november 2015

Photo by Andy Ellis

Pickup guru Frank Falbo on tweaking your guitar’s tone with nothing more than a soldering iron and a few components worth the change in your pocket.

Like it or not, there’s a deeply symbiotic relationship between your guitar’s pickups and its controls when you’re using passive pickups. That’s true even when your knobs are turned all the way up. It pays to understand how these components shape (or rather, complete) the sound of your pickups. Remember, the artisans who painstakingly designed your favorite passive pickups did so with pots, caps, and some guitar cable as part of the equation.

There’s a good chance your guitars still contain their original potentiometers and capacitors, and they may be perfect for you and your music. On the other hand, a bit of experimentation just may transform your guitars in ways that better suit your style and tastes. It’s not an expensive process, either—a good potentiometer costs about as much as a set of strings.

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A compact, quiet, flexible, and stress-reducing power supply.

Discussing power supplies is about as diverting as watching shower mold spread. But the pedal-powering possibilities of MXR’s versatile and powerful new m238 ISO Brick make the issue much more fun to think about.

To start, it makes pedalboard layout easy. The recessed, right-angled barrel connecter means there’s no DC cord hogging space. There are 10 outputs, each fully isolated to eliminate noise. (Yes, this unit is very quiet) Two 9V 450 mA outputs accommodate most power-hungry DSP-type pedals. There are also two 100mA and two 300mA 9V outputs—plus a real treat: two 6-15V variable voltage outputs for approximating voltage sag or increasing headroom. Each output also has an LED that glows blue when you’ve got a proper connection.

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