These party-rockin’ tone hunters plug their idiosyncratic axes into gifted Klons, helping them turn Music City into riff city.
Nashville has long been the hub for all things country music but in the last two decades, transplant rockers like Jack White, the Black Keys, Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine, Judas Priest’s Richie Faulkner and others, have all have made the 615 home. Adding to its growth is the organic blossoms generated via the rock block, cultivating names like Paramore, All Them Witches, Bully, Moon Taxi, The Wild Feathers, The Band Camino, and the guitar extraordinaires that make up Diarrhea Planet.We got caught up with the semi-retired fearsome foursome for their first headlining performance at the Ryman Auditorium ahead of their return to Bonnaroo. We covered why neck humbuckers are useless (but neck dives rule), how the whole band was gifted Klon KTRs, and what each shredator does to stand in and out among their collective guitarmegeddon.
Brought to you by D’Addario dBud Earplugs.
Diarrhea Planet’s unofficial 7th member is longtime tech and friend Dave Johnson of Scale Model Guitars. (Johnson has done several DIY features for PG, check them out!) Here is his 73rd build based on the Solid Guitar design. Constructed in 2015 it has an alder body, maple neck, and ebony fretboard. The alder was selected to keep the guitar’s weight under five pounds, the neck shape is based on a ’61 Melody Maker, and the fireworks ignite by way of the single Greer Wind humbucker wound by Porter Pickups. He opted for this one because it walks a fine line between a P-90 and PAF for a bouncy, rounder, snappier sound that sits best in DP. The switch is for a “high-octane” mod that bypasses the tone and volume controls and for a direct connection to the output jack for highway-to-the-danger-zone moments. He’s been loyal to D’Addario Medium Balanced Tension strings (.011 –.050) and Dunlop Tortex picks (.88 mm).
Diarrhea Planet Special
This bargain-bin bruiser is a Kramer Striker that cost Smith a mere $349. It has been overhauled by Dave Johnson in a recurring manner that includes Gotoh locking tuners, Graph Tech ResoMax bridge, removed the middle and neck pickups and dropped in a Bare Knuckle Nailbomb, and got a proper fret job and setup.
Smith has always been chasing a “bigger, more low-mid focused JCM 800” and this striking steal of a deal he scored fit the bill. The 120-watt Peavey 6505 runs into a Tyrant Tone 1x12 cabinet loaded with a single Electro-Voice Electro-Voice EVM12L Black Label Zakk Wylde speaker.
Jordan Smith’s Pedalboard
Smith’s board holds the staples for DP gigs. It starts with a Spaceman Effects Explorer Phaser, an Electronic Audio Experiments 0xEAE Boost (his favorite pedal on the planet), Boss SD-1 SuperOverdrive, and a Mr. Black Tapex 2. Diarrhea Planet might be the only band to earn KTRs. Back in 2014 or ’15, Klon creator Bill Finnegan and his employee Matt visited DP during a soundcheck near their East Coast-based shop. Finnegan loaned the foursome their own KTR to test out during the run-through. They plugged into them and instantly realized this was the sound they’ve been missing. Finnegan enjoyed the soundcheck so much that he told the band they deserved the magical red boxes and they’ve been on their boards ever since. “I’ll never sell it because we somehow impressed the guy that built one of the most influential pedals ever. It’s an honor and it means so much to me,” admits Smith. Everything rides on a Pedaltrain Classic Jr and is brought to life with a Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 Plus.
Dave Does It Again!
Brent Toler hit the Ryman stage with one guitar—his partscaster baby. Brent sourced all the parts (including painting the body in his parents’ garage) and luthier pal Dave Johnson helped put the pieces together. The single humbucker (with a push-pull pot engaging single-coil mode) was handwound by Alex Avedissian out of Atlanta. It has a HipShot bridge with an upgraded Hipshot Tremsetter Strat tremolo Stabilizer 401000. The roasted maple neck and dazzling pickguard was scooped off eBay. He recently switched from D’Addario strings to local faves Stringjoy.
Steal of a Deal
Traveling into town for this pair of shows, Toler packed light with just his partscaster and a pedalboard. He borrowed this Laney LC30 from bassist Mike Boyle who scored the 1x12 tube combo for $200.
