What kind of a player are you: straight into the amp, or do you build your sound through stompboxes or effects units? I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because the maturity of digital modelling means there’s a third alternative: “It’s all in my Kemper/Helix/Axe-Fx/etc” so sometimes it’s just an amp, sometimes it’s a bunch of effects, and sometimes it changes from verse to chorus.”
Me, I’m typically a straight-into-the-amp player. Generally I follow the EVH approach of using the guitar’s volume pot to adjust the amp gain, and most of the time I’m on the dirty channel whether I’m playing distorted or clean. I still love my pedals though and I’ve been collecting them since I was 13 years old so I’ve amassed a few favourites in that time. The Z.Vex Fuzz Factory, the Jim Dunlop Q Zone and Buddy Guy Cry Baby, the DOD FX25 Envelope Filter, the BOSS OC-2 Octave. And then there are my beloved Seymour Duncan pedals (As many of you no doubt know, I’m SD’s social media guy and I’m pretty loyal): the Forza and 805 Overdrive are my go-to drives even though I have …way too damn many overdriven to choose from. The Catalina Dynamic Chorus is the only chorus I’ll ever use now. And the Pickup Booster is so simple yet so classic. Can’t wait to get my hands and feet on an Andromeda Dynamic Delay too.
I guess the dream setup for me personally would be something like, say, a BOSS ES-8 so I can dip effects in and out while still effectively getting my main tone from the guitar and amp. The way I approach effects is very similar to what I recall Chris DeGarmo saying in a Guitar World interview back in the 90s: I see my tone as a beam of light, and effects as a prism to shine it through. I always want to keep the spirit of the sound intact, and I know that Marshall so well in terms of how it responds to my playing, what it can do, and what it needs a bit of extra help with.
One of the things that excites me about the Andromeda is that it’s MIDI-capable, and so is the ES-8, so if I get the two I’ll be able to build Andromeda preset changes into my patches. Kick in a Pickup Booster or 805 with some ducking delay for a hotter lead sound, switch on a nice atmospheric reverse delay for my rolled-back-volume cleanish rhythms, hit the OC-2 and a fat analog delay sound for big riffs of doom …actually I’m thinking of using a Seymour Duncan PowerStage 700 power amp to power a pair of wet speakers so I can have a wet/dry/wet setup for delays, chorus, reverb and pitch shifting, still taking advantage of my ‘straight-into-the-amp’ approach on the gain side of things while also getting the most out of my pedals for the ambient and really ear-catching stuff.
What about you? How do you approach your use of effects?