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A Tale Of Obsession

Published December 2014
By Paul White

Just because I work for Sound On Sound, it doesn’t mean that I’m immune to gear obsession and the spending of disproportionate amounts of cash to ’scratch a technological itch’. Let me give you an example...

It all started when I bought that Electro-Harmonix B9 organ simulator pedal. It is a truly exceptional device and its organ sounds are surprisingly authentic, but it also follows the guitar volume, so if you pick harder the organ sound gets louder, which is not always what you want if you’re layering it with your guitar sound. So, I thought, let’s put a compressor in front of it. Ker–ching — more money spent and the problem solved.

Next, an organ deserves a Leslie effect. The B9 has modulation, but no footswitch speed change and it’s more chorus than rotary speaker emulation anyway, so let’s try putting a good rotary emulation pedal after it. Ooooh, that sounds really good and it does the whole speed change thing so nicely but it costs more than the B9 did in the first place. Never mind, it sounds great. Got to have it. Ker–ching! Finally, I’m sorted. Or not! Actually I’d like to be able to sustain the organ sound indefinitely on occasions, so how to do that? I know, I’ll use an Electro-Harmonix Super Ego pedal in Freeze mode (Their dedicated Freeze pedal doesn’t have a dry kill option) before the B9. That’ll do the trick. And it did so perfectly, at a price of course.

Obviously I don’t want to hear an organ sound all the time I’m playing guitar, so I’ll need a volume pedal to control it. No problem, you can buy them cheaply enough. But wait, now I have to split the signal directly after the guitar tuner so that one part goes to my overdrive pedal as usual and the other to the chain of organ effects (which sends a stereo feed to the PA), which now runs: compressor, Super Ego, B9, volume pedal and rotary speaker emulator. This is starting to get expensive.

By this stage I had far too much stuff to fit onto my usual pedalboard, so I needed a bigger one. And my existing power supply wouldn’t power all those pedals, so again, I needed a bigger one. The end result is a pedalboard that, when boxed, weighs more than my guitar amp and causes all the lights in the village to dim when I switch it on, but finally I have the sound I want and the means to control it. Obsession always has its price, but isn’t it worth it when you finally get what you want?

Paul White Editor In Chief

Published December 2014