Over the last few months, I have quietly sold the majority of my expensive boutique pedals, and replaced them with inexpensive “Guitar Center” pedals. I did this because, after years of chasing the perfect tone, I’ve realized this: that I can coax decent tone out of any pedal once I pass the $50 range. For some pedals, even lower. Tone is not completely in the hands, but a good portion of it is in the knowledge, technique, and touch. I was also getting concerned that we were all starting to sound the same. The Strymon algorithms are fantastic, but I started to wonder if that Strymon “modulated-ringing” sound was going to eventually become to the 2010’s what chorus became to the ’80’s. So away went the majority of my Strymon, CAL, BJFe, Fulltone, and Neunaber pedals, and in came…wait for it…Line 6 and TC Electronic Nova System. And here’s the thing…just like no one cares when John Mayer hits his Boss Blues Driver (me and John are tight like that), no one really seemed to care or notice. I actually got more tone comments and emails from this inaugural “cheap pedalboard” video, than I have in a while.
There’s a definite balance in there. I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of the Skreddy Lunar Module, as I’ve waited a long time for a silicon fuzz that actually has mids. And I’m still using fairly expensive guitars and amps. But the Verbzilla and TC Nova deliver quite well, and I still had enough left over from selling the Timeline, after buying those and the Echo Park, to buy a whole ‘nother guitar.
So have a blast chasing tone. It’s seriously an incredible hobby. But so is making music, and you don’t need a truckload of cash to do it right, no matter what the internet tells you.