Strymon Artists - news from the lab

Pedalboard Feature: Madi Diaz

Posted by Angela

Madi Diaz is charismatic, fun, and a very talented songwriter/musician. Her new album Phantom is available now. If she is touring in your area, we highly recommend paying her a visit! We recently talked with Madi, and she gives us the rundown on our her pedalboard and more.

What kind of board do you have and what is your signal chain?

I have a Thon pedal board that I travel with that keeps the kids safe.  I play a 1959 Harmony Meteor through a Carr Rambler amp to a FullTone Full Drive 2, to the BigSky, to a DD-6 by Boss, to the PolyTune. Simple, yet crunchy and effective I think.


Recently when I saw you live at the Troubadour you used the BigSky Chorale machine as well as the Freeze feature on “Ghost Rider.” Could you share a bit about your use of these?

When I was recording Phantom, Nick Ruth (the producer of the majority of the songs) and I were really careful not to put any limitations on the recording process. Long lush delays and verbs support the foundation of the record.  So when I was trying to wrap my head around how the heck I was going to pull it off live, Lester Mendez (producer of the track “Ghost Rider”) showed me the BigSky as well as your delay pedals, and I was sold.  It’s basically been the answer to everything I couldn’t normally pull off with just a guitar and delay pedal.  On songs like “Other Side” and “Ghost Rider,” I’m able to build two worlds at once, and really fill out song space. The freeze setting has been HUGE for that sort of thing.  I’m pretty sure it’s been the greatest investment of my chain so far.

You don’t just use your pedals for guitar, how else do you use your pedals for your vocals?

I use two vocal mics in my live set, one is a Bullet mic that goes through a Holy Grail pedal and into the house… I’ve messed around a little bit with running it through the BigSky, but my guitar sound missed it too much….one day…I’ll have TWO.  Yeah.  TWO BigSkys.  So metal.  I’ve definitely ran it through keys before too, and that’s just a whole other level that I’m going to have to explore.  Massive.

Your Instagram feed is very fun—I wondered if you had a favorite tip for new artists on using social media?

Aw THANK YOU! Just be ya fine self, I think! And everyone loves a puppy or a kitten every once in awhile…

When you tour, is every crowd’s energy different no matter what, or does the audience’s energy usually reflect your energy onstage?

Every single room, every single crowd, every single city, every single moment is absolutely, completely different.  It has to be!  Or else I would definitely be way over touring by now.  It’s one of the great things about touring, you get to give and take something different almost every night.

Do you have a preference between acoustic and electric? And what currently is your favorite guitar?

You know, I wish i didn’t.  I want to think I love them all equally, but I totally do have a preference. I love my Harmony Meteor more than anything on the planet right now (sorry mom/dad jkjkjk:). It’s just perfect for everything, always.  It has so much ground that it covers….so warm and gentle but cuts through and really carries songs.  My baby.  For real.

Madi Diaz

Your new album Phantom has been described as “…the most danceable breakup record ever” by LA Weekly. Did the album’s direction change over time, or is this exactly what you had in mind when you began writing?

I’m pretty sure I’ve never been able to predict the final outcome of any one of my records.  I think I always just sort of know when they’re finished and when I’ve said all that there is to say. I definitely meant for Phantom to turn a page for me so that I can begin the next chapter, and so far it absolutely has done just that.

Artist Feature: Modular Synths

Posted by Angela

modularsynth-artistAs many of you already know, Strymon pedals aren’t just for guitar. Many keyboardists, bassists, vocalists and also modular synth musicians use Strymon. We have gathered together some of our favorite modular synth posts to share with you.

Alessandro Cortini works his magic in this video below, but don’t stop there! He just released his new album “Force 3” and it’s fantastic.

Atomic Shadow‘s “command center” is something dreams are made of. You can check it out in his video here. But below we are featuring a darker, eerie tune that Atomic Shadow has created.

