After a recent gig, some musical folks I met backstage wanted to know what ‘analog pedals’ I used for my sound. Seemed quite surprised when I told ‘em I used a Line 6 POD. Must say their social reflexes kicked in pretty quick, arresting the immediate impulse to make the holy sign of the vintage axe, to ward off the evil of digitalia!
I’d love to use analog pedals. I’d love to have a custom pedalboard with some goodies from Electro Harmonix, Boss, Morley, Chandler… that would be something. I would, of course, love to plug this into a nice early 60s Marshall Plexi; or maybe a Dumble or even a Fender Deluxe Reverb, using some fancy Monster/George L/Planet Waves cabling. Even better, I’d love to split my signal and run into two different amps/rigs, so I could have all my dirty/clean sounds coming from the amp that does that sound best. And I’d love to carry all this around to every gig – I’ll have to, because once I’ve got all my tones set up just right, it would be shame to take that juicy pedalboard and plug it into a.. a… Marshall 100 DFX combo! Or a Peavey 212! Or some very battered Roland Jazz Chorus… Plus, I’ll have to win a lottery as well, because all that stuff up there would set me back around, say, $5000 – $6000. Nice!
What I do now typically, is lug 2 guitars; a POD X3 Live, a Digitech Vocalist Live 4; some Monster/Planet Waves cables and Hercules stands. Excluding guitars, that combo cost something like $900. The X3 allows me to go direct to the board without DIs (it has balanced line-level XLR outs); it also provides two ‘Live’ outs that plug into stage amps – and these can be sent to the amps without speaker/mic emulation, if necessary. I use the Digitech Vocalist through the Effects Loop on the X3. An extra Roland EV-5 Expression pedal serves as a Volume Pedal. And with enough hours spent slaving over the X3 and it’s huge array of amp models and effects, I’ve sometimes managed to convince the tone mavens in the audience that I’m using an all-analog setup.
Sure, there is something missing with processors like the POD. You miss the.. the immediacy of just plugging into a great amp. You somehow sound a little too ‘mastered’, without that lovely rawness and grain you get from an analog setup. But given the gigging/touring circuit here, I just find that I’m usually happier with my on-stage tone with something like the POD. And I can be reasonably sure that even without our favourite engineer on the FOH, the guitar sound that’s going out is pretty close to where I’d want it.
Someday soon, though, I hope to win that lottery…