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Splendid.
Karl.

No blue led’s. No hand-painted finishes. No Swedish monks slaving away on magic circuit board spindles. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. On the contrary, there’s probably everything right with that. ;) But not all of us have that kind of money. I know I don’t. Oh, I like to pretend that I do, but in reality…I buy a Matchless, I don’t eat for a month. So I decided to start a little series on sounding good without money. Now, that doesn’t mean cheap gear. It does mean worse-looking gear, which to some of us might sound worse to our eyes, but it still needs to be quality. The point is that with a little bit of research so that you know what you’re looking for, you can get quality gear at quite low prices. Rarely can you get amazing gear at quite low prices, even though I know we all dream of the day we find something like this:

Stuff like that is once or twice in a lifetime. But you can get ‘decent’ gear for low prices. Such is the case with Keith Brawley guitars. He designed guitars a few years ago, and they are now no longer made. He moved on to designing Laguna guitars. But the Brawley ones from ten or so years ago, are of much better quality. Good wood, surprisingly warm and high output pickups wound specifically for Brawley, locking tuners, one-piece necks, two-point Wilkinson tremolo’s, and the coolest feature, recessed strap-locks. I first ran across Brawley five or six years ago searching for my first ’boutique’ guitar. And there it was, in the used section of Guitar Center (ya, I know…I was searching for boutique in Guitar Center…I was very young). Under $400 with a case. Better wood and pickups than stuff three times its price. Unfortunately, it was also snakeskin:


(Absolute yikes. I’m pretty sure I’ve shown this picture before, but it never gets old. Not only am I rocking…on Nigel Tufnel’s guitar…but I am also rocking the crazy uncle in the basement hair, the fu manchu, and the cross necklace. But I’m trying to play U2 licks. It was an interesting time…that, sadly…was not that long ago. 5 years is a long time, right? Right?! Oh, and the no grill cloth on the amp look. I can’t remember if that was to show off the fact that I had ‘modded’ the cab by changing the speakers, or because the grill cloth sucked tone. Probably both.)

And eventually, I sold it to move on to guitars that were a little better. Remember, this isn’t about being completely unreal and saying that John Mayer’s tone can be had with a Cort and a Pig Nose. There are better guitars than a Brawley, and you will have to pay for them. This is about getting really good and decent gear for lower prices than most of the $1,000+ junk out there right now. You just have to know what you’re looking for. And Brawley is a good one to look for. I’ve run across a few over the years, and they always have tremendous build quality.

Anyway, a couple weeks ago, I had an incredibly packed weekend playing at a few different places. And for whatever reason, I started to get nervous about not having a backup electric. I don’t know; I get weird sometimes. Ate some cheese or something. Or maybe I had just watched ‘Live at Slane Castle’ and had seen Edge’s 41 guitars, and thought, ‘Okay, I at least have to have 2!’ But I specifically sold my other electric and haven’t gone into the market again because my main one has a coil tap and does so much so well, that when I have other electrics, I just never play them. Plus, as afore-mentioned, if I would like to eat, I can’t buy gear. But I started to get nervous. So I went into Guitar Center hoping to pick up like, a Squire for $75. And then I saw a Brawley. Way up on the wall. And I just had to try one out again. Call it nostalgia. Plus I had a backup guitar for the weekend. Which I of course didn’t use. But it did give me the chance to start a series here about spending less money, which is ya..kind of odd for me. So that’s pretty cool.

The Guitar

–Keith Brawley fat strat

–Custom alnico pickups (that’s just what it says on them)…H/S/S

–Locking tuners

–Maple neck one-piece

–Alder body (not one-piece but cleverly constructed to look as if it is)

–Rosewood fretboard

–Made in Korea, which is where a lot of good stuff is coming from lately. Not China, and not America (if they came off of machines). Korea and Japan, though, seem to have some good stuff. Or maybe someone told me that and I liked it, so I decided it was true. But from what I’ve seen, that’s a huge way to get a good guitar for cheap. Look and see if it says Japan or Korea on the back of them.

Work Done on the Guitar

When I got it, it looked like someone had thrown 11’s on a guitar set for 9’s. The neck was pretty warped, and action was like a tire run for your fingers. So I put 10’s on it, and set the whole intonation/truss rod/action deal. For those of you wondering, I learned how to do all that off the internet. Just some time, practice, and then you can save yourself a ton of money by being able to buy slightly beat-up guitars and then fixing them yourself.