Julian Taquechel, AKA Taqo, can get you moving. I’m anticipating an album from him, because all these 15 second Instagrams are too good. Since we only get 15 seconds, I’ve chosen two to feature, but head over to his Instagram for a bunch more :)

It was hard to choose which John L Rice song to feature. I ended up with this one because it’s got the wonderful music, but also the fun of being able to enjoy it in different way. I suggest the first time you watch, get drawn in and mesmerized from visuals and the music. The second time, start hitting pause and enjoy as John L Rice says “the ‘faces’ of the ‘spirits'”

Get a glimpse into music-making with modular synths. Richard Devine has the camera set perfectly to not only enjoy the song, but really see what’s going on to create the sounds.

Sleepwalk/Noctambulance can be found on Instagram, Vine and Soundcloud always creating interesting musical pieces. Here is a taste of some of Sleepwalk’s creativity.

And last but not least is Deepak Singh, taking everyone on a journey through twists and turns with this piece “Wobbling Eurorack.”

Artist Feature: Cover Songs

Posted by Angela

artistfeaturecoversOne of my favorite podcasts is Coverville. An enjoyable cover highlights how great the songwriting was for the original song. It is exciting to hear how a song can take on a whole new personality when another artist creates their version. Below I have gathered some covers that I’ve come across while listening to Strymon tagged posts. I hope you will enjoy them as much as I did.

Amanda Cottreau takes the heartbreaking “Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Joy Division and continues to break your heart. I love this cover of one of my all time favorite songs.

Here is Jamison Hollister doing Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” I highly recommend checking out more of Hollister’s videos, they are always great.

Last year we featured Petteri Sariola doing a cover of U2 which was fantastic. He is at it again covering “Fix you” by Coldplay.

Instagram musician Spivakovski gives us just a little taste of this nice rendition of “Dark Horse” by Katy Perry.

George Stanford takes a great song and really knocks it out of the park. Here is his cover of “I Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty.

Have any covers to share with us? Please post below or tag with #strymon, we’d love to see/hear them :D

This Week’s Preset – Kevin Armstrong’s “Passenger” Preset

Posted by Michael

This Week's Preset - TimeLine DelayThere aren’t many professional guitarists who can claim to have worked with as many musical icons as Kevin Armstrong. In a career spanning 35 years he has clocked-up miles with some of the most influential artists of the era as a guitarist, songwriter, producer and musical director.

His credits include the likes of Thomas Dolby, David Bowie, Iggy Pop (with whom Kevin will be touring in June 2015), Morrissey and Sinéad O’Connor  – not to mention his stint playing for the original Jonathon Ross show’s live band where he played with greats such as Tom Jones, Roy Orbison, and Sir Paul McCartney.

» Click here to read the rest of the article »

This Week’s Preset: TimeLine – “Stranger” from Boy & Bear

Posted by Angela

Remember our Pedalboard Feature a few months back with Killian Gavin, guitarist for Boy & Bear?  This Week’s Preset comes straight from Killiankilliangavin, who shares with us the TimeLine presets he used for Boy & Bear’s song “Stranger.”

TimeLine Preset “Double”

When recording “Stranger,” I used two different settings.

1.) The basic delay sound I used for the song’s guitar tracks was a simple Double Delay, in series to two amps. I often use two delays to give a bit more spread/width in my sound.  Playing live, I’ve found the Dual delay on the TimeLine really handy to achieve this.

Dual – delay time is roughly 540ms. I tap it in live.
Time 2 – 1/2
Repeats – Track
Mix 2 – Track
Highpass – Off
Config – Series
Tap – Qtr

“Double” is the name I gave it.



TimeLine Preset “Synth”

2.) The second setting on this song I created was a synth-like sound. You hear it on the guitar melody line in the chorus. Really cool sound. The only extra thing to note is I used a Strymon Ola Vibrato in front of the TimeLine to add swirl and modulation — fast speed, medium mix.

Ice – 200ms
Interval – Oct.5th
Slice – Medium
Blend – Dead middle of the range | || |
Smear – Fully smeared |||| |||| |||| ||||
Highpass – Off
Tap – Qtr



Below is an audio sample from Boy & Bear’s “Stranger”

Thanks to Killian Gavin from Boy & Bear for sharing This Week’s Preset with us!  Remember to share your own presets with us by either posting them in the “comments” section or posting to Twitter using hashtag #strymonpreset !

