Morning Becomes Electric: Pedals, Cables, Strings

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter



The most obvious place to start with your guitar accessory needs is in the cabling department. First off, all cables are not made equally. In the case of the cables made by ELIXIR and RAPCOHORIZON, the difference is heard right away, more so with the Elixir. There is notably more high-end and clarity compared to the cable lying around the studio (which was not an off brand cable, either). The Elixir has an oversized grip that could assist in quick-change situations and was an overall thicker cable, whereas the Dominator has a much slimmer Neutrik connector and standard cable width. LIST PRICE: $50-$105 Elixir Instrument Cables, $54.99 RapcoHorizon Dominator


Before you really get going, you’ll need to tune and for that, the BOSS TU-3 CHROMATIC TUNER is an update on the live standard, the TU-2. Boss has managed to squeeze in a few additions without messing too much with a good thing. The TU-3 still has the classic indestructible construction and automatically mutes the signal when engaged. This time around they’ve added a “High Brightness” mode to help with outdoor visibility. Along with the standard chromatic, guitar and bass tuning modes, Boss added a “Guitar Flat” mode that lets you drop up to six semitones below standard pitch. It’s sturdy and reliable, which is all you should ask for from a tuner. LIST PRICE: $160.50


You can never have too many effects. For starters, there is the classic MXR PHASE 90. Aficionados know there are many versions of this pedal. This version has the block logo with an LED light that is the most modern, but in general the Phase 90 is still the phase pedal that all others are judged by. Simple as can be with the on/off switch and the speed control knob, the Phase 90 achieves anywhere from a calming swoosh to some violent vibrations. It’s a classic effect that doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. LIST PRICE: $150.24

Another must have effect in your arsenal is a good delay pedal. The SEYMOUR DUNCAN SFX DÉJÀ VU TAP DELAY is versatile and fun to experiment with. It doesn’t take up too much pedal board real estate and it has the longest delay you have ever heard. The pedal boasts an Analog/Digital Blend control allowing you to dial in the Bucket Brigade delay sound or go with the digital setting for perfectly clean signal. It appears that the blend control is useful, with the analog setting being a tad on the muddy side and the digital setting a little too sterile for personal taste. The sound is very convincing whether you need a traditional slapback or have to conjure up some Gilmore. LIST PRICE: $349.00

In order to round out the essentials of your pedal collection, a volume pedal is a must have. The ERNIE BALL VP JR. is a high quality pedal with one potentiometer and extremely smooth action. Keeping with the rest of this pedal collection thus far, it takes up less space than its full-fledged counterpart. Along with a tuner output, the pedal also offers a Micro Taper switch giving you two different swell rates. It’s a trusted name in volume pedals and it doesn’t disappoint with its feel and control. LIST PRICE: $120.00

In the string department, you should give some coated strings a try. There’s the GHS COATED BOOMERS and the ERNIE BALL COATED SLINKY with Titanium Reinforced Technology. The coating makes strings last longer by resisting corrosion and also prevents breakage better than non-coated strings. In playing the two sets, the Boomers showed wear a little faster than the Slinkys, but also had a stiffer feel. In the end, strings are such a personal preference; you should just try them both. LIST PRICE: $9.29 GHS, $8.50 Ernie Ball


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