Here is my entire pedal collection. First come the retail pedals, then my customs.
Xotic BB Preamp: an excellent little overdrive pedal. It’s especially good at tightening up heavily distorted rhythm tones as well as pushing other overdrive pedals into a liquid lead sound. This is probably my favorite pedal that I bought because it is so useful.
TC Electronic Delay: This is my delay/echo pedal. It includes a huge selection of types of delay, as well as a stereo option. One of the coolest parts about it, as well as most other TC Electronic pedals, is the option to download a Tone Print.
TC Electronic fly all over the world to get various guitarists to build their own customized sounds that you can download, and you can make your own with some included software. You can either transfer the Tone Prints via USB or magically through your guitar pickup. Download their app to your phone and hold it up to your pickup. Your phone will start screeching some weird code noises into your pickup, effectively reprogramming the Tone Print option. Wasn’t that a great ad, TC?
TC Electronics Ditto Looper: Here’s another extremely useful TC Electronic pedal. It’s a looper that lets you overdub yourself and be your own accompaniment. It’s great for practice but especially useful for experiment in you home studio.
Reamping is a handy trick that lets you track a perfect take and then mess with your tone after the fact. Usually this means recording directly into you interface and computer and then running a cable out to your amp. This can kill your amp if you don’t have a proper load, so research more before you try it. Load boxes and other reamping equipment is pretty pricey, so I use this to record my guitar’s input, let it repeat forever, and switch out equipment later in the signal chain.Of course, I turn down the looper when I mess with the setup so I don’t drive myself crazy from my own never-ending takes.
MXR Eddie Van Halen Phase 90: I don’t use modulation effects that often, but when I do, I use the EVH Phase 90. It can do both whooshing near-flanger sounds, but my favorite is the subtler Script mode, which softens things up a little bit. Really simple, but the sound is perfected enough that you only really need a effect speed knob.
MXR Ten Band EQ: This does what you would assume: boosts and cuts frequency content. I tend to up the mids on my high-gain amp settings, and then use this to cut a narrower notch out of the mids. This kind of subtractive technique lets me avoid the mid-scoop pitfall that makes the amp rock on its own, but then disappears in a mix or band setting.
Custom pedal #1: This is a heavily modified version of another purple overdrive pedal that will remain nameless, since I don’t want to get sued. I put in an extra RC filter driven by the same Treble Boost knob. It adds something of an extremely subtle phase effect as the three filters battle each other. The pedal goes from a spanky crunch sound to over-the-top fuzz. The second gain stage is just another clipping LED, so the fuzz can get pretty harsh, but the LED lights up in conjunction with your playing, so I don’t mind that much.
Custom pedal #2: This one is my baby. My really, really ugly baby. I concocted this monstrosity from a super-basic Tube Screamer circuit. I love this pedal, especially with the BB Preamp maxing it out in front. On its own, it is probably the best sounding overdrive that I ever heard, and I’m not just saying that to brag. Driven to its limit, it is the heavily distorted lead tone of my dreams. The only inkling I had about what I was doing with the gain stages and filters was from some of my circuit classes from a few years ago. That’s why I have the odd tone labels under the bottom two knobs; I don’t really know another way to describe them.
Custom pedal #3: This is the cheapest expensive pedal you’ve ever seen. The real thing, the Klon Centaur, is considered by many to be the holy grail of low-gain overdrive, and you can get it used for the low, low price of $1500. I made this one for $50. It sounds pretty good, but not for that price. The original creator even puts a disclaimer on his other pedals saying that he didn’t generate the absurd amount of hype for this one, so don’t blame him.
I think I wanted to make this just to prove to myself I could. I added the Soft and Bold/Fat switches based on mods that others have done (I can’t for the life of me where I stole the ideas from). The Soft switch adds a little bit more drive for a smoother sound with two types of clipping diodes to choose from. The Bold/Fat switch sounds like it changes the mid-frequency peak position, so you can either cut through a mix or just lie back with a mushier tone. As you can see, this pedal is pretty ugly on the outside, which warnings for quirks that I couldn’t quite iron out and an error with the case machining.
And that’s that.