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Adventures in Guitar with Ronny North: My Adventures with Guitar Pedals PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 17 May 2007 18:01
ImageBy Ronny North
I thought I'd talk about guitar pedals in this column. I'm a major fan of any kind of cool pedal that gets a unique sound. That being said I'm always on the look out for guitar pedals whenever I'm out doing clinics at guitar shows or better yet at swap meets and pawnshops when we're on the road.

Since I'm always recording my own stuff in my studio or doing sessions for others I like to have as many options as possible when I'm tracking. Whenever I do a session I bring a ton of pedals with me and more often than not there's always a time when the producer wants something to sound way out there in some way. I've always been able to make it happen with either one or two of my pedals hooked up.  guitar_jam_daily_ibanez_smash_box_distortion_pedal__.jpgOn that note, it's always the vintage pedals that get the sounds. I thought I'd talk about a few of my crazy vintage pedals that I have that I have purchased over the years.

The first pedal that I'd like to talk about is the Ibanez Smash Box. I purchased this pedal at the Chicago Guitar Show last winter where I was doing a clinic. I'm told that there weren't many of these pedals made. I managed to get this one for $20.00 from one of the dealers at the show. When I purchased the pedal I was right in the middle of tracking guitars for my DISCONNECTED CD (I took a break from recording to do the guitar show) When I was tracking "Wreckage 101" I couldn't get the main melody guitars to sound angry enough. I tried all kinds of my pedals to make it sound crazy and all my distortion boxes sounded to tame - not necessarily a bad thing in most cases. I read somewhere that the Smash Box sounded over the top and horrible. I needed something that would make the melody guitars sound very angry but yet unique and musical.

When I asked the guy at the booth about the box he said it sounded like shit. You have to realize at these shows everybody wants a Tube Screamer or something similar to get that great classic overdrive thing going. Well, as soon as I heard what the guy said about the box I said, "SOLD!" I bought it on the spot. He actually wanted more but I talked him down. Everyone was looking at me like I was crazy when I bought it.

Well, sure enough when I got it home it worked perfect for the track. It has a crazy over the top sound that is probably not usable for most stuff but is very musical. The EQ is also way over the top and the box sounds like it's going to explode. Needless to say it was perfect for what I needed and I got a sound for the song in less than 10 minutes. You can hear the Smash Box in action on the song "Wreckage 101" off my new DISCONNECTED CD. I used the box for the main melody guitars on the track.

The next Pedal I'd like to talk about is the BLVD Phaser. I really don't know much about this company but the pedal is made reallyblvd_phaser_guitar_jam_daily_.jpg cheaply. The casing is really cheap plastic and it definitely wouldn't survive much stage use in a pedal board since you could easily crush it when you're excited playing a live set. I found mine in a local paper here in town and I bought it from a private party for $15.00.

I'm a huge fan of phase shifters so when I saw this one in the paper I called on it immediately. As soon as I got the guy's house he kindly let me try it out. I was blown away by how it sounded. So much so that I had to contain my excitement so I could try to get a better deal - which I did. The pedal does this great phasing thing that sounds almost live a Univibe unit. You can do Robin Trower no problem. It also can get that great Zeppelin phasing sound like on "Nobody's Fault but Mine." It's definitely not what you would call subtle and it won't do the EVH Phase 90 thing but what it does do is very's also pretty noisy but who cares. I've since bought a second one for $5.00 at a recent guitar show where I was playing.

guitar_jam_daily_electro_harmonix_originalbig_muff_pi__fuzz__.jpg The next pedal I'm going to talk about is the original Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi' Fuzz. I got mine when I was 15. I suspect it was made in the early 70's. I got it from a friend for $5.00. This thing is crazy. Way over the top and will do the Hendrix thing totally. When it's turned up on a big amp you really have to work to keep it from getting away from you. It's noisy and it howls but it's very cool. Definitely not for the weak hearted.

The last pedal I'd like to talk about is the original Electro-Harmonix Small Stone Phase Shifter. I purchased mine at the San Diego Guitar Show a couple years ago where I was playing for one of my endorsers (big surprise!!) Every time I play at these events as soon as I can take a break from my demos I scout the show to see if I can find anything. Well, I wasn't even looking 5 minutes when I stumbled on this pedal. As soon as I saw it I asked the guy about it. He said that he really didn't know much about it but he said that something was wrong with it.

Sure enough I had him plug it in so I could try it and it really wasn't working correctly and was cutting in and out. So I asked him how much, and he said he wanted $50.00 for it. When I showed him that it really was having issues I told him I'd give him $20.00 for it. He said that his boss was at lunch and he had to see if that was cool. After a little convincing I talked him into it and quickly bought it.

As soon as I got it back to the booth where I was playing, I grabbed a new battery out of my gig bag put it in the pedal and it workedguitar_jam_daily_original_electro_harmonix_small_stone_pahse_shifter__.jpg great! All was fine except for a little noise in one of the jacks and just one shot of contact cleaner fixed that! it was cool. It gets that great classis 70's Phasing sound. I've used it on all kinds of stuff in the studio. The old EH Pedals definitely have their own sound and are very musical.

My whole thing I like to get the crazy pedals without spending a ton of money on them. If you do a little shopping you really can find some great deals. You also should know a little about pedals just so you don't get ripped off. Do your homework. In today's world you can look up anything on the internet.

I will be doing some more columns in the future on more of my pedals if this one goes over well. On that note, we will be putting a whole page of my pedals on my website soon so check it out sometime.

The bottom line is that it's a blast to search out new pedals all the time and to get great deals. You have to realize that every time you find one it's a new sound on you have in your pallet and with new sounds come new inspiration. Isn't that what it's all about?????

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it plays his own signature brand of instrumental guitar rock and is fast becoming a So Cal guitar hero. He has appeared in several national and international music publications, including this one each week.

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