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Cheap Pedals - aren't they just GREAT these days?


Happy Jack

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When I were but a lad, a cheap bass was just that - a cheap bass and pretty much a piece of unplayable tat. There was a reason for saving up for something with Fender (or similar) on the headstock. These days, most of the cheap basses I've tried recently play and sound as good as (or better than) big name instruments from 30/40/50 years ago.

 

It seems to me that in just the last five years or so the same thing has happened with FX pedals. I've had all the ludicrously expensive pedals you can imagine (with Earthquaker Devices at the top of the list) and they've all worked very well, done exactly what it said on the tin, done exactly what I paid for. But the pedals that have blown me away recently have been things like pretty much all of the Mooer and Hotone ranges ... superb kit at stupidly low prices.

 

Example? Two pedals that I have used extensively since Covid are the Digitech Drop and the Digitech Luxe. That's about £350 worth of kit (if you can find them) and very nice they are too. I broke my Drop at the last gig - trod on the p/s at the pedal socket, doh! - and I simply have to have a whole-tone pitch-shift for one particular song so I went looking for cheap alternatives. I found the Mooer Pitchbox MPS1 for £59. It's about a third the size of the Drop, it does exactly the same job only with rather better tracking, and if you flick the switch from setting #2 (pitch-shift) to #3 (de-tune) it also does exactly what the Luxe does.

 

Cheap and nasty plastic? No longer - these things are now built like tanks, just as they should be. 1980s Behringer-stylee pedals are pretty much a thing of the past.

 

I realise that it's only a matter of time before someone tried to tell me that they're cheap because they're produced by starving Vietnamese orphans or something, but you know what? I don't think so. £60 for an FX pedal seems about right to me, given that the components cost about a fiver and (since no one has invented a genuinely new effect since The Beatles) there's no R&D cost to be recovered. I think we've all just got used to being robbed blind by the big-name pedal manufacturers and their marketing budgets plus - of course - our own insatiable desire to have the latest trickbox.

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This year I put together a pedal board for my mandolin and used the cheapest pedals I could find. It was a funding decision, rather than spend months buying the best pedal. I got some old firewood, cut it to size, painted it and added some velcro I had laying around. The most expensive pedal was £20. We're playing 80s alternative stuff in that band and I am delighted with how good it sounds. 

 

So yeah, agree 100%. 

 

MandoPed.jpg.3a1d27cf971190d69fe10d99c2b64dc9.jpg

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1 hour ago, Happy Jack said:

It seems to me that in just the last five years or so the same thing has happened with FX pedals.

I agree, and it's great that the choice has widened without too much compromise on sound quality. 

 

Coincidentally, last night I decided to put together an alternative board using small and cheap pedals - the idea being to experiment with sounds and set ups. I love trying out budget effects and I'm relatively new to the whole effects thing so I need to find out how things sound and how they fit in (or not) with the stuff the band is doing. Up until lockdown I was using an EH Chorus and that was it. Since then I've added a few little boxes and my current line up includes a Zoom MS60b and a Laney Digbeth preamp. But I like experimenting, and I have been collecting a few of the cheaper micro pedals, including a Mooer Octave and Nux Sculpture compressor. Last week I bought a new delay pedal from Amazon for £9.99! (If you go looking, its branded 'Olycism').  It's never going to make it to a recording but it will provide me with slapback echo. And that set me thinking that it would be great to have a baby board with several effects on it that I can play around with and swap and change and that won't require the sale of an internal organ to fund or a sack trolley to move about. 

 

As an aside, the board is an old off-cut of a 4" wide plastic fascia strip, covered with black masking tape. I've put a piece of non-slip matting on the floor side and strips of velcro on the pedal side.

 

 

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I've not really used pedals in my 35 years of playing, only a chorus now and again. The last few years I have been playing fretless exclusively and the band I play in allows and requires me to take a more lead role. So to enhance my tone and add some personality into the bass parts, I decided to experiment with some pedals. I started out with a Behringer Octave, Behringer Chorus, Behringer Reverb and Behringer BD121. They were all about £20 each and apart from the Reverb, they were all superb and I got a lot of great feedback about my tone and playing. The Chorus and Octave especially were very very good and I even considered keeping the Octave pedal as it does a slightly different thing to the now Boss OC-5 that I have. The BD121 was also pretty good but I found I had no use for it and never really used it. 

 

I have now replaced them all with a Boss OC-5 Octave, a TC Electronic Corona Chorus and added a TC Electronic Flanger. The main differences are the quality of the output. The sounds are just a lot cleaner, sharper and polished. The Octave tracks a lot better as well but overall, there really isn't a huge difference and for £20 per Behringer pedal, they are excellent quality. They never let me down in the years or so I used them.

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I put together a board with cheap pedals a while back as a bit of an experiment. It had a Caline Orange Burst, a Valeton octaver and FET preamp, a Kokko compressor and reverb and a Sonicake chorus. They were all extremely good at what they did and the only one I sold was the octaver because I had another option and the price went a bit nuts on them. Wouldn't hesitate to gig any of them (in fact I have on multiple occasions).

