This is my gear database. Here you can find info on all the amps, pedals, recording equipment, and other stuff that I use in my YouTube videos and for production work.
- Boss CS-3 Compression Sustainer
- Boss DD-8 Digital Delay
- Boss DS-2 Turbo Distortion
- Boss SD-1 Super OverDrive
- Boss TU-3 Chromatic Tuner
- Elektron Analog Drive
- Fulltone OCD Overdrive V1
- Ibanez UE 300 Multi-Effects
Roland JC-40 Jazz Chorus
Career AF Tube Amp by Felleretta
This 5 Watt tube Amp is a design by german boutique amp manufacturer Andreas Feller. It’s made by Career in China and is quite affordable, considering it’s handwired. Unusual for an amp of this size and spec, it comes with a 12″ Celestion speaker. Soundwise, this one closes the gap between my Marshall Silver Jubilee Combo and Michaels vintage Fender Princeton. If I was to put this in an era I would say it sounds “seventies”. You can get it either with a tweed or Tolex finish and Andreas Feller also offers a version with a tube buffered effects loop.
- Power: 5W
- Speaker: 12″ Celestion 70/eighty
- Preamp Tubes: 2 x 12AX7
- Power Amp Tube: EL84
- Inputs: 2 x 1/4″ (Hi/Low)
- Output: Speaker Out 8 Ohm
- Gain, Volume, Treble, Middle, Bass, Standby/On, On/Off
- 13 Kg
VHT Special 6 Combo
I got this butt-ugly beauty off of eBay classifieds for 130€, which I considered a steal back then since the pre-owner had replaced the stock speaker with a nice Jensen one. However, the speaker blew shortly thereafter… The amp came with a Jet Series Tornado 10“ and I replaced it with the same since I liked the sound. My Special 6 usually gets used for clean tones, also in conjunction with a booster and/or a compression pedal. It sounds especially nice with single-coil guitars.
I got to know the VHT brand back in the early 2000s when my band at the time, the Emil Bulls, were endorsed by it for a short period of time. The brand has been split into two independent brands in 2009, one being Fryette (named after the original company’s founder, Steven Fryette). This branch continues and expands upon the existing pro-level product line. Then there’s a new company under the original name of VHT, which, according to Wikipedia, „specializes in affordable quality amplifiers“ (see „Fryette Amplification“ on Wikipedia). I guess my combo falls into the latter category, which doesn’t mean it’s a bad amp. It’s handwired in China and I am totally fine with what the Amp has to offer considering its price. If I had a Princeton or a Champ I wouldn’t ditch those for this. However, these can be scored cheap second-hand. If you’re good with the soldering iron, there are some Mod-Kits around. The main point of criticism these small amps tend to get in various reviews seems to be the sound once you drive them harder.
There’s also an amp head version with a fitting cab available, as well as the Ultra version that adds more tone control, a 12“ speaker instead of a 10“, and an FX Loop.
- Power: 6W (Hand-Wired Circuit Board)
- Speaker: 1 x 10“, comes with a 1/4“ plug attached to the cable, so you can use the speaker on other heads/combos
- Preamp Tube: 1 x 12AX7
- Poweramp Tube: 1 x 6V6
- Input: 2 x 1/4“ (Hi/Low)
- Outputs: 3 x 1/4“ Speaker Outs; 4, 8 and 16 Ohms
- Tone Control and Volume Control with Pull Boost
- Weight: 25 lbs or 11,5 Kg
Boss CS-3 Compression Sustainer
The CS-3 is a mono compression/sustain Pedal that comes in the classic sturdy Boss Stompbox design. This one’s in blue and complements our other Boss pedals rather nicely.
It has four control knobs:
- Level: I don’t know if something was lost in the translation, but according to the German manual this is a blend knob that lets you mix the dry and the wet signal. Cool, parallel compression in a Pedal? Not happening, this just lets you control the Output Level.
- Tone: Adjusts the frequency content of the output signal.
- Attack: Adjusts the attack of your picking. Since we’re in the analog domain you can end up with some pretty nasty transients if you overdo it.
- Sustain: Adjusts the length of your notes. I don’t know about the technical side behind this but judging from my ears I would assume that this is a threshold control combined with an auto-gain.
In comparison to my Ibanez CP-9, I would say that the CS-3 is able to retain more of the bass of the original signal. This is one of the reasons why I prefer it in some applications. As far as the compression characteristics are concerned I think the Ibanez sounds more „soft-knee“ or vintage in comparison to the Boss, which sounds more like a modern „VCA“-style unit. While you can’t shape the sound like with a typical rack compressor with ratio, attack, and release controls, the combination of the Attack and the Sustain control make this a pretty flexible pedal.
Boss DD-8 Digital Delay
I’ve always been on the lookout for a good „bread and butter“ delay pedal. I think the Digital Delay line of Boss is a perfect fit. I decided to get the DD-8 because it is the most versatile of the bunch, offering 10 different Delay Modes:
- GLT: Glitch mode, repeats a short portion of the sound that is passing through when pressing down the pedal. 10-400 ms.