Get to know BigSky with Rabea Massaad, Pt.4

Posted by Angela

This is it! It’s time to grab your guitar and BigSky and spend one more Monday hanging out with Rabea Massaad as he demos the last three reverb machines in BigSky — Magneto, Nonlinear and Reflections.

If you missed the last three parts, start here. :)

With this being the last blog in the Rabea BigSky demo series, we just want to send out a huge thank you to Rabea for making these magnificent videos.

Here they are:

Strymon BigSky – Magneto Reverb

Strymon BigSky – Nonlinear Reverb

Strymon BigSky – Reflections Reverb

Get to know BigSky with Rabea Massaad, Pt.3

Posted by Angela

We are now headed into Pt.3 of Rabea Massaad‘s demo series of BigSky. Hope you had fun last time exploring the classic Room, Hall, Plate, and Spring Reverbs, but if you missed last week’s demos click here.

In these demos, Rabea is going to take you on a splendid journey through the more textural and atmospheric Swell, Bloom, Cloud, Chorale and Shimmer Reverb machines. We always recommend grabbing your guitar and BigSky so that you can follow along and try out some of the things that Rabea shares with the below reverb effects.

Strymon BigSky – Swell Reverb

Strymon BigSky – Bloom Reverb

Strymon BigSky – Cloud Reverb

Strymon BigSky – Chorale Reverb

Strymon BigSky – Shimmer Reverb

Get to know BigSky with Rabea Massaad, Pt.2

Posted by Angela

If you were able to stop yourself from watching all 14 of the BigSky videos that Rabea Massaad has created after reading Pt.1 of this blog series, then you are ready for the next round. :)

If you missed Pt.1, head over here and check it out.

In these next videos, Rabea demos some classic tones featuring the BigSky’s Room Reverb, Hall Reverb, Plate Reverb and Spring Reverb. It is a total of just over 30 minutes of demoing, so grab a tasty beverage, your guitar and BigSky to explore along with and enjoy.

Strymon BigSky – Room Reverb

Strymon BigSky – Hall Reverb

Strymon BigSky – Plate Reverb

Strymon BigSky – Spring Reverb

Get to know BigSky with Rabea Massaad, Pt.1

Posted by Angela

rabeaWhen Rabea Massaad, from the band Dorje, shared with us that he wanted to do an in depth series on BigSky we were super excited—and for good reason.  Not only is Rabea an excellent guitarist, he also has a knack for demoing gear as he often does on his own, with Rob Chapman, and also with Dorje through Andertons music channel.

In part one of this blog series, Rabea introduces himself, gives an overview of BigSky, and sets up his following in-depth videos.  We appreciate Rabea’s work on these excellent demos, and we hope you enjoy them!

Strymon BigSky – Introduction

Strymon BigSky – Pedal Overview

Artist Feature: That Live Moment

Posted by Angela

boyandbearWe all know that moment – where you freeze in the middle of dancing and cock your head towards the stage and take in the glorious sound. It courses through your body and produces a feeling of awe, joy and exhilaration. And then there is the other moment.  You are looking out on the dancing crowd and you are playing without even thinking about it – the notes are just flying out of you over the ecstatic crowd while you float on a blissful cloud.

This artist feature focuses on playing live. Whether in the crowd or on the stage performing, there is always something special about a live performance.

Undoubtedly, one of the top live bands out there is Radiohead. Here is a clip from their performance on Austin City Limits.

Annika Westgård & Thomas Moen put on a beautiful performance that lets your imagination float through each note.

We were fortunate to go see Boy & Bear on their latest tour through L.A. and can’t say enough great things about guitarist Killian Gavin. Take a listen.

As an extra bonus, Boy & Bear shared this picture of Killian’s pedalboard at the Conan taping.


Paddy Boy has that special connection with his guitar. You can feel it and see it in his playing.

The Bros. Landreth hypnotize the audience with their soothing bluesy vibe.

There is no live audience for this live cover of “Another Brick in the Wall,” but, if there were, they’d be in for a treat.

