The Pedalboard: 31-Dec-2013 

Here's the main pedalboard I've been working with for the past four years or so (since around 2009). It's changed quite a bit in that time, but has settled down to its current configuration over the past year or so.

It might look a little complicated, but it's actually pretty straight forward and simple to use compared to a lot of other boards you might find on the Internet. It's also a bit "old school", if you will, in the sense that I don't use a MIDI controller or any kind programmable effects-switching device like a G2 GigRig or Voodoo Lab Pedal Switcher. I have, however, been intrigued by that sort of technology ever since I first found out about it and would like to build such a system someday, but currently, I don't have such a need. Simplicity is good and my main focus is on good guitar tone.

The key to this pedalboard are the four Pete Cornish pedals which have really good buffers in them. The LD-3, a line driver/preamp pedal, is the first pedal I plug into from my guitar. This pedal boosts my guitar signal and also provides some RFI filtering which is essential considering how dirty power sources can be and how lights can interfere with one's guitar pickups, etc.. I also have an ST-2 Tone Boost that acts mainly as an EQ pedal which is placed just after my gain stage (the RAT and King of Tone pedals). Here are some sample ST-2 settings.

Then, last but not least, I run a stereo signal through two NB-3 Clean Boost pedals. Again, Cornish does not believe in true-bypass and, instead, uses very high quality buffers and other technology to manipulate and control one's guitar signal. My board sounds very clean and has a really rich tone. I'm very pleased with it and feel very lucky to own such a powerful tone shaping tool. I would feel lost without it!

The Pedalboard: 31-Dec-2013

Pedal Order Pedal Description
1. Pete Cornish LD-3: Line Driver (Pre-amp) with Mute switch and dedicated Tuner out which feeds into my BOSS TU-12H tuner.
1a. BOSS TU-12H Tuner
2. Diamond Compressor: This is a wonderful natural sounding compression pedal. It's also a sort of 'set and forget' kind of pedal for me these days which means it's almost always on when I'm playing.
3. Maxon PT-999 Phase Tone - Phaser Pedal. NOTE: I've got this pedal situated on the board such that I can adjust the speed knob with my foot while I'm playing/gigging. These are important considerations when setting up such a board. It needs to be gig-able (playable). Also, I like having my phaser pedal before my gain pedals as opposed to afterwards. This makes the phasing sound less affected and more mellow which I like very much, but I know some players put their phaser after their distortion/overdrive pedals.
4. Fulltone Clyde Deluxe Wah Wah Pedal
5. Ernie Ball Volume Pedal
6. "Stock" (no mods) ProCo RAT Distortion Pedal, circa 1990 - Made in U.S.A., with RED LED Light. NOTE: There is never any need to modify this pedal. It's simply a wonderful dirt box and I can get some really sweet high gain tones out of it. Also, it's better to get a U.S.A. made one versus the newer Chinese versions which tend to sound more brittle somehow.
7. AnalogMan 'King of Tone' Distortion/Overdrive Pedal - version 4. The distortion channel is on the right side while the overdrive is on the left. Running both sides at the same time puts you in Gilmour territory very quickly. Sometimes I'll run the RAT and the KOT overdrive side at the same time too, but I'll never run the RAT with the KOT distortion side on as that's just too noisy. If I want a really distorted sound, I'll run the RAT with a high gain setting and adjust the tone using the Cornish ST-2 pedal (pedal #8).
8. Pete Cornish ST-2 Tone Boost - This is a wonderful pedal which is sort of the heart of my system. It functions as an EQ pedal as it really helps one dial in the sound they're looking for. The "gain" control is crucial and I use it to really find a good signal strength for all of my guitars. It's essential for guitars equipped with single-coil pickups as it can beef up the sound of say, a Stratocaster. I usually turn the gain down when playing a guitar with humbuckers. NOTE: The gain on the ST-2 is not your standard gain control as it's not related to distortion or overdrive in any way - it's more of a tone manipulation control - maybe even a mid-boost. As Pete Cornish says: The ST-2 can correct or alter the tonal characteristics of other effects units. It can also correct for deficiencies in tone or signal strength of instruments or amps.
9. BOSS CE-3 Chorus Pedal, Made in Japan, power plug mod'd by CMAT Mods to use PS-1 style power cable. This is the pedal I use to split my signal into a stereo signal.
10. BOSS DD-3 Digital Delay Pedal, Made in Japan - Mod'd with Hi-cut switch installed by CMAT Mods. This is a great delay pedal and I use it to make all sorts of cool "spaceship" sounds and effects.
11. BOSS RV-5 Reverb Pedal (Stock)
12. Digitech JamMan Stereo Looper/Delay Pedal - pretty cool, but I wish it had knobs to dial in exact tempos (BPMs) for the beat-box section and the delay time. As soon as I can find a looper that can do that sort of thing, this pedal will be replaced.
13. Pete Cornish NB-3 Clean Boost Pedal for the A channel.
14. Pete Cornish NB-3 Clean Boost Pedal for the B channel.

