Gear. I tell you what. I love the stuff as much as the next guy (well maybe not, I have met some crazy gear heads). But I have a tendency to get stuck and just live in a land that I feel works for me. Luckily we have a worship leader, Aaron, on our team that knows his stuff and gives me info on all I need to know and stretches my exposure a bit. Otherwise, I would still have a Fender Squire Bullet with a DigiTech multi-effect pedal going directly into the sound board.
I certainly know what sounds I like (and the aforementioned “rig” is not at all what I like), but there is a lot to take in. For a little background, up until a few years ago I had never touched an electric guitar. I was acoustic all the way. The foray into electric guitar has been absolutely eye opening and I must admit, I dig all the possibilities and nuance that can be found with various pedals and amps.
With a limited budget, I have found that my initial pedal choices have had to be extremely well thought out. I quickly settled on two very great sounding overdrives, and a couple of industry standards for reverb and delay, the latter being a Line 6 dl4. I got it for a steal and it is every bit as good as most of its reviews say. But I have always had a little sadness when using the dl4. Two reasons: first is taste and the second is my limitations. I don’t really have anything against digital delay, but I simply like analog better. So by default I like the sound I can get out of an analog pedal. The second is usefulness. I am not a lead guitarist. I am pretty confident I may never be so. 99% percent of the time, I am using the same delay effect with the only differences being in tempo. I am a worship leader and rarely have time to adjust settings in between songs, and even with the memory built into the dl4, I found myself being partial to a very select few sounds. So the dl4 is being underutilized on my board (and taking up a lot of space in the process).
Again, luckily I have Aaron who both knows his stuff and has tons of great gear for me to try out and at the very least hear in person. A few months ago I accidentally broke the power supply to the dl4 and, while awaiting a replacement, I used Aaron’s JHS Panther Cub. I had been advised in the past that it can be hard to dial in, so I had never given it a go. Well, I loved it. The analog delay sounded so good to my ears, I thought I had an entirely new everything. And since I am able to set a sound I like and keep it, the lack of versatility in the Panther Cub is not a problem for me at all.
While the dl4 can do amazing things and is very versatile, there was just something about the Panther Cub that I instantly fell in love with. While this is not necessarily a review, and I hope to get to swapping out pedals and getting a real comparison in there at some point, what I have discovered is that too much gear can be a mess for me. I do not have the patience or desire to get the most out of these tools. I have very specific tastes and most of those lean toward a very vintage and analog sound.
Getting stuck in the middle where good tone sometimes lives is fine for me. I can live in there all day and be happy. For me I am going to keep digging till I find the sweet spot; which will most likely see me swap out the great dl4 for something that does a little less, a little differently, but that works for me. Sometimes stepping back a couple of paces makes the often overwhelming gear world look rather sane and simple. Find what you like. If you do, your tone will be awesome.