We have all been here. We are always craving some new piece of gear to complement a song, to be able to play THAT cover, to add depth to the sound, to get inspired, to… the list of reasons could be endless. The question is: How do I choose a pedal? I’d like to share my approach regarding gear.
For the sake of simplicity we are going to assume you already know what kind of effect you want to add wether it’s delay, reverb, overdrive or any other psychedelic sound you are dreaming off you have a few lists of candidates but how do choose one? This is of course my approach and not a law, but has worked out pretty well from me.
1. Beat the gear lust
They are all shiny, they all sound great in the demo. Probably because they are really good pedals. However, you probably do not need all of them. Nothing has brought me more satisfaction than knowing I bought a piece of gear because it’s filling a real need. It gets used often and you feel like your money has been well spent. I’m not saying you shouldn’t look at more gear, I’m just saying bring back home the gear that is going to really help you progress other than brag about it.
2. Quality not Marketing
I’m sure the new pedal made with Vintage NOS Unobtanium components made by hand by an up and coming company (read: just a single guy) is making the internet go crazy. However please keep in mind that modern processes are here, that there are reputable companies that have been in business many years and their products speaks for themselves, not their endorsees.
I’m a big fan of boutique pedals because some of the builders are really passionate about their designs and their products. However it’s not strange to see a small company grow fast or as they say eat more than they can chew and go down in flames. It happens, do your research as who are the folks making the product you like and if it’s worth it’s price tag to you.
3. Price isn’t everything.
The saying “you get what you pay for” is quite popular in audio land. However this doesn’t mean that a huge price tag is a guarantee that you are gonna love that piece of gear. Use your ears to choose the sound you are after. Last year I was searching for an overdrive pedal, I went to Guitar Gear where I got a big selection of the finest overdrives to toy with. I was ready to buy one and I remembered the Soul Food was there.I tried it and I couldn’t believe how much I preferred the Soul Food towards my previous choice. It was 4 times cheaper. I took it home, and has not left my board ever since. I’ve played from club gigs to arena concerts and has been rock solid.
I really like to get as much as possible out from my gear things like construction, versatility, design are big factors before I choose a pedal. These factors can increase a price tag depending on what you are after and if you should invest in your gear. Go play some music and find your sound with your ears not with a price tag or internet hype.