And the Demo:

The Good

Surprisingly warm and outfront sound. Not incredibly weighty or with a lot of presence, but very good. Tone was very balanced. Pots are nice and smooth. Sounds good at every pickup position. Plays very nicely…just like a strat should. Locking tuners amke for an easy re-string. Keeps its tune nicely, due in part to the two-point Wilkinson trem.

The Bad

As I mentioned, not as much depth as I’ve heard in some of the handmade strats. But still a great sound, especially for around $400. Oh, and even though the wood finish looks cool, there’s just something about the design of Brawley’s that screams ‘Don’t trod upon the dwarves.’

The Conclusion

You know what? I might just keep this guitar. I really liked it. I mean, when the opportunity arises to get another Melancon, maybe an alder one this time, I’ll probably jump on it, but this is a great little guitar for the money. So, if you’re looking for a decent guitar that’ll sound very good for a very low price, and better than most of the stuff you’ll find in a store, maybe check out Brawley’s. And maybe I can find a way to solder in some blue led’s to the fretboard.

Splendid.
Karl.

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Splendid.
Karl.

Boutique is beautiful.

Right there. That’s the reason we buy gear. Sure, we do a fairly decent job of making up some crazy ideas of ‘tone’, and that you need to ‘sound good’ while playing music; but in the end, we buy gear because finish jobs like this one make us feel special.

;) Of course, if you’re still gonna get hung up on the whole ‘tone’ thing, this pedal is one of the best EQ’s that I’ve tried. (‘EQ’ is fun to type. No seriously. Try it.) It’s not a boost, just an EQ. Leaves your tone completely alone until you engage the knobs. There’s bass and treble, and then a mids control, with a separate control over the frequency that the mids control adjusts. Very cool. And then a switch to turn the frequency control on or off. And lastly, there is a switch to engage true bypass, or engage a buffer. And the buffer is very natural sounding, as is the overall pedal. For just a simple EQ, with the bonus of having a great buffer should you so desire, this pedal may just be a great find.

And the demo:

No, that’s not a mistake. With a pedal this gorgeous, a picture is all the demo you need.

But in all seriousness, with the compression on youtube, a video demo wouldn’t do this natural and subtle-sounding pedal enough justice. Plus, I couldn’t figure out how to make an EQ pedal unboring, without making it look like a joke along the lines of my FS5L demo. However…the more I look at that picture, the more I think that this might be the greatest demo I have ever done. :)

And for those of you who have read a bit of this blog, you may have gathered that I am not a buffer or EQ guy. And this would be correct. I saw this pedal, and bought it immediately. Only after I got it home and opened it did I remember, ‘Oh ya! I don’t use EQ pedals!’ Such is the sickness.

Splendid.
Karl.

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This post and its comments have been moved to the way more awesome guitarforworship.com website. Click here to read this post.

Splendid.
Karl.

I told you they were coming. You can just feel the presence. Gear…that was not made in Iceland. Nor by a guitar-carving, rare Icelandic tree-chopping hermit. And no magic pixie dust. Doesn’t even look cool. Just having it in your close proximity makes you feel like you don’t know a thing about guitar; that you just walked into Guitar Center one day, and bought something to try to look cool. (Of course, the irony is that most of us don’t play Boss pedals because we think boutique pedals look cooler. Curse stupid logic!) But maybe in the end, that’s exactly why we like gear. Whether our thing is Boss or boutique, we just like what certain pedals seem to say about our talent and level of commitment to the guitar. To the Boss players, it says, ‘Look at me. I can sound good with anything.’ And to the boutique players, it says, ‘Look at me. I sound so good that I need gear that will match me in quality.’ Wow. I was trying to start off with something at least mildly humourous, and I waxed serious right off the bat. Eh, at least I spelled ‘humourous’ like I want to be British, which I of course do. That’s gotta be worth something.