- WARP: Creates a swelling Delay Tail when holding down the pedal. 20-800 ms.
- SHIM: Adds a pitch-shifted texture to the delay tail. 20-800 ms.
- +RV: Adds some Reverb to the delay tail. 20-800 ms.
- REVERSE: The delay effect is played back in reverse 300-5000ms.
- WARM: A duller Delay sound. 20-800 ms.
- TAPE: Emulates a tape Echo including the feedback self-oscillation. 20-800 ms.
- ANALOG: Sounds like a Bucket Brigade Delay Emulation to me. 20-800 ms.
- STANDARD: A brighter delay sound 20-800 ms.
There’s also a LOOP mode, which lets you record and loop up to 40 seconds of playback. In addition to that, each mode can be operated in three different stereo delay settings:
- Panning: A panning delay
- Wide Stereo: A more spacious stereo panning delay
- Stereo: Linked parallel delays for both Output A and B
If you get the DD 8 be sure to check out the reference manual. There are a lot of routing options, including the possibility to separate the dry and the FX-signal. And I have yet to dive into the tap tempo function and the looper.
Other alternatives I considered:
- The Digitech Digital Delay: Hainbach did a great demonstration of this one in this video. It can still be acquired at a reasonable price. And it’s stereo!
- The Boss DD-3T: Comes a bit cheaper than the DD-8 but is not as versatile. Plus the Boss DD-8’s GLITCH mode wins out for me over the DD-3T’s SHORT LOOP.
Boss DS-2 Turbo Distortion
Kurt Cobain AND St. Frusciante (and maybe Steve Vai) can’t be wrong! When utilized correctly, this pedal shines. I usually use it to go from a crunchy sound to something with a bit of power amp drive flavor. The key is not to overdo it with the tone and drive dials. Mine usually are set somewhere around 9 o’clock. I mostly use the DS-1 setting, which is also the unit I prefer the looks of 🙂 But since I had the opportunity to buy my DS-2 used for 27€ in mint condition (2019) I never cared to get the DS-1. Funny thing is, this was also my first pedal back in 1991 when I started playing electric guitar. Back then my rig consisted of a Korean-made solid-state amp, a JS-Series by Aria Pro II super-strat-style guitar and said DS-2. I did not sound like Kirk Hammett, and of course, it had to be the pedal’s fault. As soon as I got a Marshall Valvestate Combo I ditched it, lend it to someone and never cared to get it back. If only I had known what I know now…I’ll definitely hold the successor in higher esteem.
If you are new to pedals and want to learn more about distortion pedals especially in metal music check out this article at Beginner Guitar HQ.
Boss SD-1 Super OverDrive
The Boss SD-1 and has been in production since 1981. With its asymmetric overdrive circuit it is a very responsive pedal that results in a dynamic and smooth overdrive. Since the SD-1 keeps the original tone of a guitar well it is often used as a booster for tube amps. In early 1988 the production moved from Japan to Taiwan and in early 1997 the black Taiwan label changed to a silver one along with a PSA power adapter modification. The SD-1 we are using in our videos is a black label made in Japan from 1982 and as opposed to later alterations has an NEC c4558c IC and rare 1S2473 diodes.
Boss TU-3 Chromatic Tuner
Well, it’s a tuner and gets the job done. I bought it and used it ever since without looking back. Which is probably as much praise as a tuner can get in this life! That 21 segment light sure is a nice sight for sore eyes on a dimly lit stage.
Occasionally, when recording for reamping I use the Brainworx bx_tuner plugin (the UAD version) instead. There’s also an app version of the TU-3 available, which is nice if you are doing acoustic work.
Elektron Analog Drive
Swedish company Elektron is probably best known for its highly acclaimed synths and samplers. Most synthesists will be familiar with names such as the Analog Four, however, the Analog Drive remains Elektron’s only foray into pedal territory as of the writing of this entry. Although discontinued, some shops still seem to carry them as of early 2020. I call this the Swiss Army Knife of distortion, as each of its eight basic sounds has its own analog circuitry. However, what actually sold me on this one is not the drive section, but the EQ. This features semi-parametric mids and high/ low-shelf bands. There are a lot of options available for graphic EQ pedals, those with sweepable bands are harder to come by. I might do a separate review of this unit at some point in the future.
Fulltone OCD Overdrive V1
Although designer Mike Fuller of Fulltone is a renowned blues guitarist, this pedal is a common sight on the pedalboard of many an Indie-guitarist. According to the guys over at That Pedal Show, it represents the other side of the spectrum of overdrive from the point of view of the Tube Screamer. While the TS is revered for its mid bump, the OCD remains quite linear when pushing an amp.
Ibanez UE 300 Multi-Effects
I consider this to be somewhat of a hidden gem, as it features three of Ibanez’ highly acclaimed early 80s pedals in one solid metal chassis: The CP-9 Compressor, the TS-9 Tube Screamer, and the CS-9 Stereo Chorus. If you ‘re looking to get all three of these, save yourself some cash and get the UE 300. I paid 180€ for mine (used) and I guess I would have paid way more if I had gotten all three pedals separately.
