On three out of the last four Mondays I’ve taken a walk down “memory lane” and revisited my guitar setup from my playing days. I started with my guitar, then followed up with my amplifier, and last week I started with the gadgets in between–my pedals.
I thought about listing them chronologically, but while I can kind of remember the order I bought them in, I’m not completely sure. Instead, I’m following the signal path from my guitar to my amplifier. In Part One, I talked about the pedals I plugged in before my pre-amp. Today, I’m going to focus on essential effect for any rock guitarist. Distortion.
My first distortion effect was my amp’s overdrive circuit, and while it was good for a solid state amp, it didn’t quite cut it for the kind for the sound I was looking for. This was my senior year in high school, during my brief flirtation with metal, and I needed a heavier distortion pedal for power chords and riffing.
It was right there in the name.
Ah, the eighties. You can almost hear the hair and the spandex!
But I quickly grew out of my metal phase, and I was stuck with a pedal that was good for only one thing. Or so I thought. After some twiddling around, I discovered that the Heavy Metal was a pretty versatile distortion pedal, thanks to the two-bands of EQ. Remember, this was thirty years ago, and before the HM-2, distortion pedals only had a single tone knob.
Thirty years later, the versatility of this pedal is still largely untapped. I had to sit through several videos of metal heads slamming away with all the knobs at “eleven” before I finally found a demo that showed the pedal’s versatility.
He starts with the kind of music you’d associate with this pedal, but then quickly moves into other styles demonstrating the surprising range of the HM-2. Most amazing of all? This is how the pedal sounds straight into a mixer.
Add a good amp and a little patience and you can pretty much get any distortion sound you want. Is it the ideal pedal? No, but it was a versatile and under-appreciated pedal for its time.
Coming up next Monday, the difference between phase and flange, and the classic BOSS pedals I used for each effect.