Peak Pedal? Have you reached it?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by MGR, Feb 3, 2017.

  1. MGR

    MGR Inactive

    Jan 18, 2015
    Bronx, NY
    Hopefully this topic will not be misconstrued as a diss against pedals because it is most certainly not. However, I have been feeling recently like I've just simply reached peak pedal.

    I've been collecting, buying and selling gear since 1993 or so and tons of stuff have passed thru my hands. For most of that time I was a drummer and recording engineer and I took the same approach I am taking now to bass a bunch, see what works and sell the rest off.

    This time though, I don't know, maybe it's because I am in my mid-40's and so many other things in life have become so much more important recently, but I look at my pedal collection and just think to myself "How much of this do I really need?" Sometimes the answer is "all of it" and sometimes it's "none of it." But the most dominant thought is, "only a little bit of it." I think this usually happens when I try to put together a larger board and realize I'm spending more time noodling with sound than actually playing music.

    I think I have reached "peak pedal." Nothing new is interesting me and I am totally digging having only one OD and a Flanger and that's it. I'm not quite at the point where I'm selling everything and keeping two pedals, but man, I just don't want anything new.

    This was more of a stream of consciousness, but I would like to put out there the topic and see where some of you are/were/maybe will be at regarding this hobby.
    fasto likes this.
  2. Mosfed


    Apr 21, 2013
    Washington DC
    Partner - CCP Pedals
    Buy a couple of Moogerfoogers. They will instantly re-inspire you.

    But chin up - we all go through periods where we are burned out. And then something catches your fancy and off you go.

    Of course - in the unlikely event that you are actually over gear and you have everything you need - I don't see the problem. That would be amazing!
  3. FilterFunk

    FilterFunk Everything is on the ONE!

    Mar 31, 2010
    I can't put it any better than Mosfed just did!:thumbsup:
    theunknowndude, blindrabbit and MGR like this.
  4. Well, I guess if you are buying pedals as a hobby, then sure, at some point it could become dull and uninteresting. One can only get so many knobs and finishes.

    However, I use effects the same way I use basses, amps, strings, and fingers - to give me the sounds that I am looking for to create music, both within my band and outside of it. In some cases, there are sounds that I have in mind that I've not yet found the exact right tools to create them with yet. For these I can try any of the things I've listed above to make it happen. Sometimes I hit upon it, or get close enough, but other times I don't, but maybe learn some new things along the way.

    This leads me to my second point, that I find using effects in particular can induce creativity that I never would have expected, and lead to new and exciting musical experiences and developments. Some people like to sit inside little boxes that they've created in which exists the "ONE" sound that a bass or a song is supposed to have. A person could be really happy inside that box I guess, but there are so many incredible things outside of it to explore. Just yesterday I was listening to demos of how someone uses effects to create organ sounds with their bass, the way that @Mosfed does. It was damn exciting, and now I want to try that out myself! Is it going to work with this band? Maybe not, but I won't know until I try. Or, maybe I'll write a song or a part that can fit with something else in the future. All those possibilities are fun. FUN!

    For me, I don't ever see myself reaching peak fun, and so I'll continue to experiment and play around with all sorts of equipment. After all, if music isn't fun for you, then why on earth are you doing it (with apologies and all due respect to those who do it as a career, although I certainly enjoy and have fun at my non-musical "day job")?
    Jakeman, torza, Marial and 3 others like this.
  5. MGR

    MGR Inactive

    Jan 18, 2015
    Bronx, NY
    Thoughtful post and I thank you for the time you took to write it. I totally get your point. I guess though that this is one of those situations where "differences make the world go round." While I completely understand using effects to get all those new sounds like you spoke of, and how oftentimes those new sounds can lead to new music, I am much more of an "inside the box" player and would rather have an organ player than get those sounds on bass. Given that reality, especially in light of your post, I can understand more and more why I am burning out on this tone quest. I guess I'm not trying to do anything other than enhance my basic tone with a little light dirt and some light modulation, and as such, buying so many pedals is probably not the best route for me. I love what I have now (15 or so pedals, mostly OD, Dist, Fuzz), but have just decided that for now, most of those will be used for different flavors on recordings, or lent to my guitarist so he can get different tones. I am just going to keep it simple for now with one OD, because given my nature, this is how I will concentrate more on music.
    Bassist4Eris likes this.
  6. dinoadventures

    dinoadventures Feets don't fail me now!

