In lieu of more actual music or gigs to talk about in this lockdown world and having just modified my bass pedal board; I (Faye) thought it’d be potentially interesting to write something about how I’ve integrated the humble effect pedal into not just my sound but the sound of Every Black Day since our formation. This may involve jumping back a bit before this band came to be and venture back to my Mourning For Autumn days to get the full picture.
Now, I want to be clear, mine isn’t a large pedal board, it never has been and likely never will be. Pedal boards of all sizes are perfectly legitimate as is not using effects at all. There is no one size fits all, with effects as with many things in life.
I came to actually playing an instrument rather later than others and so our journey only has to go back to 2007, which should make this a little shorter than it could have been. I didn’t immediately get into the beautiful world of effects and as someone who could barely play that’s probably for the best. However, at some point during 2008 I did buy a nuX FL-2 vintage flanger for use on ‘Oncoming Storm’ for a bit of a sci-fi feel but for the most part I didn’t use effects. Looks a bit like a yellow Lego brick doesn’t it?
In 2009 I bought a Behringer Bass BDI 21 for when I couldn’t get my amp transported. Not that I used it very often, actually I’m not sure I ever gigged with it. It’s basically a clone of a much more expensive piece of kit by Tech 21, still pretty good excepting for the plastic casing.
It’s only when we get to Every Black Day that things get interesting, mind you, it’s only when we get to EBD that I could actually play (if Charlotte’s reading this, I’m sorry). I quickly retired both the aforementioned pedals and replaced them with a Small Clone chorus by Electro-Harmonix and a genuine SansAmp BDDI (Bass Driver Direct Input) by Tech 21. The former because I learned Peter Hook used the same circuit from the Closer album onwards, the latter because I wanted the genuine article and could afford it.
The Small Clone has simple controls as you can see here. I love chorus, it’s my single favourite effect for bass and whilst it’s a similar effect to flange (both being forms of modulation) I just don’t connect with it as much as chorus.
Now, what bought about the most radical expansion was actually getting feedback from a good friend of ours and also Dave’s partner of (oh that’s redacted), Erica that maybe violin and bass have a little too much sonic space between them (not her exact words). Erica was right, as she often is. This being the case I took it upon myself to fill the gap via the medium of boxes of stomp. Specifically I discovered the then newly released EHX Synth 9 with its dual outputs, ability to create 80s sounding synth lines and importantly a octave up effect.
I always used it on voice 2 (Profit V) and set to a fifth above the octave or what I was playing so I’d get a synth-like harmony line below Kate but way above me. I then added a T-Rex Creamer reverb and Mooer Noise Killer noise gate. The first set to a hall reverb and to make the synth sound much bigger, the latter to deal with the unfortunate excess noise of the Synth-9.
Though I did like the sound all this made, the downside was the Synth 9 didn’t always work on demand, which is problematic in a live situation. Also, the tracking and latency were a little problematic. Helped somewhat by putting a Boss LMB-3 Limiter in front of the whole chain though.
For reference, at this point my signal chain consisted of Limiter into the Synth 9 which allowed the clean signal to go to the Small Clone and SansAmp and the synth signal to go to the Creamer and Noise Killer. At this point the limits of my pedal board had been reached what with also having a T-Rex Fuel Tank Jnr on the top too.
Earlier this year (2020) I was preparing to expand once again and add another pre-amp pedal to the end of the synth chain, after I’d replaced the Small Clone for the slightly smaller and more bass friendly Bass Clone. Alas, I changed my mind and instead decided to streamline. Which brings us to my current and as yet untried set-up.
Gone (at least into storage) are the Synth 9, Creamer and Noise Killer, replaced with the interesting Quint Machine multi-octaver. Ignore the settings here, in lockdown I’ve not had a chance to play around with it yet. Essentially, it allows the user to dial in a sub-octave, and octave up and a fifth note up of whatever note’s being played and to blend them together. So even though it’s a smaller set-up it might just sound bigger than ever. More onus on me then not to mess up.
I’ve not yet managed to pull Kate down the well of effect pedals, though she is into the greatness of reverb and compression and those alone serve her well.