Brent Toler’s Pedalboard
Paring down for carry-on limits, Toler returned to Guitar Town with a svelte pedal platform home to five effects and a tuner: a MXR Carbon Copy, a Mooer Yellow Comp, a Bogner Ecstasy Blue, Klon KTR, a MXR Phase 95, and an Electro-Harmonix EHX-2020 Tuner Pedal.
Standing out is a must when you’re battling frequencies with three other guitarists. Emmett Miller takes a left when his brethren take a right. His custom guitar (again built by Scale Model Guitars’ Dave Johnson) is a loving recreation of a ’80s Fender Performer. Miller first got a taste of the futuristic axe when studying at the National Guitar Workshop under Shane Roberts. He posted on Craigslist in the hopes of borrowing a Performer to copy for Dave to build from. He quickly received an anonymous response that included a complete blueprint of the instrument. It has 24 scalloped frets on an ebony fretboard, a Wilkinson/Gotoh VS-100N Tremolo bridge the middle and neck pickups are Hot Stack Plus Strat hum-canceling single-coils, a handwound Avedissian humbucker in the bridge (with a coil-spot mod), and the smaller dip switch adds in the neck pickup with the bridge humbucker. And the best part of the whole thing, the night-sky artwork was painted by Emmett’s mother.
When DP first disbanded in 2018, Miller went off to school to study electrical engineering and digital signal processing, and in doing so, he “had to play through a computer now.” He landed on the Kemper Profiler and hasn’t looked back. He avoids cabling and routes his guitar through a Line 6 Relay G55 Wireless unit.
Emmett Miller’s Pedalboard
Keeping the Kemper on amp-only duties, Miller has a standard pedal playground comprised of a Strymon El Capistan, a Klon KTR, a JHS Sweet Tea V3, Dunlop Cry Baby wah, a Moog EP-3 Expression pedal, a MXR Uni-Vibe, and a TC Electronic PolyTune. Up top you might notice what appears to be a Boss pedal enclosure, but that’s just a goof gift from fellow guitarist Evan Bird.
The Classiest and Nastiest
“I think, in my arms anymore, anything but a Tele feels weird. I do like other guitars, but these are the only ones I can throw around and then still pick back up and play,” concedes DP’s fourth guitarist Evan Bird. This MIM Fender Telecaster Thinline Deluxe was facelifted by Dave Johnson (shocker). It got a refret, improved hardware—including a 3-barrel brass bridge, Gotoh locking tuners, and strap locks—plus a fresh set of Avedissian Night Prowler humbuckers (with a push-pull coil-split mod on the bridge ’bucker). Both his Teles take D’Addario NYXL1052 Light Top/Heavy Bottom strings.
That’s Gold, Jerry, Gold!
Supplementing duties with Thinline is this Squier John 5 signature that’s finished in Frost Gold. It got the Dave Johnson Scale Model treatment and also features Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates with Les Paul-wiring and CTS pots.
After toting around a hefty Twin Reverb for years, Bird made the back-saving switch to a Fender Tone Master Twin Reverb that knocks off half the weight. Another issue he was having with the OG tube Twin was blowing up the preamp section by hitting it too hard with pedals. Since making the move to the Tone Master, he’s been flying clear of any meltdowns. And keeping the cables away from his feet is the Sennheiser EW-DX EM 2 Two-Channel wireless unit.
Evan Bird’s Pedalboard
Bird keeps it lean and mean with a 4-stomp pedalboard that includes an EarthQuaker Devices Dispatch Master, XTS Winford Drive, Greer Amps Supa Cobra, and a Klon KTR. Occasional tuning is assisted by the Boss TU-3 and a Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 Plus brings the juice.
Shop Diarrhea Planet's Rig
With the encouragement of his pal Jack White, Queens of the Stone Age and Dead Weather multi-instrumentalist Dean Fertita pulls together a decade of material for the psych-pop extravaganza Tropical Gothclub.
For multi-instrumentalist and A-list side musician Dean Fertita, a sophomore solo release has been a long time coming. The anticipated Tropical Gothclub, released in late 2022, is his first record since his 2009 debut, Hello=Fire. Fertita can’t help but nod to the lapse of time between then and now. “The song ‘Double Blind,’ I wrote that for my daughter before her first birthday,” he says about the album’s dreamy, Flaming Lips-like second single. “She just turned 11, and that’s the oldest song of the bunch.”
