Explain Yourself (and your pedalboards), Ben Adrian

I recently cut my pedalboard into two pedalboards.  Previously, I used the size of my pedalboard as my upper limit.  However, I had grown frustrated by ergonomics, not size limitations.  That frustration resulted in this…Image

Every important switch is now on the bottoms or outer edges of the boards.  There is no more stepping over other pedals, which usually led to my clumsy feet changing settings.  Also, it got the volume and the expression pedals on the board.  Before, they had to be set up on the floor.  Finally, it’s nice having the M9 on a separate board, because there are many times when I can just use that and it’s enough.

Some of you may be asking, “why that order?”  It doesn’t seem all that unusual to me, but everything is placed as such for a variety of reasons. 

First off, the Fuzz is first.  It’s a fuzz face variant, and it interacts with the direct connection of the guitar.  When I turn down the volume all the way, I get AM radio.  It’s rad.  I would RATHER have the fuzz after the distortion, but it really does sounds much better first.

The Hotcake is next.  It’s set for just a slight overdrive and boost.  The biggest reason why this is second is because the pedal has an awesome buffer built in.  It’s not true bypass, and that’s great for me.  I need the high quality buffer right there.

The hot cake feeds the volume pedal and tuner in.  I’m the kind of nerd that notices signal losses and tone changes with passive volume pedals.  I would never use the tuner out as well.  However, since the volume and tuner are post buffer, they sound and work great.

Following the volume is the Boss DM-2 Analog delay.  This gets the most questions when nerds bother to notice.  The tradition role is to put delays at the end.  I do that, as I’ll explain later.  However, I began running my analog delays before distortion many years ago.  This accentuated the analog qualities of teh delay when run into a distortion pedal or a distorted amp.  The traditional tape echo sound is the echo placed in front of an amp on the edge.  Plus, when playing single note runs, the compression that comes with the distortion will bring up the echo level until I hit the next note.  The new note will cause the echos to be ducked and squish down in volume.  It works great.

The Ben Adrian Bunnydrive is next.  This is the Distortion that I make, and it’s set for medium gain.  Nothing fancy; just good, reliable tone.

The Freeze is pretty much only used when I play solo guitar.  It’s a ton of fun, but being last also allows me to pull it off the board easily if I know I won’t need it for a gig.  In fact, I could probably pull it off and replace it with a digital delay for certain gigs, and just leave M( at home.  Of course, I’d need to be using an amp with reverb.

The M9 now sits alone on its own board.  This gives me a complicated and awesome digital delay and looping setup, with the expression pedal altering the delay feedback.  I also use this for big, fake reverbs, or for a more subtle verb when I’m using a non-reverb amp.  I’ll also pull in the random phaser or chorus from time to time, and I’ll use it for a lot of looping duties in solo performance.

The whole thing seems like a large and unwieldy setup, and it can look a bit messy, but the end result is two useable, separate units that can Voltron into one big unit that is equivalent to my old big board.

Now excuse me while I plug my Tele straight into my Pro Reverb.


Busy Busy Busy

I do not post here enough.

However, I started a Facebook page.

Where I put my small thoughts.

I finally got all of Jason Pace’s amps back to him. I also touched up the original KWB prototype. Scott Evans may be right; the Si diodes may be the best sounding. I change my mind all the time, so it’s a good thing I put the diods on sockets.

I finally, finally, finished Steve V’s “Explode” pedal. Steve playes guitar and yells in this wonderfully harsh band called Blacks. The pedal is a fun little fuzz circuit that is being driven with an insane booster. After the fuzz I tried a big muff style tone stack, but with separated bass and treble controls. It works better than I expected. I think Steve will like his one-off pedal.

I have a lot of pedals to build now. I’m a bit overwhelmed. Still, I worked all weekend, I’m making progress, I’m solving problems, and things seem to be falling into place. I hope to just have bigger and better nows as time goes on.

Also, buy a Cartographer record.

Weekend Log

Finished Trey P’s Bunnydrive.

Assembled and tested Mike D’s (no not that Mike D.) “mod-wah board” for experimentation on an upcoming filter pedal design.

Brainstormed on Steve V’s “EXPLODE” pedal, a crazy, over the top fuzz-stortion.

Recapped Jason P’s V-4.

Diagnosed Jason P’s YCV-50. Ordered the part. Traynor/Yorkville rules!

Restrung the EGC.

Tech Log 2011-03-09

Replaced a switch and battery clip on a 1986 RAT for Jeremy H.

Diagnosed Jason P’s Traynor. Looks like it’s just the wacky standby switch. Now, where do I get one of those?

Tuned up Jon G’s Fuzzy Bunny.

Experimented with the new fuzz circuit.

Worked on Trey P’s Bunnydrive; almost finished!

Pinched the hell out of my finger in a mic stand.

I haven’t written here in a while. The projects have been more mundane and less experimental. last night I had a nice little catch up.

1. “Repaired” an old Digitech dual pedal Chorus/Flanger.
2. Debugged a broken Guv’nor pedal. I have to order a part.
3. Fixed an old benadrian pedal with a broken LED for Howie.
4. Reassembled Jeremy’s Jackson head for sale.

I feel like I did more. Meh.

MXR Noise Gate, now with more flatness.

Did a mod to my MXR noise gate tonight.

I’ve not owned a noise gate since the early 90s in my wannabe Helmet days.

I picked up a 1980 MXR Noise Gate Line driver for $40 on ebay about a month ago. Neat. I figure if I don’t like it, I can put it up with a $75 BIN and make a profit.

I plugged it in at full volume. It works great! Much better than my old DOD gate. I was quite surprised.

The “Line Driver” part is hilarious. The final part of the circuit is a 741 opamp buffer. There is an XLR out on the side. However, the XRL hot is just hooked to the 1/4″ out hot connection. The XLR minus and ground are just connected together. That’s just silly. It’s just a high current, unbalanced signal.

It seems to lose a bit of low end and level, but it doesn’t sound bad; nothing you couldn’t EQ out. The bypass isn’t a bypass in the traditional sense. When you turn the pedal off, that just grounds out a part of the gating circuit so that the gate stays full open.

Anyway, I’m surprised by how nice it sounds! but tonight I decided to change a couple caps to see if it would improve the sound.

Replaced the caps noted above with .1uf.  It lets more low end through than it previously did. I didn’t really run the numbers, but it does sound a little better

I now actually like the buffered signal (with the pedal on or off) more than a true bypassed signal.