Categories
Music

Let’s talk about guitar pedals

I’m a gadget freak, everyone knows that. And my love of gadgets extends to guitar pedals.

I go over my setup here, although now my rig has changed slightly. To the non-guitar person, a pedalboard probably looks pretty alien to them: a bunch of contraptions made to set off bombs maybe? All those switches and dials and knobs. But every pedal has a function. Here’s my current setup.

The Boss TU3W tuner is the first pedal in my chain, because 1) I need a good stable tuner and 2) I need a buffered pedal as the first pedal, because if you have a long pedal chain, having ALL true bypass will suck out some of the highs. That’s why the first pedal needs to be buffered. The rest of my pedalboard is true bypass to retain the signal clarity.

My Wah pedal is the BBE Wah. It is a nice simple vintage style wah with a simple Q control, that is it. I didn’t need anything too fancy. I also considered the Vox V847 and the Dunlop Crybaby Clyde McCoy and the Teese Picture Wah.

The Dunlop Echoplex EP101 is my main preamp/booster pedal. I previously had an Xotic EP Booster here, but I stuck with the EP101 because the coloring was not as strong.

I love overdrives. There’s so many overdrives types out there. The Ibanez Tubescreamer style, the Klon Centaur style, the Chandler Tube Driver style, the Fulltone OCD Style, the “Dumble” / Hermida Zendrive style, the Boss Blues Driver style, the Marshall Bluesbreaker style, the Boss SD-1 style, the Marshall Plexi style etc the list goes on and on.

I needed a versatile OD pedal that can do many of these styles. I chose the Keeley Oxblood Germanium for getting the TubeScreamer / Klon Centaur type tones. I also considered the Seymour Duncan 805, Wampler Clarksdale, MXR Sugar Drive, the Fender Santa Ana Overdrive and the Wampler Tumnus Deluxe as they all had 3 band EQ shaping but found that I was keen on just using the pedal’s built in EQ anyways and chose the Keeley.

The second OD pedal I have is the Wampler Euphoria for getting the Dumble / OCD / Tube Driver type of tones. I also considered the Maxon TBO9, MXR Shin-juku Drive, MXR IL Diavolo Drive, MXR FET Driver, Hermida Zendrive, Fulltone Fulldrive 2, Analogman King of Tone and LovePedals Dover Drive but the Euphoria proved the most versatile for my setup.

I have a distortion / OD pedal as well, the RambleFX Marvel Drive which serves me my Marshall Plexi Tones. I also considered the Wampler Plexi Drive, Keeley El Ray Dorado, LovePedals Purple Plexi and Xotic SL Drive but liked the RambleFX the best.

I don’t use any Fuzz (Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face, Electro Harmonix Big Muff Pi, Sola Tone Bender are the main fuzz types) as my OD/Dist can often hit Fuzz territory.

I use an analog delay as my main modulation effect. I don’t use any phasers, flangers or chorus effects. The Boss DM2W serves me well here. I also considered the Keeley Magnetic Echo, Maxon AD9, Way Huge Aqua Puss, Seymour Duncan Vapor Trail, Fender Mirror Image Delay, MXR Carbon Copy Bright, Dunlop Echoplex EP103 and Catalinbread BelleEpoch but the Boss won here.

For compressors, I have the nice and compact Xotic SP Compressor. I also considered the Keeley Compressor but I found the Xotic doing just fine.

For reverbs, I have the Keeley Omni Reverb. I like Spring Reverbs the most and I tried the Hermida Reverb and the Catalinbread Topanga before, which are much better spring reverbs, but stuck with the Omni because of the additional versatility, great room + plate settings.

The Boss RC30 rounds out my pedals as a dual track looper pedal. I also considered the Electro Harmonix Memory Man and Digitech Jamman but stuck with the Boss.

And that’s all my pedals I’m using now! I’m running them all into this amp:

The Milkman Amps 1W+. Previously I used a Swart Atomic Jr. I also looked into the Dr Z Mini, Tone King Falcon, VVT Amps Night Owl, Matchless SC Mini, Fender Eric Clapton Signature Vibro Champ, Vox AC4 Handwired and Victoria Amps 518 but I like the Milkman just fine.

Categories
General Music

My interest in guitar, Top 100 Greatest Electric Guitarists of All Time

Well, after all these ranking lists (like the 100 greatest NBA players ever), its time to talk about guitarists because well, I’m a guitarist and I’m self-taught so I’m influenced by a lot of different guitar players, and I want to make a list of the top 100 electric guitarists who I think are the best.

Beginnings
I started playing guitar after high school when I was 15. I remember starting with acoustic guitar, but then hearing a classmate play electric guitar was amazing, the first time I heard it, I thought wow I really want to have a tone like that. So my first guitar was a starter guitar package by Behringer back in 2005. I practiced for 2-3 hours every day after high school, so much so that my mom at one time (being a strict Chinese mother), locked away my guitar and laptop because she was so worried about me not studying. I played in two coffee houses events at my high school, at that time I was hugely influenced by Jimi Hendrix (clips downloaded off of Kazaa) and Jimmy Page (I watched the Led Zeppelin DVD numerous times) so I started trying to play guitar with my teeth, behind my back, behind my head etc for showmanship. This got me a lot of fans in my high school, and the first time I performed at the freshman talent show at the University of Toronto, I put on a display by doing all those tricks while playing Hendrix’s Voodoo Child. I would play in several battle of the band type shows after that, but haven’t really done many public performances since.