In that interim, the guitarist has had a lot to keep him busy. Since the mid ’00s, he’s been a part of a number of ongoing projects: He plays guitar and keys in Queens of the Stone Age, has been a touring member of the Raconteurs—whose lineup includes Fertita’s high school friend, multi-instrumentalist Brendan Benson—and formed the Dead Weather with the Kills’ vocalist Alison Mosshart and Jack White. Between touring, writing, and recording with these groups, Fertita also manages to squeeze in session work with artists such as Karen O and Iggy Pop.
Where There is Water
That sheer volume of work is a full-time creative effort. It’s a constant cycle, and for Fertita, the genesis of “what’s next” usually emerges just as another undertaking is winding down. But then came March 2020, and—like everyone else—he found himself in a pandemic break with time to focus on his solo projects again.
“In early 2020, we just finished the Raconteurs run,” Fertita says. “I didn’t know what was going on for the next few months for work, but I knew that in the not-so-distant future, we were planning on getting back together for Queens [of the Stone Age]. Alison Mosshart and I were talking about how we were both home for a while. We both had a few songs, and we started sending demos back and forth to each other. That got the wheels turning for me. A month later, we were locked down. But I was already in this mode of working through songs and arrangements and things that might work if we did a Dead Weather record.”
“The entire record was making sense of 10 years of fragmented ideas.”
“We were operating under the illusion [that the lockdown wouldn’t last very long],” Fertita laughs. “We decided to go through our ideas so we could be sharp and ready to go. I just kept recording my ideas. There was nothing else going on. I also had so many fragments of songs that had been laying around for years. In my mind, I was putting them in these different aisles: ‘This one would go good in Queens, and this one would work over here.…’ I just kept working, and at the end of that process I had a record’s worth of material and nowhere that it was immediately going to go. Jack encouraged me just to release it as it is, even though that was not even something I was considering at the time.”
Intentional or not, that collection of bits and bobs became Tropical Gothclub. In a sense, it sounds like what you’d expect from an artist immersed in the Third Man and Queens of the Stone Age universes—a heaping mass of abrasive, pedal-generated fuzz tones—except that Fertita, with his decades of experience, pushes that to another level entirely. Barnburners like “No Wonder,” with its intricate harmonized leads, and the call-and-response-heavy “Death Rattle” ooze enough of a guitar-orchestra vibe that they could almost be outtakes from Physical Graffiti. Others, like “Needles,” “Wheels Within Wheels,” and “Uniform Looks,” combine strong hooks, propulsive energy, and a seemingly endless variety of tones. The album also features more trippy moments—tempered with the occasional acoustic track—on songs like “Where There Is Water” and “Double Blind.”
Dean Fertita radiates the hazy surrealism of Tropical Gothclub.
Photo by Angelina Castillo
Fertita recorded much of Tropical Gothclub in a small A-frame house he built in his backyard, reassembling sections taken from lengthier jam sessions and working with snippets collected over the years. “The entire record was making sense of 10 years of fragmented ideas,” he says. “Sometimes, it was a 15-minute jam that I did with a drummer that we would arrange and figure out what it was. Some things I revisited and tightened up because they were recorded on GarageBand and then put into a Logic session.”
At some point in the process, Fertita brought Detroit-area engineer Dave Feeny (The White Stripes, Josh Ritter, Mule) on board to help sort through the clutter. “I’ve known Dave for a very long time,” he says. “I did another record in a similar way with him, which means he totally understands the various degrees of ‘done’ of the things that are sent to him. He just knew what I was going for and we could talk quickly. He was able to move it at a quick enough speed that it would be interesting. I’d get it back in a day and think, ‘I can do this now. I can play bass to this song now that we have a drum arrangement figured out’—or whatever it was.”
“This record—Tropical Gothclub—became a culmination of all my split personalities.”
Fertita is a connoisseur of tones, and he’s sensitive to subtle tweaks and changes. Different instruments, situations, and especially pedals affect his playing and approach. “Pedals always instantly change a frame of reference for me,” he says. “Sometimes you’ll hear a sound, and you’ll write to that sound immediately. I am always looking for character, and maybe even the weird thing that you’re not supposed to use—something that’s just going to be interesting sounding and different from the get-go.”