Artists Feature: Ambient Music

Posted by Angela

Ambient music can be anywhere from relaxing to inspiring to mind boggling (in a fun way). While listening to a good ambient song, we can sit back, close our eyes and have the most interesting images fly through our heads. Below is just a small sampling of some of the great artists out there who are teasing our minds with their ambient goodness.

Don’t close your eyes for this one. Hammock stimulates your ears and eyes with their haunting tale “Cold Front” from their album “Departure Songs.”

Mikhail Medvedev doesn’t just have an amazing cat, he has created a beautiful song called “Memories.”

You can learn a lot from Andy – really you can.  His site has video tips to help you if you are just starting to tinker in ambient sounds.  Andy has so many good videos to feature, but we had to go with “Famine and the Death of a Mother” from his new album “This Is For Our Sins,” which captures a sense of isolation and loss.

Jeffrey Niemeir teases 15 seconds of ambient beauty.

This is a perfect one to close your eyes to and let the song take you away. “Gravitáció” by …A Többi Néma Csend is a perfect journey through your mind. Maybe a gallop on the beach or a run through the poppies, On Mountains provides the soundtrack for a gorgeous day.

Want to hear more? Also check out Ivan Ujević, Chords of Orion, and Jon Carolino. If you have any of your own ambient songs or enjoy someone else’s that you’d like to share, please post the link below.

Pedalboard Feature: Blake Stranathan

Posted by Angela

DCIM103GOPROBlake Stranathan is a guitarist, producer, and writer currently working with Lana Del Rey. After being a finalist on MTV’s Making His Band at the age of 20, Blake has gone on to work with artists such as Mary J. Blige, Keyshia Cole, Nicole Scherzinger and many others. He is currently on tour with Lana, and helped write and produce on her new album, Ultraviolence.

What kind of pedalboard do you have and what is your signal chain?

Right now I’m using a Pedaltrain pro with a fairly simple set up:

Guitar–> ProAnalog Supaquack Wah –> Suhr Riot –> Berkos Third Stone Fuzz –> Klon Centaur –> Boss Tuner –> Ernie Ball VP Jr –> JTM45/100 (with FX Loop and Master Volume)

FX Loop:
Strymon TimeLine –> Strymon BigSky –> Strymon Flint–> Boss GE-7 EQ

blake pedalboard

Can you share what the co-writing process was like with Lana Del Rey on the new album Ultraviolence?

It was probably the best experience of my life so far. I was in New York visiting family, and Lana invited me down to Electric Lady Studios, which was always a dream of mine being a Hendrix nut. It was surreal being and working there. We wound up being there for 8 or 9 days with basically the entire place to ourselves. I had played guitar on a couple tracks that were pretty much finished, but one morning I came to the studio super early just to work out some tones and play in that amazing live room. As I was coming up with some progressions, Lana walked in and we came up with “Pretty When You Cry” on the spot. It was recorded through a Neve 8078 which just sounded unreal. None of it was planned which certainly added to the vibe. The same happened with “Cruel World”. I was actually watching a video of the ‘BigSky’ on my computer and showed it to her. She said, “Fuck! That sounds amazing. We need that.” (Laughs) So a couple of hours later, a runner went out and grabbed one. On the last day while Phil Joly, the engineer, was bouncing down a couple sessions, and she asked me if I wanted to play around with the new pedal in the live room. I played maybe a few chords and we immediately started writing ‘Cruel World’. We recorded it just guitar and vocal in one take, and then Dan Auerbach went on to produce the song not long after. Everything about the recording and writing process was super organic, plus the energy in that studio is very powerful. I came up with the guitars for ‘Flipside‘ at home in Los Angeles using the BigSky as well. I made a quick video clip and sent it to her phone. We wound up writing the song a couple days later at her house, and then recorded it at a studio later that night. Strymon definitely played a big role in shaping the sound of the record.

Now that recording software and equipment has become more accessible, what are your thoughts on home recording vs. going into a studio?

