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Effects annoyances in general


Oomo

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Not about any effects in particular, but this came up in conversation with a guitarist friend the other day. We were talking about how annoyances with effects 20 years ago are exactly the same as the ones today, including things like:

 

1. Batteries - the first thing I ever do with effects is remove the battery and plug into to power. I always wonder whether effects could be made more compact and cheaper by just using DC power, and skipping the whole battery compartment/wiring entirely.

 

2. Different power requirements - I can understand the reasons, but always find it frustrating when a pedal uses some input other than 9V DC centre negative, and needs me to allocate yet another plug slot for it.

 

3. Non-descriptive button/switch/knob names - especially for effects I don't use often, I hate trying to remember what controls labelled things like "burn", "probe", "stab", "tweak", etc. actually do.

 

4. Non-standard sizes - sometimes feels like tetris trying to figure out how to layout everything. Sometimes wish there was something like EuroRack for effects pedals, with 1U, 2U pedals etc. that all fit together nicely.

 

5. Non-standard input/output placement - similar to the above, having a mix of inputs/outputs/power on side/top gets annoying.

 

6. Availability - it always seems like some of the best pedals that people use or recommend are always the ones that are no longer produced, or are incredibly rare. E.g. Boss OC-2, lots of the 3Leaf Audio stuff.

 

But I can't see much of this changing, and still love using effects :)

 

Is it just me, or has anyone else got a similar/different set of effects-related frustrations?

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I'll add a few annoyances:

 

  • Pedals that are unnecessarily massive (e.g. Brassmaster).
  • No volume control - especially annoying for effects that often have a real or perceived volume drop/gain (e.g. most Phasers).
  • Blindingly bright LEDs or ones that constantly do some sort of unnecessary distracting flashing. 
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I much prefer and pretty much only buy pedals that take a battery. I don’t use them much and when I do I only use a couple and I don’t want to faff around with adapters etc. there’s no point in a pedal being small if it needs a wall wart too (granted that’s different if you use a pedalboard which most people probs do)

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32 minutes ago, ped said:

I much prefer and pretty much only buy pedals that take a battery. I don’t use them much and when I do I only use a couple and I don’t want to faff around with adapters etc. there’s no point in a pedal being small if it needs a wall wart too (granted that’s different if you use a pedalboard which most people probs do)

To be honest, I'm the same when it comes to just using a couple of pedals, I'm super happy I can just carry around a tuner pedal plus something else and not have to worry about power/cables/plugs.

 

I'm mostly bitter from one old pedal that I always powered by DC, but had a battery I'd forgotten was in there. After not using it for some years, found it'd leaked and pretty much ruined the inside (luckily it was nothing too valuable/irreplacable).

 

That and the fact that I'm always paranoid that my battery will run out at just the wrong moment (that's never actually happened, so I don't know why I worry!) :D

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It's not really an annoyance with the pedal itself, but it annoys me when I buy a used pedal that has velcro attached. Especially if it's been advertised as 'home use only' or something.

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12 hours ago, Oomo said:

1. Batteries - the first thing I ever do with effects is remove the battery and plug into to power. I always wonder whether effects could be made more compact and cheaper by just using DC power, and skipping the whole battery compartment/wiring entirely.

 

They are - there are all those mini effects that are basically the same as the full size effect but without a battery compartment, so they can be smaller. If you are making a pedalboard layout it makes sense. I prefer ones with batteries.

 

12 hours ago, Oomo said:

3. Non-descriptive button/switch/knob names - especially for effects I don't use often, I hate trying to remember what controls labelled things like "burn", "probe", "stab", "tweak", etc. actually do.

 

I agree at some point but there are some knobs that change something, but there is no real descriptive name for what it does. You have to call it something (or you could put a symbol on, but does that help?).

 

 

 

12 hours ago, Oomo said:

6. Availability - it always seems like some of the best pedals that people use or recommend are always the ones that are no longer produced, or are incredibly rare. E.g. Boss OC-2, lots of the 3Leaf Audio stuff.

