Steel Guitar News August 9. 2012

Hello fellow players,

This is Vic Lawson subbing for Bobbe Seymour.

I want to talk about the differences between pot and potless volume pedals. First of all, I’m not an electronics whiz but I do know the basics.

Pot driven pedals have resistance measured in ohms that can affect the tone in some way during the travel of the pedal, whereas the Hilton pedal is more like a true bypass circuit which has no tone change through the travel of the volume pedal.

Essentially, using the Hilton pedal is like plugging your guitar directly into the amp because it doesn’t affect or color the tone in any way. This is very desirable in a recording situation. It does take a little getting used to not hearing the coloring that a pot pedal adds to the tone, but it’s very clean.

I just plug straight from the guitar into the amp, set the tone the way I like it and then put the pedal in the chain and I’m ready to go. Also, you don’t have to replace pots that wear out since the Hilton is a potless pedal.

I’d also like to talk about what order you should place effects units in when hooking everything up. If you’re using a reverb pedal, always put it last in the chain before the input to the amp. The reason for this is that way, everything in your chain has reverb on it. If you happen to use a delay as well, if you put it last, it’s going to delay the reverb and that’s going to sound like a train wreck.

Ideally, if your amp has a post EQ effects loop like the Nashville 112 has, you should run the reverb through that and the way you hook that up is to take a patch cable from the send of the effects loop on the front of the amp to the input of the reverb pedal. From the output of the reverb pedal, run a patch cable to the return of the effects loop on the front of the amp if your amp is a Peavey Nashville 112.

Many amps have effects loops built in, but not all are post EQ. The reason I like to run the unit through the post EQ is because none of your EQ knobs affect the sound of the reverb as nothing is patched in after that point. If the EQ were to affect the reverb, it would obviously change the effect of the reverb and could give you undesirable results.

If I do use an overdrive, I like to make it second in my chain of effects. I like to run my delay first, straight from my guitar into my delay pedal. Then I run out of my delay pedal to the input of the overdrive unit on those rare occasions that an overdrive unit is required. I then run out of the overdrive pedal to the volume pedal and then from the volume pedal to the amp.

If I’m using an amp that doesn’t have an effects loop, then I run out of the volume pedal to the input of the reverb and from the output of the reverb to the input of the amp. If your amp has two inputs, one low gain and the other high gain, use the high gain.

There are no set rules. Feel free to experiment to suit your own personal tastes. This is the way I do it and most everybody I know does it. Since tone is a very personal thing, play with different settings until you find what suits you.

Typically your delay doesn’t need to be heard, but it needs to be there. You need to set your delay where it’s not overpowering. I feel that the need for delay is just to fatten up your tone versus actually hearing your delay I just like to know that it’s there.

As with setting any effects pedal, it’s as much an art as it is a technique, at least when it comes to steel guitar. Guitar players can get away with a lot more especially because they can change instruments with each song if they wish.

The difference in sound between a Les Paul and a Telecaster can require different effects. So guitar players rely more on their effects than we steel players do. Furthermore, steel players aren’t going to change guitars with every song. We play one guitar all night long, we don’t switch between two or three.

Something that a lot of steel players don’t give a lot of thought to are the cables that connect everything. Cheap cables can affect your tone in a noticeable way. I like the George L cables for several reasons. First of all, you can make them to custom lengths so that you don’t have excess cable running all over the place to trip on. It keeps things nice and neat.

They’re a reasonably priced cable and well worth the price. In the rare instance I have a problem with a cable, it’s a solderless design so I can fix the problem in two minutes with a small screwdriver and a pair of wire cutters which everyone should carry in their pack-a-seat.

Finally, George L cables won’t color the tone like less expensive cables will do. When you’re striving for a clean, clear, consistent tone which you always should strive to get, don’t neglect your cables. It’s a small item that can make a big difference.

The tone you put out with your hands has to go through all these components and ultimately you want the tone coming out of your amp to be as good as the tone your hands are putting in. To that end, you want to have the best gear your budget allows and keep it in the best condition.

That’s why Bobbe has hand picked what we stock for steel guitar players. If he won’t use it, he won’t sell it.

Check out our monthly specials at and we’ll try to save you a lot of money.

Steel Guitar Nashville
123 Mid Town Court
Hendersonville, TN. 37075
(615) 822-5555
Open 9AM – 4PM Monday – Friday
Closed Saturday and Sunday

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