Assembling a Pedal Board for Effects

by Logon Amon

Tutorial Overview

In this tutorial I will give an example of how to assemble a board of effects pedals for use with guitar, keyboard, or any other instrument with a pickup or ¼” output. I will cover the basics for what is needed, and go over a common ideal placement for different types of effects.

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Effects Pedals Overview

There are many different types of effects which have been put into pedal form for use with guitars and other instruments. They can be used to change the timbre, add space, alter pitch, modulate volume, add echoes, and more. For the purpose of this tutorial, I will break them down into four general categories: drive, pitch shift, modulation, and delay/reverb. Keep in mind that there are many other types of pedals as well, but this selection will give us enough to work with and get a functional board together.

Getting Started

In order to create a complete and fully functional board, there are a few things you will need:

– an actual board of some sort. These can be made by hand with a little bit of hard work and some wood, or, if you have the money, there are a few different options ready to use. In this example I will be using a Pedaltrain-2 by Pedaltrain.

– either velcro or zip ties in order to fasten your pedals to your board. I will be using velcro, as that is what comes with the Pedaltrain-2.

– ¼” patch cables to connect your pedals. These can be bought in a variety of lengths, or custom kits can be bought so you can make them the exact length you need, such as with the George L’s cables that I will be using.

– a sufficient power supply. There are many options for power supplies these days, and it has become quite common for people to “daisy chain” pedals together with a single 9V supply; however, I would suggest instead that you invest in a clean power supply with multiple isolated outputs for the best results (minimal noise). I will be using a Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 Plus.

– last, but not least, you will need the pedals of your choosing.

Setting Up

Once you have all of your materials, it is time to start assembling your pedal board.

Step 1: lay out your pedals on the board in the order that you want and make sure that everything fits the way you want it to before you begin to make any other connections. It is best to arrange them from right to left, as this is how most pedals are configured with the inputs on the right side and the outputs on the left side. Once they are where you want them, you can secure them down with velcro/zip ties.

Step 2: connect the pedals using the patch cables. Make sure that you connect from the output of one pedal to the input of the next. Use a longer cable to connect the output from the last pedal to the input of your amplifier.

Step 3: connect the power cables from your power supply to your pedals.

Step 4: with the output of the last pedal in the chain connected to the input of the amp, and with your guitar connected to the input of the first pedal in the chain, turn on your amplifier and start playing and experimenting with the sounds now at your disposal.

Conventional Placement of Effects

When it comes to deciding the placement and order of your pedals, it is important to remember that there is no one correct way to do it. Use your ears and experiment with the placement until you are able to achieve the sounds that you desire; these are tools to experiment and have fun with, so try out different things. With that being said, here are some tips for those seeking a conventional pedal order as a starting point. I will use part of my current setup as an example.

In this example, my signal chain is as follows:

Guitar > tuner > volume > pitch shift > tremolo > fuzz > overdrive > chorus > delay > reverb > amp.

Tuners are good to have at the beginning of the chain as they will receive the signal directly from your guitar without any interference in between, ensuring that it will be at its most accurate. The volume pedal comes next, acting the same way as the volume pot on a guitar would. Having it before the overdrive makes for more natural swelling sounds, however, you could also place it at the end for a more “choppy” effect. Pitch shifting pedals are also good to have near the beginning of the chain as the tracking will be more accurate than if it were at the end; I also found that, in my situation, it was better to have the overdrive pedal driving the shifted sound rather than have the pitch pedal shift the sound of an already driven signal. Experimentation is key, though. Next I have my tremolo pedal, which could really go just about anywhere, but I placed it here because the manual said it worked best right before overdrive/distortion/fuzz pedals. Naturally, then, the next pedals are fuzz and overdrive. After this come the modulation pedals; I only have a chorus, but you could also place something like a flanger or phaser here. Time based effects like delay usually come next, near the end of the chain. This is so that the delay will repeat the sound with any effects that are placed on it before, if that is what you want. Last in the chain is typically a reverb, putting all of the sounds in the same space that you have created.

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Creating a Guitar Tone Using the Line 6 POD X3

by Matthew May

The POD X3 from Line 6 is a very versatile tool for creating electric guitar sounds without the use of an amplifier or effects units. It provides a plethora of options for amp and cabinet models as well as a huge library of stomp effects, modulation effects, delays and reverbs. The POD also provides a two-tone system to combine amp models or swap freely between the two. It is also functional as an audio interface via USB, allowing for quickly and easily recording guitar tracks without the need for a microphone (though it does have a standard XLR input as well). This tutorial will provide a rudimentary explanation of how to quickly and easily create a tone using the POD X3.

