Let’s have a chat about pedals and pedalboards.
I suppose all of this, is of my (Mark’s) opinion. Generally, these opinions are agreed throughout the industry though. From a personal point of view I only use a pedal if I deem it absolutely necessary. In an ideal world nothing would be nice than a guitar going straight through an amp, no fuss. Unfortunately, I have neither the guitars or amps that allow that to happen and recreate the sound I’d like to get near. This however is overcome somewhat by adding the sound of certain pedals. 


My amplifier for rehearsals and gigs is the same one. A Fender Bassman 59 reissue with 4 x 10-watt speakers. All 3 of the guitars I use are hollow bodied Gretsch Guitars. 


Let me first say like most guitarists I’ve bought loads of pedals over the years thinking I’d hit that perfect tone. I personally believe that even the best pedal of whatever effect you choose may not do the business with your own personal amp and guitar selection. An example – I persevered with an Ibanez Tubescreamer that had been modified by Keeley. This in theory is the holy grail of overdrive pedals. I could do nothing to get my desired tone. 
Of course, we must consider the pedal chain. Let’s not dwell on this for too long. There is many an article on which order pedals should be placed in order to complement each other and the amp. Needless to say, if I’m ever in doubt I’ll ask on the many online forums and someone more educated than myself will have an answer. Generally, the Gretsch forums are the ones I turn to as they will generally play the same or similar setup to myself. See the pedalboard image for my chain that I’ve found works for me after several years in search of perfection! As always, I’m open to advice, feel free to get in touch. 
The tuner pedal is a must. You owe it to your audience, band mates and when recording every take to be in tune. In this day and age, it’s just not acceptable to be even slightly out of tune as it takes seconds to be bang on. Generally, my go to signature sound for most of our songs is a transparent overdrive (MXR Timmy) and reverb with a built in tremelo (Catalinbread Topanga). Because most of our music is original Surf/Rockabilly this does the job. For slapback echo I’ll often stamp on the Strymon El Cap. This is the setup for 70% of our set. For a bit of fuzz and a fatter dirtier sound my choice pedal is an Earthquaker Devices Hoof. On a couple of solos, I use a Boss Wah Wah, but the auto generated pedal not with a rocker, as I can’t chew gum and walk at the same time! I have a boost for solos but now that we’re a three piece I haven’t found it necessary to use, as the guitar cuts through the mix especially when up the dusty end of the guitar neck.
The pedalboard


With hundreds of boards on the market choose what you want! I’ve had a Pedaltrain Pro for years. The reason – it’s strong as an ox, right size and the power source is hidden from view underneath. Purely for cosmetic reasons and a bit of vain luxury I’ve housed the board in a bespoke case. Made by Rich at Alder and Ash Pedalboards. I asked Rich to match it up with my Bassman tweed and add personal taste colours and piping. Finished with a leather handle and corner protectors. “It’s a precision perfect fit and the craftsmanship is superb. I’m that chuffed with it I’ll probably use it as a suitcase for me holibobs”!
Pedalboard case
Hope this was both interesting and helpful. You’re welcome!

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