The Ultimate Acoustic Pedalboard? (Part 2)

by on Jul.24, 2012, under Guitar, Last of the Troubadours, Music, Tutorials

In part 1 I discovered that the Boss LS-2 let me mix the real sound of my acoustic with some effects without destroying the tone of the guitar. Now lets put some effects pedals on the board…

The Pedals

Over the course of building the board, I selected the following pedals as having the best sound for acoustic guitar of those I tried.

Delay: T-Rex ReplicaT-Rex Replica

This pedal is one of the most musical sounding delay pedals I have ever used – it’s got plenty of that good “old-timey” tape feel, but without the mechanical breakdowns! Smooth, silky and without any of that harsh digital-ness typical of modern delay pedals, it just sits in the sound creating depth and space without competing for attention.

Perfect for acoustic guitar!

Chorus: Tech 21 RotoChoir

Tech 21 RotoChoirOK, I lied. This isn’t really a chorus at all but in fact simulates a Leslie speaker cabinet or a Fender Vibratone. There is not a bad setting on this pedal – it does deep underwater psychedelia to slow undulating sweeps to subtle chorus-like shimmer without sounding unnatural or siren-like.

Crunch: Xotic Effects AC Booster (Custom Shop model)

A simple distortion pedal that works well with acoustic guitar has proved the most difficult effect to find, in practice almost all the pedals I tried had far too much distortion and destroyed the tone of the acoustic.

This pedal is typically used by electric guitarists to provide a signal boost for lead sounds, it’s great for Hendrix type blues tones or just turning it up to eleven. When applied to an acoustic guitar however, it manages to retain the original sound of the guitar whilst providing that extra weight and “crunch” I was looking for. It’s damn expensive for a simple distortion pedal, but the only one I found that retains the acoustic’s character.

Xotic Effects AC Booster (Custom Shop)

Compression: MXR Dyna Comp

MXR Dyna CompTwo dials and an on/off switch. Not exactly the transparent compressor I was originally after, but this little pedal provides extra sustain without sucking the life out of the sound.

Tremolo/Vibrato: Marshal Vibratrem

Not a lot to say about this, basic rate, depth and wave shape controls. I only use the tremolo mode which sounds exactly as you would expect…with a low depth, it can add a bit of movement to the sound without colouring the tone.

Signal Path

A guitar effects chain would be typically connected in the following order (for an electric rig):

  1. Filters (EQ, Wah)
  2. Compression
  3. Distortion/Overdrive
  4. Modulation (Flange, Chorus etc…)
  5. Volume/Volume effects (e.g. Tremolo)
  6. Reverb/Delay
  7. Amp/Amp Model

For my purposes, however this doesn’t make sense. I need two separate chains – one for space and one for punch.

In the next post we’ll see how to make it all work together.

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