A Parallel Universe
How’s the new year treating everyone? Let’s
jump right in! The other night I was doing
yet more experimentation with the order of
effects through a standard double-channel
Fender amplifier—a silverface Pro Reverb
combo that was completely rebuilt by my
friend Adam Palow of Tungsten Amplification.
You know the type of Fender amplifiers that
feature two inputs each on both the normal
and reverb channels? If you’re going to use
the concept I’m describing this month, keep
in mind that it appears to work best with this
exact type of input layout.
Most everyone seems to “daisy chain” their
effects pedals in a row and then hook the
whole chain into the amplifier input of their
choice (here the second reverb channel is
usually used). However, there is another trick
that you can use to massive advantage that
might not come to mind at first. That is to
make use of at least three of the four inputs in
a parallel arrangement. I’m quite certain that
many of you will find this a little bit off the
beaten path, but hey, it sure is a lot of fun to
hear what happens when you try this out for
yourself. I found some really different sounds
coming from this setup when compared with
the time-tested daisy-chain method.
I started by hooking my guitar’s output cable
into the input of a PedalworX Five O’Clock
Charlie distortion pedal and then taking the
output of the Charlie pedal and inserting that
cord into the first input of the Pro Reverb’s
normal channel. Once I found a spot where
the distortion sounded really good, I then
took another guitar cable from the second
input of the amp’s normal channel into the
input of yet another type of clean booster
pedal, just so I could have more texture on
tap. You could hook these two pedals up in
the reverse order if you desired—it’s all a
matter of taste, right? Here’s where it started
to get really fun. From the output of the
second booster pedal you could (like I did)
go into an octave-up type of pedal, and you
can adjust the level of the octave pedal from
the volume control of the second channel,
the reverb channel, when the octave pedal
is hooked into the first input of that channel.
The wild thing here
is that with a bit of
will most definitely get
sounds that you will not
hear with the regular
pedal linking method.
The wild thing here is that with a bit of
experimentation you will most definitely
get sounds that you will not hear with the
regular pedal linking method. This is also
the reason why you need to have dual (yet
separate) channels with parallel inputs and
dedicated Volume and Tone controls for this
method to work. Modern amplifiers that
have four channels with only one input for
the instrument need not apply. As usual, you
can toss anything into the mix here, whatever
your imagination might dictate. You will also
find that the resulting sounds might seem to
exude a noticeably wider three-dimensional
quality to boot. This isn’t a bad thing at all.
The wider the merrier, in my humble opinion.
As you may guess, this is just another sonic
sculpting tool to have at your disposal to
give your sound yet more personality and
distinctness. This has been at the very heart
of this column every month.
I would like to share with you the list of
things that I used for this bit of craziness.
When I do this type of experimenting, I
always tend to use a single brand of pedals
at first to keep things more straightforward.
This way I can focus on the sound textures as
a whole before I branch out into mixing the
many types of pedals that are lying around
the practice room. Additionally, it’s much
easier for me to remember the stellar sounds
that I might encounter by sheer accident too.
This time I used various PedalworX products,
such as the Squeeze Factor compressor
along with a new pedal called the Nashville
Breaker booster. Also in attendance was the
PedalworX Skye booster as well the Cool
Machine, and I shouldn’t forget several fuzzes
made by the company, like the germanium-based McFuzz model and it’s hotter relative,
the silicon-based Hot McFuzz. Other pedals
used later in these tests included models like
a KLON Centaur booster and numerous BJFE
models: Björn Juhl’s infamous Pink Purple
Fuzz, Dyna Red Distortion, Candy Apple
Fuzz, Folk Fuzz and numerous others.
The method I’ve described here also worked
well with various types of instruments
sporting both single-coil and humbucking
pickups. I had an absolute blast doing this,
and discovered many new tones and textures
among the participating elements. So, now
it’s time for you to knock yourself punch-drunk until we meet again next month.
is the chief designer of "Snake Oil Brand Strings"
( sobstrings.net) and has had a profound influence
on the trends in the strings of today.