ProAudioLand Musician News

  • Five Types Of Pedals Every Guitarist Should Own

    Guitar effects pedals come in a huge assortment of types, makes, and models. With so many to choose from, it can be tough to know where to start. With that in mind, we wanted to take things back to the basics, to make a list of five types of guitar effects pedals that nearly any guitarist can make use of, no matter what style they play. Read on for the five guitar effects pedal types that we feel every guitar pedal should own.

    1. Distortion / Overdrive

    wayhuge-porkloinEasily two of the most popular effects in guitar driven music, distortion and overdrive are responsible for some of the most recognizable and legendary tones in rock. While there is a difference between these two effects, they are similar enough that they can be listed together for the purposes of this list, with the choice between the two coming down to what type of tone and dynamics you’re aiming for. You can read more about their differences in our Overdrive VS Distortion article. You might be thinking to yourself, “hey, my amp already has built-in distortion/overdrive, why do I need one?”.  Well, unless you have a nice tube amp, your distortion/overdrive tone might not be on par with what the pros are using. Furthermore, a pedal adds a good amount of extra versatility and control that you can’t get from using the effect on your amp alone, and having extra tonal options is never a bad idea. Whether its metal, blues, punk or good old classic rock, having a pedal that can add a certain amount of grit to your sound is an absolute must.

    PAL Recommendations:

    Way Huge Pork Loin

    Bogner La Grange Overdrive Boost

    MXR Berzerker Overdrive

    More Overdrive/Distortion Guitar Effects Pedals ...

    2. Delay

    We’ve all heard it before, that well-known echo that has carved innumerable soundscapes throughout the history of rock. From its early days as a bulky tape echo machine to its modern inception as a pedalboard mainstay, delay is an essential effect that every guitar should own. From David Gilmour to Eddie Van Halen and – of course – U2’s The Edge, some of the most famous guitarists in music have written some of their most memorable licks with delay. A big benefit of adding delay to your sound is the textures and dynamics it gives. If your guitar lick sounds a bit flat or dull, add some delay for a fuller, three-dimensional sound. And you don't always have to go overboard with it either, as just a touch of delay can do wonders in adding great subtle textures to your sound.

    PAL Recommendations:

    MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay

    Ernie Ball Expression Ambient Delay

    Boss DD-7 Digital Delay

    More Delay Guitar Effects Pedals ...

    3. Wah-Wah

    95qIf you take a quick look at some of the most well-known players in guitar history, you will find that many of them incorporated a wah-wah pedal as part of their signature sound. From Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton to Slash and Prince, the wah-wah and its signature cry can be found throughout rock, funk, metal and more. The hallmark of these pedals is the foot rocker, which allows you to move the frequency of your signal up and down, delivering that signature crying wah-wah sound. But they are much more versatile than that. For example, they can be used as a filter for adding subtle textures to your overall tone, as a way to emphasize certain notes, as a sweep for a gradual crescendo, and more. As one of the most expressive pedals around, it's definitely a pedal every guitarist can make use of.

    PAL Recommendations:

    Dunlop Crybaby Q Wah

    Xotic XW-1 Wah

    Mad Professor Auto-Wah

    More Wah-Wah Guitar Effects Pedals ...

    4. Compressor

    keeleyc4compressor-01_1Compressor pedals are often overlooked because they don’t have an archetypical sound of their own is easily recognizable. Instead, they work by squishing your guitar signal, making the loud parts softer and soft parts louder, giving your playing a more consistent response. That might not seem like much at first but with the right experience, they can be powerful tools that any guitarist can benefit from. For example, guitarists regularly use compressors to increased their sustain -- instead of notes quickly dying, a compressor allows them to ring out for much longer. This is especially prominent among country guitarists. They can also be used as a clean booster pedal in order to up the volume or send your amp into overdrive while keeping your guitar's tone uncolored.

    PAL Recommendations:

    MXR Super Comp Compressor

    Xotic SP Super Compressor

    More Compressor Guitar Effects Pedals ...

    5. Tuner

    pw-c20Yes, a tuner is not an effect but seeing as how the theme of this article is, more-or-less, pedals that every player should have on their board, we can make an exception. Staying in tune is obviously important, but rather than using one of those little independent tuners (or worse, tuning by ear), a tuner pedal on your board can get the job done without the need of unplugging your instrument. Not only that, but many of today's tuner pedals allow you to tune all of your strings at once. No matter how you look at it, using a tuner pedal is the most efficient way that players can tune their instrument.