 

I think it is the other way round. Something becomes rare or unavailable, it then instantly becomes desirable. If those things were still made, there would be nothing like the same level of interest.

Plus there is the 'xx years old, must be better', where just because something is old it is desirable. Like people buying Kays!

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I've thought of another....

 

I'm not crazy on the mini sized pedals. Sure, they take up less space and you can put loads on a board, but I find that I have to be too careful turning them on and off in a live situation so you don't kick any of the knobs. I've got a few mini pedals, but I don't take them out often because of the size. I think companies like MXR and TC make good sized pedals that are smaller than the big boxes but have enough space between the switch and the knobs that you can give them a solid stomp.

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1 minute ago, Doddy said:

I've thought of another....

 

I'm not crazy on the mini sized pedals. Sure, they take up less space and you can put loads on a board, but I find that I have to be too careful turning them on and off in a live situation so you don't kick any of the knobs. I've got a few mini pedals, but I don't take them out often because of the size. I think companies like MXR and TC make good sized pedals that are smaller than the big boxes but have enough space between the switch and the knobs that you can give them a solid stomp.

 

This is true, I'm having a hald ar$ed attempt at building a mini pedal board but think I'll give up before really starting!

 

I've found actually squeezing mini pedals tightly together brings the risk of my size 12s hitting a couple of footswitches at the same time, and the dials are often mini size so it can be difficult to see if something has gone away from where it's supposed to be set, they can roll over with clumsy stomping, and some squeeze the knobs in too close to the footswitch (although there are well designed ones that don't do those things and mini size works fine for certain pedals e.g. the korg pitchblack mini has anti-roll feet and no knobs.

 

Another annoyance with mini pedals is when manufacturers don't follow the standard jack and power positioning - 'in' lower than the 'out' and power on top is what many do, but then others have things in different positions which messes with the tight tetris tessalating which is one of the main reasons to go mini.

 

MXR's and Boss are definitely a good size, I think the best designed ones I've owned are the Way Huge 'Smalls' series -  MXR sort of size but with top mounted jacks and power so they can be squeezed together to only take about as muich space as mini pedal but still have normal sized knobs that are a decent distance from the footswitch. 

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A few of my pet peeves:

 

Lack of volume controls (especially on envelope filters);

 

Lack of dry blend (again on filters);

 

Lack of dry kill switch on octave pedals;

 

Internal trimpots/dip switches - if the controls are there, for God’s sake put them in an easily accessible place on top. (This is much of the reason I haven’t experimented much with the Wombtone MKII’s potential - the dip switches are on the back so pretty inaccessible when mounted on a board.)

 

Half-cocked MIDI implementation - this was the disappointment on the Dr. Scientist Dusk: it had preset capabilities but not all parameters were stored so it negated the usefulness of the feature;

 

Another vote for non-standard naming of parameters (like “decay” on the MXR BEF actually being the cutoff frequency). It’s so much easier to get one’s head around controls if they actually say exactly what they control. 

 

 

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All pedals are "right handed"... Wait! Let me explain. You input on the right side of the pedal, output to the left so the signal flows right to left, the opposite to how you *should* be reading this. It's just wrong. Also, it means I have to do my wah pedal with the wrong foot. Unless o want lengths and lengths of cable to wire it up so I can lay it out in a way that feels right to me. I think this is because I'm left handed, it seems backwards, though right handers may feel the same? I dunno.

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I always felt it was wrong, but at least it is consistent. I always think of all audio flows going from left to right, as they have in most audio things, including most amps. I guess its due to the lead coming out on the right (for us 'normal' people), but I can live with a long lead going to the other side of a box (especially as I am wireless),.

