A huge tone secret that I discovered recently but should have found out sooner, are shorter cables. And I’m not talking about the little 3, 6, or 12 inch patch cables in between your pedals. All this time I’ve been running a 20 foot cable from the output of my board to my amp, which is necessary, but I was also doing the same for the input of my board. I don’t ever walk around or jump on stage, usually stationary, so I thought of replacing the cable length.

I replaced the 20 foot cable with a 3ft and my signal became very clean, crisp, and more dynamic. The cleans were sparkling again and the overdrives were no longer muddy. Now, a 3 foot cable might seem a little short so you might want to go up to 6 feet cable if desired. You can either buy a cable or make one yourself (recommended) using quality parts from Mammoth Electronics. They sell Klotz, Mogami, Neutrik, and other cabling. You can choose from angled or straight jacks, or even pancake-style jacks, my personal favorite.

Subconsciously, I always knew that having a shorter cable meant a greater and cleaner signal, I just don’t know why I haven’t utilized it previously. 

Boss DS-1 Mod...

I just did some mods to a used DS-1 that I picked up from Guitar Center the other day for only $13. The pedal now has tighter sounding bass, a more interactive tone control and is also a little quieter. You could possibly compare it to the “brown sound” or a cranked JCM800. I’m still looking for mods to give this pedal a bit more volume because right now it’s maxed out for unity gain. I’ll probably post a demo of it sometime next week.

Thinking of downsizing my pedal board -

If I can successfully build a smaller board, I’ll only use about 5 pedals that I actually use a lot. The signal chain will be: Korg Pitch Black > TC Electronic Nova Drive > EHX LPB-1 boost > EHX Deluxe Memory Boy > TC Electronic Nova Repeater. Two delays because one’s analog and the other is digital which also has a nice buffer built into it. I’m thinking of cutting down for practical reasons, like unnecessary weight to carry around and also A LOT less signal degradation going on now. I’ll try to build one of those “fancy plank” boards that have aluminum edging around them. Then, I’ll have to be creative and find a carrying case for it, or I’ll just carry it around like a silver platter, just like the old days.

My other option is to just save up for a Trailer Trash board. They sell the flat-style pedal boards with an ATA case for just under $200. It will perfectly fit all 5 pedals and a T-Rex power supply in the future. I’m really talking down the road here because all of this is just super expensive for me right now. Only time will tell…  

Changing knobs

This goes hand in hand with changing LEDs. Customizing your pedal by changing its knobs can add a nice personal touch and could also color-coordinate it with others. Also, you sometimes get cheap-feeling knobs that are a bit unpleasant to touch, especially for you experimentalists out there. Small Bear Electronics and Mammoth Electronics is a good source for knobs and even other parts.

1. Mammoth Electronics

2. Small Bear Electronics

Danelectro Cool Cat Vibe Mod

This pedal is just such a great value being at such a low cost. It has a very warm analog sound to it, lush vibrato, and it’s actually true bypass. You can get one for $40, with free shipping, on Amazon. Of course, the cheap pedals always have their down-sides. This one gives a nice volume boost and takes about 2-3 seconds to hear the effect after it’s engaged. The volume boost might not be a problem to some, like if you’re using it post-drive for a solo or something, but the real problem is the delay time. Here’s the very first mod that I did that does not get any easier. All you have to do is solder a 10K resistor to the 3PDT true bypass switch. After you do this, you’ll have a flashing LED that corresponds to the set tempo and no more delay when the pedal is engaged. This is the video that I found a few months ago showing you the instructions: