What are the most important pedals to include on a pedal board?

Well it depends on your needs and preferences…

for me this is what I have and the order I have it

Guitar ->

Tuner pedal – I use the Boss TU3 for its great buffer which is important to preserve your tone when you have a bunch of pedals with true bypass. True Bypass is nice and all but if you have ALL true bypass it will suck your tone out so make sure you have a pedal with a buffer at the beginning and end of your chain.

Wah pedal -> I use the BBE Wah, although any number of options is great here. Teese, Fulltone, Budda, Vox, Dunlop, Xotic all make great wahs

Booster/Preamp pedal -> I use the Dunlop EP101 for this. There’s some great pedals for this. The Keeley Katana and Xotic EP Booster are also some nice alternatives. There’s also Treble Boosters like the Dallas Rangemaster and its clones (Brian May pedals has a few of these).

Overdrive pedal -> there’s SO many overdrive pedals. I personally use the Wampler Euphoria due to its versatility but there’s so many great OD pedals. There’s the Ibanez/Maxon Tubescreamer and Tubescreamer clones like the Seymour Duncan 805 and Wampler Clarksdale, there’s Klon Centaur and Klon clones like the Wampler Tumnus and MXR Sugar Drive, there’s Dumble type overdrives like the Fulltone OCD, Hermida Zendrive and MXR Shinjuku Drive, there’s Chandler Tube Driver types like the MXR FET Driver and Lovepedals Dover Drive etc I can go on and on here

Distortion/Fuzz pedal -> Again, so many choices here. There’s the ‘classic’ hard clip distortions like the Pro Co Rat, Boss SD-1 etc but these days there’s a bunch of ‘amp in a box’ pedals here as well which attempt to duplicate the sounds of the Marshall Plexi (Xotic SL Drive, Lovepedals Purple Plexi, RambleFX Marvel Drive, JHS Charlie Brown etc), Bluesbreaker, Fender Bassman, Fender Deluxe etc Supro even makes a pedal that duplicates their small amp! For Fuzzes there’s generally Fuzz Faces (now made by Dunlop) and Fuzz Face clones (either silicon or germanium), Electro-harmonix Big Muff Pi and Big Muff Pi clones, and Maestro Tone Bender (not made anymore) and Tone Bender clones. I personally use the BBE Windowpane because its a cheap and an effective silicon fuzz clone.

Delay/Flanger/Phaser/other modulation etc -> I put my delay near the end of my chain here though depending on your amp you may choose to run it through the effects loop instead. I found Delay to be the most useful out of the modulation effects. There’s generally three types here, analog delay like the Boss DM-2W I use (Way Huge Aqua Puss, Electro-harmonix Memory man, Maxon AD9 and MXR Carbon Copy are a few other popular analog delays), tape delay like the Maestro Echoplex and its clones (Strymon El Capistan, Keeley Magnetic Echo, Catalinbread Belle Epoch etc), digital delay like the Boss DD-7 etc although some specialists like Catalinbread even try to copy obscure delays like the oil drum and echorec delays

Compressor -> I put my compressor after my delay, some people may put it before. I personally use the Xotic SP Compressor which is a copy of the Ross compressor which is a popular compressor, but the Keeley Compressor, MXR Custom Comp, etc are also popular

Reverb -> This is my second to last effect in my chain and its because I like reverb to apply to everything. Again there’s many reverb types but the most popular reverbs are the Spring Reverbs (Catalinbread Topanga, Hermida Reverb etc), Plate Reverbs (Catalinbread Talisman), Hall/Room Reverbs (Keeley Abbey Chamber) or some combination of those (Keeley Omni Reverb which I use, Keeley Hooke, Digitech Supernatural, TC Electronic Hall of Fame, Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail, Strymon Flint etc)

Looper -> Since I’m a solo guitarists this is pretty necessary for me. If you’re in a band, you might or might not need it. I use the Boss RC-3 looper. The Digitech Jam-man is also pretty popular. In addition, this is the second buffered pedal I use and put it at the end of my chain in order to preserve my highs.