Which is why I bought the PS3. I’ve played both the PS3, and the current version PS5. The PS3 went out of production in 1999. And somehow, I was able to convince myself that that meant vintage. Yep. And it most definitely doesn’t. The PS5 sounds better. Well, if you want just straight pitch-shifting. It sounds like all the digital effects from Boss’s ‘3’ series used the same digital processing. Because both this pedal and the RV3 seem to fail a bit at what they’re supposed to do…but sound very cool to add weird digital artifacts buried in your sound somewhere. Interesting. Anyway, here’s the demo of it:

The Good

–The detune effects. Very clear, and sounded decidedly much more modulation-like than most of the detune effects I’ve played. It had that older digital sound that it able to be crisp but lo-fi at the same time. I really liked that. Actually the overall sound of this unit was very good.

–The delays were nice. I mean, highly untweakable, but they sounded better than I thought they would.

–The dual settings were a cool option.

–Surprisingly, the buffer was not bad. The difference was so subtle that I didn’t film it, but sounded good enough to mention.

–Thank goodness it had a mix knob. I see a lot of effects these days without those, and it just doesn’t make sense to me not to have one.

–It’s a Boss pedal. It’ll survive the apocalypse, zombie or no. Boss has always had a great track record of being these little mini tanks.

The Bad

–The actual pitch-shifting was not very good, in my humble opinion. Glitchy, and for the two octave up stuff, which is why I was after this pedal in the first place, you can hear the processing working. Stuttery-sounding. However, I think this pedal’s, like the RV3’s, shortcomings are part of the reason it’s sought after. I can see those sounds being very cool if used in certain parts of songs sparingly, and for a lo-fi, glitchy effect.

–Even though the overall sound of the unit was very good, it excelled most at some short ambient modulation sounds…for which analog pedals tend to sound better. If this pedal had been able to take those good sounds and transfer them into more useable options like the actual pitch-shifting, it would have been much better. I have high hopes for the PS-5…which thus far I’ve only played through whatever amp Guitar Center has bolted to the ground below the little Boss Kiosk thing, and running through then like, 40 buffers. Nothing like tone at Guitar Center.

The Me

–Obviously, I have no idea what to do with a whammy. ;) Ah, it keeps ya humble.

The Verdict

–Nope. Maybe as a glitchy novelty effect every once in a while, but there is cheaper gear that does what the PS3 does well, much better. In my humble opinion. And hopefully this is not just a knee-jerk reaction to having a Boss pedal in the house.

And apologies for the short review. (Ya, stop cheering, some of you.) Gonna try to make it to NAMM tomorrow, and I need some hours tonight to prepare mentally. (That means, think about U2, for those of you who were wondering. And I’m guessing most of you already knew that.)

Splendid.
Karl.

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Splendid.
Karl.

It was a day just like any other day (meaning, I was surfing Gear Page), and I was joining in with the usual banter of ‘Which univibe is the best?’ ‘Well the one I play, of course.’ ‘Have you played any other univibes?’ ‘Why would I need to? Mine’s the best.’ After about an hour, having solved all the world’s tone problems, I moved up to the search bar and typed in the search. I named it ‘the search’, because that is exactly what it was. The search, my search, my life. Actually, if I’m describing it as ‘my life’, I suppose I could have taken a few electrical engineering classes and tried to invent it myself. But that goes against everything I stand for. Which is, as afore-mentioned, solving the world’s tone problems one internet message board argument at a time. Little time to play even with the pedals I have, let alone invent and build new ones. So I typed it in. The words of absolute joy. ‘Analog delay with tap tempo.’ I had typed those words in to that search on that message board many times before. And had always been left stupendously disappointed. But on this day…oh fanctious (heard that word once…not sure if it’s real) day…the search yielded results. Brilliant results. In the form of ‘Diamond Pedals Memory Lane.’

The world would never be the same. And right then my roommate knocked on my door. ‘Did you hear about the new analog delay with tap tempo?!’ And I just smiled and showed him my computer screen. ‘Already on the waiting list,’ I remember replying, and not without a very smug satisfaction, I might add, at the fact that I had discovered it before him. Ya, minutes before, I know. Pretty shallow of me. But you try living with a guy who’s touring with countless worship leaders around the country, including The Kry, while you’re still pretending to know what a dotted 8th is and wondering why you just got sent ECC83 tubes when you specifically ordered 12AX7’s. You take what you can get.

