Saturday, June 9, 2012
Okay, this may come as a surprise to many, but I just realized I've been playing guitar (poorly) for over 20 years. I'm pretty good on keys but I've been a sloppy guitarist since graduating college, mostly teaching myself a dozen chords or so and leaving it at that. There's no better way to celebrate my lackadaisical attitude towards guitar than by doing a review of several stompboxes (guitar effect pedals). I've recently increased my collection several-fold and will use this posting to review what I've tried, what I've liked, and what I haven't. It's kind of funny - I loved my Line 6 Pod, and moved to the Pod 2 then the Pod Pro. Now I've got Pod Pro XT in my studio, but I was missing the role of complex effects chaining, so I started buying a bunch of pedals used & new to get myself more interested in coming up with new guitar parts. At some point I'll post examples to SoundCloud and will link to them here.
Behringer AM100 Acoustic Modeller
This pedal is somewhat disappointing as reviews on Amazon warned.The newer, more featured AM400 pedal arrived today, and will post my comparison here later this week.
Behringer DM100 Distortion Modeller
I'm not sure what to make of this. Best sound is DS1 emulation but I already have one of those. I wish I had played with a RAT pedal so I knew what I was looking for tone-wise.
Behringer Vintage Delay VD400
This benefit to Analog Delays over their digital counterparts is how the delay trails off with each iteration. Although this is a digital device, it features that Analog "Vintage" sound, although much quieter than actual vintage delay units I've used in the past. I expect to use this pedal a lot. It sounds pretty good and most of my music is pretty straight-ahead, so it may take some tinkering to find where to use it, but that's what I'm looking for: a little bit more sheen here and there to keep my songs sounding a little different from one another.
Behringer Digital Delay DD400
This inexpensive delay pedal fares well. I prefer the Behringer Analog Delay VD400 better. I bought it to use instead of my Digitech PDS1002 which is busted. But I prefer the 2 pedal approach for tapping out delay times. I haven't decided yet whether or not I'll keep it.
Behringer Digital Reverb DR600
I bought this pedal because I downsized from my humongous Roland JC-77 which needs some servicing to a 10 watt Marshall solid state amp that has no reverb or chorus. I missed the built-in reverb which I do not use often, but when you need it, you need it. I find it hard to believe that Boss Reverb pedals sell for $100-$150 which seems a bit pricey for such a basic effect.
Behringer TU300 Chromatic Tuner
It works all right as far as I can tell. It reminds me that I should pack away my pawnshop Les Paul clone and start playing my 1995 Fender American Standard Stratocaster more often. It seemed a little fiddly on my second attempt to use it.
Behringer Echo Machine EM600
I just won this in an Ebay auction and plan to compare it to my Vintage (analog) and Digital delay pedals later this week.
Behringer Equalizer EQ700
I just won this in an Ebay auction and am waiting for it to arrive.
Behringer Ultra Vibrato UV300
I just won this in an Ebay auction and it just arrived this morning. For years I had been dismayed that my Roland JC-77 amp lacked the vibrato function of the massive JC-120. Then I realized I should just use a pedal since I don't want to lug around a huge amp to gigs (I'm committed to NOT blowing out the eardrums of the audience, and let's face it, I don't need much more than 30 watts or so to fill the room).
Boss PH-2 Phaser
My next phase shifter pedal. I used it a lot on the Korg Poly-800 which had no effects.
Boss PH-3 Phaser
I bought this recently to replace my Boss PH2. I haven't used it much yet.
My first flanger pedal. I used it the last couple of years that I played my Korg Poly-800 after I had gotten familiar with the built-in flanger on my Korg DS-8.
Boss BF-3 Flanger
I bought this recently to replace my Boss FL2. I haven't used it much yet.
Boss BD-2 Blues Driver
Pretty good sound through a small guitar amp. I like the fact that the pedal is indeed Blue. I'm not sure if it's worth modding for my purposes, although I'm sure that's what some guys prefer.
Boss OS-2 Overdrive
Pretty good sound through a small guitar amp.
Boss DS-1 Distortion
Color is orange. I see them everywhere (on stage, at Best Buy) but color me unimpressed.
Boss MT-2 Metal Zone Distortion
I like this one and it may be a permanent addition to my pedalboard.