Working with so many different musicians inspires and triggers different chemical impulses as well. He points out that in QOTSA, “there are these two incredible guitar players,” and adds, “In Dead Weather, Jack predominantly plays drums, but we do play a lot of guitar together as well, and the stuff that he plays on those records is insane.”
Dean Fertita’s Gear
Fertita and his matching Gretsch White Falcon.
Photo by Andreas Neumann
- Troy Van Leeuwen Fender Jazzmaster
- Goya Rangemaster
- Echopark Esperanto Z (Custom 9-string)
- Gretsch White Falcon
- No-name “magnetic” amplifier
- Fender Deluxe Reverb
- Supro Reissue Amp
- Silvertone Amp
Strings & Picks
- Ernie Ball .010s
- Fender Mediums
- Binson Echorec 2 T7E
- Death By Audio Deep Animation Envelope Filter
- Death By Audio Supersonic Fuzz Gun
- Dunlop Fuzz Face Distortion
- EarthQuaker Devices Park Fuzz Sound
- Eventide H9 Max Harmonizer
- Fulltone Tube Tape Echo
- Gamechanger Audio Third Man Records Plasma Coil Distortion
- Ibanez AW7 Tone-Lok Autowah
- Mu-Tron Bi-Phase
- MXR Poly Blue Octave Pedal
- Old Blood Noise Reflector Chorus
- Third Man Records Bumble Buzz octave fuzz
- UREI Universal Audio Cooper Time Cube
- Way Huge Atreides Analog Weirding Module
Each band and project that Fertita participates in informs what he’s put into his solo music. “There’s no shortage of insane inspiration to try and fit in and complement what’s going on [in the album] already,” he says. “This record—Tropical Gothclub—became a culmination of all my split personalities. One idea I struggled with after making this record was: Shouldn’t I have made a stronger effort to make it totally different from the other things that I do, to show a completely different side? But there are different sides to my personality that get drawn out more, depending on the project that I am in. You probably can hear examples of how I would play if I were playing with Queens on this album.”
Fertita is not only flexible and productive as a guitarist and songwriter, he’s also a keyboardist, and that multi-instrumentalism helped connect some dots in his professional live.
“In Dead Weather, Jack predominantly plays drums, but we do play a lot of guitar together as well, and the stuff that he plays on those records is insane.”
“In 2005,” he explains, “I was on tour with Brendon Benson, and the first thing we did was an acoustic run in the U.K. As we were rehearsing, we thought it might be more interesting to break it up and have some songs on guitar and others on keys. I started to relearn them at that point.”
He had taken piano lessons as a child but put it aside as a teen. “I was stumbling through it but doing that led to the Raconteurs [Editor’s note: He plays both guitar and keys in that band when they’re on the road]. Our front-of-house engineer for that first tour was this guy Hutch, who had been with Queens since the beginning. He introduced me to the Queens guys, and 14 years later I am still doing that, too.”
As a multi-instrumentalist, Dean Fertita is an in-demand touring musician. He plays both guitar and keys for the Raconteurs on the road.
Photo by Andreas Neumann
What was it like to suddenly go pro on a less-familiar instrument? Did he get the jitters, or suffer from impostor syndrome? “I could keep up,” he laughs. “I was still holding my breath a little bit, but I felt like I could do what I had to do in that scenario. I wasn’t pushing boundaries. I was playing at the edge of my abilities most days.”
Fertita mostly reserves his limit-pushing for his work as a guitarist and songwriter. And one thing left to do is to play “Double Blind” for his daughter. “I have not played it for her yet,” he says. “I don’t want to embarrass her. She is aware that it exists, and I think she’ll listen to it alone. Maybe she’ll never tell me she’s heard it.”
The Dead Weather "I Feel Love" - Live on The Late Show
This year’s highlights include an obsession with Lehle switchers, a literal charcuterie board repurposed into a stomp station, a pedalboard project to celebrate years of sobriety, and a guitarist who plays his wah like he’s riding a skateboard. Enjoy!
When it comes to the pedalboard puzzle of assembling your guitar toys into an order that works for you and your sound, putting it all together is an adventure. Each year, we love to play voyeur to approaches wide and far … and learn about obscure stomps we’ve never tried before. Enjoy!