    PAL Recommendations:

    D'Addario Chromatic Tuner

    Boss Tu-3 Chromatic Tuner

     

  • Brand Spotlight: Walrus Audio Guitar Effects Pedals

    Packing great tone, superb versatility, and top quality hand-built craftsmanship, Walrus Audio pedals don’t just offer ways to color your instrument’s sound, but an assortment of tools that push your tone to the next level. From the Janus Fuzz/Tremolo and its unique yet intuitive dual joystick controls to the insane amount of sonic possibilities packed into the Descent Reverb, Walrus Audio effects never fail to impress or surprise us. We really can’t recommend them enough. Below is are just a few of the effects that Walrus Audio has to offer.

    Deep Six Compressor

    walrus_audio_mayflower_overdrive_effects_pedalCrafted to combine the performance of the Universal Audio 1176 with the simplicity of the Ross and Dynacomp, the Deep Six is a studio-grade compressor in stompbox form. Offering a Level, Sustain, Attack and Blend control, the Deep Six offers unmatched versatility at a great price. The Deep Six also offers a Blend and Attack control which allows you to use the pedal with active pickups or humbuckers. The Blend feature, in particular, allows you to dial out any distortion that might be present when using high output instruments. Other notable features include a polarity correction circuit, making problems with polarity a non-issue. All in all, a versatile compressor with plenty of value.

    Janus Fuzz/Tremolo

    walrus_audio_janus_fuzz_tremolo_effects_pedal

    The dual joystick design on the Janus isn't just for looks: they offer impressive and intuitive control of your sound, allowing you to create a landscape of distorted textures and out of this world tones with remarkable precision. While both the Tremolo and the Fuzz can be isolated and used alone, they shine when used together in series, creating thick textures with a lot of movement. Each joystick offers a separate X and Y axis with their own designated controls: The Tremolo joystick controls the rate and depth while the Fuzz joystick controls the amount of fuzz and tone. Other features include individual Volume controls for both effects and a Blend control for the Fuzz that allows the user to mix unaffected signal with the effected fuzz signal. With the Janus, you get a pedal capable of sounds as unique as its design!

    Voyager Preamp/OD

    walrus_audio_voyager_preamp_overdrive_effects_pedalThe Voyager is a no fuss, dual-threat overdrive/preamp workhorse capable of a full spectrum of tone that never gets muddy while boasting easy yet intuitive controls. At lower gain settings, it brightens the signal and adds clarity to each note played. And with the gain turned up, the Voyager really kicks things up, transforming your tone into a thick overdrive, providing impressive depth to chords while retaining the clarity needed to break through on solos. From its lowest to highest settings, the Voyager provides a uniquely superb amount of clarity that suits almost any style of playing. An overdrive/preamp pedals for players who aren't looking for any cheap tricks, just pure, clear tone.

    Descent Reverb

    descentDesigned to create a wide range of ambient sonic textures, the Descent is a three-mode reverb system boasting eight independent controls that allow you to precisely hone your perfect reverberated sound like few other pedals can. In Hall mode, the Descent features a classic reverb sound that can move your signal from a small-room-echo to a hauntingly long hall-echo. Reverse mode smoothly flips your signal to playback unique responses and can be manipulated with pre-delay time controls. Shimmer mode highlights the dry signal while adding in a full octave up and down into the mix to create a very distinct symphony of sound. Other features include support for most on-the-shelf expression pedals along with the ability to feed +1 and -1 octaves into the reverberated signal in all three modes. From thick and endless hall reverbs to rich symphonic shimmers, the Descent was made for players looking for a reverb pedal that packs an impressive amount of sonic possibilities and precise controls in one good-looking package.

  • The Difference Between 250k And 500K Guitar Pots

    You might have noticed that single-coil pickup guitars tend to come with 250K pots (potentiometers) while humbucker equipped axes tend to sport 500k pots.  Does the value of the pots used have anything to do with their pickups? Actually, yes.

    The Basics

    First things first, either one of these two pots can be used safely with all passive pickups, be they single coil or humbuckers. If you were worried about which of these two pot values are compatible with your passive pickups, then not to worry.  And in case you’re wondering, active pickups tend to use 25K and 50K pots. Anyways, the key difference between 250K and 500K pots is their resistance level and their effect on tone.