And from that moment on, I have had a very passionate and ravenous love affair with the Diamond Memory Lane. (Ya, if you happen to re-read this post, just go ahead and skip over that last sentence.) It came out in 2005, and is still currently the only analog delay on the market to offer tap tempo. (Others are just starting to come out with them.) And that would have been enough for me. But on top of that, it sounds just gorgeous. It’s an overused word, but ‘organic’ actually does this pedal justice. It really does respond to your playing, and almost seems to bloom and wither with your dynamics. And the best modulation I have ever heard.

The craziest thing about this pedal is it’s response. For me, it has had the biggest learning curve of any pedal I have ever played. It reacts to everything you do, and many times almost plays you, rather than the other way around. It’s almost a grab-bag for what you’re going to get out of it when you feed certain things into it. And I love that. I’m still discovering things about it years later.

So here’s the demo. And…a couple apologies. One, for demo’ing a pedal no longer available. You can find them used all over, but not new. Diamond has since moved on to issue the version 2, which offers a second preset, a dotted 8th option, and is supposed to have a tamer reactivity. Which is the reason I do not play it. I love the unpredictable nature of this version 1. I have owned another version 1 with the dotted 8th mod. It was great too, but the I find the Memory Lane to be a bit too warm to make consistent usefulness to me of the dotted 8th; I find that to be more useable on digital delays. But this version can be modded for it, if you like…and the second version has it stock. But I chose to demo this pedal even though it is unavailable, because I have run across some recent discussions of why you would ever need an analog delay, or an analog delay with tap tempo, considering the current array of digital options. So hopefully I can show a couple reasons why. Plus, I kind of ban myself from buying things around Christmas, because I will inevitably buy something someone else will wrap up and give to me. (Am I really that predictable?…Delay, U2…ya, I guess so.) So I had to do a pedal I already own and currently have on my board. And not doing a demo was out of the question because it’s been a long time since I’ve posted one here, and I’m not sure how much longer I can rely on my charming personality to keep this site going. (Please be noting the sarcasm there.)

The second apology is that the playing is lamentably not so good. I only got to do one take at this with no editing because I promised my wife that I’d clean the house today. (How’s that for rockstar?) So, if you dig the video, then feel better about yourself that I suck too. And if you don’t dig the video, feel better about yourself as you post the nasty youtube comments, because now you have more fodder for them. ;)

So here ya go:

The Good

I absolutely love this pedal. I have two Damage Control Timeline’s on my board. They are the completely best digital delay pedals I have ever heard. But yet nothing really gets that analog modulation sound like an analog delay. (Novel, huh?) Does it do everything a digital delay can do? Can it cop those sounds? Nope. That’s the reason you have a digital one on your board, as well. But I’ve yet to hear anything capture that lush, real sound that feels like it has actual layers, like the Memory Lane can. What makes it genius, is that it has tap tempo. Its delay time only goes up to 550 milliseconds, but that’s enough to make sure even the washy sounds can always be in tempo with the song if that’s what you’re after. And it allows you to throw on this beautiful sound in the background or foreground of what you’re playing, so much more often than if it didn’t have tap tempo. At any time, you can kick on this delay. Which is something I desperately wanted in an analog delay before this thing came out.

You also get a ton of options with the killer eq section for decay, and the big modulation sounds. Oh, and the modulation. Like a blooming flower. Not very hetero, but neither is this: it’s also very pretty, and I always feel the urge to press it to my cheek. I mean, rad paint job. The expression pedal option adds a lot, too.

The Bad

There is a steep learning curve; not so much on the knobs, but on actually playing live with the pedal. It will give you some crazy oscillation at odd times, and seem to sound and react differently when you play what you thought was the same thing into it. But that’s also what I love about this pedal; it’s pushed me and inspired me musically.

It, as does the version 2, runs on 24 volts and needs a separate adapter. They do sell adapters to power it using the PP2+, but it will need to take up two of the outlets. Not a huge deal, but worth mentioning.

Oh ya. And you can only find them used. ;)

So there you have it. Diamond Memory Lane. The world’s first analog delay with tap tempo. (As far as we know. There’s probably been some electrician guitar genius living in Norway who’s had a homemade one on his board for decades.) And after four years, I still cannot imagine being without this pedal. And apologies once again for the sucky playing, and then actually posting the video rather than re-doing it. I guess basically if most guitar/worship blogs are going, ‘Please think I’m awesome! Please think I’m awesome!’, I’m just trying to be the antithesis of that. And then probably going, ‘Please think I’m awesome because of the fact that I’m not saying ‘Please think I’m awesome!’ Please think I’m awesome because of the fact that I’m not saying ‘Please think I’m awesome!” ;) hehehe Humanity dies hard. And then, of course, you gotta give more honor to the Christmas season. ‘Ho ho ho. Now I have a machine gun.’

