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:
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?