How many dirt pedals is "normal" on a board?

Gooseteeth

Member
Messages
20
I'd recommend paring down and experimenting with just a few.

For example, I'm doing some work on my strat right now and broke the e string, currently making shims to find the right fit before restringing. Well, I've been playing without the high e string to pass the time and I've found some really cool shapes/licks/theory points that I'm not sure I would've paid as much attention to, had I a full set (and yeah I'll get to it this weekend lol)

I'm thinking it'll help you on your journey and give you more insight into what you can do with x amount. And no one's holding a gun to your head to get rid of pedals or justify your board, so that's nice
 

Grendel2000

Member
Messages
775
I'd recommend paring down and experimenting with just a few.

For example, I'm doing some work on my strat right now and broke the e string, currently making shims to find the right fit before restringing. Well, I've been playing without the high e string to pass the time and I've found some really cool shapes/licks/theory points that I'm not sure I would've paid as much attention to, had I a full set (and yeah I'll get to it this weekend lol)

I'm thinking it'll help you on your journey and give you more insight into what you can do with x amount. And no one's holding a gun to your head to get rid of pedals or justify your board, so that's nice
I think you're making a cool point!

I saw or read something recently that said, essentially, that artists who have no constraints tend to struggle for ideas. But once some constraint is put upon them it often unleashes their imagination. "Draw me a portrait using only squares". "Built a house with no parallel lines".

There's something to that. Maybe that's part of what I'm feeling with this urge to pare down.

I think another part of it is that I can see now that there's no end to possible acquisitions. There are literally almost endless options.
 

LikeAMotherF

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,632
First, I mean "normal" in the context of an average gigging guitar player.
I mean, I'm just a bedroom player and that's all I'll ever be, so in a way I just don't NEED them all.
I think this is the root of your issues-

You shouldn't be asking what a normal gigging player would use, if you're not gigging and have no desire to.

A normal gigging player will usually get by with 2-3 if they do originals. (Cover band guys are a different story- multi effects probably work best for them if they're trying to cop the tones of the songs they're playing.)

A bedroom guitarist is a whole different animal. The correct answer is "however many you want". You don't have the constraints of weight, space, cartage, etc. Playing in the bedroom is for your own pleasure- so if you find pleasure in having an ungodly excessive amount of dirt pedals on your board- by all means, do it!

If you enjoy playing through different pedals and exploring different sounds, then I don't see any problem with that. As long as it doesn't become an issue where you spend so much time spinning knobs and A/Bing that you feel like you're not spending enough time playing.

Some people find 'their sound' and then just move on from the ToneHunt and jam out. And that's awesome. Other people love to explore the different sounds and textures that can be achieved with gear. And that's awesome too!

You just need to figure out what you enjoy, and do that. As long as your bills are being paid and your dishes are being washed, there's nothing wrong with going down the rabbithole.

Worrying about "normal" is just an unnecessary distraction and opens the door to unfair comparisons.
 

thekeefus

Supporting Member
Messages
1,446
All of them....plus the next one

But for real...I know I have too many it's fun and I don't care....I like variety.

At the moment

Fuzz - Magnetic White Atom
Drives - MP Twimble, MP Little Green Wonder, MP Supreme, MP Big Tweedy Drive, MP Mighty Red Distortion....

....and I still want a Ruby Red Booster
 

D.G.

Member
Messages
695
For my normal pre-covid gigging, usually none. Not a lot of use in swing and gypsy jazz :) But every now and then I'll use my small board (4 pedals) which has 1 drive: MP Simble. Set for either low or medium gain, depending on the guitar I'd bring to the gig -- low for archtop, med for Tele.

Back in my pop days I'd usually have 2: some kind of tube screamer-esque low/med gain and a high gain/Muff style.

On my current big board, I have 4:
DOD Carcos
Xotic Soul Driven
Skreddy Lunar Module
Skreddy P13
 

JRRTolKee

Member
Messages
4
I keep things simple and am a low gain guy. The drive section of my chain is as follows: Keeley Katana Boost -> JRAD Archer -> JHS Bonsai (set to TS-10 setting). All of that goes into a '76 Fender Champ. So, 3. The answer is 3.
 

Resonate01

Member
Messages
1,283
Clean (amp), crunch, boost, so 2 pedals get me a long way and has been more than enough for most gigs.

But I understand players who have 3-5 ODs for various flavours, stages of gain, etc. It's all about taste and what is useful for a gig. For me personally 2 ODs is all I need and anything more would be a bit of a waste of space.
 

LPMojoGL

Music Room Superstar
Supporting Member
Messages
8,966
In the 90s, I had one. Did everything from Nirvana to Pantera.
Then I got a multieffects unit. It did different sounds. SRV to Metallica.
Then I got a POD and had it all.
Then I found TGP, and realized I had nothing.
Now I need at least 2 dirt pedals into an edge of breakup tone.
Or just a Naylor.
 

tonedover

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,255
Good input - thanks!

I guess I find myself considering if I want different "flavors" of drive as opposed to different "levels".

