Creating your own sound is akin to putting
your own twist on a classic recipe. A lot of
this, a little of that, and hopefully you come
up with something tasty. One option I believe
we don’t explore enough is combining multiple versions of our favorite sounds. The following examples illustrate a few possibilities
of this sonic layering technique.
Want a great Leslie sound? My multi-unit combination includes a rotary effect with controls
for EQ, overdrive, and horn and drum speeds,
a phaser for a Doppler effect, a slow chorus
for swirl, and—if you’re not using an expression pedal to control the rate on the rotary
unit—an optional vibrato effect for warble.
out to stereo and feed a mixer. Each chorus
should be set differently from the others. For
chorus effects, the general rule is the lower
the rate, the higher the depth. From the
stereo mixer, one side feeds a pitch shifter
( 10 percent wet) while the other side remains
unaffected. Feeding all of this to delay or
reverb units creates a lovely, lush tone.
I generally use three delays in my rig: a single-repeat short digital delay (175-350 ms) for
solos, an analog delay (350-500 ms) with a
few repeats for clean sounds, and a long tape
delay (500 ms or more) with piles of feedback
for ballad solos and effects. The wet/dry mixes
range from 15 percent on the short delay, to
as much as 70 percent on the long delay.
Most rotary pedals have two outs: Hi for the
horn and Low for the rotor drum. In my setup,
Hi feeds the phaser and Low feeds the chorus.
One of the stereo outs from the chorus feeds
When combining effects, my preference is to
not stack the same make and model of pedal or
processor. Different manufacturers use different
components and designs, and these variations
Each delay is fine on its own, but if you com-
bine two units, you can create polyrhythms.
Or use all three delays with a volume pedal for
orchestral swells. (Using multiple delays yields
richer sounds than you can get with a single
tapped delay.) To explore different textures,
experiment with the order of which delay
feeds the next. Try running all the delays into
a looper to create an ambient backdrop.
When layering effects, my preference is
to not stack the same make and model of
pedal or processor.
the vibrato unit. The rotary is 100 percent wet;
the other pedals are mixed to taste.
You could connect everything in mono, but
this multi-delay technique really takes on a
new dimension in stereo. That said, unless
your delay is true stereo, you probably have a
dry output and a wet output, so for flexibility,
use a mixer—ART and RJM make great ones
small enough to mount on your pedalboard.
Take the first delay’s wet output and feed it
to the next delay unit. From the second delay,
the wet output feeds the first input on the
mixer. The dry out feeds the third delay, and
both of the third delay’s outs go to the mixer.
You can now pan the delays on the mixer as
you like, then route the mixer’s outs to your
amps. The cool thing about this setup is that
your delay units can feed each mixer output
as opposed to many stereo setups, which only
route the dry signal to one side and the wet
to the other.
Depending on the result you want, you can set
the rotary to a fixed speed, or use an expression pedal to vary the speed. (See the April
2010 “Guitar Tracks” for more details.) I usually
set the phase at a lower depth and higher rate,
while my chorus is the opposite. My vibrato is
usually set at a really high speed and medium
depth with a lower overall volume.
offer more sonic dimension than you’d get using
several identical units. This principle applies
whether you layer pedals, plug-ins, floor processors, or rack processors.
For many players, the coolest and most desirable chorus is the Dyno-My-Piano Tri-Stereo
chorus. It uses multiple independent speeds
and depths to create a non-static, super-broad
sound. But by combining multiple chorus pedals with short “doubling” delays and pitch
change or detune effects, you can go well
beyond this to create sounds that would make
the Cocteau Twins smile … well, almost smile.
Here’s how to route your effects: The stereo
out from the first chorus hits two more choruses, one on each output, and these also split
Sweetwater Sales Engineer Robert Williams has terminal
G.A.S. He also has years of experience as a guitarist,
engineer, video editor, and broadcast automation integrator
at sites across North America and the UK. Contact him at