My Current Pedalboard

While I'm on a roll with pedals, I'll go ahead and give a rundown of my current pedalboard. I tend to be in a perpetual state of flux with pedals, but this setup has been fairly stable. I have three basic sounds that I need: a clean tone, a crunchy overdrive sound, and a singing lead sound. How I go about getting those sounds depends on how much I can turn up my amp, but my pedalboard is outfitted so I can get them with a clean amp at low volume or a cranked-up amp. Once I have those three sounds, I get variations on them by engaging other pedals - wah, delay, or modulation. I add a bit of reverb to everything. This allows me to cover just about any guitar sound I am likely to want reasonably well.

These are the pedals I use, in order from the guitar to the amp:

Vox V847 - This is Vox's standard wah pedal. I like the Vox wah better than normal Crybabies, but I haven't compared it to any of the boutique or signature model wahs you can get. I've done mods to my wah. First, I modified it for true bypass because without it, wah pedals are notorious tone suckers when bypassed. Second, I adjusted the sweep of the wah so that it's voiced more the way I like it, which is smooth and vocal-like, instead of trebly and Shaft-sounding. That's actually a really simple mod: Inside, the treadle engages with a potentiometer using a plastic gearing mechanism. You can disengage the gear, and adjust the pot so that the pedal sweep works over a different range of the pot rotation, which changes the sound of the pedal. I just adjusted mine until it sounded the way I wanted, then carefully reengaged the gearing.

Maxon CP101 - The CP101 is an optical compressor. What I like about it is that it's subtle (as opposed to a heavy-handed Dyna Comp squash) and it's exceptionally quiet, adding very little additional noise. I also like that it has buffered bypass which is necessary to drive my low-impedance volume pedal and helps prevent tone loss with long cables. What I don't like about the CP101 is that it's prone to distort with high output pickups.

Boss FV-500L - The FV-500L is a really nice volume pedal. It's remarkably full-featured for a volume pedal and it's extremely rugged. I got the low impedance version so that I could also use it with keyboards, but the advantage of a low impedance volume pedal with a guitar rig is that it doesn't attenuate high-end as you turn it down like a high-impedance pedal would. However, it does require that you feed it a low impedance signal so some kind of buffer is necessary upstream of the pedal (I use the CP101 for that). Another nice feature of this pedal is that it has a separate tuner output which doesn't suck tone from the main signal path (so long as you do feed it a low impedance signal) and isn't affected by the volume setting so you can roll back the pedal and get silent tuning.

Boss TU-12 - The TU-12 used to be something of an industry standard for guitar tuners, but I think it's pretty outdated with polystring and portable strobo tuners now available. I'd love to upgrade, but my TU-12 still works fine so that has very low budget priority. 

Fulltone OCD - I need a good overdrive pedal that I can use when I can't turn up my amp enough to get a good crunchy rhythm tone. Currently, that's the OCD, but this is the most transient position on my pedalboard. It gets changed a lot depending on my continually evolving sense of what I want to sound like. In fact, I'm thinking about changing it out again but for the time being the OCD is my go-to overdrive pedal. I wrote all about the OCD in my last post so I won't say anything more here. [Added 1/26/2016 - I've replaced the OCD with a J. Rocket Animal. Read the review here.]

Source Audio Orbital Modulator - The Orbital provides all my modulation sounds - chorus, flanger, phaser, univibe, and tremolo. Modulation is one of those things that you don't necessarily use a lot, but when you're trying to do a cover song that used it, it can be critical for authenticity (for instance, imagine covering Unchained without a flanger, or Message In a Bottle without chorus/flanger). So it's nice to have all the various mod sounds in one box instead of squandering pedalboard real estate with a bunch of individual pedals that don't get used much. The Orbital sounds good and is incredibly deep in terms of control - as good as or better than any other pedal of its type. Except in a more compact form factor, and costing considerably less money. What's not to like? Well, one thing: I wish it had more programmable memory (without having to buy add-ons).

Digitech Digidelay - The Digitech is your basic, workhorse delay pedal. It's inexpensive and sounds good. I normally use the tape delay mode and set it for about 350ms with 3 repeats and very low in the mix. The way I dial it in, it's more ambiance than discernible echo. I usually turn it on for solos or for more ethereal sounds (often in combination with the Orbital).

Voodoo Lab Giggity - The Giggity is a combination booster, EQ, and mild overdrive pedal. I use it primarily in conjunction with the OCD or my amp overdrive for my lead soloing tone and I've never been happier with that part of my sound. It provides boosted output, a warmer tone, and a bit more gain. The Giggity is capable of way more than that though and is really an incredibly useful pedal to have. One day I'll do a full review of it.

Digitech Polara - The Polara is a reverb pedal. It uses the Lexicon reverb algorithms and sounds terrific. It has an awesome paint job, which is cool to look at but unfortunately makes the labels hard to read! I use the Plate algorithm, dial it for a very subtle bit of ambiance, turn it on, and then forget about it. I don't like a lot of reverb. In fact, I don't want to consciously notice that it's there - I should only notice it if it's gone. But just a touch of reverb provides nice depth and polish, especially on clean tones. One nice feature of the Polara is its "Tails" switch, which selects between true bypass and buffered bypass. I use it in buffered bypass mode (i.e. tails on) to provide a final buffered output to the amp even on the rare occasions when I have the pedal bypassed. With the CP101 on the front end, and the Polara on the back, I'm essentially book-ending my pedalboard with buffers, which is recommended when you have long cables and a fair number of pedals. 

Voodoo Lab Power Power 2 Plus - I use the PP2+ to power everything. I wrote about it in a previous post. It's a power supply - there's not much else to say other than it just works.

Gator Cases Gig Box - All my pedals are velcro-mounted in the Gig Box, which I just love. The Gig Box comes with a hardshell case that provides storage room under the pedalboard for straps, batteries, cables, strings, picks, tools, and other stuff. The lid of the case detaches and converts to a guitar stand that holds 4 guitars! So the whole package is very space-efficient and convenient. Highly recommended. By the way, I have the older model Gig Box rather than the one in the link. They're very similar except the new model has a more heavy-duty case, but holds less in its storage area and guitar stand. Still a terrific product.