Category Archives: Guitar Pedals

Nine Volt Pedals Surfing Bear Overdrive – A great sounding “808” style pedal!

Nine Volt Pedals have already been on the scene for a while but having had their Surfing Bear Overdrive pedal on my board for the past few months, I thought it’d be worth a shout out as I can honestly say it sounds (and looks) fantastic!

Whilst it is based on that classic green pedal we all know very well, there are some subtle differences which in my opinion makes this pedal stand out! Stick it in front of a solid-state amp and it’ll sound great but where this pedal will truly excels is in front of a tube amp. When used to push your clean tone which is just on the brink of breakup, that’s when it really does shine!

As you’d expect the emphasis on the mid-range is apparent. Nothing out of the ordinary in terms of controls with the standard Volume, Tone and Drive knobs but what is noticeable is the tonal range you can get from these allowing you to go from a smooth boost to a satisfyingly warm crunch tone. The tonal variety makes this pedal extremely versatile and would certainly be a very nice addition to anyone’s pedal board.

Aside from it sounding great, it also boasts some pretty cool artwork too! Swedish artist, Jonas Claeson is responsible for the artwork across the entire range of Nine Volt Pedals and I must say I love what he’s done with them.

The Surfing Bear really is a sweet sounding overdrive pedal and comes in at a fraction of the price of the TS-808 reissue. If you’re in the market for a wonderful sounding “808” style overdrive pedal at a really affordable price, then this little gem could be just for you!

Surfing Bear Overdrive pedal @ Scan

Specs:

– Drive, Tone, and Volume controls
– True bypass
– 9V battery or standard 9VDC negative tip adaptor
– Current draw 15mA
– Input impedance 500K ohms
– Output impedance 10K ohms
– Designed in Japan by One Control

Zoom G5n, G3n, G3Xn or B3n user? Software Update: Guitar Lab 3.0

If you happen to own any of the Zoom pedals in the title then Guitar Lab 3.0  really is worth your time to download, get to know and put to good use. An excellent way to edit and create new patches for your unit and visually a treat to use.

If you do not own one of the aforementioned pedals just click the units below for all the information you need on each of the pedals.

 

 

 

For G5n, G3n, G3Xn and B3n users Zoom’s Guitar Lab software has been a one-stop shop for free, instant downloads of patches, effects and amp/cabinet emulators. With regular updates, creators have had access to a constant stream of new, exciting tools. The simple UI made even new creators comfortable experimenting.
Now, Guitar Lab 3.0, a break-through version of the classic software is making patch and effects management even easier.

Guitar Lab 3.0 includes new features such as:

  • A totally new Patch Editor which allows users to add, edit, rearrange, delete effects to create their own patches
  • Patch Clips enabling users to store, share and quickly build new patches from their favorite effect combinations.
  • Enhanced effect processing display in the Effect and Editor views to help users select the best effects to maximize their sound and optimize hardware CPU
  • An integrated News view to keep users informed of the latest patch updates with new content being downloaded from Zoom each time the user runs the app and clicks the News
  • An updated Effect View featuring detailed parameter descriptions for each effect, eliminating the need for users to download and reference the Effect List file

https://www.zoom.co.jp/news/GuitarLab_v3

 

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?…………………………….

 

 

 

 

Boost That Mid Ladies and Gentlemen

Guitar players as a rule have lots of friends, that’s a fact. It comes with playing the coolest instrument on the planet. Another fact is that we guitar players all have one friend in common……….MID.

Mid is where we live, mid is where the components of our treasured and hard sought out tone come from and most importantly, mid is where we can always be heard.

There are many so called mid boost pedals on the market  but the Purple Humper from One Control really is like no other mid boost pedal I have tried.

Originally the pedal was developed as a request to match the mid-boost circuit fitted inside a stratocaster in a pedal form that could then be used with all guitars. It then developed from there into the pedal that is available today which I have to say is is one of the most versatile single knob pedals I have ever tried.

