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Guitar Players Love Their Pedals

by vaughn skow May 31, 2012 2 min read

Huge Pedal Board 96 Boss Pedals

I came upon this awesome, crazy, strangely awe-inspiring yet utterly terrifying pic on facebook a few months back, and have been waiting to use it in a blog ever since!  Isn’t it amazing how history cycles? 

1. 1940’s - 1950’s: At the dawn of electric instruments in the 1940’s players simply plugged their instrument (probably a Hawaiian guitar, now commonly known as a lap steel) into an amp and that was it.  By the 1950’s higher end amps included "effects", we could step on buttons labeled "reverb" and "tremolo".  The stage was set for the next big thing.

2. 1960’s: Pedals are introduced!  The earliest pedals were various crude forms of overdrive, followed by the variable filter pedal (wah-wah), and short delay effects (phase-shifters and flangers).

3. The 1970’s: pedal mania ensued.  This is the initial emergence of the "pedal board".  The well hung (pedal wise) guitar player now sported a muff-pie, a wah pedal, a phase 90, and an MXR flanger.

4. The 1980’s: Big racks are getting all the attention!  In 1985, a guitar player who wanted to be taken seriously had to have a rack big enough to warrant a professional cartage company carting the refrigerator-sized behemoth around.  This is the erea in which I cut my record-producer/engineer teeth; I also look at this as the low-point in modern pop-music production.  What exactly does a guitar that’s been fed into 20-something sound mangling devices sound like when it finally emerges out the other end?  The short answer is: crap.

5. The 1990’s: The rage against the (sound mangling) machine begins.  Guitarists begin seeking out vintage guitars and amps and, guess what?  They simply plug them into each other with a cable!  Wow, it’s back to the future!  1950’s technology is now the latest "new" thing! 

6. The 2000’s:  Pedal love has returned.  We are now repeating cycle #2!

Okay folks, here is the real question:  Have we all forgotten the lesson of the 1980’s?  It is said that those who fail to remember history are doomed to repeat it; will this be the case for us guitarists?  Will the next big thing be a golly-gee-wiz box that takes our guitar’s output, turns it into a stream of ones and zeros, and then shifts and/or corrects it’s pitch, phase-shifts it, flanges it, EQ’s all the natural tone out of it, delays it, reverberates it, reproduces a digital sample of a guitar, excites it, morphs it with an entirely different instrument and finally spits it out?  Holy cow I hope not!  But wait; didn’t I just describe the typical digital floor “guitar multi-processor”?  Crap, it’s too late.

There is light at the end of the tunnel, though.  If we keep with this progression, the next big thing will be a guitar, an amp, and a cable. 

emailVaughn     About Vaughn Skow

Bye for now, my "outside" blog recommendation this week “Hot Bottles”, a blog about tube-based guitar amplifiers, and analog guitar effects  check it out:

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