Effect Pedals: Tone Secrets
In almost any genre, it is rare to see a guitarist plugging straight from their guitar into an amp. Sure, Ian Mackaye of Fugazi pulls that card, but not everyone is a punk purist. There is usually something more in the signal chain, be it just a simple tuner, to a minefield of stomp boxes.
The most popular guitar effect in heavy, riff-laden rock is the fuzz pedal. While distortion and overdrives are good for some more classic rock sounds and pushing your tone up for solos, there is nothing like a good raw and ragged sounding fuzz pedal. The most popular fuzz is the Big Muff. There are tons of variations that all have their own unique sounds (some even vary from pedal to pedal in the same run) so many people have their own favorite. It seems that lately you can’t throw a rock without hitting a boutique modded fuzz, and while some have some cool features and tones, EHX has taken on reissuing their increasingly hard to find vintage models, so you can find your favorite for pretty cheap. Why not just stick with the original, or at least a reissue of it?
Doom Fuzzes, overdrives and more
Another reissue of a classic is the Catalinbread Sabbra Cadabra,which nails the tone of doom forefathers Black Sabbath, complete with the sound of Iommi’s Dallas Rangemaster and Laney preamp section.
The Sunn Model T is another iconic doom metal amp, and if you don’t want to spend a few grand trying to hunt of a vintage one, you can try the EarthQuaker Devices Acapulco Gold. With its single giant knob, even if you spent too long in the green room and you’re head is a little “fuzzy” all you gotta do is turn it up to get gnarlier.
Another classic is the ProCo Rat. While some purists will say that the original ’80s versions are the only worthwhile ones, I’ve A/B compared the new production runs and the vintage ones, and while there is a slight difference, once you’re blasting at 140 dB with a full band, no one will know the difference.
Beyond fuzz, there are plenty of other effects to round out your pedalboard. A good delay or reverb pedal gives your already hefty tone and even bigger sound. A good starting point is the MXR Carbon Copy. It’s nothing too crazy, but what it does, it does well: giving you warm analog delays.
On the more customizable side is the Mr. Black Supermoon; this hand-built reverb pedal’s sway control lets you modulate the signal and mix in some extra spacey-ness for some really haunting tones.
Finally, you can just go straight for the jugular of doom tone and pick up the EarthQuaker Devices Life Pedal V2. This is a production version of the highly sought after limited-run collaboration between EQD and doom lifers Sunn O))) that was built to recreate their bone-rattling, massive tone. With Boost, Distortion and Octave effects you can run this pedal into a good tube amp and build your own crushing wall of tone, without having to spend a decade crawling through Craigslist to buy every 4×12 cabinet you see.
Round out your doom pedalboard
If you really want to go big, the EarthQuaker Devices Avalanche Run Stereo Delay is a beast. with 8 knobs and 3 modes, you can really customize its tone, and added modulation can really fill out some hazy, “smoked-out” psychedelic jams. Alternatively the Walrus Audio Julia Chorus and Vibrato can create a nice swirling wash that is great for when you need to click off the fuzz pedals and get a little dynamic ambient break.
Really though, it doesn’t matter what guitar you play, or what amps you have stacked behind you, as long as you keep it slow, heavy and dark, it will doom.