Category Archives: Guitar Pedals

In Praise of the Mini: Valeton EP1 Mini volume / Wah pedal

 

One of my contenders for the Best value pedal of this year, is the Valeton EP1.

Small enough to not cause any Real estate problems on your board, but powerful enough to justify its position 5 times over…

Apart from it’s remarkable size, there’s not much unusual about this little gem.

It’s a simple Volume/Wah with a click foot switch to swap between the two.

As a volume unit, which is obviously it’s default mode, it has a smooth linear volume curve, which despite the relatively compact size, is very controllable and very usable. Those of you who like to pull bends and country slides will find the addition of a volume swell will lend authenticity to your playing, as well as the ubiquitous  ”swelling of the stationary chord” violin pad effect.

However, the real surprise in this package is the Wah.

I must have used over 20 different Wah pedals in my time, and it’s true that some are better at certain things than others. I still rate the Vox Wah as the crispiest “Shaft” type sound I’ve used, while the ubiquitous “Cry Baby” was always better at the controlled Howl or the Mid-range “Honk” a La Michael Schenker, but the Wah sound in the Valeton has a pleasing take on both these voices.

Albeit doesn’t have the same long treadle time as a full grown Wah, there’s more than enough to get some very usable voices out of it, and for £59.00 for the both in one pedal, its extraordinary value, considering how small and light it is ( No bad thing for a Pedal on a crowded board.)

Valeton EP1: LN 80747

The Wampler ‘Ethereal’ and other Cathedrals

Every so often, an idea comes by, which makes you question why someone hasn’t done it before, or at the very least , done it well.

For most styles of Lead guitar, the two most requested ‘effects’ (i.e. not your actual tone) are usually Delay and Reverb. After a judicious amount of blending and mixing of the two, it’s possible to get a mix that delivers the sound you were after.

Now Wampler, have provided a beautifully simple solution for those requiring these sounds, the new Ethereal pedal is a combined Delay and Reverb, with a unique way of blending between the two, to deliver a wonderful sonic ambience that can shimmer and gleam to your hearts content.

Brian Wampler actually held back the release of this pedal until he had it exactly right, and from the beginning you can hear why. The sound is almost more than the sum of its parts. It can deliver simple FX like Slapback echoes or simple ‘Edge’ like quarter note delays, but that’s really only the start.

You see there’s not only one delay on board, there are 2!

Now for anyone who’s ever run an Analogue delay into a Digital delay and messed around with the patterns, you’ll know that you can come up with some very cool, if not wildly unplayable patterns, with dotted 8ths running into 16th triplets and all manner of craziness, but in this case, it seems that the 2 delays play very well together, allowing an assortment of very cool, ambient textures, which once set across the backdrop of a huge plate reverb, can take on almost synth pad like qualities.

Of course if you want to set it with a tasteful little 8th note signature and a splash of High quality reverb, then it definitely saves you having to buy two pedals, but the real pleasure with this pedal, is the myriad of possibilities it allows from just a little tweaking of the simple controls.

Whatever your inclinations, if you’re a guitarist looking for high quality delay and Reverb, this is certainly a pedal you need to check out soon.

Guitar Pedal Signal Chain Basics

So you buy your first guitar and amp and start learning to play. I can almost guarantee that it will not be long before you start to become interested in buying some pedals to stick between your guitar and amp and start a lifelong stomp box obsession……….

Pedal order is something that is talked about all the time and nothing is cast in stone and I always say to experiment and if it sounds right it is right!!!

That being said when you first get going you are going to want the basics so that is what I intend to do here. So in no particular order…………well actually in this order…………

  1. Tuner
  2. Wah Wah
  3. Overdrive
  4. Distortion
  5. Modulation (Chorus?Phaser)
  6. Reverb/Delay

The above order running into the front of the clean amp will give you the perfect starting point to experiment.

Hendrix for example was Wah-Fuzz-Uni vibe-Marshall Stack which follows the above starting point with the uni vibe being his modulation at the end of the chain.This is a classic signal chain and lets (fuzz) face it Hendix had a fantastic sound.

The other subject to touch on here in the basics is when you use the amp itself for your distorted tone. This is where you will find the reverb and delays respond differently going in the front end of your amp. Based on the above signal chain if your amp is providing the distortion then you are now running the reverb and delay before the distortion which is a completley different ball game. At this point it is time to find the effects loop on your amp and plug your reverb and delay through the loop to keep the signal path correct as shown below.

Effects Loop Send-reverb-delay-Effects Loop return

Effects loops are another lesson  to explain fully the different types and uses but for now lets just use the basic rule of reverb,delay,modulation(chorus/phaser) etc can all go through the front end or the effects loop but lets just leave overdrive,fuzz,distortion and boosters going through the front of the amp via the input socket and leave them there where they belong.

In the coming weeks I will post some alternative pedal orders and how to set up your pedals for the best results.

Wampler Pinnacle Distortion Pedals. “Brown Sound” Anyone?