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I agree with everything said my two pence worth is pedals that have too many knobs and switches some that really are not needed and they make the pedals so overcomplicated to use you need a bloody degree (Im talking about you some multi FX pedals)

I just want to plug itin tweak as little as possible and use the thing

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24 minutes ago, uk_lefty said:

All pedals are "right handed"... Wait! Let me explain. You input on the right side of the pedal, output to the left so the signal flows right to left, the opposite to how you *should* be reading this. It's just wrong. Also, it means I have to do my wah pedal with the wrong foot. Unless o want lengths and lengths of cable to wire it up so I can lay it out in a way that feels right to me. I think this is because I'm left handed, it seems backwards, though right handers may feel the same? I dunno.

Yup, I'm a lefty too, and found the same. I've got one deliberately "left hand" pedal (an Area 51 wah I used to use on guitar), which was built with the input on the left and output on the right, so that I could use it with the right (left) foot for me.

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44 minutes ago, BigRedX said:

Almost all of these "problems" can be fixed by buying a decent multi-effect pedal and using that instead.

Two issues with just using a multi-effects.... despite what is said about the dsp programming it's not going to sound exactly the same, especially when it comes to analogue pedals, and consequently your not going to get that unique sound that comes with using different pedal makes. 

Plus, knob tweaking of pedals if more fun than digital programming.

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2 hours ago, BigRedX said:

Almost all of these "problems" can be fixed by buying a decent multi-effect pedal and using that instead.

But then you're just adding different problems, like having to program patches, not having instant tweaking on stage and,in my opinion,not as good tone (particularly for overdrives and octaves).

Edited by Doddy
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So, just to summarise:

 

we want more knobs on our pedals, but we hate more knobs on our pedals.

 

We like multi FX units, but also hate multi FX units.

 

welcome to Basschat!!

 

😆

Edited by paul_5
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2 hours ago, uk_lefty said:

All pedals are "right handed"... Wait! Let me explain. You input on the right side of the pedal, output to the left so the signal flows right to left, the opposite to how you *should* be reading this. It's just wrong. Also, it means I have to do my wah pedal with the wrong foot. Unless o want lengths and lengths of cable to wire it up so I can lay it out in a way that feels right to me. I think this is because I'm left handed, it seems backwards, though right handers may feel the same? I dunno.

The chain running right to left makes sense to me because my cable comes out of the right side so goes straight in to my first pedal (volume pedal) on that side. I can see how that would be a pain for left handed players. 

My first generation EBS Octabass has the in and out the opposite way to most other pedals, and it's a right pain to put in a chain.

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3 hours ago, uk_lefty said:

All pedals are "right handed"... Wait! Let me explain. You input on the right side of the pedal, output to the left so the signal flows right to left, the opposite to how you *should* be reading this. It's just wrong. Also, it means I have to do my wah pedal with the wrong foot. Unless o want lengths and lengths of cable to wire it up so I can lay it out in a way that feels right to me. I think this is because I'm left handed, it seems backwards, though right handers may feel the same? I dunno.

Amp makers vary. At least pedal makers fell in line a little bit with R to L even if jacks are on top or at rear.

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2 hours ago, paul_5 said:

So, just to summarise:

 

we want more knobs on our pedals, but we hate more knobs on our pedals.

 

We like multi FX units, but also hate multi FX units.

 

welcome to Basschat!!

 

😆

Speak for yourself! Not a fan of multi fx effects. Gave up on the Source Audio 'one' series as it involved programming and not knob tweaking, let alone a helix unit! 

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9 hours ago, Boodang said:

Speak for yourself! Not a fan of multi fx effects. Gave up on the Source Audio 'one' series as it involved programming and not knob tweaking, let alone a helix unit! 

Same here. Although it's been years since I owned one, so maybe modern stuff like the Helix etc. are better in that regard.

 

Another reason I never got on with multi fx units was that I'd always like some of the effects, and not others, then either be stuck with using something I hated, or buy a separate pedal to fill the gap, which is then a slippery slope back to separate effects :D

 

But someday I'd love to try a Helix/Quad Cortex type thing and see what a modern multifx is actually like.

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