Effects Switchers - Worth It?

Discussion in 'The Stomp Box' started by jondanger, Sep 24, 2020.

  1. jondanger

    jondanger Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    I have my pedals just set up in line between the guitar and amp. No effects loop in the amp. None of my pedals use midi, but one of my delays has an external tap tempo option.

    Right now my effects chain is SP Comp > Honey Bee Overdrive > Walrus ARP-87 Delay > Walrus Fathom Reverb > Walrus Julia Chorus. I would probably add a fuzz and a tremolo to my board if I was going to make any additions. So that’s 1 comp, 2 drives, 1 reverb, 1 delay, 2 modulation - 7 total. Only the ARP-87 has an external tap tempo option.

    My local store has a used Boss ES-5. My understanding is that this gives you 5 loops with something like 200 preset slots, as well as a tuner out, and a global tap tempo. So I wouldn’t be able to put every pedal in an individual loop, but I would be able to do something like: comp in front of the switcher, reverb after the switcher, everything else in a separate loop.

    I’m not really playing gigs, mostly working on recording projects or just playing/writing for fun. But when it’s safe/allowed to play shows again, this recording project could turn into a live band situation. If that happens, I’ll have to replicate the recordings, which were made without any limitations of a live band. So there was no need to make the sonic changes between parts fluid, or only require one pedal change.

    I also would like the option to either turn an overdrive off and a fuzz on with one step, or to turn a chorus off and turn a stacked fuzz and overdrive on with one step. Obviously this is only really necessary in a live environment, which is totally theoretical at this point.

    So it seems like a switcher isn’t something that I really need. Is anyone else who doesn’t need one of these enjoying using one?
     
  2. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    If you're not using MIDI now or planning to, and aren't concerned with switching pedal order for your sounds, then the ES-5 is too much money. I don't know the used price, but I'm thinking brand new prices. If the used price is comparable to more simple (but programmable) used loops switchers out there, then it's likely a good deal. If you find a programmable switcher for the same price or less, but with 8 loops, for example, that's the way to go.

    It is good for a live setting, but it's also nice for large boards when finding new sounds/projects--nice as in being able to save and recall settings on more complex pedals. Manual mode is always there as well, as is a switchable Boss buffer. Using the thing to it's full potential changes work flow. One has to learn the steps to save a sound as a patch, depending on the pedals MIDI implementation, which is another discussion altogether. That can be counter intuitive for most 'turn it to 11' guitar dudes, and honestly takes some futzing around and looking at MIDI code charts. In your case JD it's pretty simple to save a patch if it's simply 'turn Pedal 1 and 2 off, Turn on 3 and 4" by one button push.

    Need? Hah, I don't need any of these things but maybe one or two guitars. Based on what your describing though, I'd say no, the ES-5 is too much, but if it's a killer deal I would go for it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2020
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  3. jondanger

    jondanger Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    @BorderRadio They have it for $300, which is only $100 less than street for those. Good advice, thanks. I saw a great interview with Trey Anastasio once where he said, “it’s not about having the best stuff, it’s about learning how to use the stuff you have as good as you can.” I have always had trouble taking this perspective, but I’m trying.
     
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  4. D_Malone

    D_Malone Tele-Meister

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    I can’t say I really need my switcher, but it sure makes life easier if I want to, for example, switch from no pedals to an OD + delay + clean boost for a lead. That would be hard to pull off smoothly without the switcher.
     
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  5. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

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    My personal take on it is that live guitarists don't need to replicate what's on a record, just get a few good sounds in the general ballpark (or just other good sounds) and play it real good. The idea that live music ought to sound just like recordings is really pretty onerous if the recordings are complex. Nobody used to consider that a real requirement, in fact you could go to a show to see a different interpretation of a recording, one that worked well in a live setting. The farther down that route you go, you end up just pushing buttons to play samples, live looping, and so on. It's not what I want to see in a live performance. YMMV and there are all kinds of other opinions of course.
     
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  6. SixStringSlinger

    SixStringSlinger Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I'm waiting on a Loop Master switcher that I intend to use for one pedal per loop, in part to put all the on/off switches directly in front of me (I have my pedals set up in two rows) and in part to not run my signal through more cable than I need to at any given time (some of my pedals are noisy/tone suckers so I only want them in the signal path if they're on). Of course, the second point only works given my somewhat excessive amount of pedals.
     