Splendid.
Karl.

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I’ve been wanting to do this shootout for so long. Now understand, I started doing these demos because my head was about to explode. Let me explain. The internet was a wonderful concept. I mean, information that we could get directly from each other? We didn’t have to rely on people with money? It’s fantastic. However, what they (everyone in power you just refer to as ‘they’) forgot to consider was that it appears the culture has been exposed to television for so long, that now if information comes off of a glowing screen, it is considered fact. So, I could write ‘Starbucks uses little slave children underground in all their suburban stores to manually grind the coffee beans’, and now that will turn up in search engines. And google will show a little snippet of that statement, and people will be too lazy to actually click on the site link, and then find out what I’m talking about, and hence…a new ‘fact’ is born: Starbucks harbors little slave children to make their coffee taste good.

Three Amigos 1
(Right before one of the many shootouts in Three Amigos. You simply cannot tell me that you don’t like this movie…just a little bit. ‘We ride, we fight, we love.’ Classic.)

And that’s when your head explodes. When you can no longer distinguish fact from ‘some guy wants hits on his website.’ Like me. Now anyone who thinks Starbucks is the reinstated Roman Empire will go to back up their opinion with the internet, search ‘Starbucks is bad’, find my site, and I’ll get tons of hits and a ravenous following. However, I used ‘Starbucks’ as my example, so as not to get hits, and to not become the very essence of what I’m talking about. Because no one in America will ever search ‘Starbucks is bad.’ It’d be considered heresy, and I honestly think you can be burned at the stake for distrusting Starbucks. See? I just proved they are the Roman Empire. How? The internet.’

And (sweet mercy, where am I going with this?) it’s the exact same with guitar pedals. You don’t want to have to spend money on an expensive Tim pedal to get great tone? Search the internet. You’ll find sources to back you up. You don’t want to own a Fulldrive because everyone and their guitar-playing second cousin has one? Search the internet. You’ll find sources telling you it’s a terrible pedal. But I warn you…do not search any deeper. Head explosion. As soon as you ask, ‘So how long did you have the Tim pedal for, to find out it wasn’t very good?’ You’ll get these answers: ‘Oh. Own one? Well, I’ve never actually owned one.’ Or, ‘Oh. I’ve never played one, if that’s what you mean.’ Or, ‘Ya, I’m just not a big fan of Paul Cochrane stuff.’ And how about my favorite, ‘I’ve been playing guitar for x amount of years. I don’t need to hear the pedals. They all sound the same.’ And suddenly you realize that in order to keep your head in the place on your body where you prefer it to be (i.e. not in tiny pieces scattered around your pedalboard…might help the tone, though…something to think about), you’re going to actually have to try the pedals out for yourself.

Which is why I do these shootouts. I’m trying to give an at least objective view on some of the incredible opinions out there. So then someone can ask, ‘Which is better? The Fulldrive or the Tim?’ And then I can not only give my answer, but say, ‘Here. Here’s a video. This is where my conclusions came from. Now listen to it. And draw your own conclusions.’ It’s a little thing I like to call ‘science.’ ‘Science’, as it refers to guitar gear, is a big word for, ‘Believing something because you heard it from your amp, rather than hearing it from the guy who wants to sell you the Fulldrive.’ Or the guy who bought it, hates it, but it didn’t sell, and now has to justify having it on his board, even though it’s not cool anymore because it no longer has a waiting list, and you can buy it at Guitar Center.

Three Amigos 2
(My favorite scene from Three Amigos: ‘It’s a sweater!’ Okay, I’ll stop now.)

Now are my videos the definitive answer? Absolutely not! Maybe if I didn’t play the same riff over and over, and could stop talking for a little bit. ;) But no, they are not. They’re a reference to use as a tool to help you decide which pedal might help make your tone the stuff tears are made out of. But it’s always a good idea to try these things out for yourself.