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1. Turn the POD on via the switch on the right side next to the AC adapter plug.

2. Plug a guitar into Input 1 (Input 2 being the XLR input) on the front right side of the POD, and headphones or speakers into the 1/4” headphone jack on the left side.

a. It should be noted that the POD X3 can output via the Left and Right Output jacks at the rear of the device as well, which can be accessed by the OUTPUTS button on the right side of the main control panel. However, for simplicity, this guide will assume the user is using the headphone jack.

3. Using the dial to the left of the screen with “PRESS TO SAVE” written over it (between the HOME and INPUTS buttons), scroll to an empty “User” patch (from bank 18 to 32). Alternatively, you can overwrite a preset for easier access.

4. Press the PRESS TO SAVE dial to save a new patch, and use the third and fourth dials under the POD X3 logo to make a new name for the patch.

5. Press the AMP button on the bottom of the control panel twice quickly to select an amp model. Use the PRESS TO SAVE dial to cycle through amp models.

a. The first of the dials under the POD X3 logo selects whether to choose from guitar, bass, or preamp models (when using the microphone).

6. Each amp model uses a default cabinet model and microphone emulation. Press down on the cursor pad to the right of the screen, and then use the first and fourth dials under the POD X3 logo to cycle through cabinet models of varying sizes and microphone types.

a. When using the POD as an audio interface, you can also select “NO CABINET” and run the amp sim through a cab impulse for a more realistic sound. The POD can also be run through an actual physical cabinet to bypass the cab sim entirely for live use.

7. After selecting amp and cabinet models, use the main amp dials surrounding the control panel to adjust settings as you would with a typical amplifier to your taste.

8. Apply effects as necessary. This can be done in two ways:

a. Double-tapping the STOMP, MOD, DELAY and VERB buttons at the bottom of the control panel, and using the PRESS TO SAVE dial to cycle through these effects as well as the four dials under the POD X3 logo to adjust specific parameters

b. Selecting specific objects in the signal chain on the home screen using the cursor pad, and double-tapping the ON/OFF button above the cursor pad to edit the selected object. This method allows for editing of some effects that aren’t available via physical buttons, such as the noise gate and compressor, or that aren’t useable without an FBV Pedal, such as wah and volume control.

9. Once effects have been adjusted to taste, press the PRESS TO SAVE dial again to save the patch.

Hardware Hacking and DIY

by Nicholas Goodman

Do you have a creative vision involving certain hardware? Is this hardware too expensive, unattainable or simply non-existent? You are not obligated to go to great lengths to acquire the hardware you want. As long as you are creative and dedicated you can get the hardware you need for whatever project you are involved in.

Hardware hacking is the process of modifying hardware to better suit your needs. This hardware can be microphones, instruments, or anything you can get your hands on. With a relatively minimal skill level in soldering hardware hacking allows one to turn relatively inexpensive equipment into high-quality practical gear.

Traditionally, ‘hacking’ has had a somewhat negative connotation due to the fact you are misusing a product, infringing upon license agreements or destroying or stealing secure items. Although in some cases hacking may not be the way to go about things, it allows for the expansion of items as well as prototyping for other designs and functions. In some cases, hacking is encouraged to find and employ innovative individuals with the right credentials and activity.

Although an unorthodox approach to acquiring high-quality gear, hardware hacking is widely embraced by people and online communities. There are countless online forums online that promote hardware hacking and DIY (do-it-yourself). Online forums such as groupdiy.com are gateways to a community that can provide examples of a huge library of hardware hacking and DIY projects. These projects can range from microphone preamps modeled after designs from top-of-the-line manufacturers, to microphones made from the same circuit designs as Neumann microphones. It is also typical for the circuit designs and procedure to be shared with the DIY community. This community allows one to overcome the biggest obstacle that one is faced with when undertaking a hardware hacking project, which is the lack or support and direction.

Hardware hacking can also be done on existing instruments to serve the purpose of the musician with a vision. Examples of this include the Bass Sleeve by Izzi Ramkissoon or the Metasax by Mathew Burtner.

