Fall Q&A. Effects Pedals. Acoustic Worship, and Three Headed Delays.

Once a season I look over the Google searches (and the 1 Bing search too) and see what brings people to this blog. I then take the themes or direct questions from those searches and form a sort of Q&A. While the Fall 2014 edition will be a little effects pedal heavy, I think there’s some take aways that non-pedal using worship leaders will find helpful.


The two top searches that have brought people to this blog in the past few months have been: JHS Pedal controversy and JHS Moonshine Review. What this tells me is that there are a lot of interest in JHS’s Pedals and that when folks start to research them they inevitably fall through the rabbit hole that is the anti-JHS crowd on the internet. This blog, and myself in particular have gained a bit of a “pro-JHS” reputation. I tend to think this is mostly because I’m the minority voice among bloggers. You can read my summary piece on the whole thing HERE. The funniest thing is that in that post I don’t always paint the nicest picture of JHS’s past actions, and fully acknowledge that a little bit of fire may have cause a lot of the smoke. You can read and decide for yourself. But while I’m the minority voice on the internet, I think I hold the majority opinion because business at JHS seems to be booming.


I’ve written about that HERE. I don’t know if I would write the same blog now. I tend to think that any low to mid gain overdrive will work and it all comes down to personal preference. Currently I have a JHS Moonshine and Superbolt, Matthews Klone, and my Wave Cannon and Colour Box can be dialed in for overdrive. So whatever works for you… but the Moonshine is probably my favorite.


A tuner. Other than that it’s a question of what the best pedals for you and your situation are. You, your playing, your style, your church, your church’s culture and style are all unique. But as a basic set up: A tuner. A gain pedal. A delay. with a decent guitar and tube amp are a great start.


Like any other “best gear for worship” question it’s a highly personal and situational thing. That being said, for most church environments you will wanted a lower gain amp. A Fender Twin Reverb will just be far too loud for most church situations, even churches that sit more towards the “cutting edge”. I currently use a Fender Princeton Reverb that’s about 12 watts. All the noise I need. A Blues Jr., Vox AC15 or AC4, Egnater Tweaker 15 or Fender Deluxe Reverb (22 watts) are all great candidates. But there are a lot of other good options about there.


I’ve written about this in the past (HERE). But I’ll just say right now that a majority of the conflict and misunderstanding about what worship in the church is or isn’t stems from confusion in this area.


I’m assuming they aren’t talking about Monster vs Lava Cables. But rather G, C or D chords. I would just say that I play electric guitar differently than I do the acoustic guitar. While the chord shapes may stay the same, the number of strings I play at a time or the voicings I use certain change.


There is not “top gear for worship”. There’s good gear, and there’s good gear that works for you. A Tone Bender fuzz may be awesome sounding, but horrible for your church setting. Those are two different subjects. The best compressor out that IMHO is the Cali76. I own it and love it. The Effectrode compressor is also very good. After that it’s a pick ’em. The Empress comp, Mad Professor FGC, Wampler Ego Comp. EQD Warden, Diamond Comp, JHS Pulp’N Peel or modded MXR comp, the Keeley, the Walrus Deep Six, the Xotic SP. All great compressors. I’ve owned most of them at some point. It just depends on what you want, need or can justify. All that being said, compressors by their nature will add some noise to your sound so be careful because extra noise is often the last thing you want in your worship guitar playing. That’s why I like the Cali76 so much, but the Mad Professor and the Diamond both had fairly low noise floors when I used them.


A few years back I noted that both Buddy Miller and the Black Keys (two artists that I follow closely both for my enjoyment and their tone) were using Fulltone Tube Tape Echoes (real magnetic tape delays) on tour. Now both are using (at least in part) the Strymon El Capistan. I think their adoption plus the guys from Radiohead using Boss RE-20’s and Strymon Timeline’s instead of the real thing when they can afford to says something about the progress in quality DSP effects have made. But, the fact that pro musicians who’s gear budget may equal your yearly salary shouldn’t decide what you like or use. The El Capistan, RE-20 or any other pedal were already great before they adopted them, and the TTE was already an out of reach piece of gear before we heard they were using it. Buy what works for you, not just what some other guy it using.


A chorus pedal is a chorus pedal while the Earthquaker Devices Organizer (or the EHX B9) is an effect designed to emulate an Organ sound based on a Polyphonic Octive Generator (POG) type pedal, but instead of you dialing in the sound, they’e done a lot of the work for you. There are obvious church applications for an organ emulating pedal. I recently made piece with Chorus. I’m using the Warped Vinyl Analog Chorus/Vibrato. Killer pedal.


The great myth is that you need to add a lot of effects to “fill in your sound.” Instead, what’s more important is that you make full use of the sound you have. I’ve installed a quality aftermarket Pickup in my acoustic guitar from K&K sounds. The idea is to have my guitar sound like my guitar instead of like I’m playing through a telephone, which is what you get with most stock pickups (including ones in high end guitars). Once I’ve got the sound down, I turn it up. The guitar has to be loud enough to fill the room. Often, I’ve found that the sound tech will set it at the same level they would if I was playing with a full band, and that’s not good enough. Lastly, I once I’ve got a good sound that’s loud enough, I play the full rand of my guitar. I play open chords, the boring ones like G, C, and D. I tend to avoid capo’ing above the first few frets because the guitar looses some of it’s fullness. That’s fine in a band but when I need to cover the full spectrum I need the bass and low end too.


I guarantee that whatever music you consider “holy or godly” church music was at one point considered “worldly”


No. See more on that HERE


They’ve been nice to me. Even before I wrote a nice review of their pedal. I want to point out that JHS has at no time treated me any different before they knew who I was than after they knew who I am. Top notch all the way. This has been true of every effects company I’ve dealt with: Keeley, Mad Professor, Tone King Amps, Analogman, Matthews Effects, Salvage Custom Boards, Caroline Guitar Company, Danocaster Guitars, Spitfire pick guitars, and the list goes on and on. They’ve all been great. The only company I’ve had a bad experience with has been Origin Effects (makers of my beloved Cali76 Compressor) and they just never got back to me.


A tube screamer is a tube screamer. A KOT is based on the Blue Breaker circuit but is highly modified. Both are great pedals. I’d encourage you to learn the different types of circuit out their. My Overdrive Overkill article dealt with this. Too many players have 4 or 5 gain pedals that are all essentially the same thing.


Not all tape delays are created equal. Most are trying to emulate a single head tape delay like the EP-3 or Tube Tape Echo. A few others will emulate a multi head effect like the RE-201 or Binson Echorec. A “head” is what records or plays back the magnetic cassette tape (google it if you don’t know what magnetic tape is). Single head units are great. Multi-head units give you a different flavor of tape delay. Do your research. For example, the Strymon Timeline’s Tape Delay is only single head emulation so if you were looking for a different sound you’d need another delay pedal. etc. The more you understand about circuits or vintage units be emulated the more empowered and informed you are as a consumer to make the right purchase.   Until next time.   Post any other questions you may have in the comments section.

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