So anyway, here we go. We’ve got the Fulltone Fulldrive 2, and the Paul Cochrane Tim. Two pedals that are constantly being compared, put down, lifted up, glorified, and trodden upon. I’ve seen literal fights break out over these pedals. (Of course, they were fights over the internet, which means that the climactic ending without fail is always the picking apart of each other’s grammar. Yes. I know.) And so it’s just been a matter of time before I was able to get them both in my hands, and hear things for myself.

And we’ve also got the newcomer, the Damage Control Liquid Blues. I haven’t heard much about how it compares to the other two. But Damage Control makes good pedals, it’s blue, it’s got two switches, I figured it was close enough.

The Players

–Fulltone Fulldrive 2, blue version, non-mosfet, with the three-way toggle switch. (There’s a ton of versions of this pedal.) Running at 12 volts.

–Paul Cochrane Tim. Running at 12 volts.

–Damage Control Liquid Blues.

The Base Tone

Prairiewood Les Paul (Woldetone Dr. V pickups)–>

Matchless HC30 (EF86 channel)–>

65 Amps birch cab (Celestion Blue and G12H30 speakers)

Possible Tonal Biases

–I’ve had the Tim the longest, so it’s more set to my rig. As you can see, I never even have to touch a knob on it. (And also, I’ve demo’d it before, and didn’t want people to get bored by me going through all the knobs again.)

–The Liquid Blues has tubes. Sometimes that sways me. I love tubes.

–The Liquid Blues also has interesting tonal options with its knobs. So it’s quite possible I’ve yet to tap into its full sound yet.

Possible Personal Biases

–Everyone has a Fulldrive. And I want to be cool by not having one.

–It sounds stupid, but the Tim fits really well on my board.

–The Liquid Blues is huge, and runs on 2 Amps of power. So, if it ends up sounding the best, I’d have to get a bigger power conditioner or sell a Timeline. (And I’m not selling a Timeline.) So I kind of didn’t want it to sound the best.

And the Shootout:

And the addendum, with more rhythmic playing, after some comments that I was face-melting too much in the first video. ;) And by the way, ‘face-melting’ for me, is warm-up scales for most other guitarists. hehe

The Results

–Okay, whoa. The Liquid Blues not only sounded way better than I expected, but is also extremely versatile. If Damage Control was able to put their pedals in smaller packages, they’d be all over everyone’s boards. Wow. It can do compressed, searing lead tones, bluesy tones, but also just a warm pushing of your amp into it’s natural overdrive. Only one tone knob; but at least in my rig, it still was able to not change the tone of my amp, quite nicely. No control over the boost switch, though. It didn’t seem to matter, as it boosted the first channel audibly, but not over-the-top, but I could see that perhaps being a problem in some rigs. But just an incredible sound that really, really surprised me.

–And of course, the Tim never disappoints. It’s hard for me with the Tim, because it always sounds so good that sometimes I’m not excited by it anymore. It’s like, ‘Oh ya, the Tim sounds good no matter what. Whatever.’ But hearing it against the other pedals, it sounds good no matter what you throw at it in terms of your rig. Pushes your amp. Can’t say enough good about this pedal.

–And the Fulldrive. I was disappointed at first, because it did not bring out the natural overdrive in my amp like the other two did. However, once I found and started using its strong points, which seemed to be just by being a distortion on its own, it sounded very good. A little boxy, and it could have done with a better tone circuit. The one tone knob makes it very selective as to what amp it sounds good with. I would have liked to be able to dial it in to match the amp’s sound a little more. But overall, a very good pedal when used as a distortion sound on its own, and with a really clear and transparent boost section.

The Conclusion

As I like pushing my amp into its own natural overdrive, I’m going with either the Tim or the Liquid Blues. Sorry Fulldrive. And I’m going to be honest here. As much as I rave about the Tim, that Liquid Blues might actually be a touch warmer. But my rig already runs at about 11.5 Amps, and my power conditioner only handles 12. So the 2 Amps from the Liquid Blues would push me over the edge. So, we’ll have to see if I can come up with the money to get a Furman IT20. (And that’s probably a ‘no.’) But it did sound incredible. As did the Tim. It’s a tough choice. But as for the Tim versus the Fulldrive? In my hopefully extremely humble opinion, it’s the Tim, by a definite margin.

So there ya go. It’s on the internet. It must be true.

;)

Splendid.
Karl.

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Splendid.
Karl.

