It’s somewhat ironic that I did my damndest to avoid going down the pedal route, but here I find myself enamoured with pedals, and particularly those which Strymon produces. The Mobius, TimeLine and BigSky have become a mainstay of many a professional’s pedal board, and the sheer virtuosity in versatility is staggering. You just need to have a look at the quality of the Strymon website and its product pages in particular to realise that they are currently wholly without peer in this industry. That does not mean they cover absolutely every base, and that great pedals can’t be found elsewhere. But there are no straight swap alternatives for any of their big 3 pedals - they really are the best of the best, and are the first 3 are on my definite must-have list.
I also like the look of the new Strymon Riverside pedal, and would combine that with Kingsley’s Jester, Wampler’s Triple Wreck and Electro-Harmonix’s Big Muff - to give me everything I need in the Fuzz / Overdrive / Distortion department. Everyone needs a Wah - and I’ve gone for the most versatile of the Cry Babies. The selection is then rounded off by industry standard utility pedals from Boss - Graphic Equalizer, Noise Suppressor and Volume, and genius TheGigRig G2 Advanced Switching System / switchboard.
Only a few of these can be considered cheap, many are amongst the most expensive, but you really get what you pay for here. There’s often a trade-off between impact and versatility, as it is better to get a pedal that does a couple of things amazingly rather than one that does a lot of things averagely. I would not swap out anything for any of the Strymons listed (there are no real alternatives), I could consider BK Butler Tube Driver, Amptweaker Tight Metal Pro and Dunlop Fuzz Face as alternatives for Drive / Gain sounds - but what I’ve gone for is the best combination of sound (what sounds great to me) and control - you can quite easily get to option paralysis, and the big Strymons will put off many for those reasons. Once you see what all these pedals can do, individually and in combination, it’s really just the price point which will hold you back.
The power of pedals has become so great, that they are capable of somewhat overshadowing the actual amps. Yet for best results, input values do matter, and the better the quality of components all along your signal chain, the better the quality of the output. As I cover off at the end of this article, I thoroughly recommend the services of Dan Steinhardt’s TheGigRig - you can familiarise yourself with much of this by catching Dan’s YouTube Channel - That Pedal Show.
Ordered as per visual:
Strymon Mobius Modulation - £429
- 12 Modulation Machines - Chorus, Flanger, Rotary, Vibe, Phaser, Filter, Formant, Vintage Trem, Pattern Trem, Autoswell, Destroyer, Quadtrature
- Controls - Type, Value, Speed, Depth, Level, Param 1, Param 2, A/B/C selector buttons, Signal Routing switch
- 200 Built-In Presets
Strymon TimeLine Delay - £429
- 12 Delay Machines - dTape, dBucket, Digital, Dual, Pattern, Reverse, Ice, Duck, Swell, Trem, Filter, Lo-Fi
- Controls - Type, Value, Time, Repeats, Mix, Filter, Grit, Speed, Depth, A/B/C selector buttons, Feedback Loop switch
- 200 Built-In Presets, 30 Second Looper
Strymon Big Sky Reverb - £479
- 12 Reverb Machines - Room, Hall, Plate, Spring, Swell, Bloom, Cloud, Chorale, Shimmer, Magneto, Nonlinear, Reflections
- Controls - Type, Value, Decay, Pre-Delay, Mix, Tone, Param 1, Param 2, Mod, A/B/C selector buttons, Cab Filter switch
- 300 Built-In Presets
Strymon OB1 Compressor & Clean Boost - £229
- >20dB of gain compensated compression, +10dB of full frequency, mid, or treble boost with Clean Boost engaged
- Controls - Output, Boost Level, Comp, Treble/Mid/Flat toggle, A/B selector button
- Excellent mix of Clean / Treble Boost and Compression - for fine-tuning and improving guitar output
Strymon Riverside Multistage Drive - £299
- Cascading Gain Stages with Class-A Analog JFET front-end combining with sequential SHARC DSP
- Controls - Drive, Low / High Gain toggle, Norm / Mid Push Toggle, Level, Bass, Middle, Treble, Presence -/+, A/B Selector Buttons
- Low Gain Channel for smooth classic overdrive, High Gain for modern saturated distortion
Kingsley Jester Overdrive & Boost - £375
- A Tube powered Overdrive with two Tungsol 12ax7 Tubes and added Boost stage
- Controls - Fat/Treble/Mid Boost switch, Low/Mid/High Gain OD switch, Boost, Bass, Middle, Treble, Volume, Gain, A/B selector buttons
- Highly tweekable and versatile Overdrive Pedal with several gain stages and added Boost
Wampler Triple Wreck Modern Rectified Distortion - £275
- Solid state extreme distortion pedal using highgest quality components
- Controls - Volume, Hard/Brutal toggle, Gain, Boost Contour, Treble, Mid, Bass, A/B selector buttons
- Just the right amount of controls to achieve both amazing vintage and modern hard rock / metal sounds with the Boost giving you Fuzz also
Electro Harmonix Deluxe Big Muff Pi - £102
- Expanded Big Muff Fuzz Pedal with added controls and Mids sculpting
- Controls - Volume, Tone, Sustain, Attack, Gate, Bass Boost/Normal toggle, Mids Level, Mids Frequency, Mids High/Low toggle, A/B selector buttons
- The latest and greatest version in a 40 year old legacy
Boss GE-7 Graphic Equalizer - £69
- 7-Band Graphic Equalizer which allows you to Boost or Cut key frequencies, apply mid-range scoop etc.
- Controls - 100, 200, 400, 800, 1.6k, 3.2k, 6.4k, Level - Faders, flat pad switch
- Works well as boost for solos, or for sculpting sound of distortion pedals etc.
Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor - £69
- Unique noise detection circuit preserves the natural attack and envelope of an instrument’s sound
- Controls - Threshold, Decay, Mode, flat pad switch
- Essential Noise Gate for when using high gain pedals / FX - removes most of the hiss / fizz / bias
Boss FV-500H/L Volume Pedal - £79
Dunlop Cry Baby 535Q Multi-Wah - £140
TheGigRig G2 Advanced Pedal Board Switching System - £749
- One device to control them all!
- 10 Passive True Bypass Matrix effects loops, 120 Pre-sets (8 banks of 15), Delay spillover for analog vs digital effects
- Comes complete with free Generator power brick (Modular Power Supply System)
Pedaltrain ’Terra 42’ Pedal Board with Tour Case - £369
- Aircraft aluminium banked board with protective case
- Comes with Zip Ties and 210 inch professional ahesive hook-and-loop pedal fasteners
- Designed for versatility and built to last
If you’re going to build this yourself, you will need various fixtures and fittings, brackets etc. to fit and secure power supplies / leads, as well as all the various internal cabling - patch leads etc. You should budget for a good couple of hundred quid to cover all that. Meaning that a Pedal Board to the above specifications will start from the grand sum of around £4,300. I of course recommend you get the professionals at The Gig Rig involved, which will likely bring the cost up to nearer £5,000 for this particular arrangement.
Daniel Steinhardt’s professional custom pedal board building company is really where you should go if you want to be sure of the best results. Daniel is a total pedal genius - and will ensure you get the most logical layout, with the cleanest signal path, and the cleverest and most versatile signal chain - with the absolute minimum electrical interference. You try and do something this complicated yourself, you will likely end up with various wiring issues and unwanted noise. Daniel’s team will ensure that everything is optmised and done to the very highest quality - www.thegigrig.com/