Aaron Juracek: Jackson Audio Enthusiast
I love Jackson Audio pedals. They sound amazing and are the only usable MIDI-controlled gain pedals I can find. There are other MIDI-controlled drives, but I find that whenever you play in a different room, the drive settings need to change, which, for a lot of them, means modifying presets every time you play in a different location. These have all of the gain and EQ settings as knobs, so I can just change them on the fly, and still have MIDI control whether it’s on or off—the clipping type and the gain staging. I also love the combination of the Strymon BigSky and Neunaber Expanse reverb. The Cloud reverb from the BigSky into the wet reverb setting on the Expanse is one of the most beautiful sounds I have ever heard.
From my guitar I go to an Old Blood Noise Minim, FoxRox Octron 2, and a Keeley Dark Side before going into the loop of a GFI Synesthesia. In the loop sits a trio of Jackson Audio pedals: Golden Boy, Broken Arrow, and Abasi along with my amp’s preamp section (via the effects loop) and a Jackson Audio Bloom. Out of the GFI’s post-section sits a Walrus Audio ACS1, Keeley Halo, Strymon TimeLine, Strymon BigSky, and a Neunaber Audio Expanse. From there I can choose whether I need to go mono or stereo and if I need to use an amp or go direct.
Andrew Yankowsky: Simple, Not Elegant
I play, write, and record music for a local ska/reggae/punk/Afrobeat band called Zeme Libre out of Portland, Maine. I put this board together to take a bit of a beating at live shows with wonderful pedals that give me the tone and sound I’m looking for. Although my board changes every so often, I keep similar pedals in the mix to keep certain sounds I use on recordings. Simple, not elegant. Thanks for checking it out!
First, I go into the Boss TU-2, DOD FX59 Thrash Master, Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer, EarthQuaker Devices Hizumitas Fuzz Sustainar, MXR Handwired Script Phase 90, Way Huge Supa-Puss Analog Delay, Boss DD-6 Digital Delay, Boss RE-2 Space Echo (connected with Boss FS-5U Foot Switch for tap tempo), DOD FX65B Stereo Chorus, and out to an Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail Nano.
Chris Voigt: My Modest Bass Rig
My board is still and ever evolving. At the moment, it has just about everything I need or want. People often ask me why I don’t use a preamp. The answer is, simply, that I really like the tone of my Orange Bass Crush 100 and the gain it delivers. My favorite pedal is the All-Pedal Electronics Macrodose Envelope Filter. It’s a very fun pedal with many face-melting psychedelic tones and shapes, and it pairs nicely with the Walrus Audio Slötvå.
This is my modest bass rig. Pedalboard is run through an Orange Bass Crush 100 FX loop: Electro-Harmonix EHX-2020 Tuner > Walrus Audio Kangra Filter Fuzz > Walrus Audio Mira Optical Compressor > Walrus Audio Julia Chorus/Vibrato > All-Pedal Electronics Macrodose Envelope Filter > Electro-Harmonix Canyon Delay & Looper > Walrus Audio Slötvå Multi-Texture Reverb.
Guido Stoecker: Love for Lehle and Weehbo
After two decades of using a Bogner Ecstasy, I was introduced to Eich Amplification, and I’m endorsing them now by using the GT3500 non-master volume head. It took me more than a year to come up with the concept of the board, testing tons of overdrive pedals, ’til I found Weehbo guitar pedals. On the spot, they gave me the sound I wanted. I took the board out on the road on a tour with the Sweet and it worked fantastic with no failure in any way. Easy to handle—it is big, it looks big—but it is, at least, very simple.
The board is controlled by Lehle switchers. My guitar runs into the Lehle 3at1 green switcher. From there, the signal runs into a Real McCoy Wah, into the first yellow Lehle D. Loop, from there to the next yellow looper, and finally into the red Lehle Dual switcher. Then we go stereo into the TC Electronic Quintessence, from there one channel to amp 1, the other channel into the BBE Sonic Stomp, then into amp 2. The yellow loopers allow me to only connect the pedal I need for each sound into the chain; all others are off then. I use a Weehbo JMP Drive and an MXR Delay for my slightly distorted clean tone, and a second Weehbo JMP Drive for AC/DC-like crunch. This can be boosted by the second looper. The blue Weehbo JVM Drive is my main distorted rhythm sound. The black Weehbo JVM Drive in connection with the T-Rex Duck Tail Delay is my lead sound (the Duck Tail has a tap function). I can connect up to three guitars to the board. For tuning, I press the button on the green Lehle switcher, and the signal is led then to the Fender PT-100 Tuner, so I can tune without any sound. The board is powered by two CIOKS power supplies.