-> Amp


Korean women and plastic surgery

korean plastic surgery advertisement

Whenever I meet new people, the topic Korea comes up because I’m studying Korean, and then invariably the topic Korean women come up, then invariably the topic plastic surgery comes up. So let me address some of these questions here so that people know my thinking process and I can just direct them here instead of explaining over and over.

Why do you like Korean women?
I get asked this question because I’m Chinese, and I was born in China, so there must be a reason why I like Korean women. The answer is simply a genetic attraction. No one asks Korean guys why they like Korean women right? China is very big, and being a Manchurian, I have more in common with Koreans than I do with southern Chinese and Taiwanese. I probably even have some Korean blood in me somewhere. So yeah.

Why not Chinese girls?
I can make this statement: the average Korean woman looks better than the average Chinese women. This is true because of a difference in culture, I’m not saying Chinese women are inherently uglier than Korean women, or that there aren’t Chinese women that dress up, but Korean women always wear makeup before they go outside, and they are usually dressed up. I have been to both China and Korea before. Just think that the top 10 plastic surgeons are all in korea, that means something. There is a big difference in the way they care about their appearance.
Chinese girls tend not to wear makeup, preferring to ‘stay natural’ instead. It’s considered impolite in Korean culture not to wear makeup for women, and you will see very few Korean girls wearing glasses compared to Chinese girls. Also compare the number of women doing plastic surgery in Korea compared to China and tell me, in which country does appearance matter more? Again, this is not criticizing anybody, just go to China and go to Korea and see the difference yourself.

Edit: Besides, this question is not really fair, because what’s wrong with liking someone of a different race? Some people say I’m racist for preferring Korean girls, but they are just as racist for implying that it’s wrong to like someone of a different race. I don’t ask Asian women why they like American guys, so people shouldn’t ask me why I prefer Korean women.

Aren’t you being shallow by saying this?
If I’m shallow, then so must be the millions of Korean guys, and I don’t hear anyone complaining about them. In fact, I hear Korean guys are very popular due to how they act in dramas and movies.

About plastic surgery… there are a few misconceptions I would like to clear up

Misconception #1: Almost all pretty Korean girls had plastic surgery

No, actually most of my Korean friends did not do plastic surgery.

If you look at the chart here, you can see that only 74 Koreans out of 10,000 did plastic surgery. Is it a higher rate than any other country? Sure, but its not 90%. According to the stats, only 0.74% of Korean women did it. 365,000 people out of 49 million. Even Japan had more procedures in total. And no one talks about that.

Let me also mention that a lot of Koreans are Christians, about 40% of them, and they are conservative, so they wouldn’t do plastic surgery.

The reason why there’s so many pretty Korean girls that look similar, is because they all wear similar fashion, have a similar style of makeup, and they are genetically very homogeneous (Koreans rarely interbreed with other races). I think the fact that almost every Korean girl dresses up and wears makeup (in comparison with other Asians), and cares about their appearance almost to an obsessive degree (to the point where almost every girl I see on the subway or bus is looking at their mirror, has painted toenails if they exposed their toes, and some even put makeup on their legs if they don’t wear stockings), confuses people. They can’t believe that Korean girls could care this much about their appearance (because they don’t know Korean culture), and they get jealous of how beautiful Korean women are, so they make up rumors that ‘oh its just because of plastic surgery, thats why they are pretty, they are fake, they are not really that naturally pretty’ to make themselves feel better. I mean nevermind the fact that most Korean girls have flawless pale skin and there is not a plastic surgeon in the world that can permanently alter your skin complexion, but I digress.

Misconception #2: Being naturally beautiful is better

The whole point of plastic surgery is to make yourself look better and enhance your appearance and increase your confidence. I don’t know why looking better would be bad? People (especially Chinese) like to tout that natural beauty is better than “fake beauty”. Beauty is subjective, and everyone has their own standard of beauty. It doesn’t mean that naturally beautiful or not wearing makeup or not doing surgery is always better than wearing heavy makeup and doing surgery. Its just different beauty standards thats it. Chinese people might like natural beauty. Koreans like doing makeup and surgery. But it doesn’t make one kind of beauty “better” than the other.

