My Worship Pedalboard

Every so often I get asked in the comments what kind of gear I use on a Sunday morning. While certain things change from time to time, I’ve been consistent over the years with a Fender Telecaster and a Tube Amp (currently my beloved Benson Monarch.)

Below is a quick rundown of my main rig. It’s a rig made up of compromises. Since it’s not the biggest in size, I can’t have everything I want, so these pedals are compromises that allow me to get the sounds I need within the constraints I have set before me.

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Backing Tracks: What I use and How I Got There

What I use and How I Got There

Multi-tracks, Backing Tracks, and Pads have become more and more mainstream in music in recent years. It’s not just in the church, but its not uncommon to go to shows and concerts and see well known bands with Pads or Backing Tracks going on in the background. I remember 2004 hearing it with Coldplay and over the next few years later I started noticing it with smaller bands in at clubs in the Seattle area.

Programs like Abelton and the easy of Apple’s Garage band have put this technology in the hands of church musicians as well. But it’s not just the mega-churches that are doing this. Walk into churches of ranging in size from 50-150 and you could easily hear some form of backing track going on.

I started using ambient Pads in the background about 6 months ago. I want to walk you through my process, how I got here, and why I use what I use.

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Where Do I Put My Volume Pedal?

Where to Put the Volume Pedal?

Now, we’ve talked about signal chain before on the blog (HERE). There’s no right or wrong, only guidelines. Generally compression goes towards the front and reverb goes to the back. But some effects can find a home almost anywhere along the line. Where’s the best spot in your signal chain to put a Volume Pedal (VP)? What are the pros and cons? Is there one VP that’s better than the rest? Let’s talk about it.

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The Electric: Boss Vs Boutique

Boss effects pedals is the Ford Motor Company of the musical world. The Ford Focus is a great car, the Escape is incredibly popular, and the F-150 is an American institution. Yet on Car magazine covers and wall posters it’s the Ferrari’s, Lamborghini’s and Porches’ that get all the love. The same is true with Boss pedals. The RV-5 is a iconic reverb sound found on records from all across the musical spectrum, yet Strymon get’s all the love. What’s the difference between Boss vs boutique pedals and how should affect how I spend my gear money?

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Gear Review: JHS Twin Twelve

BRAND: JHS

MODEL: Twin Twelve Overdrive

COST: $199

WHAT IT IS: The JHS Twin Twelve is an “amp-in-a-box” style overdrive that emulated the sounds of the vintage Silvertone Twin Twelve 1484 tube amp produced for a few years in the 1960’s by Danelectro for the Sears catalog. It was a low-end budget amp that was over looked in favor of amps by Fender, Vox, and Marshall. Up until a few years ago, you could find them for dirt cheap on eBay. Then artists like Beck, Jack White, Death Cab for Cutie, and even Coldplay started recording with them. The lead riffs on Death Cab’s “Your a Tourist” and Coldplay’s “Always In My Head” are both from a 1484 amp. In part because of this, a Twin Twelve amp now goes for 4 to 5 times what you would have paid a few years back.

I tried the JHS Twin Twelve with just about every pedal I own, as well as straight in to my Fender Princeton Reverb from my Danocaster Jazzmaster and my Fender Telecaster.

The Twin Twelve includes an active EQ for treble and bass like you’d find on a real amp, and a drive knob that controls the amount of gain. While the original 1484 amp didn’t have a master volume, Josh and his crew have added a Volume knob that accomplishes that feature, which is where all the pedals flexibility comes in.

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Gear Review: The Mad Professor Silver Spring Reverb

BRAND: Mad Professor

MODEL: Silver Spring Reverb

COST: $195

WHAT IT IS: The SSR is a classic sounding “space” reverb. Space reverbs emulate the sound of reflections in a room, hall, church, cathedral or even bathroom tile. Spring reverb is essentially a “space” reverb but gets it’s own category because of the sonic quirks of mechanical spring tanks.

The short version is that the Silver Spring will emulate the sounds of an amp spring, a room/hall or studio (plate) reverb. The tone knob is really mislabeled. While it does affect tone, it really controls fidelity. Turned all the way to the left and you have a lofi “amp spring” sounding reverb. At noon, the tone knob makes a great room sound and all the way to the right you get a hifi plate/studio reverb.

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A Kinda Sorta Review of the New U2 Record

THE RECORD

Almost every review of the newest U2 record Songs of Innocence has told me more about the the reviewer and their issues than the record itself. When a reviewer starts admitting that they “don’t really like U2 that much” or by saying that they haven’t liked a U2 record since Actung Baby, why should we care what they say? When a reviewer spends (as many of them did) the opening half of the review critiquing and complaining about the way or method the band released the record, what does that actually tell us about the music itself? The answer is of course: nothing.

I actually like the new U2 record. It’s not their best record, but it’s certainly not their worst. The songs themselves are far better than most of the critics have given credit for. The final result of Dangermouse’s production work is a debatable point but again, it’s an interesting take on the music of the most iconic band since the Beatles. So now that we’ve had a few weeks to come to terms with the music and implication of the records surprise marketing/distribution method maybe we can look for some takeaways?

Instead of debating the finer points of U2’s latest offering, I would like to look at the response it has drawn. I feel like looking at Songs Of Innocence’s reception will shed light on issues that affect us as worship leaders and church musicians.

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