I spent a big chunk of this lovely Sunday morning reimagining my pedalboard. The drawing is crude, yeah, but it’s really just about making sure there’s room for everything. When it comes time to build it, as the bottom picture of my current setup shows, it’ll be tight. I pride myself in my technical craft as much as I do in my artistry.
I’m at something of an inflection point, musically. I don’t really know what the next ten years of my music sounds like yet, but it seems almost certain to be pretty different from the previous twenty. It feels like time for the high-gain, multi-channel amps which do a bunch of things pretty well but none of them fucking amazingly to give way to a single-channel vintage amp that does only one thing but does it fucking amazingly along with a new complement of pedals to offer different sonic possibilities.
To spend a lot of time on gear planning while being unsure of where the music is going probably seems backwards. One probably ought to decide on a musical direction and then shop for the toys to support it. But I’m going at it the other way intentionally. I find myself playing and creating what sounds good given the tools at hand. Give me a gained up, scooped-mid half stack and I’ll naturally start to shred. Give me a spanky clean silverface twin and a Strat and I’m likely to bang out funk licks. And so on. The tone I’m going for here is a moderately compressed mid-gain crunch, something where I can back off the guitar volume into something fairly clean, or crank it and stomp on the red channel of the Full-Drive for a sustainy solo tone. I also need room for a reverb pedal since my Marshall doesn’t have it, and I want to add my looper pedal since that seems like an interesting way to go as an artist. I know that once I have those tones underneath my fingers, the music I want to create—I am loathe to use either of the terms “Americana” or “roots rock” but they at least get you in the neighborhood—will come from it. I write with guitar in hand, literally. I have to get into the right aural idiom first.
So. Those new pedals mandate a bigger board and travel case, and since I’m going that way, I’m going to add a Timefactor and a second distortion based on the old Muff designs in case I need that “alternative” rock tone again. At 36″ x 14″ there’ll still be room on the board to spare in case I want to expand later.
This project represents a moderate-to-severe financial and time commitment, and I’ve got a ton of other stuff to do. But the events of the last four months, globopolitical and personal, have impressed upon me very deeply. Life’s too short for bad tone.