Boutique overdrives, man. It gets really, really hard to keep up! A few years back, if you had a Tim or a Zendrive, guitarists would come from miles around just to get a glimpse of them. And you couldn’t even touch them if your hands weren’t deemed toneful enough, because everyone knows that human touch from un-toneful hands kills the tone fairies locked up in the boutique pedal boxes. That’s why they’re painted so pretty…to coax the fairies into them. And then wham! We trap them inside the Malaysian Texas Instruments RC4558 chips with the state of Texas outline on them. I remember when some guitarists I knew first ordered like, the first Tim pedals ever. And they talked about it in hushed tones, and even seemed like they were making me go through an audition before they gave me the Paul Cochrane’s number. (Which by the way, I must have failed, because they never gave me the number. I’m not sure how I could have failed, though. I mean, they weren’t impressed by the 9 analog delays I had all running into each other at the same time? And by my knowledge, that I shared quite openly, that ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’ could not be played properly without said 9 analog delays? Ya, I probably wouldn’t have given me the number, either.) But now it’s like, ‘Oh, the Zendrive? Ya, I’ve had a few of those. They sound great, but……don’t the Toneczar pedals cost more?’ The quality of the pedal hasn’t changed, and neither has the price……it’s just that new overdrives have come out that are now even more expensive, and even harder to get. And of course, if there’s one thing we know about boutique pedals, it’s that scarcity equals price, and price equals tone.

So this Landgraff Dynamic Overdrive  is going to sound spectacular. It’s expensive, hard to come by, and is one of the current ‘automatic tone’ pedals. You know, the ones that give an immediate pass to how your tone actually sounds? You’ve got a Landgraff? Your tone must be amazing! These are the types of pedals I rely on. I hear tone by what the internet tells me.

Vince Vaughn
(Sorry, it’s getting harder and harder to find good shootout pictures. I’ve already used Heat, Tombstone, and Hot Fuzz in previous shootout posts. So I figured I’d use Vince Vaughn in Mr. And Mrs. Smith, as the CIA assassin who lives in his mom’s basement. This is one of those movies that I would never be able to look anyone dead in the eye and say, ‘It’s a great movie.’ But yikes, do I enjoy it! Like Tremors.)

But in all seriousness, this Landgraff DO gets incredible reviews, and has some great clips out there. I’ve been wanting to try one for a long time. These are handmade by John Landgraff, who started out by building some great original TS-808 clones. And as far as I know, he only sells his stuff directly through Blue Angel Music. The Landgraff Dynamic Overdrive (Landgraff DO or LDO……for some reason, the cool factor on boutique pedals rises exponentially per initial added) is actually quite amazing with the different tones it is capable of. The gain knob is a gain stage knob, which for whatever reason, I tend to like. And then there is volume and tone. But is also has a switch that takes it into this crazy versatility territory. The middle position is just its normal overdrive voicing. But the top position shifts the mids up, and you can really get aggressive Marshall tones. And then the bottom position. Wow. Totally a fuzz pedal. Very, very cool.

Oh ya…and it’s painted like, awesome, so that raises the tone like, 50% right there. When your ears are taken away from you because the internet doesn’t have much info on a pedal, you can always rely on your eyes. John Landgraff is also a Christian, and each pedal comes with a tract. Which is cool. Well, except that they’re the cash-looking tracts. So you open the pedal up, and you’re like ‘Bonus round! A rebate!’ And then you’re like, ‘Oh.’ hehe But you don’t really think you’re getting a rebate with the pedal. And you gotta admire the guy’s heart for making a great pedal, and then doing his best to use his position to try to share an incredible gift. On a side note, though, ever meet with those Christians who give the cash tracts instead of tips? Like, ‘Oh, I don’t have to actually show God’s love to you by being kind and giving you money. I get to bypass that any real financial sacrifice for your benefit, because I’m giving you something better than money.’ Because Jesus definitely said, ‘Suck it up, I’m giving you something better than your physical needs’ when He was preaching and everyone got hungry. ;) No, He gave them free food. I’ve had some friends who have been servers at one time or another, and they all say they used to hate getting the Christian tables or the church groups after church, because none of them would tip. Way to go us. Spreading God’s love need not have any actions accompanying it, as long as you’ve got tracts, t-shirts, and words. And I’m just as bad, as I assume that typing this in a blog probably makes people assume that I’ve got the love thing under control; hence, I am exempt from actually doing it. ;)