This method of building and modifying gear can be extremely helpful for someone who is looking to save money. But take heed! It can be difficult to get started. It is recommended that hardware hackers and DIYers build up soldering skills before attempting a build. Furthermore, the more intricate the piece of hardware the more difficult the hacking and building process will be. It is also important to practice safety precautions while soldering such as having adequate ventilation and refraining from soldering while the circuit is plugged in. Hackers should also familiarize themselves with components and be mindful of the polarity of them.

I myself am an audio engineer with an interest in recording engineering and a lack of equipment. In one of my recent endeavors into hardware hacking I have found online resources to guide me in modifying the circuitry of an inexpensive microphone to become a microphone that I would use for a professional recording, which I have done with great results. As an amateur hardware hacker, I have learned the value of being able to build my own high quality gear, as it will leave my bank account less hurt as I build up my equipment collection.

How To Set Up The Midas Venice 160 Mixing Console

by Joel Louis Varjassy.

This short tutorial will walk you through how to get the Midas Venice 160 up and running for up to 16 inputs, and up to 6 different outputs. Before continuing, please familiarise yourself with the difference between Mic and Line level.

Mic Level: Low level output signal. (Microphone, DI box etc.)
Line Level: A device that either has a very strong output signal, or a device that requires a very strong signal to function correctly. (Preamps, Mixers etc.)

1. Turn the console on using the power switch located on the back. 
a. The back is where we will be plugging-in all the necessary cables to make the Midas function correctly.

2. While looking at the back you will notice channels labelled 1 to 8 on the far right. This is where you will plug-in all mono Mic or Line level input sources using an XLR input.
a. A ¼ inch jack is also provided for Line level signals that need protection against +48 phantom power.

3. Next to channels 1 to 8 are four stereo channels from 9 to 16. These channels take both XLR and ¼ inch inputs and can either be used as mono or stereo.

4. Next we will look at setting up our monitors for playback. The Midas 160 is capable of having up to 11 speakers connected, 1 stereo master pair (labelled “master left” and “master right”), 1 mono master (labelled “mono”), 4 groups (labelled group 1 to 4), 2 monitors (labelled monitor 1 to 2), and 2 matrix (labelled matrix 1-2) . All eleven of these connections use XLR connecters and are located on the far left of the console.
a. Each input channel can be routed to ANY or ALL of these monitors.
b. Each setup is going to be different for every show, there is no standard way of setting up.

5. Now that everything is connected to the back of the Midas, we can turn our focus over to the front of the console where we will route our signal, set our gain, EQ, and pan if needed. First we will look at how to route our signal to different monitors.
a. If you want to route the signal to the master bus you simply push in the switch labelled “Stereo” located just above the pan knob. “Mono” routes the signal to the mono master bus.
b. To route the signal to a group bus simply push in any of the switches labelled “1” to “4”. To make the groups stereo (1 & 2) press in the switch labelled “pan to groups” (Mono channels) OR “mono sum” (Stereo channels) located below the pan knob. Releasing the switch will make the groups mono again.
c. To route signal to the monitor bus, use the knobs labelled “mon 1” and “mon 2” located right below the EQ section.
d. To use the two matrix outputs located at the top right of the console, simply turn the desired (You have the option of adding signals from the 4 groups, mono master, and the stereo master into these monitors) knob clockwise to start adding that particular signal to the matrix monitors. To adjust the volume of the monitors use the knobs labelled “matrix”

6. Once you have everything routed to the proper location, it is time to set proper levels. To do this make sure the LED meter on the channel fader is reading “0”. If the signal is to low you can use the “Gain” knob located at the top of the channel strip to add additional gain. This applies to both mic and line level signals.

7. After all the gains are set correctly you can start pushing up faders, panning each channel as needed , and adding any EQ if required.
a. Gain staging is very important when working with live sound, or sound for that matter. This is due to the fact that all gear is designed to operate at a certain level, and by not giving the gear the level it needs you will start to deteriorate the signal. In basic terms, proper gain staging will give you the cleanest/purest sound your gear has to offer. If you are unfamiliar with this concept then please do some research before setting up.

8. After the show is completed, make sure to zero out the board, meaning turn all the knobs and faders back to their original position, for example: EQ cut-off frequencies to centre, EQ gains to 0dB, all faders down, signal routeing push-buttons de-pressed etc.

 

How to Use an Electric Guitar With Logic Pro and a Motu Interface

by Reyse Jaster.

