Are You a Pedal Junkie?
When G.A.S. becomes P.A.S.
My wife always asks me why I buy so much gear but hardly ever sell anything. I had never really thought about it, but she certainly raises a valid point, to which I don’t have an answer. Perhaps it is a side effect related to G.A.S, or perhaps I’m your typical gearhead pack rat! Regardless, there is no cure for either, as you know. Kind of like swimming against Michael Phelps, you know you are going to get your ass kicked, you can only hope to contain the damage.
I suppose I never sell anything because in the back of my mind I think I can use it someday. If for nothing else, I can rob a knob off of an old Tube Screamer, steal an input jack off an old Princeton, or perhaps a Grover off an old broken headstock. Gear is sentimental stuff that carries a story with it—a time and place in your life that validated the acquisition in the first place. Who doesn’t cherish their first pawn shop prize? I’ll bet most of you still have yours tucked away in an attic or obscure closet somewhere and when you occasionally pull it out for a dust off, you realize that it means something to you.
My first pawn shop prize was a small Kingston Amp with Tremolo, Volume, Tone, Speed and Depth with an eight inch speaker. I was ten and paid 20 bucks for it. I mowed a lot of yards for that 20 bucks! I’ve still got it and I won’t ever sell it—don’t even ask. It means something to me.
As we proudly celebrate our first effects-themed issue, it strikes me that acquiring pedals is one of the worst sub-maladies in the G.A.S. family of diseases—P.A.S! Perhaps this is because they are less expensive and easier to hide from the spousal unit—but don’t kid yourself, it’s just as lethal. I have 50+ pedals in my collection, including early script-logo models, Tube Screamers, Cry Babies—even an early Echoplex. Still got ‘em, won’t ever sell ‘em—don’t even ask! They mean something to me.
My first pedal was an Apollo fuzz wah (circa 1976) that will make any amp sound like the speakers are blown with that over-the-top fuzz tone, à la the Beatles’ “Revolution.” I got mine for Christmas when I was 11. I had grown tired of playing through that Kingston and needed some hair on my tone to play along with my Kiss Alive record. Which, by the way, I still have on original vinyl, along with the Kiss “Original” Box Set on vinyl, with original booklet and Kiss Army patch. Still got ‘em, wont ever sell ‘em—don’t even ask! They mean something to me.
Modern day boutique pedal builders have certainly contributed to our incurable P.A.S by building some of the finest and most advanced pedals in history. Many of today’s pedals are certainly based on respected traditional vintage designs and concepts, but utilize incredible advancements in modern day circuit technology to push the performance levels to incredible new sonic heights. These days you can pack a ton of tone into a tiny box. God bless ‘em! Those pedal builders serve an important role in improving your tone.
And yes, I have invested in several boutique pedals over the past year. Still got em—you know...
Whether they’re vintage, modern boutique or somewhere in between, pedals are just frickin’ fun. I think everyone has a little (or a lot of) pedal freak in them, so step out of the closet and fly your freak flag high.
Trent Salter, Publisher