My new physical PedalBoard: Reduced to the max

This is my new physical pedalboard: Mod Dwarf and Midi Controller only, that’s all. And most importantly, it’s for everything: not only do I play guitar or mandolin through the Dwarf but vocals run through it as well at the same time. I’ve come a long way to this PedalBoard, which took a lot of effort and money. Maybe this story will help others to get there faster than it did for me.

I decided to start a band again about five years ago, after about a 15 year break! Of course, I approached it the same way I had learned: analog, because that’s the religion! Tube amp and one or two analog pedals. With the sound I struggled from the beginning, the sound fit well to the guitar, but not to the mandolin, and after all it is not really flexible. So I bought more pedals.

I must say that I am an absolute minimalist: The pedalboard was always comparatively small and I actually play only one guitar (and one mandolin) and don’t even want to have more than one. I had acquaintances with pedalboards as big as door leaves and whole rooms full of guitars. With me, things always have to be small and manageable, because possessions weigh me down. And the gear did… Still, I was dragging myself to death by now: the tube amp! My goodness… heavy as two sacks of cement, then still felt 12 kilos of cable and the pedalboard, guitar, mandolin …

One day I was supposed to sing, because our singers were always unreliable and we fired one after the other. So I bought a mic and realized that the best way to sing was to use some effects as well. The equipment grew and grew and got heavier and heavier.

I’m an IT guy myself no more believing in the analogue religion: why the hell analog? I sold my tube amp and bought a modeling combo. So now I had a mixture of analog pedals with a digital amp, which wasn’t exactly a revelation sound-wise either. So sold the the amp, bought a new, but again digital, the Roland Blues Cube. Nice and light (14 kg! instead of the 46 kg of the tube amp with box), nice sound and: I don’t hear any difference to a real tube amp. There may be others who can, I can not.

The PedalBoard then became more and more digital.

Yes, and then… then came the Dwarf. I was blown away, right from the start! Especially the routing possibilities, and the possibility with a little imagination to recreate everything you imagine in sound so. So I rebuilt the pedalboard again, this time in two parts, one was the Dwarf, the other a distortion pedal (because I still thought that the distortion of the Dwarf was not good enough), a reverb pedal (because I wanted to save DSP) and a midi controller.

Then came the Collision Drive (thanks @brummer), which made me take another look and test the distortion in the Dwarf. The distortion pedal flew off the board.

Then looked again at the reverbs and did tests. The reverb pedal flew off the board… Yes and today? 30 cm pedalboard, which I can easily put in the pocket of the gig bag of my guitar and mandolin (dual bag) with currently 23 (!) Pedalboards on board. I can now carry all my equipment at once and have more options than ever. Singing and instrument playing through the same device!

Oh yes… my PedalBoard always has underbody lighting. Something redneck is mandatory… :grinning:

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What a great story!

I’m coming from a board with Wamplers and Strymons myself.
Love my strymon El Capistan and Blue Sky though,
Would be nice if somebody re-created them some day :smiley:

How did you handle the vocals?
I bought me 2 plugs to go from xlr to jack but just came to the conclusion I need another one with female end instead of male, so I can go back to xrl from the dwarf output :confused:

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Awesome post. I have a similar story, though not quite as refined as yours.

Boss Nextone Artist (very simliar to your Blues Cube) with 5 mini pedals (I even have that MXR Phase 95 I see in one of your photos!) I suspect over the next few months after I settle in with the Dwarf I’ll be selling mine as well.

Obviously you’ve moved past that hurdle, but just my two cents on that idea: I personally can not feel the latency of 256 frame buffer, and switching the Dwarf to that frees up a TON of CPU.

Now if only I could use Dragonfly reverbs… if I were a more competent person I would try porting them myself.

My question as well. I’ve been considering getting a mic preamp, but obviously @Kim doesn’t think one is needed.

Anyway, love this post, and love the underlighting on the pedalboard!

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@LievenDV By the way, I am also a Wampler fan, especially when it comes to analog pedals. Strymon is fantastic, that’s true, however, for me the pedals were always too big. That’s why I went to Gfi systems, with Specular Tempus and Synesthesia. After I had the Dwarf, however, I didn’t see any advantages and sold them all.

For vocals I first sold my great condenser mic, because I no longer had 48V phantom power via the Dwarf. I now have a pretty good sounding dynamic mic that I connected directly to the Dwarf with this cable.

