Research and Development
There is a lot of work put into preparing for a gig. Aside from the obvious learning material and rehearsing, there is sound development.
Some gigs you simply just plug a guitar straight into an amp and go. Others require a bit more sonic planning.
It’s not un-common for me to spend a few hours before the first rehearsal preparing sounds. I tend to make a pedalboard specific to each gig.
New School/Old School
Some of the pedals such as the Strymon Big Sky and Pigtronix Echolution have the ability to save presets. This makes saving sounds pretty easy.
I don’t aways use digital pedals though. There are plenty of times I use analog delays and reverbs. I also exclusively use all other effects in analog form.
The frustration with using analog pedals is saving sounds. I may spend time dialing it in before the first rehearsal, but that doesn’t mean the settings will be in the same place when I pull the board out of the bag.
All too often knobs get bumped in transit. This can be troublesome as there is often just one rehearsal before a show. Sometimes, there might not even be any rehearsal before a show.
Prep time is everything when to comes to being a NYC session musician. Because there is often such minimal time spent with material before a gig, it makes it hard to get too comfortable.
Chances are, if a knob gets bumped in transit, I won’t know where it was without re-dialing it in.
Like many guitarists, I’ve always wondered what could be done about this. Sure, we’ve all done the masking tape/sharpie marker on a pedal to write down settings.
This method still has flaws. A knob can still get bumped and if you don’t soundcheck, you might not notice or have time to check the settings of each pedal.
It seems like someone would have created a solution for this years ago, right? Nope. There really has not been a great solution until now.
Stompshield have stepped up and developed a product to prevent such deflating errors. Finally! <sigh of relief>
In a nutshell, they’ve re-invented the knob. Think of it as a knob behind a gate. The gate gives you access to adjust the knob, but prevents anything from bumping the knob on accident.
It’s brilliant. It may be the most significant upgrade for pedalboards in years.
The knobs are metal and high quality. Aside from how clever the idea is, they’re the best quality knobs I’ve ever put on a pedal. It’s a well executed idea. They didn’t cut any corners.
The installation is super simple too. They even include the tool you need to install them. They’ve done everything except come to your apartment to do the installation.
On a recent gig, I needed to set a tremolo pedal to a song tempo. I was using a Fulltone Supa Trem as it’s my favorite tremolo pedal. It’s fully analog though. No tap tempo here.
Because of this, I needed to set the rate at home. I didn’t want to eat up time at rehearsal.
The previous gig I had to reset the rate at rehearsal and soundcheck because the knob moved. The rate knob on the Supa Trem is very touchy. A small adjustment makes a big difference.
When I put a Stompshield on my Supa Trem I was able to set the rate at home without need for further re-adjustment.
Guess what knobs were immediately placed on all my vibrato pedals? Yup, Stompshield.
Blow The Roof Off
Another spot they will come in handy is with a pedal that has a huge volume output. It’s always a little scary to hit a pedal and discover it’s 20db louder then you expected because the output volume knob got bumped. Yikes!
Yeah, I could deal without those dirty looks.
For instance, my Holy Fire overdrive has a lot of output gain. The knob is very easy to turn. The handcuff’s keep everyone happy. No skunk eye from the MD.
I need to mention how great these knobs pair with all Zvex pedals. If you’ve used Zvex pedals you understand just how sensitive they are to adjustments. It’s what makes them so wonderful…and so scary.
It’s been hard for me to use my Fuzz Factory on gigs. Partly for the reason I mentioned earlier… Minimal rehearsal time and the unpredictable nature of the pedal.
It’s not completely impossible to turn on the Fuzz Factory to hear unwanted oscillation at high volume. Sometimes, thats the sound you want. But, the surprise isn’t always great.
Because of Stompshields I find myself experimenting with more adventurous pedals.
Gain in Vain
Today I was in a rehearsal and dialing in overdrive tones. Although I may use a few of the same drive pedals on gigs, the gain staging often changes.
It would be nice to know that when I pulled my Klon out of the bag, all the gain staging matches from rehearsal. Hmmmm…. I wonder if you can buy these in bulk.
Dream a Little Dream
I hope someday these become standard knobs. I would pay extra for a pedal that came with them. Let’s not mention that to pedal manufactures though.
There are only one instance where I wouldn’t want them instead of stock knobs. This would be if I tweak a pedal in realtime with my foot onstage.
Obviously it blocks this usage. They don’t hinder you from bending down and adjusting with your fingers though.
I’m trying to find something critical to say about Stompshield. I can’t really find anything. If there was one thing it would be…They fit almost every pedal with the exception of a few mini pedals.
That seems like an obvious limitations though. The knobs are so tiny and the spacing is so close on some mini pedals.