Influences
I had a few bands in high school and university, but didn’t perform that often. I played once in Barrie, Canada at a show and performed with university friends at a show at my university, but thats about it. 2005-2007 I was hugely influenced by blues and rock guitarists like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimmy Page, then started playing piano in 2008, and was influenced by classical composers like Chopin and Liszt. Around 2009 I bought an acoustic and started to play more pop songs. I was hugely influenced by John Mayer, my favorite contemporary electric guitarist. Around 2010 I was obsessed with the Beatles and played a lot of Beatles songs, 2012 John Mayer’s Born and Raised came out and I was quite influenced by that as well. And from then on I played a mix of pop/rock/fusion/jazz songs whatever I like to listen to, I like to play. Recently I’ve been quite into jazz guitar, the likes of Larry Carlton, Django Reinhardt, Wes Montgomery and finger picking styles used by Chet Atkins.

Gear

My guitar of choice was and still is, the Fender Stratocaster. I first started with a Behringer beginner guitar in 2005 (which I painted to look like Hendrix’s Monterey strat sometime in 2006), then 2006 moved onto a G&L Tribute S500. Around 2009, I got myself an Ovation acoustic, my first acoustic guitar. Around 2010 I got myself a Fender Roadworn Stratocaster and swapped out the pickups first for Tonerider pickups (quite good value), then for actual handwound pickups from a guy in Virginia (Rumpelstiltskin Pickups). In 2012, I bought myself a really good acoustic guitar, the Martin OMJM. Then in 2014, I bought a Gretsch White Penguin. In 2015 I bought a Boho Moonshine (unique oil can guitar). You can see these in all my Youtube videos. But I think out of all my guitars, I will keep just the Fender and the Martin, those are the ones I play the most.

As for Amplifiers, of course I prefer tube amps like many people, but more specifically small Class A vintage style tube amps for their nice clean tone and easy breakup and portability. In 2005 I started with the Behringer practice amp, then in 2006 got a Vox Valvetronix 30, which was also a solid state amp but had a pre-amp tube to simulate tube power. In 2009, I got my first Tube amp, a Class A Epiphone Valve Jr, but the tone wasn’t to my liking, so in 2010 I switched to a Traynor YCV40 which is an actual Class AB big Tube amp which in 2011 I swapped out the speakers for Celestion Alnico Blues to make it more vintage and clean sounding. In 2012, I bought a Swart Atomic Jr, which is still the amp I use today. It’s perfect, small, portable, hand-wired class A tube amp that only weighs 14lbs and has a built in reverb which is nice.

I’m not going to talk too much about pedals, because I’ve used so many. But I have owned various pedals from Digitech, Boss, Electro Harmonix, BBE, Visual Sound (now Truetone), Dunlop, etc. Since 2014, I have used mostly boutique pedals from the likes of Xotic, Maxon, Keeley, Wampler, Seymour Duncan, Catalinbread.

Top 100 Greatest Electric Guitarists of all time
1. Jimi Hendrix
2. Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin)
3. Eric Clapton
4. Eddie Van Halen (Van Halen)
5. Jeff Beck
6. Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath)
7. Stevie Ray Vaughan
8. B.B King
9. Keith Richards (Rolling Stones)
10. David Gilmour (Pink Floyd)
11. Pete Townshend (The Who)
12. George Harrison (The Beatles)
13. Chuck Berry
14. Duane Allman (Allman Brothers)
15. Albert King
16. Freddie King
17. Charlie Christian
18. Les Paul
19. Chet Atkins
20. Slash (Guns N Roses)
21. Carlos Santana
22. Frank Zappa
23. Buddy Guy
24. Buddy Holly
25. Kurt Cobain (Nirvana)
26. Brian May (Queen)
27. Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple)
28. Randy Rhoads (Ozzy Osbourne)
29. John Lee Hooker
30. Mick Taylor (Rolling Stones)
31. Muddy Waters
32. Rory Gallagher
33. Johnny Winter
34. Peter Green (Fleetwood Mac)
35. Wes Montgomery
36. Michael Bloomfield
37. Otis Rush
38. Dick Dale
39. Prince
40. Angus Young (AC/DC)
41. The Edge (U2)
42. Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits)
43. Dimebag Darrell (Pantera)
44. Yngwie Malmsteen
45. Larry Carlton
46. Gary Moore
47. Roy Buchanan
48. John Frusciante (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
49. Joe Perry (Aerosmith)
50. Hank Marvin
51. Ry Cooder
52. Eric Johnson
53. Joe Satriani
54. Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top)
55. Joe Walsh (The Eagles)
56. Robert Fripp (King Crimson)
57. Stephen Stills (Crosby Stills & Nash)
58. Carl Perkins
59. Allan Holdsworth
60. Alex Lifeson (Rush)
61. John Petrucci (Dream Theater)
62. Robin Trower (Procol Harlum)
63. Jerry Garcia (Grateful Dead)
64. Scotty Moore (Elvis)
65. Dicky Betts (Allman Brothers)
66. Elmore James
67. Steve Cropper
68. Tom Morello (Rage against the machine)
69. Link Wray
70. Steve Vai
71. Neil Young
72. James Burton
73. Johnny Ramone (The Ramones)
74. Joe Pass
75. Albert Collins
76. Allen Collins (Lynyrd Skynyrd)
77. Duane Eddy
78. Robby Krieger (The Doors)
79. Johnny Marr (The Smiths)
80. John McLaughlin
81. Eddie Hazel (Parliament/Funkadelic)
82. James Hetfield (Metallica)
83. Kirk Hammett (Metallica)
84. Dave Mustaine (Megadeth)
85. Steve Howe (Yes)
86. Mike Rutherford (Genesis)
87. Mike McCready (Pearl Jam)
88. Robben Ford
89. George Benson
90. John Mayer
91. Mark Tremonti (Creed)
92. J.J Cale
93. Peter Frampton
94. Paul Kossoff
95. Jason Becker
96. Steve Morse
97. Zack Wylde
98. Kenny Wayne Shepherd
99. Joe Bonamassa
100. Ted Nugent