As for being fake, the same can be said about makeup, and almost every girl in the world wears makeup at least one time in their life, whether it be for a special occasion, or a graduation photo or a wedding. Even girls who like natural beauty wears makeup at least on some occasions. So to criticize Korean women for wearing lots of makeup and being fake makes you look like a hypocrite.

Misconception #3: Plastic surgery turns you into a whole different person and instantly makes you beautiful

Yeah, those are advertisements. They show the most extreme cases, as marketing so that people know how good they are at plastic surgery. Doesn’t mean every Korean girl has gone under the knife and come out completely different. Most Korean girls have very minor plastic surgery, usually double eyelid surgery. Would you care a great deal if a girl had plastic surgery just to make her eyes a little big bigger? I know I wouldn’t. Its a very minor thing, and thats like 90% of all plastic surgery cases.

For one, the advertisements are everywhere, and they often show the extreme cases. The before picture, is usually an unattractive girl without makeup, while the after picture is usually an attractive girl with makeup. Makeup usually makes a much bigger difference than plastic surgery does. Plastic surgery does not magically make one look way better than before. You can see this on youtube videos of girls getting Korean plastic surgery. The before and after without makeup is not that big of a difference, even in the ‘big’ cases where they ‘shaved’ their jawline down.

Misconception #4: Korean girls who had plastic surgery were ugly before, and marrying them means you will have ugly children

Well, first of all I’m not sure if appearance is genetics related, so I’m not sure if being beautiful or ugly will affect your child’s appearance.

Secondly, not every girl who does surgery is ugly. In fact many beautiful girls do surgery to look even more beautiful. All my Korean friends who did plastic surgery were all quite attractive before they did it. Because Korean culture is so appearance obsessed, many girls just cannot get enough of being prettier and prettier, and its kind becomes a beauty competition with their friends to see who is the prettiest. Koreans judge each other on appearance a lot, and being pretty is a HUGE advantage for getting a job or being treated better, so thats why so many girls want to do it.

And lets say that even if genetics matter, and even if you were ugly before, you would still have ugly children, plastic surgery or not. So I don’t get why having plastic surgery would make it any worse. Some Korean men when I asked them this even if it was true, they said that they would just get plastic surgery for their children if they turn out to be very different, and I didn’t really have anything to respond to that with.

Misconception #5: The side effects of plastic surgery means that Korean women will not age well

I’ve met Korean girls that were in their 40s and they looked like they were in their 20s. Because of how much they care about their skin and how well they do makeup, and just in general the Asian gene that makes Asians age well, I haven’t confirmed that Korean women age worse than other Asian girls. In fact, they seem to age better. Even some of the older ajummas (40s-50s women) still wear makeup and use a lot of skin products and definitely don’t look like their age.

Like I said, its everything, they take good care of their hygiene, they work out to make their bodies slimmer, they care about their fashion, they care about their makeup, they care about every part of their body. Plastic surgery is just one component, its not a magical fix all to make anyone look better. That’s ridiculous. The truth is that Korean women put alot of time and effort into their appearance, pure and simple. I hope this clears up some misconceptions and anyone who asks me in the future about Korean girls and plastic surgery, I’ll just direct them here.


Tips on improving guitar tone, equipment

Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix

Alright, a break from politics for a while. Since I’m one of the rare Asians that can play guitar better than piano, some ask me for improving their tone on guitar.
Well, there’s several key guidelines to follow.

Firstly, tone is subjective. What kind of tone do you want? Hendrix? Metallica? Slash? Those all have very different tones. Personally though, my tone tends to go somewhere in between Jimi Hendrix and John Mayer with a bit of Eric Clapton on the side. Though I do play blues, it’s not the overwound, in your face, Stevie Ray Vaughan type. For this reason, I tend to play clean alot. Here is an overview of what equipment I use and what tips I can give people:

1) Amplifier: Your amplifier is probably what constitutes most of your tone. I recommend a good tube amp, because tubes sound more natural and organic than solid state, plus they can be driven louder. However, tube amps are pretty expensive. That’s why I suggest starting out with a solid state amp and then progressing to a tube amp. Good tube amps for clean tone include Fender Twin Reverb, as well as Fender Vibroverb, Fender Bassman, or any other Fender amplifier. Vox are also a good choice for that British sound. If you are looking for a more boutique amp, try Victoria Amp. I personally use a Traynor YCV20.

