Well, in the interest of maintaining my guitar geek cred, I thought I’d do a short list of 5 pedals that I keep coming back to, even though they may stray from my board every now and then.
After the tuner (TC Electronic Polytune Mini is my favourite), the EP Booster is the first pedal in my chain and ALWAYS ON at unity volume. While it’s not boosting the signal, there are subtle effects on the EQ curve. The best way to describe it is that, with the EP on, there is more of your guitar than when you switch it off.
2. MXR Phase 90
A classic pedal and, despite trying others with more controls and options, this is the one that comes back on the board every time. I control the rate/depth with my foot a lot, so the single big knob and simple tonality works for me. Mostly, I’ll use it at the lower end of its sweep, often all the way down – so it’s really acting as an EQ shaper more so than a modulation – for this reason, I have it ahead of my gain pedals, never really warmed to it after (or in the loop). Every so often, I’ll head up into more warbly territory, but only for specific songs.
I have several Fulltone gain pedals, and they’re each great at what they do – but the Plimsoul is something else completely. As a straight overdrive, it goes from glassy to crunchy, and the hi-cut feels very Vox AC30-like, able to warm things up or slice through. But the Plimsoul has a little extra in the form of the Stage 2 blend mini-pot, this begins to pull in a more Marshall-esque drive – between either end of this mini-pot lies most every classic rock/blues gain you could want. Between those three pots Gain/Hi-cut/Stage 2 pretty much everything is possible. Add in the fact that it reacts/cleans-up beautifully to the guitar controls and this becomes my go-to drive/distortion.
This is a fairly recent purchase, after a long-line of delays on my board – all of which were able to do one or two things very well. Shout outs to T-Rex Replica and MXR Carbon Copy – both of which gave me more than usable analogue delay. The beauty of the Flashback resides in 1) multiple modes, very carefully modelled; 2) Toneprint, amazing functionality; 3) the BEST tap tempo functionality ever – a momentary switch and then play the guitar, it’ll pick up the temp – so much better than my unruly foot.
I use this pedal so much for practice and song-writing. Simplicity itself. I’d previously had a much larger Boss loop station, and found it over-engineered and counter-intuitive. As soon as the Ditto was announced, I knew it’d work for me, and it does. The only downside is the double-tap to stop the loop, which doesn’t work so well when I’m singing/playing counter-tempo to the loop. For what I need though, the Ditto is as close-to-perfect as loopers get.