I’ve been playing guitar for the last 22 years and my gear addiction has been in full swing for the last 3. I can admit that. It doesn’t look like it’s going to ease up any time soon as well. Especially with the launch of ‘Signal Chain’.

Prior to my GAS (gear acquisition syndrome), I certainly loved guitar gear and I bought and traded my fair share, but not at the level that I do now. Six years ago I was heavily gigging and touring (mainly with one band) and I didn’t want to change my setup that much. I had written parts for my band using certain sounds/pedals and so swapping them out wasn’t really an option. On top of that, I didn’t have the money. Gear addiction is expensive! If you’re going to get addicted to anything, it’s probably cheaper to do drugs than it is to have a pedal addiction. (Signal Chain does not endorse drug use). I guess though, at least with a pedal addiction you can be broke and still have your health.

Since having a young family, I chose to take it slower with the gigs and touring. That also means that I work a day job and actually get paid (as opposed to being a broke musician) Therefore, I have means to buy gear. And I do.

What I’ve found though, is that my addiction to gear centers around Overdrive pedals. I can never have enough. I understand that there are (sometimes) minute differences between each. I understand that the listener (in a live setting) won’t be able to differentiate between ‘hand wired’ from ‘factory made’ or even ‘true bypass’ for that matter. I understand that every pedal that claims to ‘Kill the Klon’ doesn’t even lay a hand on it. BUT, I want them. I want them all.

How many do I currently have? Fourteen. Some may say that’s hardly any, other’s won’t understand. I try and flip the ones I’m not using or don’t like, but there are others that I just don’t want to let go. For example, my first ‘boutique pedal’ was the Keeley Modded BD-2. At the time it was the best thing ever. I loved it and still do. It’s followed me all round Australia & NZ and even though it’s been relegated to the shelves, I’m not selling it.

There’s been others that I’ve loved and let go. I was given a Wampler Euphoria. For the first 4 months, I couldn’t get enough of it. I’d never played a pedal like it. But after a while the shine wore off - I got a few other new OD’s around the same time and another seemed similar. I made a decision and sold the Euphoria to fund another purchase. That one, I regret.

There has also been the odd pedal that’s come through the door that I gladly parted ways with and regretted ever letting it near my other pedals.

On my personal pedalboard right now, I have five (not including the EP booster … that’s in the booster category right?!). I constantly get told it’s overkill … it probably is, but I enjoy it. Each one has its role when I play a set and each one is set to a different colour/sound. I have a lot of fun that way. Picking and choosing and stacking.

Johnny Marr talks about his pedals as “producing with your feet in real-time”. To me, having options and figuring out the best ways to use the tools at hand is a brilliant extension of your musical creativity. I respect those that can keep it minimal, but that ain’t me.

The overdrive sound, for my music taste, is the foundation of everything I want to play. I think that’s why I focus on them. I grew up with a fascination of Hendrix, SRV, U2, Led Zep, ACDC, The Foo Fighters, and more recently Jeff Buckley & John Mayer. I love playing their stuff and every time I pick up the electric, I want to add a bit of hair to it. I want that sweet growl when I dig in and that raunch on the neck pickup. So, I head to the overdrive pedal to get exactly what I want. So I can recreate what’s come before me and also find something unique in it that’s my own. There can be so much control and range in just that little box.

This isn’t to say that I don’t give any attention to Distortion, Fuzz, Compression, Modulation, my guitars, my amps, my pickups. Don’t get me wrong. I love ALL the gears. But, comparatively, the overdrives are seeing the most love from me.

At the moment my drive section looks like this: 

Lovepedal AMP11 (dual pedal version with the booster)  >
Rockett Blue Note  >
Barber Gain Changer  >
Bondi Sick As  >
Bondi Del Mar

Usually I am swapping one of them out with either: Wampler Velvet Fuzz, Skreddy Screwdriver, Catalinbread DLS MKIII, Weehbo Dumbledore, Greer Lightspeed and more recently the Lovepedal Kalamazoo. There are so many sounds to get out of these small boxes and combining them opens up worlds of possibilities.


I know the sound that’s in my head is somewhere to be found in a pedal (or 5 of them put together). I just know it. So, I keep searching. I keep buying. I keep learning. I keep playing. And, most importantly, I have a lot of fun doing it. To me, it’s gotta be about the music and the enjoyment of playing guitar, at the end of the day. Having all this gear doesn’t do you any good if you don’t get inspired by it. So, that’s my rule. If I plug the pedal in and all I’m hearing is just another OD then it’s time for it to find a new owner.

If I can plug it and still love the sound - if it makes me want to play longer and harder, it stays. It’s all about the fun, the inspiration and the music. And I thank you pedal builders for constantly providing this grown man new and exciting toys.

Let me know. Are you as fascinated with overdrives as me? Or is it another pedal or completely different gear that drains your bank account?

Also, tell me your favourite OD. What am I missing out on? What do I need to try?

 


Written by Paul Hanna for Signal Chain
Paul owns and runs White Flag and has played in bands for over 15 years

 

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Comments (13)

Commented by Tedium
November 12 2014

Paul , I understand completely. My OD pedal I have stuck to is Clark Gainster Prototype, it is very nice and I will never let it go but for me Tremolo pedals are my main problem last count I had 13 and I am hoping to let a lot of them go …..maybe.