There are also other configurations of this multi-effects pedal around. One being the UE 305, which swaps the Tube Screamer (TS) for an Analog Delay. Then there is the UE 303 B which also ditches the TS for an Auto-Filter. Also notable on this edition is the added Flanger which you can toggle to a Stereo Chorus. So while only three can be used simultaneously, the UE 303 B has four pedal sounds to choose from.
Even though I just recently got into TS-style overdrives and pedal compression in general, the UE 300 has been on my pedalboard since the late nineties. Back then a friend of mine loaned me his unit. I kind of stuck with it because it also offered the possibility to split the signal on my live rig using the stereo out. I immediately replaced it when I returned the unit I had borrowed in mid-2019.
A Designs Pacifica P1
These are API 500 Series mic-pre cartridges. I also got these for vocal music production with the german speakers of The Simpsons. Here I was looking for a broadcast-like quality similar to what you might get from a Neumann or Studer Desk, and the P1 won in a testing session. They utilize both input and output transformers by Cinemag (based on a proprietary design by A Designs). While not being as colorful as other transformer-based designs or a valve pre, I think they’re on the warm side of neutral. I use them on almost all source material in my studio. They simply seem to work and I seldom think they translate into something thin, harsh or muddy. If I had the budget, I would get at least 2 more of these.
This is a mic that gets criticized a lot for being utterly colorless, and I used to share that opinion. However, it has grown on me lately (as of this writing, 2020). Call me a snob, but since I had access to U67s and other vintage treasures for quite some time via a friend, the U87ai usually stayed in the mic closet. I only got the U87 a couple of years ago for music production work with the german speakers of the Simpsons. Here I was looking for a certain broadcast quality for the vocals. I esteem how the Neumann brings across the qualities of the source material in a transparent and 3D way. This mic not only records but it also documents! If you have a nice vintage spec’ed guitar and a nice valve amp, a U67 through a Neve Pre might just be too much. Not everybody wants to sound like cinematic Americana or your average stadium act.
That being said, for the shootouts, I usually don’t use this as a close mic. This will be set up for capturing my narrative, and I might mix it in low as an ambient mic.
Roland SRE-555 Chorus Echo
The Roland RE-501 Chorus Echo and its 19“ rack mountable version, the SRE-555, were the last tape based echo designs that Roland put out on the market (1982).
The SRE-555 is technically very similar to its predecessor, the RE-301 Chorus Echo. Some improvements in design made the SRE 555 the quietest of the Space Echoes, and an extra fourth playback head (in contrast to the 301’s three) added more sonic possibilities.
The SRE is a very heavy Unit, so if you plan to gig with it you might want to get the RE-501, which comes in the classic wooden box. Or you may want to check out the Boss RE-20, a road friendly pedal recreation of the RE-201 that gets a lot of praise online (it doesn’t have the chorus, though). If you want to stay in the box I recommend Soundtoys Echoboy and Echoboy Jr. I myself often reach for these during mixdown. I mostly use the Spring Reverb and the Chorus on my SRE.
You can find an interesting blogpost on the history of the Space Echo line here.
Sennheiser MD 421
The Sennheiser MD 421 is a dynamic voice coil microphone with a cardioid characteristic. It has a fairly broad frequency response, ranging from 30 Hz up to 17 Khz, and remains almost linear from the bass regions up to 1 Khz. It has a large diaphragm diameter of 27 mm, which is quite unusual for a dynamic mic. This makes it quite unique and almost condenser like.
I own two of these, mine are MD 421 U-4s. They are technically almost identical to the current model, the Mk II. I usually refer to them as the “phasers” as they remind me of the laser gun from Star Trek when the custom microphone clip is attached. While the Shure SM57 is the official microphone of the White House, the 421 was a common sight whenever the German chancellors used to address the public up until the eighties.
The 421 has a 5 position hi-pass filter, which cuts out low-frequency rumble in the “S” Position (“S” for “Sprache” or Speech) and is inactive in the “M” or “Musik” position. It has seen widespread use in music production in the decades since its introduction. According to the German Wikipedia entry, George Harrison’s “Concert for Bangladesh” was recorded almost entirely with 421s. Another recording session that saw widespread use of the 421 is Franz Ferdinand’s debut album. This is also a fine example of the 421 being employed as a vocal mic. You can find an interesting Soundonsound Article on the recording of the album here.
Using two 421s is a fairly common method for stereo-micing the Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus Amp. I also like to use these for Toms.
One would probably expect it’s half-brother, the SM57, to be used on guitar amps. I usually chose to mic a speaker with a combination of a dynamic (SM57 or a Sennheiser MD421) and a condenser (Neumann KM84, Neumann U87 or Neumann U67). The SM7b seems to give me more of the fidelity this combination offers than, say, a single SM 57 would. Plus, I also don’t have to worry about getting the phase right. Since an SM57 on a speaker is somewhat of a standard sound every guitarist knows I don’t want stray too far from that sonic territory for shootout purposes. The SM7b covers that ground.
At the time I started fancying getting into YouTubing in late 2018/ early 2019 this camera constantly popped up when I did research on suitable cams. I am shooting in 1080p with 29.97 fps.