    Jul 10, 2015
    Dallas, TX
    Doubt I'll ever get to this point. Things are always changing for me. I'm getting into new band situations or a band wants to do a song that needs a certain sound and then I have more shopping to do.

    I do have a purge several times a year, and not really for financial reasons, so that keeps the stale away.
    blindrabbit and Marial like this.
  7. No rule that you have to have perpetual GAS, do what works for you. Effects I am still chasing on a limited and selective basis but when it comes to basses and amp I am set, have been for a long time.
  8. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    It depends on how you approach effects and pedals. For me, pedals are more of a means to an end, more so than basses and amps (which I really get a thrill out of trying). Some people see effects and pedals more of an end unto themselves, which is totally cool.

    I've used larger boards and smaller boards. Right now, I'm using a pretty small board, and I couldn't be happier. Everything, with the exception of one pedal - my JohnK 1590a Barbershop clone - is a "utility" pedal. But that's what works for the gig right now.
  9. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    May 24, 2006
    I get more inspired by new instruments than I ever get inspired by pedals. Which is funny considering I have a small number of them. Fortunately I also have a guitarist for my S.O., so they don't go to waste even though she's not too big on effects either. However, she does use them a lot more than I do. So at least it's not money completely wasted.
  10. Crystalman85


    Nov 30, 2008
    Chicago, Il.
    I use to gas for different basses, but eventually stopped after I found the right bass guitars for me. nowadays, I gas for different effects. even thought there are some effects on my pedalboard that I considered to be keepers like my darkglass vmt, I do like exploring many different pedals. recently, I've been gassing for joyo pedals. I've recently ordered a joyo analog chorus. looking forward to it's arrival. I am also looking to get either the joyo orange juice or the golden face. exploring with effects is really fun.
  11. Haha yea i might have reached peak pedal.
    Been going from big big boards towards smaller and less pedals. Still, it's so fun with different sounds and pedals I'm still using around 8-10 of them on my regular board.
    But yes, what i really "need" most of the time is a tuner, comp, overdrive and a preamp pedal to get me going...
  12. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    Interest and inspiration come and go; when I feel a bit tired of one hobby I enjoy a different one for a while or just go take a walk. Some of my pedals and other toys may sit on a shelf periodically but then one day I revisit them and the fun is fresh again.

    Don't force or overthink things.
  13. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    I went through a bit of a pedal craze a few years ago and spent a ton of money. During that time, I found out a lot about what types of effects I really use and don't use, which was a good thing. But I was also reaching an unhealthy place where gear was starting to become more important than music making. If, like I was, you're spending more time watching YouTube gear demos than you are actually creating music with the gear you already have, you might be at "peak pedal".
    theunknowndude and FilterFunk like this.
  14. bonin in the boneyard

    bonin in the boneyard Supporting Member

    Yup. Bought one. Don't use it much. It's up for sale now.
  15. Been there for quite some time.

    Peak pedal is boring. You have to like, learn to play and stuff.
  16. amper


    Dec 4, 2002
    Peak pedal? Nope. Not that I want a whole bunch of pedals, but I just got back into pedals, and I'm 48, now. I sold off almost all my pedals years ago, when I needed the money, but I've almost finished putting together this board, only lacking the tuner:

    2017-01-19 (2).png

    It all hinges on how I feel about the BodyRez compared to my older Boss AC-2 Acoustic Simulator. I need to test against the newer Boss AC-3 Acoustic Simulator and the new Boss AD-2 Acoustic Preamp. I may end up with:

  17. amper


    Dec 4, 2002
    I've been playing bass for 25 years, now. I know what sounds I want, and what sounds I don't want. For example, I don't use overdrive on bass. It sounds terrible to me. On most songs where the bassist is using overdrive, it would have sounded better and heavier with a clean tone, because overdrive kills the fundamental.