Commented by Paul Hanna
November 13 2014

Tedium: I’ve never heard of the Gainster! I’ll have to check it out. From the quick google it looks like they have a pretty solid price tag on it. I’ll have to scout for one to try.

Tremolo pedal addiction?! That’s awesome. Do you ever have more than one on your board at once?

Also, have you checked out the Flux Liquid Tremolo? I hear that one is the tremolo to rule them all.

Commented by Thom Dwyer
November 14 2014

i have an original behringer TS 808 vintage tube overdrive i inherited from my uncle and i cannot play without it. cleans up real nice but also gets down and dirty if i want so amazing an i think it matches ibanez TS 808 and gives it a fair run fr it money.
dont think ill give it away anytime soon

Commented by Dave
November 14 2014

Nice article Paul,
My current OD pedal is similar to yours. My main ones are set with light gain: Lovepedal OD11 (For transparent & Smooth drive) & Barber Gain Charger (For slightly thicker and bolder crunch). I then have Timmy before them for another gain stage to take them to the next level). I have Amp11 as my higher gain solo pedal.
Can you comment on how the Sick As and Del Mar compares to the Amp11 and Gain Changer? I’m interested in trying them out.
Come across this interesting mid freq boost pedal called One Control Purple Humper.

Commented by Chris Palmer
November 14 2014

Nice to meet you the other night, Paul..
I have at least fourty. I win. But seriously, I think I’m unable to sell them which is the worst part of the addiction..
Have you played/own/owned a real klon? I’ve got the VFE Merman. Pretty darn close.

Main drives at the moment:
Lovepedal BB13 Fuzz
VFE Merman
Lovepedal Amp 11 (Prymaxe version)

Not many, but it’s a small board and it covers a lot of ground and they all stack very well..

Stay cool :)

Commented by Paul Hanna
November 14 2014

Thom: Haven’t heard that one! The Behringer stuff can be a lot of fun for the price. Good times.

Dave: Thanks mate. Great to hear we’re packing some of the same pedals! The Sick As and the Del Mar are quite different to the Amp11. The Sick As is really transparent and has a lot of great gain on tap. I’m mainly using it as a tone sweetener at the moment though.
The Del Mar is like a TS and BB in one but with much more useable EQ. So much you can do with it. It has the slight mid-hump in the TS mode which is great for lead. I’d definitely recommend getting hold of one to try out.

Chris: You’re awesome. Great to meet you too. And yes, you totally win man! Ha. 40! I want to see them all.
Haven’t had the privilege of owning a Klon. I’ve heard amazing things about the VFE. My next purchase may be the Rockett Pedals Archer – I hear that comes close. I should really drop the cash on a KTR. Rodger says they are pretty special. Hopefully catch you again sometime mate!

Commented by Tedium
November 15 2014

Yes, the Gainster has a big price tag on them now , I’m lucky I got mine when they were cheaper, have a look at the gut shits they are built so well. As for the Liquid Flux Trem I already got one and the Liquid Ambience as well Michael Weaver from Flux makes fantastic pedals and very versatile but no it isn’t the only Tremolo I have on my board, I have a Telenordia TT3 for a germanium vintage trem.

Commented by Mikey Woodward
November 17 2014

Paul, I’d like know your stance on “transparent” overdrives…

Commented by Josh
November 18 2014

I totally understand your fascination with overdrives and how tricky it can be explaining it to people, especially to my wife. I’m a big fan of what you’re doing with the Signal Chain, keep up the good work!
I’ve owned about 10 different drives over the past 8 years. Currently on my board are: MI Audio Super Blues Pro, Catalinbread Silver Kiss MK2 (My ‘Never let go’ pedal), SoulPower Instruments Viper (Bought on a recent trip to Japan), Keeley Fuzz Head and a custom made 2-in-1 Catalinbread DLS MK1 with added bright switch and Jack Orman Mini Boost in the same enclosure. Swapping some out with a Zendrive clone, Boss SD-1 and Danelectro TOD-1. Very keen to try out a Klon/e and Sick-As

Commented by Paul Hanna
November 20 2014

Mikey: My stance on Transparent overdrives is usually one foot on the ground and the other on the footswitch.

Commented by Paul Hanna
November 20 2014

Josh: Great setup man! Would love to hear the SoulPower Instruments Viper – that sounds really interesting. I can attest to the Sick As – that’s a pretty special one. Full disclosure: I worked with Bondi Effects on the graphics for it and the Del Mar so I’m kinda partial to it.

Commented by daemon
January 28 2015

Try a Kingsley Jester. There’s something about it that puts it up there with the all time favourites and it has a nice range of sweet tones. The early models were a bugger to power unless you were willing to use the supplied wall wart, but the current models can be fed from a good pedal board power supply. The guy who builds them in Canada (point to point hand wired) used to have a very sweet demo, but it’s been pulled (probably to update to the new model), there are a couple of other demos on you tube, but they don’t really do it justice.

Commented by Jack
February 17 2015

I recently bought a Bondi Effects Sick As and LOVE IT!!! I use it as a boost for my overdrive channel but I love the drive sounds it can get too.

My pedal addiction is to germanium fuzz pedals. I recently sold all but one… Now I’m interested in some Silicon ones…. hmmmmm…

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