Home recording and the technology today is such a big advantage. I do most of my creating at home using an Apogee Duet and my MacBook Pro, which is loaded with plug-ins. It gives you the ability to make really awesome demos and record ideas without having to waste time and money at a big studio. Through trial and error, you also become a better engineer and mixer as a result. However, I think a combination of the two is the best scenario; Being able to work out your ideas at home, and then recording it for real in a nice studio. Being in your room is just not the same as being in a great space and collaborating with others.

After finishing working on the Lana Del Rey album, how did you musically prepare for the tour to support the album?

blake coachella 2014We are still adding in new songs here and there. There are multiple guitar tracks on many of the songs, so it was important to find the best way to incorporate all of them and make sure it sounds super full. It’s important to approach the music with a ‘producer’s ear’, like what you can add sonically to bring the music to life. During the live show, the sounds of the keyboards and some of the drum triggers are controlled off-stage via MIDI. The BigSky and TimeLine are hooked up via MIDI, and I made presets for each song. When the next song is loaded up, the pedals sync up to the specific patches. It’s such a life-saver on stage because I make guitar changes on a lot of the songs due to the different tunings. I use Fenders and I am always manipulating the tone/volume controls and pickup positions. The Klon is on all the time, and I have the Strymons in the FX loop to give me the atmospherics I need.

What would be a top tip you would give to an aspiring songwriter?

Be constantly learning and be unique. Don’t be quick to filter your ideas. Trust your gut.

We would love to know if you’d be willing to share a preset you used on “Flipside” with BigSky.

For the verse part I used the first Cloud preset with the mix turned to 3 o’clock, with the tone rolled off on the neck pickup on a strat. For the choruses I just flipped down to the bridge pickup.

BIGSKY_Factory_Presets.inddLike Blake Stranathan’s “Flipside” Preset? Want to share some presets of your own?  Send us a tweet of your own Preset using #StrymonPreset for a chance to be featured on our blog!

Artist Feature – The Grand Scheme

Posted by Michael

It has been a busy few months for Peter Dyer (keyboards), Joel Van Dijk (guitar), and Joe Gonzales (bass), who together make up The Grand Scheme.  After their most recent tour with live partner Aloe Blacc, which culminated at Coachella 2014, The Grand Scheme recently kicked off a summer tour with Bruno Mars.  As friends of Strymon, they took some time out of their hectic schedules to answer some questions about their favorite gear, recent success, and future plans.

1) This one’s for Peter. While Strymon effects are usually associated with guitar, you’ve managed to incorporate them into your style as a keyboardist.  What effects/pedals (not limited to Strymon) do you use, and what makes them suit you as a player?

Peter: I’m a big fan of fxs pedals on keys. Dry stock presets kill me. Keyboards can sound very dull and static sometimes. Even a smidge of fx spice can go a long way. A nice delay can transform an otherwise trite synthy worm into a lush spacey lead. A mild chorus can widen a lifeless pad. A knobby hardware pedal lets me further shape my sound in realtime, making it my own, and engaging the audience. Folks can hear that stuff.


I adore the big box Strymons. I generally hate multi-pedals since they usually do too many things and usually poorly, but the quality and flow of the big Strymons feel “analog” to play and tweak. Saveable presets, stereo, and midi sync are icing on their stunning fx engines. It’s a wonderful hybrid.

peter's pedals

Apart from my touring rig Strymons, I’m a glutton for an analog chorus on polysynths (MXR-134, Moog Cluster Flux), and a bucket-brigade delay on monosynths (MXR Carbon Copy, Moog 104z).

2) The Grand Scheme just wrapped up Coachella with Aloe Blacc and is preparing for a summer tour with Bruno Mars.  Did the band anticipate this level of success or is this just the beginning?

Peter: I’m glad I got to see this act rise up 3 years ago when I joined from a mild success to the world stage. Usually I just catch one or the other as a sideman. And further, to have been a small piece of Aloe’s hit “Wake Me Up” and see folks singing it every night is a pretty nice feeling.

Joel: I believe both. At the beginning of my career playing with Aloe Blacc I had no idea it would make it to this level.  I have played the empty shows, the tours in the van, the RV, and everything in between with Aloe.  To be on this level now is awesome, but to answer the second part there is always room to grow and I believe this project will continue to do that.  We are opening for Bruno now, but in the future who knows!