    Tone

    Under normal circumstances, the higher your pot’s value, the brighter your tone will be. On the other hand, a lower pot value will sound slightly warmer. The reason for this is how they handle a pickups frequencies. Higher pot values don’t allow treble and higher frequencies to bleed off to the ground wires as easily as lower pot values do. Meanwhile, lower pot values do the opposite – they tend to divert the higher frequencies to the ground and allow lower frequencies to pass through the pickups.

    Don’t forget that the pots alone don’t give your guitar its sound – it’s how they work with your pickups that really matters. Take the Les Paul, for example, a humbucker equipped guitar that is usually paired with 500K pots. Humbuckers tend to give off a warmer sound as compared to single coils so pairing them with 500K pots helps them retain some of the higher frequencies they would otherwise lose. The same can be said with Fender’s popular single-coil guitar, the Stratocaster, which is usually wired with 250K pots in order to preserve its mid-range and lower frequencies. There are certainly exceptions to the rule as you can find Strat’s with 500K pots and Les Paul’s with 250K pots (In fact, some early Les Pauls came with 300K pots and early Telecasters with 1meg pots).

    Digging Deeper

    You can also use capacitors to change a pot’s standard sound. With the right capacitor wired in, you can essentially change a 500K pot into a 250K, as far as tone is concerned. Values can also be affected by the total pot configuration. If all other variables are equal, a 500K/500K volume and tone pot set up on a Les Paul is essentially the same as a 250K volume setup in a Fender. In other words, the two connected 500K pots act like one 250K pot.

    Final Thoughts...

    While the tonal difference between a 250K and a 500K pot are more subtle than between humbuckers and single-coils, they play an important role in the balancing of frequencies as well as creating the signature sound of a guitar. So if you happen to be handy with a soldering iron, trying out different pots on your bass or guitar is certainly worth a try! And if you're in the market for a new one, check out our selection of potentiometers right here!

  • Brand Spotlight: Van Zandt Guitar And Bass Pickups

    If there's one thing that we guitarists today have that we didn't in the early years of rock, it's that we are spoiled for choice when it comes to aftermarket pickups! With that in mind, we want to shine a light at one of our favorite brands around here that we feel deserves a bit more attention: Van Zandt Pickups. Created by W.L. Van Zandt's in the late '80s after years of growing demand for his custom rewinds, Van Zandt pickups are known for their quality craftsmanship and awesome tones. While W.L. Van Zandt has long since retired, his nephew J.D. continues the tradition will all of the quality and attention to detail that his uncle's pickups are known for. Today, we want to take a look at a few of their outstanding designs. And as an authorized dealer, we guarantee our Van Zandt pickups are brand new and straight from J.D.'s hand in Texas!

    Blues Model Middle Position RWRP Stratocaster Pickup

    If you're in need of a middle position single-coil that was built to deliver the iconic blues sound, only with a bit more kick, look no further than Van Zandt's Blues Model pickup! With a bright yet mellow sound and plenty of midrange that doesn't sacrifice the top end, the Blues Model is blues tone done right. The attack response is sensitive enough to react to even the lightest picks, although you can easily give it all you've got to for a high energy growl with plenty of snap. This particular blues model is reverse wound, meaning when paired with standard wound neck and bridge position pickups, it will help cut down the hum that is sometimes seen in single-coils. Other benefits include the ability to coil split in the 2nd and 4th position of a five-position pickup switch. For true fans of American blues guitar, the tone of you've been looking for is right here. Neck and Bridge Blues models are also available, either individually or as a full set.

    Rock Model Middle Position Bride/Neck Stratocaster Pickup

    If hard rock is more of your cup of tea, we highly recommend the Rock Model Bridge/Neck Strat pickup. Made for heavy metal, rock, and alternative rock, this model pickup is known for its top end emphasis and the ability to give a pleasantly smooth growl when in overdrive. It also works especially well with Tube Screamer-style overdrive pedals. Personally, I love the sound and tones available when matched with Blues Model pickups, specifically, the setup found in the Rock/Blues set; it gives my Strat the ability to go between two iconic sounds depending on what tone I need at the time or mix a bit of both for some pleasantly awesome sounds!

    True Vintage Telecaster Neck Pickup

    For Telecaster player's that yearn for the glorious tones of the '50s and '60s, the True Vintage Telecaster neck pickup was made to deliver exactly that. In fact, the True Vintage is a well-known favorite of company founder W.L. Van Zandt. And from our own tests here at the office, we can't say we disagree with the man! Tone-wise, it has a very mellow flavor with a bit of brightness, perfect for capturing that signature Tele chime. When mixed with the center position, the True Vintage offers both top and bottom end. If you're a Tele man that want's those classic '50s and '60s tones but with a little more oomph, the True Vintage is where it's at. Perfect for Country, Blues, and Rock-a-Billy.

