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Knob Control


 geoo
(@geoo)
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This might not be the best place for this, but here is where I am putting it.

I started with an AMP and a guitar. I chose the stomp box method of effects and added one at a time. First an EQ, then Chorus, etc. Now I have a plethora of pedals. All of them purchased with the intention of either adding to my sound (Chorus/delay/distortion), or fixing something in my sound (noise suppression/etc).

The problem is, that really dont like my sound now. Its muddy. I think that all of the knobs are out of whack and I just dont know where to start, in setting them so that they compliment each other. The sound levels are whacky...there is entirely too much bass... I'm really not even sure where to start.

I'll describe my set up the best I can.. so you can atleast tell where everything is at.
Guitar -> tuner -> WAH -> Compression/Sustain => FIsh n Chips -> Power Stack -> AMP
AMP FX Send -> Volume -> Chorus -> Delay -> Noise Suppression -> AMP FX Return.

Now I have already taken all the pedals out.. and added them back in one at a time. Playing a little ditty inbetween each added pedal and with each one it sounds fine.. come back the next day and it sounds totally different. I have run around in circles trying to problem solve this.. and I just dont get it. But I think I have all the pedals where I want them. I just think that the knobs on each pedal is probably not set right.

So, where do you start? Should I set all the volume knobs to 50% and try to calibrate the volume first.. and then tweak each pedals own effect until it sounds close?

Thoughts/comments welcome

Jim

“The hardest thing in life is to know which bridge to cross and which to burn” - David Russell (Scottish classical Guitarist. b.1942)


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(@anonymous)
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Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 8308
 

it's entirely possible that the change in sounds from one day's finish to the next's start, is due to the amp tubes or your fingers not being warmed up or the effects of ear fatigue after a session of pedal tweaking. this is a very likely culprit, since you capitalized "AMP" as if you have a big old stack that you like to run at full blast. but regardless, as you play, your ears tend to zero in on the sound, and the adjustments you make may sound totally out of whack the next day after your ears have readjusted to your environment.
you also have a fairly long pedal chain, and that is going to effect your sound and cause muddiness, but it should be able to be overcome with some knob tweaking. i use 9 pedals, and i get some phase/clarity issues compared to playing straight through the amp.
as for volume, what i do is set everything to parity volume levels, so that the volume with the pedal off is the same as with it on. then, after that, if i want one to be used as a volume boost, or if it gets better tone at a certain volume, i'll tweak it as needed. setting everything to 12 o'clock may be a big old pain to deal with, since not every pedal's set up the same.


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(@gnease)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 5058
 

which Wah pedal do you use? if it's the basic Dunlop Crybaby, you'll be starting a little muddy.

also, all pedals do not play nicely with each other. you might try combos of two or three at a time to make sure that isn't an issue. some may not work well in the effects loop -- move them from there to out front to see. it's not always the fault of the effect, either, as some amps just don't have good effects loops. why did you put the volume pedal in the effects loop? it could do some interesting things, but volume pedal types need to be matched to use. a 250k or 500k ohm volume pedal might work in front of the guitar, but not in the effects loop. or maybe you have a 25k ohm volume pedal, which is really made for use with either a buffer amp or guitar with active pups. in the wrong position, that volume pedal will suck tone fatally.

and cable length: what type/length cables are you using between your effects? that length adds up, and without a buffering stage right up front, muddy can be due to having 30 or 40 ft of aggregate "unbuffered" cable 'tween guitar and amp.

-=tension & release=-


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 geoo
(@geoo)
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Joined: 16 years ago
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Topic starter  

Thanks guys

The wah is a Morley Bad Horsie II. The volume is a Morley Optical Volume. i dont know much about it. I dont really like it. I was told that I should put it in the loop if I wanted to use it to control the over all volume. To put it up front if I was going to use it to control the amount of signal to my distortion type effects.

I appreciate the advice.. and any more you have. I KNOW I need to take on the issues one at a time, cause I think I have quite a few but I'm up against having to play tomorrow morning and I'd rather be practicing than chasing tone, volume, etc.

Well, back to it.

“The hardest thing in life is to know which bridge to cross and which to burn” - David Russell (Scottish classical Guitarist. b.1942)


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(@moonrider)
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Joined: 17 years ago
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How many of them actually ADD something ESSENTIAL to your sound?

Pedals are like crayons. Once you mix a certain number of "colors" together, you get mud brown.

Playing guitar and never playing for others is like studying medicine and never working in a clinic.

Moondawgs on Reverbnation


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 geoo
(@geoo)
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Topic starter  

LOL well I dont play them all at once. But that doesnt mean I am gonna throw out the other 63 crayons.

“The hardest thing in life is to know which bridge to cross and which to burn” - David Russell (Scottish classical Guitarist. b.1942)


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 Ande
(@ande)
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Joined: 13 years ago
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Not to throw them out, but...even when they aren't "on," most pedals in your signal chain do something to your signal. ("True" bypass is rare, even, imo, with pedals that make that claim.)

My impulse is to tell you to "start over." Play with the guitar and the amp- get as close to the sounds you want as you can, and then add pedals sparingly. Get to know each pedal by itself, playing just with each one and the amp. Don't add one pedal to the three you were already using- when you want to add on, use it by itself until you really know what each little knob does to your sound.