Mako G: The Surfybear Board
This is my surf guitar rig. The Surfy Industries Surfybear Reverb provides the essential, classic spring reverb “drip”; the Boss OC-5 Octave instantly turns me into two thirds of a power trio; the Boss BF-2 Flanger is used as an organ simulator; the Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer is used as a dirty boost. I originally got the Electro-Harmonix Oceans 11 to do what the Surfybear does, but kept it on the board even after getting the Surfybear, because it’s so versatile. I mainly use it for tremolo. The Quilter SuperBlock is basically three classic Fender amps that fit on a pedalboard and can even be powered by a power brick at lower volumes. With the Joyo JP-05, the full rig can be powered without being plugged into a wall (I also use an adapter to turn a cell phone powerbank into a 12-volt source for the Surfybear).
Marc Weakland: Like a Skateboard
When I was younger, I lost both my legs from the knees down. I have to play sitting down due to my balance. I can’t flex my artificial foot, so I have my Wah horizontal on my board and play it with two feet like a skateboard!
Here’s the breakdown of my pedals: DigiTech Drop, Boss TU-3W, Dunlop Kirk Hammett Wah, Electro-Harmonix Tone Corset, Does It Doom Sabbathi Fuzz, TC Electronic Spark Mini Booster, TC Electronic Eyemaster Metal Distortion, Wampler Dracarys, Wampler Ratsbane, Catalinbread Sabbra Cadabra, Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor, TC Electronic Dreamscape, MXR Phase 90, Ernie Ball Tap Tempo, Electro-Harmonix Canyon Delay & Looper.
Matei Haskins: Divine Purpose
I’m permanently disabled with a neurological movement disorder, so I’m usually broke, but I got a year of rent assistance last year and was able to build up a recording studio again (I lost my original studio and instruments to homelessness). I got all of these in 2022, but this is it. Back to paying rent—I can barely afford to keep fresh strings on the guitar and bass. But I have what I need to stay creatively productive. These are bass and guitar pedals in one chain; I just switch the amps. The board is a coffee table cut short to 8" and spray-painted black. Music is the only effective treatment for my neurological condition and my divine purpose on Earth is to create music and dance. You can hear the music I make with this pedalboard at DECEMBERmusic.org.
My signal chain:
Guitar > TC Electronic Wiretap Riff Recorder > DigiTech FreqOut > Keeley Compressor Pro > Friedman Buxom Boost > Horizon Devices Precision Drive > Wampler Belle > Fender Pugilist > Amptweaker Tight Metal Pro II > Revv G4 > F-Pedals Lorion > Marshall DSL20CR, FX send > Behringer PEQ-2200 rack (not pictured) > Electro-Harmonix Tri-Parallel Mixer [Loop 1: Arion SFL-1 Stereo Flanger, Loop 2: Seymour Duncan Polaron, Loop 3: MXR Analog Chorus > TC Electronic Thunderstorm Flanger > DOD FX72 Bass Stereo Flanger] > DOD FX62 Bass Stereo Chorus (stereo out) > Source Audio Nemesis Delay > Source Audio Ventris Dual Reverb > Source Audio Vertigo Tremolo > Boss SL-2 Slicer > two BBE Sonic Stomps (not pictured) > FX returns (Marshall DSL20CR left, Marshall Valvestate 40V 8040 right)
Randy Johnson: Crunchy, Crunchier, Uber-Crunchy
I like the Boss BCB-60 Pedal Board because the foam padding can be shaped to hold your pedals firmly in place without having to use Velcro tape or zip ties, and provides for a very clean presentation. My board has evolved over the years, having gone through many different iterations before arriving at my current setup. The more I used my board in a live setting, the more I realized that certain tones could be improved more to my liking, or others were just not used that much. I’m very happy with how my personal quest for tone has evolved!
I’ve finally settled in (for now) on the thought that I like the sound of overdrive ... A LOT, so my board goes from clean to crunchy, crunchier, and uber-crunchy with a few extra tools to modify the sound.It all starts from the guitar, as follows:
- Wampler dB+: I’ve got enough pedals connected that it helps to give the chain a boost at the front end, so this one is left on.
