Dotted Eighth Delay Studies

Setting up the U2/Hillsong delay in a variety of situations.

The Sessionists

Esther Subra (vocals), Serena Chew (keys), Justin (guitars), Alphonsus (drums and percussion)

Thoughts on G.A.S.

Why you should save up for an expensive guitar.

Setting Up Disaster Area DPC-8EZ and DMC-8D MIDI Controllers

An easy-to-follow video tutorial to get those patches programmed!

An Overview of My YouTube Channel

Feel free to browse some of the playlists on my channel. Hopefully this leads to you liking and subscribing!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Budget/Expensive Volume Pedals

For the longest time, I was using a small plastic Boss FV-50H as my mainstay volume pedal. It was a no-frills volume pedal, with an even taper and the ability to choose a minimum volume (from 0 to 10, although why would anyone choose a minimum volume of 10 is beyond me, unless the pedal contributes to a desirable change in tone). It served its purpose very well, but I have had issues with it when used for extensive periods of time--every now and then, there would be a scratchy sound emanating from the pedal, which was indicative of a scratchy pot. It was also, well, plastic. There were shows where I'd land my foot pretty hard on the volume pedal because I was busy working the stage, and I forgot that I had to lower my volume for a quiet bridge.

Enter the Ernie Ball Volume Pedal Junior. This guy is built like a tank! You can see this volume pedal on most pedalboards on Instagram, and I think it's a very good investment. I would hear stories of fellow FV-50H users having their pedals break mid-gig, but such stories weren't circulating from EBVPJ users. But alas, like all Singaporeans, I couldn't justify spending so much on a volume pedal. I spent a long time prowling the forums waiting for someone to post a good deal.

The good deal came! In the words of Nigel Hendroff, "I can't tell you how much I got it for, 'cause you will hate me."

I felt the immediate difference when using this volume pedal. The pedal had a weightiness to it that helped make volume swells smoother and more even than with the FV-50H. I tested it out and pounced on it while on the pedalboard: it held up well. My only qualm with this is that it's significantly larger than the FV-50H. Was cutting back on one or two pedals for the sake of having a better volume pedal worth it? After experiencing the two, I'd say yes.

I think there are three primary uses for a volume pedal, which can help you determine your need for one:

1. Volume swells

It appears the trend for worship musicians is to deploy electric guitarists for "keyboard" sounds--most significantly, performing the volume swell to simulate a pad. This is achieved with the following setup:

Amp <-- Heavy Reverb <-- Heavy Delay <-- Volume <-- Light overdrive and comp

Notice the delay and reverb come after the volume pedal. This ensures that everything coming out of the volume pedal is effected by the delay and reverb pedals. By cranking the effect and feedback levels of the delay and reverb, you'll get very long trails of notes that bleed into one another, creating the "wash" of sound that will resemble a keyboard pad.

2. Changing the level of distortion by changing level of input signal

Some guitars don't come equipped with very good volume knob audio tapers, so to achieve a variation between a rhythm crunch tone and a lead tone, one way is to put a volume pedal in front of the distortion pedal, or in front of a distorted amp. This setup is as follows:

Amp <-- Other effects <-- Distortion <-- Volume

Or in the case of a distorted amp,

Amp input <-- Volume <-- Guitar

3. Master volume

For me, this is my personal favorite use of the volume pedal. The EBVPJR may have a bad reputation of having tone suck at lower volume levels, but I think it's inconsequential. I like to set my overdrives at a certain gain structure, and I don't want the amp to color the overdrive with its own distortion character. This may happen if I'm hitting the front of a low-wattage amp, so I'll roll back the volume pedal until the amp doesn't clip. The setup is as follows:

Amp <--(Other effects) <-- Volume <-- Overdrive

What is your favorite use of a volume pedal? Do you think the material of a volume pedal matters? Do you think the size of the volume pedal matters?

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