Tag Archives: distortion

The Plexitone. The Three Channel Pedal That Provides All The Basic Crunch and lead Tones You Guitarists Need

Over the years I have met and provided advice to many guitar players. It is true to say that while many were accomplished players some of the tones that they were using were, to be totally honest……bloody awful!!

Each to their own I hear you cry? Who am I to be telling you that your guitar sound is cobblers?

“I can’t help it!” is the answer to that question. I love the guitar and all the tonal possibilities that it and the surrounding paraphernalia can achieve. Creating a great tone in this modern world shouldn’t be that difficult should it? Depending on your budget you have access to a plethora of amplifier companies, more pedals than I ever thought could possibly exist and just how many single and double cut pieces of mahogany and alder are there!?

You can spend a fortune on tone chasing, new guitar, new amp, new pedal, new tattoo………….well okay, not the new tattoo but you get the idea.

Getting your basic tone right is a key piece of the puzzle. This may sound obvious, but it’s surprising how many fancy delay pedals and multi effects you see guitarists using, that when they are switched off their basic clean and crunch tones are bland and lifeless.

Here is where I bring in the Carl Martin Plexitone.

 If ever there was a pedal that gave you such a perfect range of crunch and lead tones this is it. I personally love this pedal and have used it and recommended it for many years.

The drive tones available are very much as the name would suggest, plexi through and through. Old school plexi tones are here on the crunch setting covering Hendrix to AC/DC . The crunch side of the pedal has extra gain on tap and takes you into hard rock territory with ease but maintains fantastic clarity thanks to the extra headroom of the circuit running at 12 Volts. Modded plexi tones just ooze from the high gain setting. Huge sounding chords and  modded lead tones to die for pour from this setting (think natural compression and “sag” ) and provided the perfect lead channel you could be missing.

And then there is the independent clean boost that sits under the switch on the left hand side. This is just the perfect addition and takes this already fantastic drive pedal into the perfect tool for creating that great basic tone.

The clean boost works independently within the pedal. With the crunch or high gain engaged, the boost gives you up to 20db of a kick, more than enough to let your solo be heard. (make sure you practice as you really will be heard!)

But here is another use for that clean boost. I always like to kick the clean channel of any of my amps just to push them a little and give them more presence and bite. With the boost being independent I leave it on all the time so that my clean has that extra sparkle and punch, then I just switch on the gain side of the pedal when required. If your clean channel is a little flat or lacking power then trust me that this clean boost will bring it to life.

Don’t forget also that if you are running a twin channel amp with a clean and dirty channel, the boost into your dirty channel will add that extra punch here as well, hey presto, four high quality tones to start building on all for well under £200.

So I love it and recommend it, Pete Thorn who knows more about tone than the rest of us put together loves it.

Remind me why your tone is lacking again?…………………………….





The Dark Art of Pedal Chaining:

So, you’ve accumulated a bunch of pedals and now’s the time to set them all up and unleash Sonic mayhem… but in what order do they go?

Well, the truth is that there are no hard and fast rules, and for everyone that tells you to run things a certain way, there’ll be another person taking a perverse pleasure in doing it exactly opposite, and getting some creative results.

However, there is some common wisdom available, and we can take a look at this, until such time as you feel you want to ignore it.

What comes first?

As a general rule, anything that can be described as ‘Dynamic’ or in some way affecting the clean signal, should be 1st in the line. So for example a Volume/Wah Wah pedal or a Pitch Shifter has a very dramatic effect on the sound of the guitar, and while a compressor or a filter has a more subtle effect on the sound, they still alter the original signal dynamically.

2nd in line come the Gain monsters, Overdrive, Fuzz, Distortion. These are all representative of the sound coming from the amp, and therefore come before any traditional effects. (You may want to think

3rd up is Modulation.  Chorus, Phasers, Flangers and then finally in

4Th Place, Finally come the time based units. Everything from Analogue and Digital delays through to Reverb pedals. Anything that creates a ‘wash’ is best living at the end of your chain.

Tuners can usually be connected to a dedicated tuner output on a volume pedal, as you really want it out of the way, yet always available.

Now I said earlier there are no hard and fast rules, and this is true. Depending on how you play , or what sound you want to achieve, it’s perfectly acceptable to shift things around.

Let’s look at some options.