But I think Landgraff putting tracts in is cool. Because he’s not having you pay for a $400 pedal, and then sending you a tract instead. hehe He’s saying, ‘Here’s a killer product, and here’s what I believe. Throw it away if you want.’ So, anyway, on to the shootout. Apologies for my long-windedness. But for those of you who still come to this blog, I’m gonna go out on a limb and assume you’re used to it by now. You either read through it and laugh at my incredibly short attention span (even on things in my own head…which is really odd), or you just skip to the pictures and videos. (Probably the latter.) Oh ya, the shootout!

Landgraff 1
(It is physically impossible for bad sounds to come out of a pedal that looks that good. In the word of Will Ferrell, ‘Beautiful.’ Not sure why it had to be Will Ferrell that said that, but that’s the first thing that popped in my head. And I do have a habit, unfortunately, of typing or saying the first things that pop into my head. Mmmm…Landgraff.)

The Players

–Landgraff Dynamic Overdrive (tone fairies and sweet paint job included)

–Hermida Mosferatu (at 12 volts)

–Paul Cochrane Tim (at 12 volts)

The Clean Tone

Prairiewood Les Paul (Wolfetone Dr. Vintage pickups)–>

Matchless Spitfire–>

65 Amps birch cab (Celestion Blue and Celestion G12H-30)

Possible Tonal Biases

–Not too many. They’re all true bypass, running through short cable lengths into each other, and the pedalboard is not in the signal chain in this video.

–I didn’t call Landgraff to see if the DO can be run higher than 9 volts. I probably should have done that. But it seemed to react very well and have enough headroom at its rated 9 volts.

–I’ve had much more time to set the Tim and Mosferatu to my rig.

Possible Personal Biases

–I got the Landgraff in a trade, and I know I have to sell it. It was supposed to double as cash for me. So…I might not want to like it. Or I might want to like it, so I can post here in my blog about how stupid I am when it comes to pedals, and then people will laugh and I’ll get more blog hits and my self esteem will rise as I check my stats. (Wow, this honesty thing should probably stop if I want to maintain any semblance of coolness.)

–Gotta admit that the Landgraff would look really cool on my board. Everyone will say, ‘What’s that pedal?’ And I’ll say, ‘Landgraff.’ And then they will worship my tone without me even having to turn the amp on.

And the Shootout:

The Results

Well, the Landgraff definitely did not disappoint. It is an amazing-sounding pedal. For what it is, absolutely awesome. Warm, full, glassy…and could do low overdrive Tim sounds as well as high gain Mosferatu sounds. And it has this nice treble shelf that makes it sound very crystalline. Extremely nice. Almost like a fuller and warmer OCD. And the versatility in unmatched. To be able to do low gain, high gain, Marshall, and fuzz? Rad. But it does take over your tone a bit. In a really, really good-sounding way, but I tend to prefer more transparent-sounding pedals…ones that let more of my clean tone through. And it had a mid shift that I couldn’t get to come out of the sound.

So I think I’m sticking with the Tim and Mosferatu. They may not be as cool anymore, but I still haven’t found anything I like better. The Mosferatu is the only drive I’ve found that is able to get high gain without changing your clean tone. And the Tim, well…it just completely cuts through thick, full, and cleanly at any gain setting, with any rig. However, in a different time and different place (meaning, if I had more money), I would absolutely be keeping the Landgraff as my glassy leads pedal. I’ve wanted to do that with an OCD for a long time, but could never get over the thinness in that pedal. But the Landgraff DO takes that glassiness and keeps its fullness. However, I can’t get over my lack of funding for it right now. Maybe someday. Which probably means sometime next week.

Splendid.
Karl.

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Splendid.
Karl.

Alright, since I’m in the middle of moving right now, I’m just going to say:

Goatkeeper trem. Yes.

Absolutely, yes. Digital/analog hybrid deal with analog signal path but digital control of the divisions, beautiful sounds, unparalleled control of the parameters, true bypass, tap tempo, looks like a Memory Lane…

…yes.

Only downside is that it is not a delay. And doesn’t light up like Matchless. Oh, and I’m not sure if Edge uses one. But still…

…yes.

Splendid.
Karl.

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