Guitar pedal demos on Youtube are weirdly addictive (especially if they’re done by Pro Guitar Shop or gearmanndude). If you play, or you’re a gear head of some other sort, hours can slide down the drain without you hardly noticing until they’re gone.
However, I’ve learned a lot. What got me started was searching for an overdrive/boost to generally duplicate what I used Drew’s Fulltone Java Boost for on the Mars Lights LP we’re working on, and at our last couple shows when I’ve been playing through his rig. I ended up with the Fulltone GT500 (video below) and am happy with it so far.
One of my requirements was that the boost come before the overdrive in the signal chain; I use boost for some extra saturation on big riffs/choruses, not so much for volume (like you might for solos). On the 500, the order of the boost/OD circuits is switchable, which is perfect. Most importantly, I like the tone; dynamic and transparent, bringing the best out of my guitar and amp.
So far, I only like a pretty narrow range of settings, but I hope that with more experience, I’ll figure out how to get more variety out of the pedal.
Of course, in my digital travels, I’ve also developed a wishlist. I’ll save analog echo for another time (the short version is: Malekko Ekko 616v2, or DMB Lunar Echo?) and focus on dirt. With my main distortion sound set, I started looking for a totally different sound to use for doubling riffs in the studio and overdubs. The goal was to spend about $100 on a compressed, colorful drive, and after a lot of work, I arrived at the ZVex Distortron.
Then, Drew mentioned fuzz. Drew loves the fuzz, and I love the sound, too, but haven’t used much myself. He’d mentioned the Death By Audio Fuzz War, which is great but doesn’t do anything like the compressed drive I want first. I circled back to the DBA page, though, and found the Apocalypse.
Low drive settings on the middle (3rd) fuzz circuit seem to produce a fairly straightforward drive, plus it’s full of crazy and exciting sounds. I love how DBA pedals feed back, and how useable the whole sweep of the drive and tone controls are. So, that’s the dream-come-true option.
The bottom line; if you play an amplified instrument, get a boost pedal, at minimum. Clean, dirty, whatever; boost roolz.