Most guitarists like pedals… we collect them, try out new ones, and usually spend quite some time putting together and/or changing the pedalboard.
On the other hand, I usually am a “if it works, don’t fix it” kinda player… instead of constantly changing the setup, I prefer to stick to something and focus on the actual playing instead of constantly removing or adding new components.
The pedalboard above is the one I use for clinics and workshops. For live shows with VM, it will look a bit different, while for some other applications, I might just use single pedals in front of me on stage. I’d like to take the time and write about some of my favorite pedals any why I use them… not all of them, but some selected few.
Dunlop EVH Phase 90 – This one is on pretty much every pedalboard I use. I like the fact that it’s not as “in your face”. It has a rather subtle sound, but works great especially for solo-parts. After I started using it, I noticed just how often Eddie used his one… as I said, it’s subtle, adds a bit of “shimmer” to the sound, some modulation and helps to have solos sit better in the mix, so this is one pedal I use constantly. It usually is set to about 9 o’clock in the Vintage-setting.
Ibanez Airplane Flanger – I love this pedal, both the “normal” flanging part (which is one of the coolest and most versatile flangers I ever tried) and the insane “Take Off”-mode. At some point, I was using that sound (it’s kind of like a fake divebomb) all the time, for example at the end of songs, or when I was jamming on a riff live. But even without the Take Off Mode, this is a totally cool flanger which goes from “taking your head off” to subtle modulation for clean or distorted sounds.
Dunlop EVH Wah – I have ALWAYS loved Wahs, and have tried about a gazillion of them. This one was a personal gift and means a LOT to me. On top of it, it looks very cool, and it sounds absolutely great especially with distortion. After years of using all overdrive or distortion BEHIND the Wah, these days I prefer to put an overdrive pedal before the Wah to make the effect a bit more vocal, more aggressive. Of course, most of the gain is generated by the amp, yet for extended Wah-solos, I switch on an overdrive before the Wah.
Exodus Amps EV Fire N Forget Wah – This is a Wah pedal built for me by Sebastian Kulik of Exodus Amps, based on my exact specifications. It has tons of variety and options, from different Q-points to a built-in booster to add a bit more drive and volume for solos (you can also deactivate this feature). It took me a while to fully explore all the options, but now I feel totally at home with it. Its incredibly versatile, and it sounds great… Bas spent weeks voicing it, picking out the right frequencies. Totally proud of it.
Exodus Amps DOM – This is one of two overdrive pedals I use, and the first Exodus Amps product I tried. Its a very versatile overdrive which has tons of tone and is very very dynamic and musical. It’s always with me in the gigbag or guitar case wherever I go.
Exodus Amps ToB – A lot of players seem unaware of what a good booster can do for your sound. Yes, of course using an overdrive or distortion pedal is totally cool, but those can also alter the sound quite a bit, adding eg. some extra mids etc. A good booster raises the output of the guitar, delivering “more guitar!!” to the amp, bringing out even more details of your playing. Especially for very pure sounds or those vintage-y blues-sounds, I prefer a booster over an overdrive. I asked Bas to build me a totally clean overdrive which wouldn’t color the sound too much, instead of just keeping the basic sound pure and raising the volume that goes to the input… and he delivered!
Ibanez Jemini – This is the other overdrive/distortion I use. Unfortunately, it’s not available anymore, which is a bummer, because it’s a very cool-sounding and versatile pedal. Basically, it’s both an overdrive and a distortion wrapped into one pedal, with two sounds based on Steve’s favorite drive-pedals. The left side is very much like a Tube Screamer, and this is the side I use most. I don’t run it into a clean amp… instead, it’s used as a gain-boost for solos.
The right side is based on a Boss DS-1, and I use it for another “color”… to use it cranked would be NUTS as it would be way too much gain, but I do use it when I wanna get controlled feedback, or a slightly warmer solo-sound. In front of an overdriven amp, you get a sound perfect for legato-playing… warm, smooth and singing.
And you gotta love the look of the swirl!
Vox Time Machine – I use two different delays, depending on what amp I use. They always are used in the loop of the amp. With the F4, live (eg. with Venus Meadow) I use a TC Electronic Nova Delay, which is VERY versatile and also has presets, so I can quickly dial in totally different sounds by just hitting one button. However, sound-wise, I actually prefer the Vox Time Machine, and it’s the delay I use with the Hellcat or Corsair.
It can do both very modern, clean and digital sounds AND more vintage-style, analog-sounding sounds, and you can go nuts with the old “spaceship taking off” sounds when you use the knobs while playing. More importantly though, it sounds simply great in all settings. It’s clean, doesn’t “steal” any of your sound, just adds a bit of warmth and ambience to your sound. Which is what I use the delay for: While I sometimes might use it for slapback or Brian May-style “playing against the delay” type layers, I mainly use delays for some ambience, to thicken up the sound a bit. The delay time is set between 400-500 ms, with one or two repeats and a low ratio of FX vs direct sound, so it just adds a bit of “space” and warmth to the sound.
The Time Machine works great for this, while the Nova Delay of course is very cool as well.
There are more pedals that I have in storage and might use occasionally, but these are the “usual suspects” which get used a lot…