- Fender The Bends Compressor: I spent a lot of time going through compression pedals to enhance my sustain without making the signal sound squishy. This one does a great job of that, and I pretty much leave it on all the time.
- EarthQuaker Devices Special Cranker Overdrive: I love this pedal in that, unlike other overdrive pedals, you can go from zero gain to a moderate amount.
- Wampler Tweed ’57 Overdrive: This pedal does a great job of sounding like an overdriven Deluxe Reverb amp, and holds the middle position in my dirty to dirtiest chain. I don’t think that Wampler produces these anymore, so I’m really glad I was able to score one!
- Fulltone OCD: What can I say.... This is a great pedal for super-overdriven feedbacky sounds! Another pedal you need to get while you can.
- Boss TR-2 Tremolo: This comes in handy for shaping sounds on certain tunes. I don’t know if there’s anything better out there, as this one has always made me happy.
- MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay: This is a great delay pedal, and I tend to use it mostly for solos. A good way to jump out in the mix. From here, it’s out to the amp.
Scott Agner: Charcuterie Board
I started building my first pedalboard in August 2022 to meet some very specific needs, namely sending magnetic pickups and a piezo pickup to two different amps and using a Boss LS-2 Line Selector to switch between a high-gain tone and a psychedelic blues tone, which both include a common overdrive pedal (the Lichtlaerm Audio Aquaria).
I repurposed a black walnut/epoxy resin charcuterie board with homemade MDF base and added an LED backlight. I’m very proud of how it turned out and hope to make more wood and epoxy resin pedalboards in the future.
Signal chain as follows:
Boss NS-2 to D’Addario PW-CT-23 to Boss LS-2 (Loop 1: MXR Uni-Vibe to Saturnworks Passive Combiner to Lichtlaerm Audio Aquaria to Saturnworks Passive Splitter back to LS-2; Loop 2: Saturnworks Passive Combiner to Lichtlaerm Audio Aquaria to Saturnworks Passive Splitter to Lichtlaerm Audio Gehenna back to LS-2) to amp input, amp effects send to Ernie Ball Stereo Volume/Pan (fades between magnetic pickups to electric amp and piezo pickup to acoustic amp) to DigiTech DigiDelay to Electro-Harmonix Oceans 11 to amp effects return.
Scott McCue: Drilled My Own
It started with a medium Mono Pedalboard, but I didn’t care for the huge holes. So, I mounted a piece of polyboard onto it and drilled the holes where I needed them. All of my power and patch cables are custom made to length. Of course, it’s foolish to think I’m done. Lol.
Signal chain: Line 6 Relay G50 wireless system (underneath with power supply), Korg Pitchblack Poly tuner, A/B switcher. Path A of my chain starts with the mini wah, into the Friedman BE-OD Deluxe, Electro-Harmonix B9 Organ Machine, and Tech 21 Roto Choir to a Friedman Smallbox amp. Path B of my chain is a Boss PS-6 Harmonist, MXR Talk Box, Keeley Halo Andy Timmons Dual Echo, to the Boss RV-6 Reverb in the effects loop.
Stephan Stacey: Are you a Holdsworth?
Two Yamaha Magicstomp IIs (their modulations and multi-tap delays still can’t be beaten) bookend Eventide H9 Harmonizer units for days! So much sonic flexibility in a relatively small footprint (by today’s mega-board standards).
The two Magicstomps have been staples since they were released in 2001. (No, I’m not particularly an Allan Holdsworth, which is always the first question.) Many, many other pedals have come and gone until I realized that the Eventide H9 could cover so much ground. Then one became two, and two became four.
Stephen Cyford: The Illuminator
I could’ve gone crazy with the number of pedals but my goal with this board was to limit myself to the size of the Pedaltrain 2. I feel it’s worthwhile to invest in a good soldering iron and make your own cables. On my Pedaltrain 2 board, I utilized a plexiglass top to increase surface area and to have an illuminated edge on all sides of the board.
It’s a good idea to leave at least one auxiliary position on your board, two if you utilize an FX loop (one in front of the amp and one in the loop). In my setup, the DigiTech FreqOut (in front) and the MXR Smart Gate (in amps effects loop) can easily and quickly be swapped for another pedal.
