In the first part of this blog, I gave you an overview of this board that we put together in conjunction with Caseman Pedalboards and JH Productions. The Jetsetter board got its time in the spotlight, and in this second part I’m giving a more detailed look at how it all came together and what the end result was.
So without much more ado...
To quickly recap, here’s the signal chain:
- T1M A/B switcher
- Ninevolt Pedals 1927 Homerun King Comp
- Emerson Custom Concord Buffer
- JHS Pedals Muffuletta Fuzz
- Bondi Effects Sick As Overdrive (Signal Chain exclusive Red Sparkle)
- Chellee Guitars Odie Overdrive
- Ninevolt Pedals I Was A Wolf In The Forest Distortion
- JHS Pedals modified Ernie Ball Junior Volume Pedal
- TC Electronics Polytune Mini 2 Noir (off volume pedal tuner output)
- Lotus Pedal Designs Snowjob
- BearFoot FX Mint Green Vibe
- Flux Effects Liquid Tremolo
- EHX Deluxe Memory Man TT1100 (original release)
- Flux Effects Liquid Ambience
- Strymon Engineering DIG Dual Delay
So What's The Plan, Stan?!
First things first, and it’s good to have a plan. Rather than go hammer and tong by sticking Dual Lock tape (our preferred alternative to standard Velcro) all over the board and pedals without much thought, it’s best to set out the extents of the board on the floor or on a table. It’s simply a guideline to figure out if your pedals are actually going to fit on the size board you have. In this case, a 620 x 360mm Jetsetter was what we had to play with, which in fact is quite a generous size.
Formulating The Perfect Match
This is a whole blog in itself, and we’re sure to write one or more about matching pedals in the future. In essence, it’s one thing having a collection of pedals that you love, but will they all play nice together? Not just that, there’s just no point in having multiple Tubescreamers on a board or several similarly voiced analogue delays, for instance (although I’m sure to get a slew of terse comments in support of either below - love to hear your thoughts!).
With that in mind, we endeavoured to put together a wide variety of tones from the pedals that we had. Granted, having a larger than normal collection spilling out of the cupboard meant we were a bit spoilt for choice. Having all the colours, patterns, and materials in the world a beautiful fabric does not make however, without a canny hand and eye in putting them together. So it is with knowing each pedal well enough to match up with others. Having said that, some of the coolest sounds have been created by unintentional mismatches of gear! A good knowledge of the pedals you’re putting on the board is a good place to start however, as a chaotic tonal disaster is easier to achieve than a triumph.
Without labouring that thought too much, we followed one of the most popular tried and true effect orders used. Here it is section by section:
- Compression (1927 Homerun)
- Buffer (Concord)
- Gain - fuzz (Muffuletta), overdrives (Sick As, Odie), distortion (The Wolf)
- Post-gain Volume pedal (JHS modded Ernie Ball with tuner out)
- Post-gain boost (Snowjob)
- Modulation - vibe (Mint Green), tremolo (Liquid Tremolo)
- Delay - analog (Deluxe Memory Man TT1100)
- Reverb (Liquid Tremolo)
- Post reverb delay (DIG)
A few things to note here, before you start asking a raft of questions. Firstly, I didn’t note the T1M A/B switcher, simply because it is a utility pedal and being true bypass it’s technically not an “effect”. Secondly, yes I have the fuzz after the compressor and the main buffer - with a Big Muff style fuzz that’s OK, but vintage British style fuzzes would certain go before both at the start of the chain. This is because the nature of their interaction with guitar electronics means they require an unimpeded direct connection to work the best, and can be quite “choked” with a compressor or buffer before them.
Thirdly, gain-staging is a very lengthy and subjective discussion in itself, hence no explanation for the order I have the drives in - I simply like fuzzes at the beginning, followed by low gain to mid gain overdrives, ending with a distortion. Lastly, why put the digital delay (in the DIG) after the reverb and not before it? Because it’s quite cool to be able to have reverb going into a delay sometimes, rather than vice versa!
All-in-all, although it generally follows a proven and successful signal path, again it’s good to know the nature of each pedal well to know where you can be a little more creative and adventurous.
Power Me Up!
None of this of course would be be any good without having power. There are a plethora of choices out on the market now, and we wanted a power supply that would power this whole board. The Walrus Audio Phoenix (230V version) was our pick to do it, although I’d also recommend the CIOKS Ciokolate or DC-10 for boards of this sort of size. Last year I wrote a blog on ensuring a good clean isolated power supply is one of the first considerations for a pedalboard, and I stand by that more than even. I’ve seen far too many pedals damaged, bad tone, and all manner of other issues simply because the power supply was skimped on. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A GOOD POWER SUPPLY FOR YOUR BOARD! The Phoenix presents a fantastic solution with 15 different isolated outlets, with settings for 9V, 12V, and 18V. A great power supply that would cover most pedalboard requirements.
Wiring is a real skill; a skill that I admit to not having the time, patience, or perhaps even talent to pursue. Hence getting Jack from JH Productions to wire up this large board. Having helped with picking the pedals and planning the order, he did a fantastic job making the wiring look like artwork. I won’t share any of his trade secrets here, suffice to say it looks a lot easier than it really is. I’ve wired up several boards myself in the past, and even having a certain degree of perfectionism and OCD tendencies, I don’t think I’ll ever get a board as neat and tidy as he does. If you think you have what it takes to do a wiring job on your own board, then there are plenty of patch lead options out there (including the likes of Evidence Audio, Lava Cables, Free The Tone, George L’s), but I almost guarantee you won’t do it as good as Jack would. If you’re like me and prefer to save your time and pay someone to do a better job than you ever will, then drop Jack a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
But does it sound any good?
I know some of you are ready to pounce on your keyboard to write about how you think only a trickle of decent tone would be left at the end of a long chain like this without a true bypass switcher on the board. The thing is, with all the elements such as a quality wiring job with high conductivity and low resistance, quality buffers and boosts in optimum positions in the chain, and quality pedals throughout, if anything the tone is arguably better by the time it hits the amp. The only way to find out for yourself is to start planning a board yourself (or upgrade an existing board) that follows the same general rules I’ve detailed here, and contact Jack to wire it up for you. So what are you waiting for?!
Written by Rodger van Raalte
Owner and director of Signal Chain
"The pedal cabinet is the best part of any music store"