Saturday, January 19, 2019

Ode to my old pedalboard.

In the summer of 2002 my guitar rig (using the term lightly) consisted of a Crate GX-30M combo with a really nice clean and a really terrible overdrive, and my only effects pedal, a Rocktek ODR-01. Needless to say it was horrible, but that was all about to change after I started seeing advertisements for a series of mini pedals from Danelectro that were as entry level as entry level gets; super cheap, cheaply made, plastic housed and were everything a young guitarist could ever want to flesh out his guitar rig, or at least needlessly expand it.

Among Danelectro's lineup of pedals were the Tuna Melt Tremolo, Fish n Chips EQ, Corned Beef reverb, Pastrami overdrive and French Fries auto wah, but it was the Black Coffee and Black Licorice that set my little heart alight with dreams of tonal supremacy. Not only did the pedals look very much alike, they were both essentially the same buzzy, skull drilling distortion my young heart lusted for, except the Black Licorice had an octave effect that I wasn't a huge fan of. Try as I did, I could never find a store locally that had them in stock. I needed to test them out in person to see which one, or perhaps both, I liked. Reluctantly I let the dream slowly slip away.

However things started to look up as one day, while checking ebay, I ran across a Zoom 510 distortion processor that was not only cheaper than the Danelectro pedals, but also offered far more than those pedals ever could. I was well familiar with Zoom products, as there wasn't a single guitar magazine at the time you could open without seeing at least one, if not more, of their products. Why would I want a single pedal with a single buzzy tone when I could buy the Zoom 510 and have all kinds of distortions at my finger tips!? That's when I made the choice to buy it now. Is that still a thing? Buy it now? I don't know, I prefer Amazon these days. Anyway...

The day finally come and my Zoom 510 arrived. I ripped the packaging open, ran down to the basement, plugged everything in and put the Zoom 510 through its paces. To be completely honest it wasn't horrible, it wasn't as good as today's technology where everyone has a digital copy of every famous distortion and overdrive pedal mapped to the T and emulated with near perfection, but it wasn't as horrible as it could have been. One of my favorite parts was programming things in by finding patches online to test out what other people thought was a Randy Rhoads or Eddie Van Halen tone. Even to my young, ignorant ears none of those patches sounded like any of the people they were listed as trying to emulate, but if nothing else I really did enjoy programming the damn thing!

Shortly after that I was given the option to purchase a brand new Boss GE-7 for super cheap, which I absolutely jumped at. Still without a decent amp to put it all through, nor a really good set of pedals, I didn't really use the GE-7 to its full advantages. Then came my crystal blue Zoom 505, which pushed the 510 into the background. The 505 was much the same, except this time it was more encompassing. It offered distortions as well as many other effects and amp simulations and other things, while the 510 was strictly distortions and not much else. The pièce de résistance came in the form of my Boss TU-2 that allowed me to daisy chain all my pedals together and finally form a sort of pedalboard.

A few years later my little Crate 1x12 combo just didn't seem like it was enough anymore. I knew that I needed to upgrade but what I upgraded to had to offer more inside than just an amp, as this was the time amp modelling really started to take hold on the guitar community. As such, almost all of my equipment was sold off to help fund the new amp. I knew what I was giving up in the Zoom processors and GE-7 were going to come back to me in the form of a modelling amp that didn't require a distortion or other effects processors in front of it the way the Crate combo needed that kind of help.

Of all the things I sold I miss my GE-7 and TU-2 the most, but most surprisingly I do genuinely miss my Zoom 505 and 510. Clearly the Boss pedals exuded quality and were something I should have held onto, but they were worth the most and the major factors in funding my new amp. The Zoom processors didn't gain me much money, but I still felt I would never miss them or need them with the new amp.

Since those days I still own the Rocktek overdrive, although today it's more of a project pedal than it is its original form. I've also purchased a DOD 308, Zoom 506 for Bass guitar, a Behringer Hellbabe Wah and a Behringer EQ700 to replace my GE-7. Even though the EQ700 works much the same it still doesn't replace the tank that was my GE-7. Soon I'm hoping to buy a daisy chain and rebuild my pedalboard, starting slowly but whatever comes my way I'll be sure to purchase, as long as it's a good deal.