April 5, 2011


This is a story of obsession and gear lust. It’s three stories.

To the guitar player who seeks the perfect expression in tone, pedals are the logical expansion in the quest for that sound beyond the limited frankness of plugging a well-made axe into a well-made amplifier with a state-of-the-art instrument cable. And much like the quest for the Holy Grail, its elusiveness is part of its allure.

What are guitar pedal effects? They are circuits that process the signal of a guitar’s sound, often contained in a metal box chassis (or hard plastic for the cheaper ones) that are turned on or off via a footswitch mechanism that the user steps on. For this reason they are also called stompboxes. The basic premise ends here, however. You see, there are literally a thousand different ways to process this signal either with a digital or analog circuit, put it inside either a small metal box or slot it inside a rectangular rack mount unit and even plug it through a small computer whose available effects range rivals those that any singular pedal unit can achieve.

Many of the first effects options were made available by being built into the amplifier itself with a simple on/off setting like the rotary tremolo of many Leslie amplifiers in the late 1950s. In a live setting however, nothing beats bringing your rig consisting of several pedals and, within a couple of minutes of tweaking, being able to achieve the same sound in virtually any stage environment. All that without needing to lug around a ten-pound amp.

Changing the basic sound of an electric guitar’s signal became an axe player’s wet dream when an explosion of options became the status quo. From your basic horde of angry bees that make you feel like a totemic god through a high-gain distortion, injecting the stutter of teenage drama with a tremolo, getting serious choir grandeur with a chorus, or adding a touch of glimmer with delay.

With pedals, the ability to amplify, modify, or completely warp the electric guitar’s signal in real time has made it a lord of versatility unrivalled by any other modern instrument. Even the voice.

To read the full article go to PULSE.PH


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