This is a stereo rig and there are two signal paths or channels:

Channel A (Left stereo-channel): 1: LD-3 ==> 2: Comp ==> 3: Phaser ==> 4: WAH ==> 5: VOL ==> 6: RAT ==> 7: KOT ==> 8: ST-2 ==> 9: CE-3 ==> 10: DD-3 (mono delay) ==> 11a: RV-5 ==> 12a: Jamman ==> 13: NB-3 (left channel clean boost) ==> 1st AMP.

Channel B (Right stereo-channel): 1: LD-3 ==> 2: Comp ==> 3: Phaser ==> 4: WAH ==> 5: VOL ==> 6: RAT ==> 7: KOT ==> 8: ST-2 ==> 9: CE-3 ==> 11b: RV-5 ==> 12b: Jamman ==> 14: NB-3 (right channel clean boost) ==> 2nd AMP.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here's a diagram attempting to illustrate the pedal connections. NOTE: All patch cables were custom made and hand-built by Gary Mulder of Mulder Audio. His X-Cable is wonderful and I really like it much better than the George-L's I used for many years. His cable makes my board sound more open and natural - more clear/clean sounding. I also use his snuffers and speaker cables too. The snuffers help cleanup the guitar's overall sound. Very subtle stuff, but noticeable too when you're paying attention.

Pedal Topology

The Pedalboard: 31-Dec-2013

Both channels (A and B) are the same all the way through the first 8 pedals (all the way up to and including the Cornish ST-2 Tone Boost) on the board but then the signal gets split into a stereo signal using the BOSS CE-3 Chorus pedal, pedal #9. From there the two signals vary slightly (as shown above). Path A continues through to the BOSS DD-3 delay pedal and then connects to the BOSS RV-5 reverb pedal. Path B bypasses the DD-3 (as it's just a mono delay) and connects directly into the RV-5 reverb pedal. What this means is that the DD-3 delay is only heard in one amplifier which is actually a pretty cool effect, but the chorus and reverb sounds are heard in both amps (in stereo).

From the reverb pedal both paths A and B connect to the JamMan stereo/looper delay. Then the stereo signal in each channel is passed to its own dedicated Cornish NB-3 Clean Boost. From there, each clean boost feeds a separate amp for a stereo sound. Simply marvelous.

These days I'm running into a Fender Deluxe Reverb (a '65 Reissue that was mod'd by Ben Fargen) and a Carr Rambler. Both amps together sound amazing.

Playing through two amplifiers really does open up your sound. It really gives you a 3-dimensional effect which just sounds so much bigger than if you were only playing through one amp. Both amps in combination really create a lot of sound even at low volumes. In fact, you might even play a little quieter because it's easier to hear yourself with two amps. Of course, the stereo chorusing, reverb and delay effects (from the JamMan) sound amazing and that's how these effects should really be heard - in stereo. After all, we have two ears and were designed/evolved to hear sounds in this way.

Having the Cornish Boost pedals at the end of the chain really does prevent any signal loss from the board as those pedals have really good buffers in them. If you have a chance to play or purchase a Pete Cornish effects pedal, I highly recommend that you do. I have found that his pedals really have taken my sound to the "next level". I couldn't be more happy with them. Be sure to check them out. You won't be disappointed.

Thanks for checking out my rig. I hope it's given you some ideas about what you can do with your guitar setup. Finally, be sure to check out some of my music which can be found on SoundCloud. You can hear the board in action. Take care and be well.

~gabriel, 31-Dec-2013