Joe: It’s been an unexpected rise to success. We started out doing smaller tours and each year has been bigger and bigger. The way it looks now this is just the beginning.

3) I’m sure over the years you’ve collected a lot of gear.  Any particular instrument that you love the most?

Peter: My Rhodes Mk V, a Clavinet D6 I rebuilt, and my Yamaha CP70 (electric grand). There is life and uniqueness in every note, as each note is literally a different mechanism. The Mobius can coax 3 decades of classic album tones out of them, so it’s usually on.

Joel: Gear is like fashion, things go in and out of style, and/or my taste for them changes!   I still have a Parker Fly from my teenage years which I will always love, but for my current taste and gig it’s not for everything.  I still love to bring it in on sessions, especially for the clean stuff. I am still digging into the Mobius and Timeline and I am particularly excited about the results I have been getting with my stereo amp set up!


DCIM100GOPROJoe: My Fender American standard jazz bass . It was a second hand used bass but it has the most buttery feel that I have yet to find in another bass.

Joe Gonzalez -  Strymon

4) Do you prefer the stage or the studio?

Peter: I like the studio. As a keyboardist, on stage, it’s expected for me to supply a hundred different sounds and parts at the drop of a hat, and possibly run tracks at the same time. In the studio, I can focus on making one amazing sound at a time, and tweak to my hearts content until it’s right.

Joel: I love them both for different reasons.  The connection to the audience and spontaneity of the live show is priceless, but the lasting results of the studio and creation of something new can definitely trump the live experience for me.  If I had to pick one, I will 9 times out of 10 say studio, but I would also attach that to my ideal touring schedule, 9 days in the studio and 1 day onstage!  Live magic just can’t be replaced.

Joe: Personally I love them both but something about playing live and the energy feedback from the crowd. You just can’t get that from the studio.

Joe G bassboard

5) Most memorable gig you have played/attended?

Peter: The Pyramids of Giza. It was a show for a private group with Mariah, and they had a stage built on the sand for the event, in the desert, with the pyramids less than a few hundred yards away. It was the strangest show I’ve ever encountered, possibly for life. A sandstorm hit during soundcheck, i mean come on!

Joel: Glastonbury stands out for me as a pinnacle moment in my career, while it was both live broadcast and live to around 20,000 people.  There are plenty of other notable experiences that I have had since, but that festival marked a change in the game for me.  Big time festival, tons of mud and people going to extreme ends to witness the music there!

 Joe: The gig that stands out for me was playing on the David letterman show in the historic Johnny Carson studios. I’ve been watching bands on that show since I was a kid.

6) Can we expect an album from the three of you in the future? Any solo projects to keep a look out for?

Joel: The Grand Scheme project has been in the works for a long time and is nearing completion!  We recorded a lot of material at the end of a long summer run, at Modern World studios in the UK and are looking forward to releasing the material to the public.  Stay tuned!  Instrumental-Soul-Jazz-Afro-Punk style on it’s way!

Peter: It was a magical time, near the end of a rough summer of constant touring.   The Scheme was in sync and I’m glad we captured it.

Joel: That being said I have two albums of solo material under my own name (Joel Van Dijk) A Kind of Blues from 2012 and Truthseeker from 2010.  There are definitely some Strymons recorded on there from everyone.


Peter: Joe & I are proud to have been apart of JVD’s albums.

Want more from the Grand Scheme? Check out their latest track “Scheme Theme” from their upcoming album:

Many thanks to the Grand Scheme for taking the time to chat with us, and we wish them the best in their future musical endeavors!


Pedalboard Feature: Mike Longworth

Posted by Angela

imageMike Longworth is a serious player who is a veteran of the L.A. rock scene. He’s the guitarist in the punk rock band Mest, and has performed and toured with Jessica Sanchez, Colton Dixon, Candace Glover, Kree Harrison, and Angie Miller—all winners and runners up of American Idol. He was a member of the band Prong for many years, and has even written a song on the band’s 2012 album Carved Into Stone.

What kind of pedalboard is this, and what is your signal path?