Boss MD-2 Mega Distortion
I'm still playing around with this one.
Boss CS-3 Compression / Sustain
I still haven't found the best setting for my songs but I am hopeful.
Boss AW-2 Auto-Wah
I still haven't grokked this pedal enough to get the sounds I want from it.
Boss CH-1 Super Chorus
I missed the built-in chorus from my JC-77 amp; although I do not use it often, sometimes it's just the sweetening a track calls for.
Digitech PDS1002 Sampler (delay pedal)
My first delay pedal. I've used it for vocals to get a rockabilly slapback effect. My battery connector is busted and the friend who borrowed it also borked the AC input jack. I fixed it this weekend but the nut is too big so I'm still looking for the correct size part; they didn't have it at Menards, Home Depot, or Walmart.
DOD FX53 Classic Tube Overdrive
I liked this enough to keep it for using on one of my organs, but now I need to try it again because it's been sitting unused in storage for many years.
DOD FX55B Supra DistortionI just won this in an Ebay auction and it sounds pretty similar to my Classic Tube Overdrive.
DOD FX64 Ice Box Chorus
I just won this in an Ebay auction and have not yet tried it out. It's missing one of its plastic knobs.
DOD FX69 Grunge distortion
I haven't plugged this in for years. It's rougher than the first two DOD pedals, and not as annoying as the Death Metal pedal.
DOD FX86B Death Metal distortion
I just bought a used model from Ebay and it's sick. Generally speaking, I can't stand this kind of high-presence guitar distortion but I intend to find a way to use it in my own songs.
Morley Pro Series 2 Wah/Volume pedal
I just bought a used model and haven't tried it yet. The pedal needs some adjusting. Tech support was super-responsive. I'm impressed.
Zoom 506 Bass Pedal
Cheezy plastic design. But has a tuner and compression functions, which were all I needed. Well, ok a little chorus doesn't hurt now and then.
Ok, I recognize the fact that Behringer started out by copying Boss pedal designs and even the colors, although now the colors are different and I find them a bit confusing since I'm more familiar with the Boss line. That said, their products are more reasonably-priced, likely because of their Chinese manufacturing agreements and the fact that their pedals are made of plastic, not metal. DOD and Digitech are part of the same company (Harman) but I never understood why they kept the two brand names; however it seems like they've discontinued the DOD line and are focusing on rebranding everything through Digitech, which they should have done years ago. Their pedals are also constructed of metal and mine have lasted 20 years with only a few scratches -- likely because I'm primarily a keyboardist and when I played bass for the Statistics, I used this cheezy plastic Zoom pedal. Hmm, gotta add it to the list.
I do not like the way Behringer pedals connect to 9v batteries. Behringer pedals are plastic, and they feel susceptible to breaking especially if you have to change your battery in a high-stress situation like at a gig. I doinked around trying to get the screw in place for several minutes -- which will feel longer when you are on stage. By comparison, Boss makes you screw a fiddly screw in the front of the unit, and DOD gives access through an easily-lost or broken plastic door on the back. So there are cons to each method, and I dislike Behringer's method the most. Digitech's battery compartment in their modern pedals is accessed much in the same way as Behringer's, but at least the pedal itself is made of a heavier metal instead of plastic. The Morley is a beast and could be used as a weapon in a bar fight. It has a simple metal sliding switch to access the battery - likely due to manufacturing and cost limitations from the 1980's or 1990's when I assume this pedal was made.
Boss Distortion Pedal Graph
Finally I found a picture that partially explains why the hell there are so many similar guitar effects pedals.
Busted / Killed / Missing in Action
Digitech Synth Wah
I just bought a used model from Ebay and haven't tried it yet. I didn't realize it was listed as non-working. It blinks 3 times when I put in a new battery. I'm waiting to hear back from Digitech tech support.
DOD FX17 Wah/Volume pedal
I used this in one song, then lent it to a friend who broke it. Soldering didn't fix it so I dumped it.
DOD FX58 Metal Maniac
I lent this to a friend's high school son and never saw it again. I lent him a second DOD distortion pedal, I think the FX59 Thrash Master.
Small Stone Phaser
Great noisy whooshing sound. Died and I couldn't fix it.