, they too can lead a (relatively) pedal free lifestyle. As a recovering pedalphile, I am now limiting myself to only 5 pedals at a time.
Or on the other hand, if you’d rather say YOLO, go feed the demon with the NYC pedalphile contingent at the CMJ Stompbox Exhibit at Main Drag in Brooklyn Oct.19-20th.