Ye Olde Pedalboard

Redid and tidied up the old pedal board after swapping pedals in and out the last few years.  Covers anything from blues to heavy rock and everything in between.

Signal chain: Boss TU-3 tuner » Ernie Ball VP Jr volume » Radial PB1 power booster » Boss NS-2 noise suppressor (NS-2 FX loop: Maxon CP101 optical compressor » Maxon VOP9 vintage overdrive pro » Suhr Riot distortion) » BBE Sonic Stomp » TC Electronic Corona chorus » Eventide TimeFactor twin delay w/Digitech FS3X footswitch.

Other good stuff: Diago Showman pedalboard, Voodoo Labs Pedal Power 2 Plus, Lava patch cables, CAT boots.

Vintage Pedal Day: Maxon VOP9 Overdrive and CP101 Compressor

What we have here are high-end reissues of two classic Maxon pedals – the VOP9 Vintage Overdrive Pro and CP101 Optical Compressor. Maxon VOP9 and CP101

The VOP-9 is basically an OD-820 in a nine-series chassis with the same JEC NJM4558D op-amp and negative feedback loop clipping diode.  I am not a fan of tubescreamer pedals (stock, modded or clones) and the VOP-9 is nothing like a tubescreamer, which is what got me excited when I heard Dave Weiner review it here.  In fact, I was sold on the pedal based on a few of Dave’s Riff Of The Week videos.  Since no retailer in England stocks the VOP9, I could not try it before I plonked the money down for one, so a big thanks to Dave for doing a brilliant job of demoing the VOP9.  I’m completely blown away at the warmth, headroom and clarity of the VOP9.  I’ve owned an Xotic BB and Fulltone OCD before and while they were high quality boutique pedals with amp-like characteristics, they didn’t really bowl me over or inspire.

The CP101 is an optical compressor unlike any compressor I’ve owned or tried, with it’s optical circuit for low-noise operation.  When turned on, you notice this really smooth and transparent compression.  Without the hiss of normal compressors it’s hard to tell, just by listening, whether it’s turned on or not but it does an excellent job of keeping those levels in check.  It was either the CP101 or the Barber TonePress but as I was looking for a compressor with a subtle effect on tone, the CP101 made sense.

Detailed reviews with audio samples to follow, meanwhile you can check out Dave Weiner’s review of these pedals here.

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New Pedal Day: Eventide TimeFactor Delay

After owning a bunch of delay pedals – Boss DD-5, DD-20 Giga Delay, DigiDelay, MXR Carbon Copy and Vox Time Machine – and trying many others, I may have found the perfect delay solution for my needs.  From the list above my favorite was the Time Machine because it was so easy to use and the vintage mode sounded warm, but the lack of trails was a real bummer.  I liked the DD-20 for it’s functionality – easy of use, presets, tap tempo out – but I found only 2 modes usable, dual-delay did not sound good and the warped/twist modes were pretty useless.  The modes that I liked in the DD-20 were achievable with my DD-5 at the time so I sold the DD-20 when pedalboard space became an issue.  The other delay pedals I kept for short periods of time because they either had issues or did not work well for me.

Enough of the past: Enter the Eventide TimeFactor.  I’ve only had it a few days so this is not a review, just a list of reasons why I like and bought this unit: eventide,timefactor

– Two independent 3-second delays in one stompbox
– Studio quality effects (Digital, Vintage, Tape, Modulated, Band & MultiTap delays sound authentic)
– Flexibility: Mono/stereo operation, instrument or line-level inputs/outputs, expression pedal out, aux out for single or 3-button footswitches and full MIDI support
– True or buffered bypass selectable based on your setup
– 100 presets (2 per bank) onboard: I don’t need more than 10 but it’s nice to have
– Global Tap Tempo (optional) so it’s easy to call up presets and retain the same tempo, or dial in a new tempo
– Delay trails when changing presets or going into bypass
– I don’t use much modulation, reverb or filters in my music but if I need some, the TimeFactor can pull it off
– Regular software updates from Eventide with bug fixes and improvements
– Eventide support forum/staff are very helpful

This pretty much sums up why I chose the TimeFactor over the Empress Superdelay which costs the same, £299.  A more detailed review with samples coming up in a few weeks or months :)

New Pedal Day & Review: Korg Pitchblack+ Tuner

I spent the last few weeks reassessing what’s on my pedal board and made some decisions that led me to replace stompboxes I’ve had for the most part of this year. The first was my tuner – I was quite alright using a Planet Waves CT-04 for over a year but it’s tuning accuracy isn’t great and there were times when it would be about 2 cents off forcing me to fine-tune by ear. I chose the CT-04 over a Boss TU-2 because Planet Waves claimed it was true bypass, which I found to be inaccurate on opening the pedal. To kill my curiosity however, I got a TU-2 last month to compare with the CT-04 since they share the same accuracy. In a few minutes it was clear that the TU-2 was more accurate, although I preferred the LED meter on the CT-04, and the buffered bypass of the TU-2 sounded better at higher volume.

Now I’m planning to start repairing and setting up guitars part-time and know that I will need a very accurate tuner for intonating guitars, so I ended up selling the CT-04 and TU-2 and turned my attention to the Peterson StroboStomp 2 which is regarded as one of the best tuners – fast, accurate and easy to use. I could not justify the £150 price tag, however, so I looked for alternatives and remember reading good reviews about the Korg Pitchblack series and DT-10 last year, which are reasonably priced. Their accuracy is pretty good (+/-1 cent) but the Pitchblack+ was more tempting for it’s accuracy that was on par with the StroboStomp and it’s price that was a small step up from the Pitchblack and DT-10.

Korg Pitchblack+ Tuner
Korg Pitchblack+ TunerIf you’ve always want a high precision tuner like the Peterson Strobostomp without spending that kind of money, I would recommend getting your hands on a Pitchblack+ for £95. The price is lower in the U.S. (as is the case always) but it would cost the same after shipping and duty had I imported one.

Right out of the box I was impressed by how Korg thoughtfully included a 4-way daisy chain to power other pedals with the Pitchblack+. A 9V DC output is common on pedal tuners but none of the manufacturers bundle a daisy chain so buyers can use this feature right out of the box. Continue reading