True, the best tone is guitar into cranked amp with as short a cord as possible; but hey, real life aint always perfect, effects are fun - and the trem on my amp is disabled. There was a time when this page would have been 3 times as long, but I have sold most of my pedals and only use a few now. (biggest regret: Mutron Bi-Phaser. Why did I sell that? ...) . Oh well, here's the rundown.


The pedalboard I built with some scrap plywood, neoprene, metal flashing, and Tyrex covering I had laying around in the garage. I originally had input and output jacks on it, but decided to just plug straight in and out of the first and last effects on the board; why add cable length and potential fault points? I pack it with the output cable still attached. I also have a little clamp that clamps down the cable coming from the guitar, you can see it there on the bottom right. It was coming out when I'd jump around. It has a top that straps on it, making a box I can just pack it and throw it in the van.

Most of my cables are home-rolled, Belden 9778 cable soldered to Switchcraft plugs (right angle and straight), but there are a couple I bought tossed in there.

The pedals are velcroed to the board.

Starting at the bottom right, the first effect in the chain is a Korg Pitch Black tuner. Accurate enough, easy to see even in sunlight, "silent tuning" mode, not sure what else a tuner should do. I don't set intonation or tune pianos with it, I just get a quick tune on my guitar while on stage, and for that it's fine.

All my effects have true bypass, so next in line is a homebrew buffer I built to drive the entire board. The buffer is based on a TL072 chip. It is switchable on or off, but it's always on - except in the picture apparantly.

Next up is the dirt. I definitely prefer amp distortion above all, but for some extra grind, and the ability to change tones on a dime (not to mention volume limitations), a pedal is nice.

My dirt is a homebrew overdrive I built I call "Tylo Drive". It is distinctly un-Tube Screamer-like. TS is a good pedal, but this pedal is a bit gnarlier, like a Harvard about to explode, with more natural mids IMNHO (a noted flaw of the TS family). Even when driving hard, you can still hear the guitar in there. Unlike most distortion/overdrives, where you hit the string and it gives you X amount of dirt, this is pretty touch senstive, and wildly responsive to the amp, so I can control the dirt with my picking attack. It also has a knob that lets you dial in how easily the box distorts. I bet some of you pedal heads already know what this overdrive pedal is based on.

I then go into Black Hole phaser, if I have it hooked up which I rarely do (it isn't in the picture, why it's off to the side). This pretty accurately mimics an old Phase 90. (yeah, had one of those way back when). I very rarely use this on guitar, as in, one song which we only occasionally play, and I can easily get by without it. In fact, I often leave this pedal out of the rig entirely. I really only use this pedal on my steel guitar, or if I am playing in a 70s cover band. Which I don't.

For delay, I use one of two depending on my mood; one is an MXR Carbon Copy, one of the more ubiquitous "bucket brigade" analog delays around. I also have an Aqua Puss, which I think does better slapback, where the Carbon does better with the longer, more spacey delays, if I suddenly start channeling David Gilmour. I rarely use both.

Next I have a Moller T-Rex overdrive in there, which is basically a modded Tube Screamer, and as far as TS9 clones go, I kinda dig it. It does the "cranked amp" thing well. The clean boost can come in handy sometimes, which I use fairly often to drive the front end of my Vibrolux. Combine the Tylo Drive and the volume boost, things get hairy quickly. The mix knob is pretty pointless, although I will play with the tone voicings.

Last effect in the chain is a Voodoo Labs Tremolo. I dig this pedal. Trem pedals can be dicey, but this one sounds pretty convincing. Not exactly like an amp, but close. You can control speed, slope, and intensity, as well as volume adjustment. You can use the volume knob for a clean boost by turning the trem intensity off.

I also have a vintage MXR Distortion +, dates to 79 or so. I bought it from the original owner back in '82, and used it for many many years, but have decided to just keep that one home from now on. If I am playing some metal, I may whip it out, but otherwise it mostly a nostalgia piece at this point. I also have a Dunlop cry baby I bought in '83 maybe? It needs fixing, and I don't "wah" very much, but I may get around to fixing it.