march 2014

Another eye-popping gallery of pedalboards, submitted by PG readers.


Here’s how Welsh reader Andrew Phillips populates his Pedaltrain Pro board: He plugs into a TC Electronic PolyTune and a Keeley bypass pedal, with the following stompboxes in the bypass pedal’s loop: Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor, Mesa Grid Slammer and Flux Drive, and a Suhr Koko Boost. After the loop comes MXR’s EVH Phaser and EVH Flanger pedals, then the signal goes to a Mesa/Boogie Quad preamp with more effects in the amp’s loop: Eventide PitchFactor, four TC Electronic stompboxes (Dreamscape, Corona, Flashback, and Flashback X4), a Strymon Timeline, and TC Hall of Fame Reverb. A Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 beneath the board provides the juice.

Checking out the pedalboards of our fellow players never gets old—and there’s so much creativity on display in this latest batch.You’ll encounter classic effects deployed in imaginative ways … ambitious switching/effect loop schemes … and a vast menagerie of hip boutique boxes. Thanks for the ongoing inspiration, readers!

It’s almost impossible to be creative while learning to use complex new gear. Here’s a better idea.

There’s so much great musical gear out there, but with each new piece of gear comes a new time commitment. From the simplest effect pedal to the most complex recording and editing software, you often have to invest serious learning time before you can make the most of these tools. This can be frustrating when you’d rather be practicing guitar or writing a new song.

Make the Most of What You Have
First off, it’s important to get the most out of the gear you already own. We’re all familiar with the acronym GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome), and how easy it is to get caught up in the cycle of buying and selling the latest and greatest toys and tools. YouTube demos create gear lust. Guitar forums are full of folks (myself included) going on and on about some new piece of gear that floats their boat. Online shopping makes it easy to pull the trigger on the latest pedal or amp. Temptation is everywhere! But sometimes it’s best to take a deep breath, look at what you already have, and ask yourself if you’re maximizing your gear.

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When no one was willing to build him an acoustic with a scalloped fretboard for microtonal string bends, James Russell took on the project himself and became a full-time luthier.


The Filmore boasts a tempting blend of a Tele-shaped body with a Les Paul wood-and-electronics recipe. It features Honduran mahogany for both the body and set neck, flamed maple for the top, and Brazilian rosewood for the fretboard. For electronics, Russell went with a pair of Peter Florance's Voodoo '59 humbuckers.

James Russell got his start building guitars in 1979 out of necessity. As a huge fan of John McLaughlin’s acoustic band Shakti, he wanted a guitar similar to McLaughlin’s Abe Wechter acoustic with a scalloped fretboard that would enable microtonal string bends. But after asking several Southern California luthiers to build the guitar he had in mind, Russell was turned down by all of them. That’s when he decided to build it himself and quickly found himself hooked on lutherie. And that first instrument is still going strong today.

Russell truly lives and breathes all things guitar. Not only is he a full-time builder out of his one-man shop, he still finds time to regularly teach guitar and perform. Oh, and he’s also one of Eric Schoenberg’s builders, producing handcrafted guitars inspired by prewar Martin flattops under the highly respected Schoenberg brand.

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