    I like a touch of compression, though for most of my career, I haven't used it in my signal chain before it hits the mixing console. I put together a nice, subtle, custom program for my Spectra Comp.

    I play a piezo fretless bass, and I like the way the acoustic pedals get me close to an upright bass sound, even if it will never get all the way there.

    I like a little reverb, sometimes, especially for quiet passages where the bass might be a solo instrument, or when I am playing my cello-tuned short scale.

    I'm very intrigued by the Catalinbread foundation overdrive pedals, but used less for overdrive and more for amp-like character. I have a Catalinbread Formula 5F6 for guitar, and it has changed the way I think about guitar pedals. I'd like to try the SFT, which is their SVT amp-in-a-pedal-box. It sounds great on guitar, but I have yet to hear it properly on bass.

    The new Catalinbread Formula No. 55 and Epoch Pre pedals are tops on my list for guitar, but I don't know that they would be useful for me on bass.

    It's possible I might at some point add tc electronic's mini buffer and Spark booster to my tc mini board, but probably not. I've never actually used a boost before, and I don't think the buffer is actually necessary for my rig.

    Other than these, I don't really see myself using other effects much. Maybe a delay, because I might cover the Pale Saints' song, "A Thousand Stars Burst Open", which starts with Ian playing a bass chord through a delay pedal; it's always been one of my favourite Pale Saints' songs, and being as Ian kindly provided the title of my band's last album, I'd love to cover one of his songs I love. We covered "Shell" off the same album (In Ribbons) years ago, which has a nice cello part that's great for my short scale. I did insert a flanger (or was it a phaser?) on one of our songs on that last album, but I'd never use that live.
  18. Andy westwood

    Andy westwood

    Nov 30, 2014
    PedalBoard Solutions
    Nope always finding new pedals that peak my interest
  19. fasto


    Mar 4, 2007
    Amsterdam, NL
    Great post MGR, i feel the same about FX pedals, we might be twins separated at birth.

    I also bought & sold soooooooo many FX pedals and my UPS guy used to come almost daily to deliver new stuff, I gave him coffee and we are even Facebook friends now.

    The last 6 months i heavily reduced my pedal collection and i don´t feel any GAS anymore. I still own +/- 20 pedals but in band context i only use 3 (Tuner, MXR Compressor, VMT), now it feels like less is more. I wasted so much time tweaking pedal parameters which stopped me playing bass and/or creating new riffs. Each time i added a new pedal to my FX-chain the problems got bigger, for example: when i stacked dirt into envelope filter i had to adjust the dirt parameters to find the sweet spot for opening up the filter, but then without the envelope filter the stand alone dirt pedal sounded wrong. Another thing: how to find unity gain with sooooo many pedals in the chain? Never worked for me.

    I´m still buying new pedals from time to time but i set up a new rule for myself: if i buy 1 new pedal, i need to sell 2 before. In the past i was attracted by those huge pedal boards posted here at talkbass, but now i love those pictures of mini-pedal boards, like i said: less is more ....
    MGR likes this.
  20. MGR

    MGR Inactive

    Jan 18, 2015
    Bronx, NY
    Cool post bro. A lot of what you said can be construed as fightin' words here on TB, but I am in your camp. I don't disparage the large board people anymore on musical grounds because it gained me a lot of animosity, but for me personally, I just don't see how people can manage all those sounds in a band context. But if it makes them happy, I'm glad they found an avenue to fulfilling their musical dreams.
    fasto likes this.