This pedal is neither an overdrive nor one of those half cocked wah wah sound creators (as a side note, if you want that sound use a wah wah!!)  One Control themselves state that the pedal sounds “British” and I have to agree wholeheartedly. I have tried this pedal into everything from a basic transistor amp to a rather expensive and tasty valve amp and found the pedal to work in all situations which as we know is not a common experience.

It took that hard edge off  the transistor amp and gave me a usable tone straight away. Through my cranked JCM 800 I could achieve a fantastic smooth lead tone that after I added a little delay to the tone was just fantastic. Through that same Marshall a twist of the knob gave me that 80’s metal lead tone.

So no matter what amp or guitar I tried the pedal gave me usable tones and was a consistently useful pedal that just didn’t sound bad at all.

Last test…………….did it play nicely with other pedals?

No it doesn’t just like it’s own company as the picture could suggest! This pedal worked incredibly well with every pedal I tried it with from a Friedman Dirty Shirley to a Bogner Blue and an old DOD Chorus. Any where in the signal chain gives you different but   ALWAYS usable results.

Single coils to humbuckers, solid state to valve, clean to crunch to all out mayhem, this pedal never fails to deliver to add that extra something to your tone. Highly recommended.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year Everyone and Welcome to the Year of the Tri Chorus

It’s officially 2018 and I declare this the year of the Tri Chorus effect.

It’s time to dust off that twenty unit rack case, fill it full of slightly unstable 19 inch rack units that you’ve been collecting from that four letter auction site, replace your car with a van and prepare yourself for back pain, or………..

Just purchase one of best pedals to arrive in years.

The Neunaber Tri Chorus

Brian Neunaber has a Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering and has been designing audio products since 1994. He designed effects processors for St Louis Music who marketed products under the Crate and Ampeg brands. Brian was also the DSP Architect at QSC, quite the pedigree!

The quality of Neunaber reverb effects such as the Neunaber Immerse Reverberator below, are without a doubt, phenomenal!

Turning his design knowledge towards the chorus effect has produced what I consider to be the ultimate chorus pedal. I know the paraphrased tag line of,  “If you do not like chorus pedals you will like this  one” has been used before, but here I truly believe at last a  chorus pedal has been created to live up to this statement.

Check out below the list of the  eight available settings.

• Tri — the classic rack chorus effect
• Hex — two tri-choruses paralleled for an ultra-dense effect
• Cascade Tone — two tri-choruses in series create a rich, lush effect
• Cascade Vibe — tri-chorus and tri-vibrato in series makes for a complex sound
• Harmonic Vibe — Low-frequency tri-chorus and high-frequency tri-vibrato, a more subtle effect that works well with overdrive
• Harmonic Detune — low-frequency detune and high-frequency tri-chorus, even more subtle and sounds great with heavy distortion
• +Detune — tri-chorus+detune for that ultimate rack chorus tone
• +Echo — tri-chorus+echo is a classic combo

Not only does this unit provide a fantastic sounding tri chorus, it also gives you the option to add detune for the ultimate, and my own personal favourite, rack chorus tone of the 80’s and early 90’s.

The other six options available are incredibly well designed with each and every variation providing glorious tri-chorus whether your tone is clean, over-driven or heavily distorted.

The header photograph is Dann Huff of Giant, a perfect example of the Tri Chorus tone that I know and love. Whether you are a Dann Huff  fan like myself, reveling in that stereo Tri-Chorus tone, or just a die hard fan of the classic studio tone of the 80’s and early 90’s, this pedal will make you smile every time you press that switch.

Don’t forget that Mike Landau fans will find chasing his classic tone somewhat easier with this pedal!

To sum up, the stereo chorus tones created by this pedal are, in my opinion, second to none. Whether you chase old school rack tones or simply want the best chorus pedal on the market, look no further!

 

 

 

 

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