2) Speakers and Tubes: This kind of goes along with the amp thing. Speakers and tubes affect the amp, which affects your tone. Popular tubes include JJ Tubes, Electro Harmonix and Groove Tubes. 6L6 power tubes tend be a better fit for clean tones than EL84 or EL34s. For speakers, try Celestion, Jensen, Tone Tubby and Eminence. I personally use a 12″ Celestion Alnico Blue for my small amp.

3) Strings and Cables: Yes, the type of strings and cables you use for your guitar affects your tone. Use a good quality set of both. For strings, there’s Ernie Ball, D’addario, and Dean Markley. I personally use Elixir Strings because of their longevity and smoothness. For cables, there’s a bunch: Pro Co, Monster cable, Planet Waves, but personally I just use Fender cables.

4) Guitar: yes, obviously the guitar affects the tone. I prefer and have always used Fender Stratocasters for their versatility and gorgeous clean tone compared to any other type of guitar, but for clean tone, good calls can also be made for Fender telecasters, Epiphone Casinos, Gibson ES-335, Gretsch Country Gentlemens, etc. I usually prefer nitrocellulose finished guitars as opposed to polyurethane finished because the nitro lacquer is a thinner layer of paint, which gives the guitar more room to resonate, and therefore more tone. However, most new guitars these days will be poly finished, and the only way to get nitro finished would be to get a vintage guitar or a vintage reissue. I personally have a 1960s reissue American Stratocaster in sunburst with nitro paint and it plays wonderfully.

5) Pickups: Yes, guitar pickups affect tone. There is evidence that handwound pickups sound better than machine wound pickups because of their uneven wind and dispersed frequencies. Therefore, try to get handwound pickups, even if they are expensive. The big three pickup makers include Dimarzio, Seymour Duncan and of course, Fender. More modern pickups are Lace and EMG. However if you want handwound pickups, try Lindy Fralin, Lollar, Bareknuckle, Rio grande, and a whole bunch more of small pickups businesses.
Generally, Alnico magnets sound better than ceramic (Alnico II, III and V are most used for single coils). Either formvar or enamel wire is used for vintage pickups, and make sure they are staggered for your neck (ie. vintage radius 7.25″ should have vintage stagger and modern necks should have flat stagger pickups).
I personally use a set of custom wound Rumpel pickups, and they have been amazing.

6) Pedals: What I’m going to say is… try not to use too many pedals. Too many interferes with tone purity. If you are going to use alot of pedals, make sure they are true bypass so that they don’t color your tone when they are bypassed, and use an equalizer or compressor to smooth out your dynamics. A side note that analog effects tend to be warmer sounding than digital effects, but that’s just personal preference for me. It’s almost like a vinyl record vs a CD player. They sound similar, but the analog sound is created more naturally. You have many different effects makers today. Digitech, Boss, Dunlop, and most large gear manufacturers such as Ibanez, Vox, Marshall, Fender, and even Seymour Duncan. I personally use BBE and Tonerider (who also makes a great set of pickups), because they are cheaper, and are good quality. But if you really want the best tone, there are boutique effects makers such as Keeley, Fulltone, Teese if you really want to spend more money to get the best.

7) You: Most importantly, tone is in your fingers, so you can’t really improve this one with money. You’ll have to practice and get better, make sure notes have vibrato, smoother licks have legato, and quicker licks have alternate picking and staccato, and so forth. You can visit Ultimate guitar if you want tabs or tutorials.

And that’s it! I’ve been working on my tone for a while now, and I think it’s getting better and better. I will continue to post more videos as soon as I get some more songs recorded. I’m also thinking about getting a good microphone, studio monitors and mixer so I can do a professional video recording, but that will have to wait until my financial situation clears up.