The board and case were custom made by me. Since I use an effects loop, I have two paths going. The first path goes into the front of the amp and is the OB.1, and various tremolos, flange, and distortions. The second path is the Mobius and Timeline, and they go through the effects loop. I have it all wired into a single router that sends it out to the amp. It makes setup time very quick. And it keeps everything very neat.


You have called your pedalboard “clean and quiet”. Can you expand on that?

I keep both paths in separate true bypass loops so they keep the signal quiet while I’m not using them. It also lets me select presets before I need them. When I’m ready for a group of effects I can just hit one button on the loop pedal and engage my effects. It keeps me from having to step on multiple pedals at the same time. I also send MIDI from the Timeline into a Voodoo Lab Control Switcher, and that changes the channel on my amp all with one button.

Can you elaborate a little more on building your own pedalboard?

It mainly started as a project. I’ve always been tempted to have an actual board filled with my favorite pedals, rather than one multi-effects unit (which I still use occasionally). It was about a 6 month process going through all my pedals. Space is limited, so I didn’t want everything on there. Once I got them all in order, I wanted the whole thing to be super quiet, so I added the true bypass loops. I had contacted a few places about wiring it up and the cost was quite high. I know how to solder and I know what cables to use, so I went for it. It worked! Maybe I should build boards?

Mest recently released the new album Not What you Expected! Can you share how your pedals played a part in this album?

I don’t usually use pedals while recording. I need to recreate those sounds live though and that’s where the pedals come in. For this record, I needed certain delays, choruses, trem, and on the song “Radio” I needed to make the guitar sound like it was coming through an AM radio. I actually was able to do all of this with the help of the Timeline and Mobius.

Mest and Kisses For Kings are more hard/punk, but you also play with Jessica Sanchez. Can you share how your pedals differ between the two genres?

I really don’t change much to be honest. My current board is pretty versatile in my opinion. It’s always evolving, but where I have it now, I can get pretty much any effect and sound I want. Because I use several multi-effects units, it saves some room and keeps me from tap dancing too much. For Mest, I let my amp do most of the work as far as clean and dirty. For Jessica Sanchez, I like to go into a cleaner sound as my main, and the OB.1 and other distortions act as a dirtier sound if I need them.

Do you have any advice for musicians getting into the punk scene nowadays, has much changed since back in the day?

The punk scene hasn’t changed much in my opinion. Besides the bands who broke into the mainstream in the early 2000’s, I still see the underground scene staying alive. There are now many different sub- genres of punk, but it’s still there surviving in the underground. The best advice I can give is to just play and don’t get discouraged by what people are saying is a dead music industry. There are always going to be bands playing live and fans going to see them. That is never going to end.

Pedalboard Feature: Pete Thorn

Posted by Angela

petethornGuitarist Pete Thorn can be found doing a myriad of things. He has been guitar sideman for Chris Cornell, Don Henley, Melissa Etheridge and many more. He also has his own solo album Guitar Nerd. You can check out a bunch of great gear demos on Pete’s youtube page. Or if you are looking for some tips, be sure to check out his articles over at Premier Guitar. Let’s get to know a bit more about his pedalboard!

What type of pedalboard is this?

The board is made by Trailer Trash, and I use it for touring and for recording. It’s big enough to do everything I could possibly want, but small enough that I can still carry it around myself— fits nicely in the trunk of my car!

What is your signal path?

My guitar either feeds an AKG wireless, then the pedalboard, or is plugged into the board using Providence cable. The signal runs into a Mission volume pedal and Vertex Axis wah, then hits the Musicomlab MKIII switcher. The switcher feeds a TC Polytune mini. The loops in the switcher have 8 pedals (1 per loop). They are:

  • Loop 1 – Suhr Koji Compressor
  • Loop 2 – Boss MO-2 multi overtone
  • Loop 3 – Strymon Mobius (pre-path)
  • Loop 4 – MXR Phase 90
  • Loop 5 – Secret EFX Secret 1 overdrive
  • Loop 6 – Suhr Koko Boost
  • Loop 7 – Crazy Tube Circuits Starlight Fuzz
  • Loop 8 – Analog Man King Of Tone

