Canadian Musician - May/June 2021 - Page 56



This is an exclusive excerpt shared with Canadian Musician from the book Pedal Crush : Stompbox Effects for Creative Music Making by Kim Bjørn and Scott Harper . Published by BJOOKS , it offers a 376-page trip into the expansive , eclectic , and mesmerizing world of effects pedals . For more information , go to www . bjooks . com .
Most pedals share a basic common design and control interface , based on knobs , switches and toggles . However , even something like a simple footswitch can vary from pedal to pedal , shaping how you can interact with it and what you can achieve . Understanding the core parts of a pedal will make it easier for you to choose and use your effects with confidence ... and maybe even build one yourself someday .
The physical controls you ’ ll find on a pedal will vary depending on the type of effect , the era it was made , and the builder ’ s preferences . What they all have in common is a need to be both sturdy and convenient to use . Some makers prefer to mount controls directly onto the circuit board – others mount them on the surface of the enclosure , for better durability without compromising the fragile electronics inside .
Stomp Switches The reason pedals are called ‘ stompboxes ’: you stomp on the switch to turn the effect on / off . Footswitches come in a wide variety , each with its own special uses and behaviors .
The unique stomp switch of BOSS compact pedals .
Mechanical : The most common type , which physically open and close a circuit . They ’ re tough , tend to click loudly , and can be harder to press .
Relay-based : A relay opens and closes a circuit ‘ remotely ’ without the switch itself being in the audio path . Relay switches are often silent , and don ’ t affect the audio path .
Expressive switches : Some switches can be held down or pressed harder for other functions .
This pedal features a switch that lets the user decide between Latched or Momentary behaviour of the stomp switch .
Latched : This is the way stomp switches usually work : stomp once to turn the pedal on , stomp again to turn it off . Also called toggle .
Momentary : In this case , the effect or function is only active while the footswitch is held down . Often used for activating a secondary function , or engaging a pedal for a brief moment .
Some switches also do different things depending on whether you tap , hold , or double-tap .
Push , turn , move Knobs are by far the most common control on guitar pedals – whether they ’ re analog potentiometers (“ pots ”), digital encoders , or some combination of the two . Some have detents where the knob snaps to a setting , and some are stepped rather than smoothly variable . These are often used for selecting algorithms or time signatures , etc . A few manufacturers , like BOSS and DigiTech , sometimes use stacked pots : two knobs in one space .
You ’ ll most often see sliders used on EQ pedals .
Switches and buttons of all kinds are quite common , used to adjust the behavior , range , and response of a pedal – for example , changing modes .
DIP switches DIP ( dual in-line package ) switches are found on the rear panel , under , or inside some pedals . They are used for settings you generally won ’ t alter as often as those on the top of the pedal . These functions can include switching trails on / off , controlling how the pedal reacts to an expression pedal , MIDI settings , power modes , programming options , and much more .