Overview
This tutorial teaches a beginner to record and add effects to an electric guitar using the software Logic Pro available for Mac OS. The guitar is interfaced directly with the computer via a MOTU UltraLite mk3 Audio Interface and not using a guitar amplifier. The user win be guided from turning on the equipment all the way to having a completed recording.

Equipment required

-Macintosh computer wi firewire 800 port (high memory with latest operating system preferred) -Logic Pro Digital Audio Workstation software
-MOTU UltraLite mk3 Audio Interface with appropriate power supply, firewire 400-800 cable, and installed drivers
-headphones with 1/4 inch plug -electric guitar with standard 1/4 inch output -standard 1/4 instrument cable

MOTU Connection and Setup

1. Connect MOTU to a power supply using the adapter
2. Connect MOTU via firewire cable before turning on computer and turn on by pushing the volume pot(knob) on MOTU
3. Startup computer
4. In spotlight, search “motu audio setup” and launch the application
5. Apply the following settings: *
sample rate: 44100, clock source: internal, default stereo input: analog 1-2, default stereo output: main out 1-2, phones assign: main out 1-2, main out assign: main out 1-2, return assign: analog 7-8

* These settings allow the MOTU to be the physical inputs and outputs for Logic. They also allow us to monitor the sound via headphones.

Logic Pro Setup

6. Open finder, applications, launch Logic Pro
7. File > New
7a. if an existing project is open, then click “Close” in the resulting dialog box
8. A window will open prompting the creation of a new track. If the window does not appear click the track button near the top of the screen and choose New. Use the default settings:
1 track, type: audio,format: mono, input: input 1, output: output 1-2, then click create
9. On bottom left below the meter where it says “Audio I”, double click, rename to “Guitar” for better organization and press the enter key
10. File > Save and choose and appropriate location. Leave “copy external audio files to project folder” checked, then select save

Connecting Electric Guitar and Setup

11. Connect headphones to MOTU via 1/4 inch input located on the front on the device under volume pot
12. Turn volume pot all the way down so you don’t damage your ears, the level will be adjusted later.
13. Using a standard 1/4 inch instrument cable, connect guitar to Input 1 located on far left side on motu on 1/4 inchIXLR combo jack, marked “MICIINSTR. IN 1”
14. Turn volume pot up on guitar
15. Strum to check input signal via the meter on MOTU, if no signal turn up Trim Pot for “MIC 1” located on front of MOTU until the meter indicates a signal
16. In Logic, press the “R” button located next to the “Guitar” label on the bottom left, or alternatively the “R” button on the top left next to the “Guitar” label
17. Strum guitar. You should now see an input signal on the meter in Logic and on the MOTU. You should also should see an output signal on the meter for the “Output” channel located near the bottom left of the screen.
18. Increase headphone volume to comfortable level using volume knob on MOTU
19. Once you know you have in input signal, increase gain if necessary using Trim Pot 1 on the MOTU, but ensure that when playing your loudest your signal does not reach or exceed the top of the “Guitar” meter in Logic, this will cause undesired clipping

Recording the Guitar

20. Ensure the track is record enabled. This is indicated with the red “R” flashing
21. On the bottom of the screen find the “transport buttons” (play, pause, etc) and press the record button which is the circle on the far right next to the pause button. Logic will now record what you play.
22. To stop recording press the stop button
23. To hear what you have recorded, return to the beginning by using the button on the far left of the transport buttons or click and drag the white vertical line in the main window to the far left
24. If you wish to delete and try again, simply click on the newly created data and press the delete key and click ok on the dialog box that appears

Adding Effects to Guitar Signal

The following describes one of many possible ways to add effects to the signal.

25. On bottom left in “Guitar” channel, click on one of the blank: “Insert” slots. This will bring up a menu of available options.
26. For this example we will explore a classic 80s chorus sound. Choose Modulation > Chorus > Mono Use the following settings*:
Intensity: about 10%, Rate: about 830 Hz. Mix: about 50%

*Example only. Feel free to experiment.

26a. On the far right under the “Library” tab there are also various presets for the selected effect
27. If you wish to change the effect entirely, click and hold your mouse over the Insert slot to bring up the menu again. There are hundreds of effects. Feel free to experiment.

Conclusion

You are now ready to record and add effects to your guitar in Logic Pro. If you require further instruction feel free to contact me.