The output of the switcher feeds a 1/4 inch jack on the left side of the board. Under the board is an RJM Y-Not midi A/B box, and the input and A/B outs also show up on the left side of the board. I patch the output of the switcher into the input of the A/B box. Output A feeds a D.I. This is for acoustic. Output B goes to the input of my main Suhr PT100 amp (my signature Suhr 100 watt amp). The amp effects send goes to the “post fx input”, also on the left side of my board. From there, the signal goes:

  • Strymon Mobius (post path)
  • Eventide H9#1 (used mainly for pitch)
  • Strymon Timeline Delay
  • Eventide H9#2 (used mainly for reverb)

The outputs of the 2nd H9 feed the effect return of the main PT100 amp and also a 2nd PT100, for stereo. I come out of the amps into 2 Suhr 2-12″ cabs with Celestion Creamback H speakers. That’s it!

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What things did you need to take into consideration when building your 2014 pedalboard?

Size. I wanted it to be small enough to carry myself! But yet, I wanted to be able to do virtually everything I did with my previous rig—which consisted of a 12 space rack, 3 speaker cabs, etc etc! I need it super-reliable and road worthy. And of course NO tone suck, and as little noise as possible. On my last tour, we had to run about 35 feet of cable between the board for every run—the amps were back by my tech, but I was up on a riser. So, 35 feet from switcher out to the amp input, then 35 foot runs to and from the effects loops of the 2 heads. That’s a lot of unbalanced cable! It was quiet and sounded great, virtually like I was plugged right into the amp with a short cable. That’s because Dave Friedman did the board right, and John Suhr makes the best effect loops on earth. Buffered, quiet, tight, solid. Quality.

You tour with many artists, what is the pedal decisions like when you start touring with an artist? Does the artist provide any feedback on those decisions?

Not usually. I usually know what to do. “Black Hole Sun”…. I need a rotary pedal! “Like A Stone”- I need a whammy. That sort of thing. That’s why you get hired—you know what to do.

Please tell us about your new solo release “The Groomed Noodler.”

I recorded that track as a way to help the Suhr guys show off their new SL67 plexi-type amp. I wanted it to be just a raw, in your face kinda tune, to really show off the amp. It sounded really cool, so I decided I’d throw it up on iTunes, and also offer it through as a lesson. You can get it from them as a package with full tab, a version with no lead guitar, etc. I’m glad people dig it.

How is touring solo different than touring as “guitar sideman”? Do you do anything different with your pedalboard?

Not really—the board is so versatile. I can use it easily in different configurations, in mono, or stereo, for example. I can also quickly patch everything so all the effects are in front of an amp—useful if I had to use a rental amp like a Twin or AC30, and there was no effects loop. I designed it to be adaptable to different situations.

Any advice to other musicians on what to consider when building a touring pedalboard?

I recommend collecting all the pedals first, laying them all out—look at what you have, and measure. Then you know how big of a board you’ll need. I like the Trailer Trash boards because it’s easy to run power supplies and cables underneath. It saves space and makes for a clean setup. You can also put jacks/patch points on the side of the board. I recommend that, because you can do it like I did—put some patches there, so you can re-route things easily and re-configure how you use your board, if need be. On my first tour with the board, with Melissa Etheridge, the out of the switcher fed the input of the post FX path, and the out of the last post FX (then a Line 6 M9) fed the RJM A/B box. The A out went to a Him Kelley amp set clean. The B out went to a Suhr SL68 set crunchy. So I used all FX in front, and A/B’d 2 amps, old school. Now, I use the post FX (the time based stuff) in the loop of the PT amps and am running in stereo, and the A/B is used for switching between acoustic and electric. Easy, and painless, to configure the board both ways, because of the patching on the side. So I recommend that sort of setup.

Also—I recommend consulting someone who knows this stuff really well, when building a board. There’s so many snafus you can hit, with ground loops, power issues, etc. Dave Friedman really knows his stuff, so he keeps my boards running smooth and quiet. That experience is invaluable. I can hit the stage with peace of mind, knowing my rig is tight. Good luck guys, happy rocking!

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