I use one channel of the Dwarf for vocals, with EQ, Doubler, Compressor and Reverb. The cable is 1.5 meters long, this is enough, since the Dwarf is directly under the mic when the guitarist is singing. Again 300 grams saved (it can be purchsed in different lenghts anyway).

I think you can also recreate this in the mod biotope, with cascading reverbs. Shiro 1 is not to be underestimated, it is different than Shiro 2. Even anti-shimmer works with the two, especially with the Shiro 2. You would have to try to recreate the Strymon pedals, or at least individual settings of the pedals.
I have succeeded with the JET Revelation. I had the mandolin with Anti-Shimmer running through the Revelation, now it runs through Shiro 2, Shiro 1 and Rackarak Reverb and it sounds almost the same. The beauty of the mod system is that you can experiment.

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@FistfulOfStars

A mic preamp is not necessary. It works fine without. But you must use a dynamic microphone, not one that requires 48V phantom power. What you also need to consider: The signal must be set on the mixer as Lini-In signal, then it is working perfectly.

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great write up @Kim. I’ve a similar story that I played 4*12 and a tubeamp for 15+ years plus a big pedalboard. It was always way to much trouble alternating between location and rehearsal spaces. With the dwarf I’ll really managed to downsize and keep a consistent setup (and sound) no matter the location.

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please do share :slight_smile:

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@spunktsch Yes, I will share this evening after returning back home. I already planned this. :grinning:

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Hell of a story @Kim! Thank you so much for sharing it with us!
And I can tell you that your pedalboards from the MOD Dwarf do sound really nice!

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@spunktsch @LievenDV I shared one of my pedalboards that I use for my song “Hate is not an attitude”. This pedalboard is for Mandoline and Vocals at the same time. It is an example of all my pedalboards. The recording is not the best, because of the missing mixer when uploading the pedalboard, sorry for this. And I was brave enough to record singing (I didn’t hear that before in the pedalboard sharing… may be I am the first…?).

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Very cool!

What does the island of those 3 (midi?) items do in the right-middle?

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Pretty cool @Kim!

I think yes you are :slight_smile: Thanks for that :wink:

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That is nice to hear some singing in the feed! I love the lyrics haha “sack of shit” is a nice touch

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What a great post @Kim :slight_smile:

Thanks a lot for sharing!

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@James Yes, James, it is a political text and it is about fellow travelers and oportunists. As I wrote the text, I got more and more pissed off and the text got more and more drastic. I then decided to leave it like that. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

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@gianfranco Many thanks Modfather! It will not be the last of that kind that I posted, I guess. I’m currently exploring the possibilities of Dwarf for vocals and mandolin, and there’s bound to be some interesting stuff coming around. Congrats from my side for your work! It is very very inspiring!

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@LievenDV
The three plug-ins are Control Voltage (CV) plug-ins. I use them for an effect I call “Endless Decay”. I sometimes tend to pathos in music, for example by letting an end chord decay infinitely with infinite reverb. To achieve the effect I need these CV plugins.
When I step on a footswitch on my midi controller, the (in this case the Rakarrack) reverb is switched to infinite. As long as I hold down the footswitch, the reverb runs at infinite, a long reverb tail is created. But if I then release the footswitch, the reverb would stop abruptly, so not fade out softly, which sounds very ugly.

My solution: I now send a CC value to the ControlToCV (not directly to the Reverb Plugin) with the midi controller and use it to turn up the knob there. The Attenuverter now makes sure that the knob turns slowly and the SlewRateLimiter determines the speed of turning the knob. Simply explained: I give a CC value to the CV system, which now makes sure that the knob on the reverb is slowly turned up and down. Turned up fast so that the reverb tail also starts right when the footswitch is pressed, turned down slow so that the Endless Decay reverb tail can decay naturally even if I am no more pressing the footswitch.

This is a good example of what the mod platform can do. You can actually recreate (almost) anything if you can’t find the appropriate plugin. These CVs didn’t make sense to me at first either, but you can use them to recreate and automate anything that a guy at a mixer does manually, for example. Again a fantastic Mod solution!

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That’s smart!
Not only did you program your own “trails” functionality, you made configureable as well :smiley:

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@LievenDV Yes, you can change the value for the reverb through the value of the CC, you can change the speed of turning the knob on the Reverb etc. Everything is configurable.

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Love this thread. I’ve traditionally played keys and came at putting together a pedalboard with a dwarf at the centre. I brought a big pedalboard and it now sits unused - the dwarf does everything. I just have a polytune and an a/b pedal to push the guitar through input 1 or 2. Might ad a midi pedal for more switches.

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