    Jazz Bass Style Neck Pickup

    Van Zandt offers more than just guitar pickups. Introducing the Jazz Bass Style Neck, a '50s and '60s style Jazz Bass style neck single-coil that is built to capture the classic sound of Leo Fender's iconic bass, just with a little more output! Not only do we recommend these to vintage Jazz Bass fans, our in-house bass expert swears by this very model! Featuring a bright yet mellow midrange and a rich treble response, the Jazz Bass Style Neck offers a focused tone that is perfect for bass players who seek a more noticeable sound instead of just hanging in the background. We highly suggest this pickup for funk, disco, reggae, blues, progressive rock, heavy metal or jazz fusion bass players. If you're more of a Precision bass type of guy, we recommend checking out Van Zandt's P-Bass Models, made to deliver high-quality vintage P-Bass tones with a bit more output for good measure.

  • Sennheiser e935 Dynamic Vocal Mic Review

    The Sennheiser e935 is a cardioid vocal microphone specially designed for the rigors of touring and performing under pressure. At $169.95, Sennheiser's mic is targeting the working musician demographic, the same crowded field ruled by the well-known Shure SM58 microphone. And while there are many similarities between this and a lot of other standard vocal stage microphones, the e935 is a mic all its own, especially when it comes to the important subtleties of its sound reproduction. Read on to find out just how well the Sennheiser e935 stacks up against the competition.

    e938_2_1 (1)

    The Build

    Released as part of Sennheiser's Evolution 900 series of microphones, the e935 is built for musicians that require a tough mic for life on the road or constant gigging, one that can take a good beating without dying on them. On that front, the e935 delivers, featuring a rugged metal body and an advanced shock mount design. And while it’s not particularly heavy, coming in at about a pound, the mic feels solid and very well constructed. From our experience, it was able to survive several five-foot drops without as much as a scratch. In fact, you could probably throw this mic against a concrete wall and it will still keep on going (although that is not recommended).

    The Features

    If you take a quick look at e935, it looks like your average vocal stage mic. With a nominal impedance of 350 ohms, the mic is on par with a good majority other stage microphones in this field. Its cardioid pickup pattern helps with feedback reduction, even near speakers and monitors. While all this is standard fare for these type of mics, what sets the e935 apart is its excellent extended frequency response (40 – 18,000 Hz), giving it increased sensitivity and realistic sound reproduction that goes great with vocals. More on that in a bit. Other features include standard XLR-3 connectors and a hum-compensating coil. It also comes with a storage bag and clip.

    The Sound

    Loud, clean and clear – this is what you get with an e935. If you’re coming from an SM58, you’ll find the e935 to be a very different mic, much brighter and warmer overall, with better clarity. If you're not a fan of the subdued feel of the SM58, the e935 will be a much better fit. Aside from a difference in tone, notes that would seem to blend into the background with an SM58 will come out sharp and distinct on this mic, meaning flaws in your delivery will not be hidden. While this might be a bit jarring at first, you can retrain yourself and get accustomed to the higher sensitivity of the e935 after a few hours, and it’s well worth the effort. Being a sensitive mic, you'll also need to watch out for noise from excessive handling. Not a huge problem though as this can be corrected with a little self-restraint. Feedback rejection was also very impressive, able to give consistently clean vocals even under particularly loud settings.

    The Verdict

    Despite being in a very crowded field with plenty of established competition, the Sennheiser e935 manages to differentiate itself thanks to its quality construction and distinct frequency response. While its high output and sensitivity mean the e935 will require more disciplined vocals and handling, it’s a small price for powerful, clean and bright vocals that can cut through a mix without a hint of muddiness. If you’ve grown tired of the "industry standard" but want something just as tough at a similar price point, this is the mic for you. All in all, the Sennheiser e935 succeeds in delivering excellent value, robust construction and exceptional performance in one highly recommended package.

    Sennheiser e935SENNHEISER e935 Cardioid Dynamic Handheld Vocal Microphone @ $169.95

    The e935 is a cardioid vocal stage microphone specially designed to perform under pressure while cutting through the mix with its high output. Made for the working musician. Excellent sound results guaranteed, day to day, 365 days a year. First choice for rental companies. This mic can handle whatever you can dish out.

     

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