Guitar > TC Electronic PolyTune 3 > Dunlop Cry Baby Mini 535Q Auto-Return Wah > DigiTech FreqOut > Musicomlabs EFX MKII switcher input A > Xotic SP Compressor (loop 1) > Wampler Tumnus (loop 2) > (loop 3 and 4 empty) > Musicomlabs EFX MKII output A to input of the amp (Bogner Shiva 20th Anniversary or EVH 5150III) > FX loop send > Ernie Ball VPJR Super Bee > Musicomlabs EFX MKII input B > 1982 Boss CE-2 Chorus (loop 5) > MXR Smart Gate (loop 6) > Strymon TimeLine (loop 7) > Strymon Flint (loop 8) > Musicomlabs EFX MKII output B > Amp FX return.
Additional fun facts about how I use this board:
- MXR Tap Tempo simultaneously sets tempo of the Strymon TimeLine and the Flint’s tremolo.
- Musicomlabs EFX MKII sends MIDI commands to the amps for channel switching.
- Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 Plus powers everything. The Strymon TimeLine utilizes the Pedal Power’s courtesy AC output for power.
- All Mogami 2319 cables with a mix of HiCon, SP400, and Switchcraft plugs.
- LED tape strip under board is also powered by the Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 Plus.
- Altoids tin stores picks.
- Board has been gigged routinely since 2016.
Steve Tumolo Jr: Two Tiers of Tone
My best friend and mad scientist Don Kern built this board for me. We went with a two-tier design for ease of getting to the back row of pedals. From the start, the plan was to run the A/B setup. The fatness of the Fender blends well with the Marshall. I keep the tuner all the way to the left because I use my right foot to hit all the pedals, and it made more sense to keep it out of the way and not waste the space by putting it in front of the other pedals.
This is what I’ve got going on: Morley Bad Horsie 2 Contour Wah, Dunlop Rotovibe, DOD Boneshaker Distortion, Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer, Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi, DigiTech Nautila, Ibanez PT9 Phaser, Electro-Harmonix Canyon Delay & Looper, TC Electronic PolyTune, Electro-Harmonix Switch Blade Plus A/B box running to a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe and Marshall Valvestate VS65R.
Taylor Frost: Taking My Life Back
After my first year of sobriety after quitting drinking during the pandemic, I treated myself to my first effects pedal after playing for around 10 years. During my alcoholism, everything music-related seemed to drift away from me, whether it was my bandmates or my prized equipment.
As I begin my third year of sobriety, I look at my pedalboard as a reflection of the life I took back after nearly losing everything. Some pedals are the ones I lusted after in high school; others, like the FET preamp, have a special story. I repainted it purple and placed a pit bull decal on it to commemorate the dogs I’ve fostered over the years in my volunteer work for an L.A.-based pit bull rescue. Every time I fire up my board, it feels like a treat I give to myself for staying sober another day.
Effects loop: Ibanez FL9 Flanger > Pigtronix Moon Pool Tremvelope, TC Electronic 3rd Dimension Chorus > TC Electronic The Prophet Digital Delay > Electro-Harmonix Cathedral Reverb
In front: Dunlop Cry Baby 535Q Multi-Wah > Pigtronix Philosopher’s Tone Compressor > homemade FET preamp clone > Boss MT-2 Metal Zone > Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini > Donner Noise Killer
Thomas de la Perrelle: Do It All Board
My pedalboard is my dream recording “do-it-all board,” controlled via the GigRig G3 switcher. The signal chain:
- Analog Man Beano Boost
- Williams Supa Fuzz
- Effectrode Blackbird Vacuum Tube Preamp
- Kingsley Harlot
- Universal Audio A/DA Flanger
- Fulltone DejáVibe MkII
- Moogerfooger MF-103 12-Stage Phaser
- Diamond Memory Lane 2 Analog Delay
- Diamond Memory Lane 2 Analog Delay
- Empress Effects ZOIA
- Chase Bliss Audio CXM 1978
The pedals are powered by a combination of an Eventide PowerMax and a variety of GigRig power adapters.
I mainly play pop, indie, and rock music, so the board was built with the intention of having a variety of gain stages and a powerful modulation/delay section. I run the pedals in stereo or wet-dry with a Vox AC30 and a Dr. Z Route 66. The pedalboard is perfect for everything from punchy drives to atmospheric soundscapes and juicy fuzz tones.