It's a funny thing. I own, and enjoy, and sometimes play with, a considerable number of effects units, including amp modelers. In gigs, I use...the overdrive and EQ on the amp. (And all the controls on my guitar.) Nothing else.

It sounds counter intuitive, but I've always felt that you want to mess with your signal as little as you can and stilll get the sounds you want. The more you add, the more artificial and muddy it becomes.

Best,
Ande


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 geoo
(@geoo)
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Topic starter  

I am tempted to do just that Ande.. I just might. I tweak around a little, mostly with volume, and got the sound pretty close yesterday. The fact is that I DO use almost all of these. The only ones that I really cant tell that they help me in any way is the volume pedal (which I dont like) and the compression/sustain. Most all my pedals are Boss, but I understand that they can lose some signal, even when not on.

The problem is that in the music I do, I need my delay. I'll always need distortion and a clean sound. Chorus sound great on some of the slower songs that we do.. I use WAH very rarely.. but I do use them..

Well see what happens this morning. Its easier to fiddle with the knobs when I dont have to worry about the confined space in my house.

Jim

“The hardest thing in life is to know which bridge to cross and which to burn” - David Russell (Scottish classical Guitarist. b.1942)


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(@moonrider)
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LOL! Ande got EXACTLY where I was headed and made my point better than I could.

I've got a pretty large collection of pedals ( some are vintage that I bought new! ), but when you look at my pedal board you normally see a tuner and 4 single-purpose pedals. They are, in order:

tuner
compressor (normally a Boss CS-3, sometimes replaced by the "tain" half of a Maestro Fuzztain)
dirt (rotates between a Bad Monkey OD, 1980 pre-LED MXR Distortion+, and Maestro Fuzztain)
delay (currently an Ibanez AD-9)
tremolo (Behringer Ultra Tremolo - best reproduction of the Kustom tuck & roll amp trems ever)

Playing guitar and never playing for others is like studying medicine and never working in a clinic.

Moondawgs on Reverbnation


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 Crow
(@crow)
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Joined: 11 years ago
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+1 to Ande. And I love the elegance of Moonrider's no-frills chain.

Recently I spent a couple of weeks auditioning my stomp boxes individually, then in pairs, then in threes, to find combinations I preferred. Time-consuming, but you learn your stuff that way. I came up with a versatile, relatively short signal chain -- A/B-ing into two different flavors of dirt, adding some color (E-H Small Stone phaser, Thomas Organ wah) and delay (green MXR analog), then into the amp input. (None of my amps have FX send/return -- too old.)

Then I put the pedals away, b/c I'm just not that into them.

EDIT: Just read this thread, which has great info on how to buffer your signal AND split it properly, with minimal noise and signal loss... which means I may have to unpack all those pedals and try again. :oops:

"You can't write a chord ugly enough to say what you want to say sometimes, so you have to rely on a giraffe filled with whipped cream." - Frank Zappa


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 Nuno
(@nuno)
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Jim, the others didn't comment it but I am not sure if the last position is the best one for the noise suppressor. Usually it removes the noise and leaves the signal more or less clean. I'd put it the first in the chain.
Pedals are like crayons. Once you mix a certain number of "colors" together, you get mud brown.
Nice comparison :)

I only use one or two pedals and usually I only play with the cable so I can not help with the interactions between pedals. The Moonrider's comment sounds good to me.

PS. Crow, I am having a lot of fun with that delay. Cool pedal!


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 geoo
(@geoo)
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An update.. All the posts appreciated, it turns out that the poor condition was because of two things. After setting the volume knobs a little better, it started sounding nice again. When I got to the stage and started playing, most loudly, I notice it was chopping up the sound.. kind of like a blown speaker. I then noticed the attack knob on my compression pedal had been turned all the way up. Turned that down a bit and it sounded beautiful.

I've used most of these pedals a good LONG time and I understand the noises they make. Also, I understand that many guitarists do not like playing through a good deal of pedals.. but I am a pedal-head.. and I LOVE them.. I want MORE. Thats not to say that I dont just love sitting down and playing a clean acoustic guitar... but I LOVE pedals.

The suppressor is at the end because it kills the hiss I get when I hit my amps boost switch.. its a RATHER loud hiss and distracting when they are praying. Seems to work well there. I can go from silent to OMG instantly.

Geoo

“The hardest thing in life is to know which bridge to cross and which to burn” - David Russell (Scottish classical Guitarist. b.1942)


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 Ande
(@ande)
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Joined: 13 years ago
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Sounds like you're getting it sorted the way you want it- well done.

Personally, you've got so many darn knobs in this chain, I'd never be able to remember how I wanted them all set. But we're all different. (I'm sort of a gear head, but not so much pedals. Though I've got a fair few!)

Something else I'll put up here for newbs, or anybody else it's useful to: Virtually all pedals start to sound bad when their batteries are going dead. So if your pedal chain isn't sounding like it used to, that's something to check.

All the best,
Ande


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 geoo
(@geoo)
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Totally agree Ande. Not only in the pedals but my guitar has active pickups and if my battery is going dead, weird things happen. I first used an iSpot AC adapter, but now that I have the pedalboard they are all connected to its power source. Good catch Ande.

Geoo

“The hardest thing in life is to know which bridge to cross and which to burn” - David Russell (Scottish classical Guitarist. b.1942)


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