Effects devolution continues
My effects use continues to devolve. I've recently sold my fuzz, clean boost, Digitech Space Station, A/B box, and wireless. My compressor, Uni-Vibe, digital echo, digital reverb, and SansAmp Tri-AC are up for sale. I may even sell my beloved Deluxe Memory Man echo.
That leaves me with a volume pedal, a wah pedal, a distortion pedal, an analog echo, and an E-Bow. I never bring them out all at the same time. This is a long way from the massive 20-pound pedal board I started with five years ago. With the exception of the volume pedal, I view all of these effects as "seasonings" rather than "staples".
Up until very recently, I tended to use the echo all the time - sometimes as a subtle "thickener" and sometimes as a noticeable effect. But I tried a couple of nights without echo, and I really don't miss it. In fact, I find it easier to hear my playing in a dense mix when I don't have to sort out the note attack from the repeats. With the echo, I found that I had be louder to hear my playing clearly. Another benefit of playing without the delay is that my timing is a lot less "ambiguous" - there's just one note attack, and it had damned well better be in the proper place... I'll probably still use the echo as an effect, but only when my guitar is far enough in the front of the mix for the echo to be noticed. I'd like to switch to a real tape echo - the Deluxe Memory Man is close, but not close enough.
The volume pedal is incredibly useful in a dense live mix. A few decibels one way or the other makes all the difference between blending my guitar into the mix or having it stick out like a sore thumb. For some kinds of music I can get all the dynamic control I need using touch and the guitar's volume control. But the volume pedal really excels in cases where I need extremely quick changes to dynamics and when I want to use picking technique to vary the timbre independent of volume changes. I haven't yet found a use for the volume pedal as an effect, although it would certainly let me do volume swells.
I use my distortion pedal to get just a bit of extra grit and compression on my guitar sound, which remains very touch-sensitive. The boost from the distortion pedal is also helpful in getting just a bit more gain at lower volumes to push my guitar into controlled feedback.
The wah is something I'm experimenting with for the second time in the past five years. I had a wah pedal and sold it because it was too much of an effect in its own right. My old wah had a very fast transition between "closed" and "open" voices - it was impossible to sweep slowly through the middle ground. My new wah is the same model, but from an earlier production period. This wah doesn't have the Hot Potz, which I'm assuming was responsible for the exaggerated sweep. I'm experimenting with using the wah to add color to my guitar sound and to select different notes for controlled feedback.