Volume pedals at the start of your chain, work very well as a larger version of your guitars volume pot, i.e. when the pedal is back the volume is dropped to nothing, so as you bring the pedal forward the volume increases. This is great for Violin type swell effects, but if it precedes an overdrive type pedal, then it reduces the amount of Gain going to the pedal, hence altering the sound.    If, for example you wanted to keep the sound at the required level of dirt and just use the volume pedal to mix your overall volume to the rest of the band, you need to run the Volume pedal after the Overdrive/Distortion section of your board. This means you won’t affect the input to your gain pedals, but you will be able to volume swell into delays or reverbs.

Finally you could have it as the very last pedal in the chain, and this would work as an overall Master volume control, taking control back from the sound man !

A similar set of controversies can be had with other pedals that follow certain ‘rules’.

Delay before distortion?  For example, no one in their right mind would put a delay, BEFORE the distortion surely?

However, with a little bit of judicious tweaking, you can emulate the sound of those early Eddie Van Halen records, where the ambient guitars were all created using this combination.

Reverb before Delay? Not for me, but if you’re looking for some 60’s guitar vibes, try this out.

Reverb before Distortion? Aaaggh! But actually a decent room reverb added to a smattering of overdrive and you’ll be taken back in time to the ‘50’s and those early rock recordings.

Wah after Fuzz/Distortion? Keeps the travel of your Wah sound intact and makes it a much more distinct ‘Wah’ sound.

Compressor as a Limiter at the end of your chain?  This sounds suicidal, and indeed it is possible to really mess up your sound this way, but, if you keep the compression down, it can act as a limiter/noise gate, and keep any of your wilder pedals in check. Just don’t add too much compression or, you’ll suck the life out of signal path.

Finally a note about buffers:

The signal to your amp can have its impedance changed by all the pedal circuits and cords the signal has to pass through or indeed how long your guitar lead is. As the impedance changes, you lose high end clarity, the bass gets flappy and the mids become foggy and undefined, as well as your overall level getting lower. The more pedals you add, the more this can happen. This is where you require a buffer.

Without going ultra technical, a buffer is an active circuit that preserves the strength and therefore the tone of your guitar signal. Some pedals have a buffer built-in, but you can buy dedicated standalone buffer pedals.

Some pedals feature ‘true bypass’, which means that your signal ‘bypasses’ the pedal circuit entirely when the pedal is switched off, effectively sending the signal from Input straight to Output. However, it has to be said that even if you use true bypass pedals, if you also use low quality, long length cables, you’re just as likely to suffer some form of loss of tone, and a buffer is what you will need.

As a general rule, if you, like me have a large pedal board, you might want to look at putting a buffer at the front AND the back end of your chain.

After all, no-one wants their tone sucked away….


Vox Amp Plugs

Vox Amp Plugs:

JS AMplug
Joe Satriani model amp plug from VOX

As guitarists, we are used to being told to “Turn it Down!!!” or “Can’t you make that racket in another room?”…….
It’s something we get used to from an early age.
Now of course as an Electric guitar player, you have the option of  sitting and playing ‘unplugged’, and this will no doubt allow you to practise the mechanics of your guitar playing, but what we Reeeeally want is to be able to practise the dynamics and sonic elements of our playing, and thats why we need amps, preferably turned up loud….

VOX amplug
Vox AC30 ampplug

Well, not any more…..
These little beauties are made by Vox and are almost perfect for the Electric guitarist who wants to practise and hear his instrument at volume, without disturbing those around him. They come in all sorts of models from Clean Fender Twin to Very heavy Metal, and include Blues and Classic rock, and theres also a signature model from one Mr Joe Satriani.
Each has some basic control over the sound and includes a socket into which an iPod or iPhone or mp3 player can be plugged, thus allowing you to play to backing tracks of your choice.
But here’s the kicker, they sound really good.
Once you’ve got your headphones on you’re immersed in a pleasantly loud environment, where you can Pinch harmonics, dive bomb, volume swell, indeed all the stuff you can’t do just sat unplugged, and the best bit…..
The price….around £30.00.
Seriously, this is a must for all you guys who own a nice amp, but very rarely get it out in the house to practice on, and thats a lot of you….
I know ‘cos I’m one.

VOX Amplug
VOX Amplug


Vox Amp Plugs Are Available @ Scan