Right now I have on my board:
- Sun Face (Fuzz)
- Unit 67 (Compressor / pre dirt boost / treble booster)
- Gain Changer ("generic" drive / low gain hair / Swiss army knife)
- Direct Drive (Marshall-ish / "Brit" drive - med gain)
- Vick 73 Ram's Head (Muff)
- Buffalo FX TD-X (Tube Driver-esque med gain but BIG SOUNDING)
- (on the way) Buffalo FX Evolution (distortion)

SIDELINED / TBD:
- Vick Tree of Life (drive / distortion)

On the one hand I feel like I can rationalize almost all of them. On the other hand I just feel like it's too much. I mean, I'm just a bedroom player and that's all I'll ever be, so in a way I just don't NEED them all. I rationalize that it's good to have them so I can try to find a close match to any song I want to learn. But I'm still bothered by what my buddy said: "What's YOUR tone?". Part of me feels like so long as I keep so many I'll NEVER have my own tone - I'll just be covering others...
ive owned all the above listed except the TDX, and i gotta tell you, you are painting with an excellently picked pallete there. some of the best of several categories. id stop buying or selling a while and let your playing tell you what can go, or is somethjng is truely missing.... i mean, put a gun to my head and i could use just the sun face and the unit 67, but thats no fun lol
 

Pedalometrist

Member
Messages
180
As others have stated, I think there are so many different variables that go into how many dirt pedals one needs or what is considered normal, especially things like portability (whether you fly with your gear, for example), if you ever use backline equipment or rely solely on your own gear, if you play in a varied cover band, how many dirt options makes you happy when you play at home, how many you need to cover the 'sounds in your head,' how many you need given your guitar-amp combo (someone with a 3 channel amp is going to need less drives, for example).

Myself, I went through a long period where I just went Guitar-Tuner-Fuzz Face-TubeScreamer-DRRI at 7 (volume).Then I started experimenting with different gain staging tactics and usually ended up with at least a boost, two stackable drives, a fuzz/distortion, and a compressor. Now I am trying just compressor-timmy-TS for my gain staging, and working my guitars volume knob more like when I used to go fuzz face-TS. So depending on when you asked me myself, the answer could've been 2, 5, or 3!

Regarding my personal philosophy, it's twofold. On the one hand, I find Clapton very inspirational. In the 60s his set up was, at its most complex, guitar-wah-amp. Nowadays ... it's guitar-wah-amp, with the occasional use of a Leslie. He gets wicked tones and covers a lot of ground ... with literally no drives. Now, he plays at ungodly (or ... 'God'ly ;)) levels, so for most of us that means we'll need at least one drive so we can push our amps preamp section harder. Mind you, nowadays Clapton has a 25dB mid boost in his guitar itself, so in one sense you could consider that a pedal. Then we'll say most of us will need at least two drives. I also think if you're playing at lower volumes a compressor is a must in order to mimic the natural compression caused my cranking a good amp, and to act as a very light overdrive for your clean signal ... so, at least three drives ...

On the other hand, the one restriction I've put on myself regarding my pedalboard is I have to confine myself to a Metro 24. I can fly with it, its very portable, and, with some mini pedals factored in, its actually a fairly big board (I have 10 pedals on it). It works for me. It certainly hasn't cured my G.A.S., because I keep buying and trying stuff, but it has certainly helped me be very selective as to which pedals are good enough to make it on my board :beer
 

Pedalometrist

Member
Messages
180
ive owned all the above listed except the TDX, and i gotta tell you, you are painting with an excellently picked pallete there. some of the best of several categories. id stop buying or selling a while and let your playing tell you what can go, or is somethjng is truely missing.... i mean, put a gun to my head and i could use just the sun face and the unit 67, but thats no fun lol
I am waiting for the C. Direct Drives to get back in stock right now myself ... cannot wait to try one!
 

howdy-doo

Member
Messages
303
I've got 3 plus a fuzz so 4 I guess, one is a KoT clone too so does that count as two on its own?

Each one interacts different with different amps and they all combine differently so I don't think I'd remove any, but I wouldn't buy any additional
 

JoeYello

Supporting Member
Messages
1,521
I use 2. I set the amp to a bit more than slightly breaking up. I then use a Klon as a medium dirt sound then a Dirty Little Secret with the Klon for solos. The DLS alone for heavy chords. I too favor a small board....Pedaltrain Mini. I have a tuner on there that I use as a power jumper ( and tuner) and a delay pedal. Sometimes I’ll squeeze a Pickle Vibe or a chorus on there. I could see adding a Distortion, but I don’t want a bigger board.
 

zhivago

Member
Messages
1,205
I have two boards at the moment.

One is for playing along to my favourite records, and the other is designed solely for use in the band that I am in, writing original music.

The "Original Board" has two dirt pedals: a Timmy and a BJFE EGDM. The Timmy is my low gain sound, the EGDM stacks into it for my crazy gain setting, and by itself it is the in-between gain stage.

On the other hand, the "Jam Along To My Favourite Records Board" has four dirt pedals. BJFE Model H for med/high gain, Klon for pushing the Model H further (or just pushing a cooking amp), Fuzz Factory for germanium high gain fuzz, and Octane 3 for Japanese flavoured octave up fuzz sounds.

Both boards work really well for me. :cool:
 

Kennyscrown

Member
Messages
2,492
I think 2-3 depending on what you play - as someone said above, doing a cover’s gig, you might need a lot more. Most of us will need a foundation-sound; and something to boost it/goose it with for solos. You might want a fuzz or different flavours as well.

I have a Gain Changer and a Source Audio Kingmaker. The Source Audio dirt pedals have 6 presets, and include excellent fuzz, distortion, and overdrive models, so with that combo I can get a whole range of styles.

However, I find myself about to embark on a Neil Young cover band project, and I can’t quite get those high octane tweed, exploding amp sounds with my current pedals. I’ve been looking at the Crazy Tube Falcon, or the Formula 55...
 

Brad2

Member
Messages
560
Three. Two overdrives and a distortion pedal. Two Ibanez tubescreamer mini ovedrives and a Boss Metal zone distortion. Instead of the metal zone I sometimes use a Boss DF-2 distortion for that feedback function.
 




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