I Sold My Pedals And No One Cared

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.


21 comments for “I Sold My Pedals And No One Cared

  1. August 7, 2014 at 12:12 am

    It’s funny to watch the tone merry-go-round that so many dudes keep riding. Of course, I rode that carousel for a long time.

    I sold all my pedals about 6 months ago and bought an Axe-Fx 2. I also traded my tube amp for a Koll Duo Glide and a foot controller for the Axe.

    I was kinda nervous about it, but my tone is more consistent (since I don’t have to worry about things like mic placement), loading/unloading gear is so much easier since I don’t have to haul a head/cab in ATA cases, and I don’t have to worry about stage noise bleeding into FOH. The crazy thing is that I have probably gotten more positive comments about my tone in the 6 months since I switched over than I did in the previous 15 years of playing in public.

    I am happily GAS-free.

  2. Sal
    August 7, 2014 at 12:19 am

    Haha. Been telling you all along…..guitar,cord,amp.

  3. August 7, 2014 at 12:22 am

    I dig it. I haven’t bought a pedal in a year. My current rig is A T1M Pearl (someone gave me. Praise Jesus) Runs into a VP, then a DD20, and finally an RV5. I am pretty happy, but i am thinking of getting something that can shimmer too. But the only real PB change I want is I need a tremolo pedal for some bluesy gigs I have been doing lately.

    – Mathew

  4. Nicolas Poppin
    August 7, 2014 at 12:46 am

    I’m interested to know your ENTIRE Signal Chain and Pedalboard Order as I have been following your videos for QUITE Some time now and Love them ALL!
    I’de love to know your pedal collection and know your chain on your board and how you have it all setup 🙂

  5. Rich Kettner
    August 7, 2014 at 12:51 am

    WOW!!! Karl, that is a big step for you. 🙂 A common theme I hear from several of my favorite players is how they sound the same ( or their favorite players sound the same) on their instruments or with a borrowed guitar. So much of your sound is in your fingers. Enjoy the journey!

  6. Alan
    August 7, 2014 at 2:33 am

    I make myself giggle with joy over my board. BossOD20 that everyone hates, a TC nova repeater and an rv 5. Simple. Great fun and great sounds. Welcome to the bargain bin Karl.

  7. Craig
    August 7, 2014 at 2:59 am


    I think we might have had this conversation a while back. Congratulations on the little one, glad it’s going well for you.

    I haven’t sold anything yet, but I did downsize to a Pedaltrain Mini and am going to give something simpler a try.

  8. Justin
    August 7, 2014 at 3:08 am

    Hey! I recognize one of those! Glad to see you like it!

  9. August 7, 2014 at 4:12 am

    Great to see you enjoying music and whatever tools you want to use to make it.

  10. August 7, 2014 at 9:00 am

    I thought for a brief moment your next album was going to an acoustic affair.
    I think you develop your style/technique regardless of the gear. We certainly live in age where people are looking for the latest, greatest thing. It’s so easy to want the latest gear, plug-in, daw etc. and then realise that it may not be any better than what you already had.
    Looking forward to new music from you soon
    PS-enjoyed the clip as well.

  11. Eric
    August 7, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    I’m liking the sound of this quite a bit. I’m intrigued- what is making the bell-like tone at the very beginning?

  12. Karl
    August 8, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    Thanks, everyone. 🙂 Good to hear from others on the same journey. Nothing is good or bad, except when it becomes dogmatic or an obsession. Play what makes you happy and keeps you eating.

    And Eric, that bell tone is just the natural mid-hump on the thicker strings in the higher range of the G&L on the bridge split coil and neck (Tele setting). It’s amazing the different tonal options just from pickup switching and selective notes along the fretboard.

    • Eric T
      January 14, 2015 at 3:28 pm

      So I’m on a roll of looking into G&L guitars and realize that you have an S-500, correct?

      • Terry
        January 15, 2015 at 1:27 am

        Do yourself a favour and checkout G&L’s Ascari GT90.
        Had one, AMAZING….kicking myself for selling mine.
        Looked amazing, sounded great…loved the P90’s.

  13. Terry
    October 3, 2014 at 2:45 am

    great post.
    due to budgetary restraints I had to put a pedal board together for worship team for me. It is 80% Danelectros…and I love my tone. I run it through my Digitech RP1000 direct into the board.
    My “fancies” pedals are my Line 6 echo park, Poly tune and EB Jr volume pedal.
    The key to my great tone (IMOA) is using two Dano V1 TOD’s (Timmy clones)…stacked.

  14. August 22, 2015 at 5:39 pm

    Dominic Miller (that toured and recorded with Sting for YEARS) only used stock Boss pedals! Tell me that guy doesn’t have the most amazing sounds every. I’ve used the Line 6 / G System combo for all of my stuff. I did do one single recording with the Strymon / Neunaber, but I can’t even remember which one (it’s very similar). 100% with you on the overdone similar effects to achieve the same effect overall. In the end, it’s about the outcome. Peace.

  15. Ken
    April 25, 2017 at 3:29 pm

    I know this is a few years old, but looking back are you still pretty happy with your setup?

    I feel like there are a number of us in the same boat, trying to downsize to something that’s practical and less costly.
    Do you have a pic of your board as it looks today?

    Big fan of your blogs, including the old “guitar for worship”

    thanks for your time,

    • Karl
      April 26, 2017 at 2:26 am

      It’s a mess of wires right now as both Valvulator buffers just died. You know what hasn’t died? My grubby Boss TU-2. So…ya, I guess I’m still on this cheap kick. 🙂

      Thanks for the kind words…sorry to see that blog go, but…live by the web, die by the web.

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