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Pedal Alley 2021: Reader Boards

The pandemic has brought guitarists lots more time to tinker with tone toys. Here’s what players all over the world have been putting together in their bunkers.

Eric B Thomas

Eric B Thomas: The Rack Treatment

Thank you so much for offering your readers an opportunity to share their love for pedalboards. I’d love to share my pedalboard with your readers. It’s got wheels!

As both an engineer and songwriter, I’m infatuated with collecting pedals, but also despise the clutter and time spent rearranging and rewiring handfuls of stompboxes and patch cables. My appreciation for the pedal-building art and my stubbornness to move entirely into the digital realm led me to Paul Vnuk Jr.’s “Pedals in the Mix” video, where he showcases his home studio pedal rig in the studio rack format. I spent hours studying his set up, recognized what I could do for myself, experienced debilitating G.A.S, then got to work allocating everything I needed to assemble my own pedalboard rack.

At the core of my setup is a Behringer PX3000 Ultrapatch Pro patchbay. The pedals’ inputs and outputs are all patchable from the front end. This allows for the signal routing to happen as quickly as inspiration may strike. Chorus before or after distortion? But what about the reverb into the fuzz?! No more wasted time playing pedal Tetris and more time making fun noise!

  • Channel 1 is a Samson MD1 Passive Direct Box. The balanced output is sent to Pro Tools to be used later for reamping. The thru output returns to the patchbay to use with other pedals.
  • Channel 2 runs through a Boss GE-7 equalizer for any necessary tone tweaking.
  • Channel 3 holds the EarthQuaker Devices Palisades overdrive. If you’re not familiar with this pedal, just imagine having a whole bunch of differently modified Tube Screamers in one box. I think the value in this pedal’s tweakability is severely underrated!
  • Channel 4 is a Pepers’ Pedals Dirty Tree boost. I wasn’t quite ready to shell out $400 to a local seller for a TC preamp, but this box absolutely crushes!
  • Channel 5 accesses the EarthQuaker Devices Acapulco Gold. Even if you could afford a Sunn Model T, wouldn’t you just dime it, too? This gets me in the ballpark without interrupting my fiancé’s virtual teaching.
  • Channel 6 is home to a pedal that was at the bottom of a “box of junk” that was included with a guitar I purchased off Craigslist: a 1978 Electro-Harmonix Little Big Muff Pi. A quick battery swap took this from “yeah, it just don’t work so you can have it with all that junk” to “holy crap!”
  • Channel 7 features the Keeley 4 Knob Compressor, which I love just cranking to get that nearly infinite sustain.
  • Channel 8 holds another EarthQuaker Devices pedal. The Sea Machine Super Chorus caught my attention with its six knobs of tweakability, and I honestly haven’t used the same settings twice when writing.
  • Channel 9 connects to what I’d say was my first real “boutique” pedal, the Midnight30Music Starry Night Delay Deluxe. Based on a PT2399 chip, this box creates such musical feedback when cranked, and rides the edge of self-oscillation without spinning out of control.
  • Channel 10 fires up Hungry Robot’s The Wash delay and reverb pedal. If you’re in need of ambience, this pedal has it in spades.

Skip down to Channels 21-24 to meet the Boss RV-500 and DD-500. I actually use these pedals as effects sends from my mixer. Instead of sending delay and reverb through the amps and speaker cabinets, I just blend in delay or reverb from these units as needed.

On the top of the cabinet lies an example of the “mess” I so desperately wish to forget, but, alas, there shall always be some form of it. The bass signal chain is composed of the Boss TU-3, DOD Meatbox Subsynth, Darkglass Microtubes B7K Analog Bass Preamp, and a Samson MD1 DI.

The final box is the Disaster Area Designs SMARTClock Gen3 Tap Tempo controller. This unit receives MIDI for tempo from a Pro Tools session, passing MIDI down to both Boss 500 units, along with four additional 1/4” outputs to which The Wash and the Starry Night Deluxe will both be connected.

All pedals in the rack are powered by a Truetone 1 Spot Pro CS12 and wired using Redco brand cables with Amphenol 1/4” connectors.

Thanks again for the opportunity to share this pedalboard and I hope others will find my project inspiring or fun!

It’s that time of year, when Premier Guitar readers get the chance to show their pedalboards, and how they use them to create worlds of sound. There’s no wrong way to signal a stomp—the options are virtually endless. Read on to see what players have been cooking up in their COVID guitar bunkers. A few highlights include a completely white-washed mystery pedalboard, a retirement bucket list project from a 62-year-old beginner, an elaborate rackmounted setup made with a goal to streamline pedal-Tetris, and much more. Enjoy!