An important decision when it comes to effects pedals is whether to stick with the traditional route – a bunch of solo-function stompboxes connected together and mounted onto a pedalboard – or to make the most of technology with a multi-effects unit.
Making the choice means considering the pros and cons of each and thinking about what you want from your effects setup. Here are some considerations…
If you plan to use your delay in conjunction with other effect pedals, it is important to consider where to place these effects in your signal chain—especially if you’re using overdrive, distortion, or fuzz pedals.
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Gary Clark Jr. Here he performing “Grinder” off his latest album The Story of Sonny Boy Slim at Austin City Limits.
Compressors have a simple job, but as they get it done they have a habit of getting their own stink on your tone and impacting on your attack. These side effects of the basic volume-normalizing function of the compressor are both why we love compressors and why a lot of people don’t give them much of a chance. The Maxon CP101 is billed as the “compressor for players who don’t like compressors,” but does it really get the job done even for those who’d otherwise not bother with compression?
The Keeley Compressor is one of the most well-loved compression pedals around. Although it’s now available in 4-knob form, the classic two-knob version still holds a minimalistic appeal. The pedal boasts studio-grade audio and “tone tested” components, as well as true bypass when not in operation and minimal impact on your tone when it is. But is it worth the fairly sizable investment? And with a 4-knob version available (also offering “Attack” and “Clipping” control), is there any point in sticking with just two?
The two-knob Keeley Compressor offers fantastic sound quality in a compact, straightforward package. It’s a hand-built legend of stompbox compressors, but it isn’t perfect. The main issue is that two of the controls – “Attack” and “Clipping” – were hidden away within the body of the unit, meaning that while they could be adjusted, it wasn’t exactly ideal for controlling a wide range of parameters. Although the simpler version gets the basic job done, for players with more than one guitar it could only really be sonically optimized for one of them – unless you opened it up the box to adjust the internal “Clipping” control – and you pretty much had to choose an “Attack” setting you like and stick with it until you did the same. So does the 4 Knob Keeley Compressor win out, or are you better off trying to pick up the bare-bones two-knob version for a little cheaper?
The Electro-Harmonix Black Finger Tube Compressor sells itself as providing the warm compression you get with the most widely-loved vintage compressors in guitar history. It has two tubes – one for compression and the other for pre-amp gain – are powered by a sizable 300 V, promising the fatness of tone you get with classic compressors. It’s also an optical compressor, which means it uses a light source to control the attenuator (the volume controller that underpins the function of a compressor), and in this case you can choose between an LED and lamp source, enabling more variety in attack and decay speeds. Sounds good, but does the Black Finger work well in practice?
When your pedalboard real estate is limited, adding a reverb pedal might seem like the last thing you want to do. After all, it’s just a replication of something the room will do for you anyway, right? Well, reverbs can serve more like effects too, and sometimes rooms just suck. Here are five ways to get the most out of a reverb pedal…