Yep.  I'm going there.  Editor asked me if I would write an article on this topic, and I responded with, “So you wanna start a fight?”   He said “Absolutely!”  We'll game on, bitches!

Competition brings out both the best and the worst in the male.   Rams smash their skulls over and over again to win the females of their kind.  Human males sometimes put “product” in their hair.  We all do dumb-ass shit to get the ladies.

This competitive nature however spills over into just about everything we do in life, whether we like it or not, and the world of music is in no way exempt.  All you gotta do to start the competitive juices flowing is say something or someone is the “best” or “better” or “fuckin' sucks” and damned if you won't start an argument.  And let's not kid ourselves, an argument is just a mini competition, born of the same juices as those horny-headed rams.

Yep.  That's right.   You argue because you're horny.   Sorry to break it to you.

Nonetheless, I'm about to tempt you like a questionably “of age” girl who's had a few too many at the party and is likin' your jokes just a little too much.  (Or young boy if that's your thing, we don't judge around here.)

I bring you now, the five must have  guitar pedals for your pedal board!   (rawk!)

Pedal #1: Overdrive

I don't care who you are.  When you're playing guitar, you're gonna want a little umph when you're playing and feel it.  Play jazz and don't go there?  Fuck you.  Wes Montgomery would've loved to have it.  He died about year or two after Marshall brought out the 50 watt Plexi and before they brought out the gain knob.   And John McLaughlin?  Ask someone who saw him live with the Mahavishnu Orchestra.  He played louder than you.

Everybody has their own preferences here.   Some purists just want to rely on the overdrive they can get from their amp.   That's cool.  But what if you wanna take it further? If we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do.  We grab a fuckin' overdrive pedal.  Your amp goes to eleven?  That's great.  The right overdrive pedal will take you to 15.

But which one?  That is the question.   There are as many overdrive pedals available today as there are opinions on the matter.   The Original Ibanez TS-808 has a cult-like following (Stevie Ray Vaughan and Trey Anastasio each used two) but good luck in finding a real one.   The JRC4558 chip used in the circuits of those original stompboxes no longer exists in the same configuration and snobs from here to the moon will tell you the new ones “ain't the same.”

As of late, some pedal manufacturers have begun doing the right thing, and stickin' real tubes in their overdrive pedals to get that real, high quality, tube saturated, overdrive loveliness.   You can pay a fortune for some, but I found the Blackstar HT-DRIVE to be the best bang for your buck.  (Retails for around $179.)

The HT-DRIVE features a 12AX7 tube right there where you can see it glow.  This is the same tube Jim Marshall used in his amps to give them their signature sound when he variated from the 12AY7 tubes that Fender was using at the time.     

Simple animal, really.  It's got a gain knob, level knob, and a tone knob.    It can produce that crunchy drive sound on its own (gain knob up, level knob down), be used as a clean boost (gain knob down, level knob up), or just to overdrive that shit out of your amp and see what your speakers can handle (gain knob up, level knob up).

The HT-DRIVE also comes with a16V power source, meaning its got some juice.  It's almost a full preamp in itself.  And being able to see the that tube glowing orange on a dimly lit stage?  Yeah.  We're talking boner while you play, man.


Pedal #2: Wah

Wah.  That shit's awesome.  Jazz, Funk, Blues, Metal.  It don't matter.  That lil pedal gets around.  It's even got a full documentary movie devoted to it.  From the days of Cream and Jimi Hendrix, it has been a part of the music landscape in every way possible.  Overdrive might be the balls, but wah is how you swing 'em.

Wah is the cock's strut.  It's the sound your face makes when you think you're being suave in front of the ladies.

And while your options for wah pedals are as enormous as your , let's say aspirations, I've found the Dunlop Original Cry-Baby wah (retailing for around $69) to still be the king.

Simple, rugged, reliable, just like man should be.   Sure, some have more bells and whistles.  But when you want just the pure sound that you feel in your mind when you think of gettin' it on, there's nothing like the real deal.   