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  7. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Poster Extraordinaire

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    I built two five-channel loop pedals for my rig. Haven't taken the time to cut the cable to make them work (although I'm planning on a major pedal board rebuild this winter). In retrospect, I think they are very useful tools and things like Loop Master and a couple of other very simple designs are a bargain. It's not worth building my own. If I had to do it all over again, I'd just buy.

    But don't think all your pedals need to go through a bypass looper. You could just run 4-5 through it and have a couple of always-on or regular pedals at either end of the loop. You could also chain a couple pedals together for preset effects and just run them through one loop. In that way, 4 loop channels could hold multiple times the number of pedals without any tone suck or with greatly improved tonal performance.
     
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  8. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Switcher... one of the best things I ever did.
    With 7-8 pedals it reduces your wear on any pedal switch almost entirely.
    It reduces your metal to metal contacts by a ton. Otherwise, with 8 pedals you have 16 or more signal contacts going all the time.
    It allows immediate diagnosis of what stopping your sound or crackling etc.
    It allows you to switch between two OD's, like a clean boost and heavy OD (or other pedals) with one push.
    Inexpensive, you cant build them that cheap really. LOOP MASTER
     
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  9. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Poster Extraordinaire

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    I haven't encountered that yet, but you are right about the signal integrity. If one of your pedals within the bypass loop dies everything else isn't going to be affected by it.
     
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  10. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Another possibility I've used on the ES-5 is to run a two-pedal 'drive stack' through one loop. Right now I have a loop for a Rat (distortion), fuzz (blown out silicon FF type), and the OD stack, which are put up in the front row for alternating/stacking (Timmy>Prince of Tone). It's usually Timmy all the time, adding in the PoT at will for more gain. The only pedal out of the Es-5's control is the Ego mini compressor at the front, which I'll probably scrap since I don't really use it and it adds noise.
     
  11. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Poster Extraordinaire

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    You could actually go crazy on this and build several small modular pedals in each effects loop, and just use the loop pedal to select the pedalboard you want to use. It would just be switching between pedal boards instead of switching between individual pedals. But that would be crazy.
     
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  12. jondanger

    jondanger Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    I did a thing once where I built a little insert box that switched in a loop so I could add a modulation board in between the drive and time sections of my main board. It was a little too much.
     
  13. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Poster Extraordinaire

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    "A little too much" is the whole fun of guitar pedals. Ha.
     
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  14. Collin D Plonker

    Collin D Plonker Tele-Afflicted

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    I like having a switcher (Voodoo Lab PX-8 c controlled by Midi Mouse). First, it's a lot easier to switch when the buttons are all in a row. Second, if you have a bad jumper cable or pedal, you can still keep playing. Just stay off that loop. Third, I have my basic tones programmed, so one button can make lots of changes on the fly. Fourth, if you have songs with a lot of effects changes, just put loops in order. These are the pros.

    Now the cons. First, it takes up a lot of pedalboard space. You may need a bigger board. Second, you need.a lot more cables. Instead of a short jumper, you need two long cables. Even using cheaper G&L ends, I spent 40-50 bucks for ends plus maybe 20 for the bulk cable. Third, there's a definite learning curve. It seems easy for me now to swap out a cable, program the looper and play with it, but it took time to figure it out.

    Do I really need it? No. I tap danced my way around the board a long time. Would I go back? Not at the moment. It's a big board, and I need some help with the switching. Besides, I make a lot fewer mistakes now, both with switching and with playing.

    IMG_20200114_094300.jpg
     
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  15. Marc Morfei

    Marc Morfei Tele-Afflicted

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    This board is a riot. Half the time you have guys bragging about how they don't use pedals, they can get everything they need from just their guitar and amp. Then other guys seem to have a PhD in electronics, with enough equipment to fly to the moon. Guess it shows, diff'rent strokes. For me, it would be easier to learn to fly the space shuttle than to operate some of the rigs I see posted. But, hey, whatever gets you through the night. Rock on.
     
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  16. Collin D Plonker

    Collin D Plonker Tele-Afflicted

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    It's easy after a while. Plus, it does whatever I want it to.
     
  17. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I get that but this was to bump in similar pedals in the loop, gaining an extra gain stage. I did consider a Chase Bliss Brothers Midi controlled drive pedal just to cover it all but that pedal really is another level of crazy.
     
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