Age of Irony: A Day/Year in the Life of PG’s Pedal Issue

Is Alanis Morissette about to collaborate with Harley Flanagan, or am I just flying high on Delta-variant wings?

Believe me, the irony of writing what I'm about to write after my previous column called out "Guitardom's Biggest Crybaby" is not lost on me. As we once again put the final touches on our annual Pedal Issue—a mammoth effort stacked with 25 reviews of killer new stomps from both biggies and underdogs—I decided to take a look at how I commemorated the big event last year. In that little ditty ("This World Sucks, So I Made My Own"), I mentioned how the process had been complicated not just by the then-new pandemic wreaking havoc on the industry, but also by both a freak storm here at PG headquarters and a Mad Max-esque wildfire situation for PG staffers based in California.

How rich, then, that a year later we—collectively—are yet again on our heels from the hip new Delta variant and a crapload of new fires all over the world. (Apparently John F. Malta, artist for this year's super-neato Pedal Issue cover, was feeling the same vibes, too!) Meanwhile, all the humans in my household are recovering from one mother of a virus. We're all vaccinated and tests say it's not COVID, but maybe they're false negatives? Either way, it's the shittiest we've felt in a decade, and only a fraction of the OTC meds we've been downing seem to do any good. After a couple weeks of tissue-filled garbage cans and a chorus of ungodly nose-blowing and hacking coughs, we're finally kind of on the mend, but my sinuses are still so clogged and my brain so sleep deprived I can hardly put words together in any semblance of sense. Hell, I don't even know if any of this is truly textbook irony or whether I'm just mucus-musing, Alanis Morissette-style, to the tune of a nonexistent Cro-Mags album.

Point is, my perception of things might be just slightly colored by my own misery, but it seems to me the world still kinda sucks—probably a helluva a lot more than we thought it would this time last year. But hey, at least we still have pedals!

I don't even know if any of this is truly textbook irony or whether I'm just mucus-musing, Alanis Morissette-style, to the tune of a nonexistent Cro-Mags album.

And that's no sass either, friend. Sure, PG crewmembers still lurching toward deadline might read some sarcasm into the statement. But it truly is a testament to our resilience as a community, as a species, that we've somehow managed to come up with so many mesmerizing stompboxes and make ever-cooler music with them, despite the state of things.

I personally got my first-ever whacks at three pedal brands I'd never really played before—one from an industry heavyweight, two from tiny outfits—and each took me by ever-so-pleasant surprise. Call me shallow … or maybe say I'm setting the bar low … or whatever, but hey, if I can derive a few hours of somnambulistic sonic pleasure as the world around me/us seems to fall further into the pot, then that's a win in my book. (Granted, again, it probably isn't quite textbook material.)

Rest assured, once my head is cleared, I'll have better perspective on all this. In the meantime, all I can say is—get your jabs (vaccinations), mates. A snot-filled week is better than dead. And it's your best chance to witness the next batch of ear-tantalizing pedals come this time next year.

Rig Rundown: Adam Shoenfeld

Whether in the studio or on his solo gigs, the Nashville session-guitar star holds a lotta cards, with guitars and amps for everything he’s dealt.

Adam Shoenfeld has helped shape the tone of modern country guitar. How? Well, the Nashville-based session star, producer, and frontman has played on hundreds of albums and 45 No. 1 country hits, starting with Jason Aldean’s “Hicktown,” since 2005. Plus, he’s found time for several bands of his own as well as the first studio album under his own name, All the Birds Sing, which drops January 28.

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Diatonic sequences are powerful tools. Here’s how to use them wisely.



• Understand how to map out the neck in seven positions.
• Learn to combine legato and picking to create long phrases.
• Develop a smooth attack—even at high speeds.

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Knowing how to function in different keys is crucial to improvising in any context. One path to fretboard mastery is learning how to move through positions across the neck. Even something as simple as a three-note-per-string major scale can offer loads of options when it’s time to step up and rip. I’m going to outline seven technical sequences, each one focusing on a position of a diatonic major scale. This should provide a fun workout for the fingers and hopefully inspire a few licks of your own.
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