If you don't have a wah on your board, what the fuck do you have a board for?  


Pedal #3: Modulation

That's a big word, ain't it?  Modulation.   Like cunnilingus or felatio.  And you know what?  It's just as important.

Modulation effects play with the sound.  They fondle it.  They massage it. They take the notes that you play and tickle them in ways that can excite in the most pleasurable ways.  The effects themselves will never be the crescendo of what you play, they can't “do it for you.”  But, like foreplay, they most certainly make getting there all the more enjoyable.  Anyone can fuck their music.  Be a man and make love to it.

Common modulation effects include chorus, vibrato, phaser, flanger, and tremolo.  For me, out of the hundreds, if not thousands available, it is the classic Dunlop Rotovibe (retailing around $199).  

This lil bad boy, has both chorus and vibrato sounds (all analog), and an expression pedal so you can adjust the speed of the modulation as you're playing.  Selecting between chorus and vibrato is done on the side along with the depth knob.

This is the pedal that Hendrix used (his looked different and was called Uni-Vibe back then) for so many of his modulated sounds.   The little breakdown in Cream's Badge?  Yep, you guessed it.   

Good enough for Hendrix and Clapton?  Yep.  Good enough for you.   


Pedal #4: Delay

C'mon, let's face it. Who among us has not intentionally gotten a lil bit high, drunk, or otherwise inebriated, before making love, just to see what heights we could bring our spirits, while our bodies were engaged in earthly copulation?   We let our minds wander the universe, trying to match the pleasures of our bodies, in our minds, and our souls.   We look down from above at our naked selves and admire our passions from above.  

A good delay pedal can do the same thing for you on stage. Play a note or a phrase, and then listen to it being repeated, being carried off in the distance, for us to admire as we move on to our next thought.  They circle and spin around us, and those listening, as we float on pillows of sound, rhythm section driving us onward like the urge to climax.   It all just feels so . . . good!

So tell me you don't want the purest experience here possible?   Don't let an inferior delay pedal, or digital nonsense, mess with your sound.  Go analog.  Go pure.   This is a spiritual journey.  This is the tantric sex of guitar.   Go for something you can be intimate with.  

My choice is the MXR Carbon Copy Analog.  Short, sweet, and will get you there every time.  Short of shelling out a thousand or two for a real tape echo box, this is the best sounding delay pedal you can get.  Go on, argue.  I know you must be horny as shit by now.  I am.  The MXR is small, pure, true bypass, and retails for about $149.   It also comes in a green sparkle housing with blue LED light.   Just plain sexy.


Pedal #5: Tuner

Seriously.  I ain't jokin'.  You are not getting laid if you go up to someone with your breath all stinkin'.  I don't care how good your game is.   Brush your fuckin' teeth!  

Going on stage and being out of tune is just like that.  You can have the best damn guitar skills in the world, but if you're out of tune, you're gonna turn people off like you ain't brushed in two weeks.

I'm serious here people!  I can't tell you how many times I've gone to shows and wanted to crawl up on the fuckin' stage and tune someone's guitars.  It's common decency! Playing out of tune is like farting in an elevator.

And while those little clip on tuners for your headstock are cool, and will work in a pinch. But I've noticed that if your bass player or drummer ain't shuttin' up while you're tuning it can slightly effect the accuracy.  Not much, but, I'm a stickler.  

For me, the best one out there is the Korg Pitchblack.   Yes, I know the Boss TU-3 is cool, but the Korg  has one big advantage in that it's very easy to read on stage, whether it's dark, or your light show is doing all manner of funky things.   It's also $30 cheaper (around $69).


So there you have it people.  The five “must haves” for your game.  Remember, if you disagree with me and feel the need to say something, you're just horny.  Go get laid.  You'll feel better.   But after that, get your pedal boards in order, and start enjoying the sex a lot more.  

 

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Category: Gear Porn