The entire range of Wampler Pedals are now available here at Scan and we are just slightly pleased to have them all here under our roof. I say slightly pleased……..as a pedal freak I’m ecstatic that these pedals are here as they are fantastic and I get to sneak off and have a play through them whenever I have some spare time!

I get asked about distortion pedals all the time and often the customer has a particular sound or style in mind. This narrows the search beautifully as a player looking to nail that SRV tone is not looking to buy a high gain pedal and vice versa the high gain lovers are not looking to buy a mild overdrive pedal. This is all well and good but what do you do when you fancy a light crunch for lunch and a high gain thump for dinner? Buy different pedals is one answer and many do for specific tones that they can switch between instantly but if this is not a requirement then a wide ranging drive pedal is probably ideal for your needs. Which after all this rambling brings me to this beauty……

In a nutshell the Pinnacle gives you mild overdrive AND extreme gain all rolled into one beautifully built pedal and its party piece is one of the most convincing “Brown Sounds” in a pedal you will hear. In fact, Eddie Van Halen’s guitar tech Zeke Clark played through this pedal and said….

“I’ve played tons of pedals that promised that “Brown Sound”… this pedal NAILS it better than anything I’ve ever heard or played.”

Trust me when I say if you are considering a drive pedal this has to be at the top of your list of must tries and if you love the tone but need extra versatility Wampler has got you covered on this score as well with the V2 pedal below. Full three band E.Q and a boost as well!

Did I mention it does that ”Brown Sound”…grab a PAF and enjoy !!

Wampler Pedals @ Scan

Multi Effects or Dedicated Pedal Board?

Multi Effects or Dedicated Pedal Board?

It’s an age old question, in these days of super modelling, Ultra High DSP and Super compact sizes, why would anyone ever bother with a Big Lunky Pedalboard?

Well, the first thing to say I guess is Horses for Courses….

If you’re playing at home or just jamming with friends, or even in a local ‘covers’ band down the local pub every Saturday, the quality of sound from the new generation of Multi FX boxes like the Zoom or Korg or Boss really is very accurate, and indeed if you’re looking to emulate the exact delay of a U2 track or the chorusy swirl of a Stone Roses cover, you’ll probably find that someone has done the hard work for you, and the sounds are VERY close indeed, but for those seeking the Holy Grail of real guitar tone from a real amplifier with real dedicated Stompboxes, the Pedalboard will always be the way forward.

There’s just something about the ‘physicality’ of the guitar, where you have to physically ‘make’ the notes using both hands, (as opposed to say a Piano player who just pushes a key and the sound is there) that sits so well with a dedicated pedal.

Let’s try and explain…

For me the one thing that will always be missing from the Multi Effects brigade is the movement of air by the speaker cone, and the way that sound evolves over the course of a show, as the room warms up and the tubes in the amp warm up and how a pedal fit’s right in to that mix, as another thing to be controlled.

Indeed, I usually recommend to anyone playing a Multi effects box live, to run it straight into the PA and let the sound guy give you your sound back through the Monitor. Especially if the unit has the ability to model or emulate a speaker cab. (What’s the point of a great speaker cab emulation which then gets run through your existing amp and consequently takes on the character therein, hence doing away with the Cab sim completely…)

In these circumstances as I said before, especially in a small Pub or club, these units can sound absolutely accurate for classic tracks, and the sound man will love you forever as you entrust your levels to him, but for the true guitar Tone Meister, only the real thing will do.

One of the problems of the Old Fashioned Pedal board, was the perpetual ‘Tap Dancing’ to be seen on stage, as the hapless guitarist tried to switch pedals in and out for different parts of a song, but nowadays, there are some pretty sophisticated switching systems that lie on your board alongside the pedals , and are capable not only of switching between various pedals, but also switching patches within the pedal or Patches via MIDI.

Also, in the same way that a real amp moves air in a different way depending on the venue, a real pedal can be reached down to and tweaked on the night, mid song, as the room eq becomes more apparent, in a way that a multi-effects unit can’t ( most of them being editable via a series of LCD or LED windows ).

However, it must also be said that in the studio, where you have the time to tweak the unit and add extra e.q.’s and tone shaping, there are some Multi-effects boxes that work a treat, and in truth, you’d be hard pushed to know the difference between them and the real thing in the depths of a mix.

Also, there’s portability…. My current board is not dissimilar to carrying a Mini Clubman under your arm, and the resulting benefits in tone, are completely offset by the lack of ability to play properly after carrying it in from the car… So… what’s the answer.

The answer is obviously, you have to have both.

In my studio at home I have all manner of Guitar FX units, each capable of creating sounds that fit wonderfully inside a mix, ( I have a Korg A1 unit from 1991 that does one sound I cannot re-create anywhere else…), and I’m seriously tempted by the latest little Zoom units,

but ultimately, for me to play live, I still rely on my board,

after all,

he who has the most toys wins, right? J