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There are clearly some cracking cheapie pedals out there. 

 

I'm relatively new to the world of effects, but 60 quid for a new EHX bass chorus seems absurdly cheap compared to what I was expecting! 

 

 I think I've had some bad luck when it comes to the other 2 cheap pedals though. I jut had both a cheap Chinese tuner, amd a TC Nether Octaver, start playing silly buggers in the space of a couple of gigs- the tuner even when bypassed, so I think the universe has told me that there needs to be a limit to my thriftiness...

 

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8 hours ago, Jackopie1 said:

I'm relatively new to the world of effects, but 60 quid for a new EHX bass chorus seems absurdly cheap compared to what I was expecting!

It's a great pedal and currently the most expensive one I have on the board. 😀

 

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On 16/06/2022 at 08:26, Happy Jack said:

since no one has invented a genuinely new effect since The Beatles

 

Although the Phasing effect was used in the late 60s, there wasn't actually a standalone effects pedal until 1971. The envelope controlled filter (mu-tron or auto-wah) didn't come out until 1972. Chorus came out in 75 with the roland jazz chorus. The bitcrusher came a lot later. Not even started with synth pedals.

 

Hope that helps :D

 

 

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On 16/06/2022 at 08:26, Happy Jack said:

When I were but a lad, a cheap bass was just that - a cheap bass and pretty much a piece of unplayable tat. There was a reason for saving up for something with Fender (or similar) on the headstock. These days, most of the cheap basses I've tried recently play and sound as good as (or better than) big name instruments from 30/40/50 years ago.

 

It seems to me that in just the last five years or so the same thing has happened with FX pedals. I've had all the ludicrously expensive pedals you can imagine (with Earthquaker Devices at the top of the list) and they've all worked very well, done exactly what it said on the tin, done exactly what I paid for. But the pedals that have blown me away recently have been things like pretty much all of the Mooer and Hotone ranges ... superb kit at stupidly low prices.

 

Example? Two pedals that I have used extensively since Covid are the Digitech Drop and the Digitech Luxe. That's about £350 worth of kit (if you can find them) and very nice they are too. I broke my Drop at the last gig - trod on the p/s at the pedal socket, doh! - and I simply have to have a whole-tone pitch-shift for one particular song so I went looking for cheap alternatives. I found the Mooer Pitchbox MPS1 for £59. It's about a third the size of the Drop, it does exactly the same job only with rather better tracking, and if you flick the switch from setting #2 (pitch-shift) to #3 (de-tune) it also does exactly what the Luxe does.

 

Cheap and nasty plastic? No longer - these things are now built like tanks, just as they should be. 1980s Behringer-stylee pedals are pretty much a thing of the past.

 

I realise that it's only a matter of time before someone tried to tell me that they're cheap because they're produced by starving Vietnamese orphans or something, but you know what? I don't think so. £60 for an FX pedal seems about right to me, given that the components cost about a fiver and (since no one has invented a genuinely new effect since The Beatles) there's no R&D cost to be recovered. I think we've all just got used to being robbed blind by the big-name pedal manufacturers and their marketing budgets plus - of course - our own insatiable desire to have the latest trickbox.

Spot on + loads of snobbery :) 

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My pedals are even cheaper - I (mostly) build them for about £10 a pop!

 

Admittedly I've just spent 3 times that on my Lovetone Meatball clone, but that's something special!!!

 

 

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23 hours ago, paul_5 said:

My pedals are even cheaper - I (mostly) build them for about £10 a pop!

 

Admittedly I've just spent 3 times that on my Lovetone Meatball clone, but that's something special!!!

 

 

:useless:

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Posted (edited)

Reading this really makes me think of ditching my Helix Stomp.... It's good, but it's surrounded by other pedals to do what it can't: Harley Benton tuner, cheap expression pedal for a Boss SY-1, mosky double button switch cos the Helix doesn't have enough buttons, AMT Bass Wah AND a separate power pack to power all of that.... Recently removed from the board was an Ashdown guitar pro boost pedal. Adding to the board today will be a four button footswitch for my ABM amp. The amp footswitch is likely to be used more than anything else except the tuner/mute. 

Edited by uk_lefty
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On 22/06/2022 at 23:18, Woodinblack said:

 

Although the Phasing effect was used in the late 60s, there wasn't actually a standalone effects pedal until 1971. The envelope controlled filter (mu-tron or auto-wah) didn't come out until 1972. Chorus came out in 75 with the roland jazz chorus. The bitcrusher came a lot later. Not even started with synth pedals.

 

Hope that helps :D

 

 

 

The Beatles were releasing new music in 1995, so since then? 😉

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2 hours ago, MacDaddy said:

 

The Beatles were releasing new music in 1995, so since then? 😉

 

The Beatles group dissolution was started in dec 70, but not actually completed until 29 December 1974, during which time they recorded no new music. So no, the Beatles weren't releasing new music in 95, some people with rights may have released some old beatle recordings in 95 but even with the most pedantic goal post moving will in the world, thats wrong.

 

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