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Not only is this one amazingly info-packed book, I found it a fascinating and very enjoyable read on many levels, and I wouldn't normally categorize myself as a "gear head" (although I think this book has converted me...). Although the chapter on Vintage Pedals is fascinating, I really appreciated the author's inclusion of an extensive chapter covering Current Pedals too. I agree with his view that "better pedals are being made now than ever before," and the newer effects often don't get their due. If you don't have $500 to spend on a rare, noisy, expensive but occasionally cool sounding box from the late `60s, Guitar Effects Pedals will point you to some alternatives, and will explain why the new options might even be more satisfying. On top of all this, the History, Tech, and Interview chapters are really useful and very entertaining. I have to say, I was a little puzzled - even stunned - by another reviewer's claim that this book "wasn't well written..." Huh? It flows beautifully, tells you what you need to know, and keeps you gripped along the way (then again, I believe that reviewer admits to being a writing teacher - kind of says it all). On top of that, the reviewer makes odd claims that seem to indicate he didn't really read (or understand) the book: he says that the JRC4558 chip isn't covered, but I found tons of info on it in here, and he also seems dismayed that the book didn't teach him how to build effects or something, where I don't find that angle promoted anywhere on the cover or inside, and that's not the stated intention of this book. Overall, I can't imagine packing more information - or a better read - into the pages allotted here, and we all know that no publisher is going to attempt to even print a 1,000-page to-it-all effects book. Ultimately, this is a book that every guitar player, pedalhead or not, would love to have on his or her shelf.
The book attempts to cover a lot of ground: a history of effects, an explanation of how they work (including some schematics, though be forewarned - these are frequently inaccurate or incomplete), a stroll through the history and most prominent models of a large number of manufacturers (including boutique types), some tips on using them effectively, 58 pages of interviews with notable designers/makers (Matthews, Cornish, Fuller, Vex, Voodoo Labs, Frantone, Visual Sound), and a CD with 92 nicely documented sample tracks of a wide assortment of contemporary and vintage pedals, both boutique and major maker.
All in all, a pretty reasonable yield for the money.
The writer clearly has a bias towards analog and seems to be the sort that finds images of sloppy overburdened pedal-boards with a dog's breakfast of devices crammed in with patch cords running everywhere just the sort of thing he wants on his wall calendar in the garage/basement (GET A LOAD OF THE KNOBS ON THAT ONE!). Perhaps because of the language barrier or just because you can meet a lot of folks justy hanging around New York, there is a decidedly American/British slant to the coverage. Not to say he shuns Boss, Ibanez, Guyatone, et al, but that he doesn't really have a lot of juicy insider stuff to offer about them the way he does with English-speaking makers. There is, as you'd expect of a 2004 book, a keen awareness of the emergence of the vintage market, and the challenge of knowing when stuff from the old days was good, when it has been surpassed by more contemporary stuff, and what constitutes a bargain vs a ripoff.
Chapter 2 has schematics to more precisely explain the inner workings of different kinds of pedals, but it's not clear what he's getting at.Read more ›
Musician-turned-journalist Dave Hunter describes the current market for guitar pedal effects as "booming." His book, which covers everything from the history of pedals to tips on expanding your arsenal of effects, is an indispensable bible for guitarists who are trying to make sense of today's flood of available options.
My favorite part of the book is Chapter Six. Entitled "Meet the Makers," this section includes extended interviews with legendary effects inventors such as Roger Mayer, Mike Matthews, Mike Fuller, Pete Cornish, Josh Fiden and Dan Coggins. These interviews give a behind-the-scenes peak at what inspired many of the innovations that have shaped the effects industry.
Beyond the text, "Guitar Effects and Pedals" comes with a 92-track CD which demos many of the sounds described in the book. In other words, when you read about a certain effect in the book, you can hear how it sounds by switching on the CD. Chapter Seven of the book provides a thorough index of the CD, so you won't have any trouble finding the track that you are looking for.
Overall, the no-bull approach of this book is probably what is most appealing: it doesn't try to tell you what to buy, or what pedals you need to play "to be cool," but lays the big, wide wonderful world of effects out in front of you so you can make your own sound-based decisions. No plugged-in guitarist should be without it.
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You're better off getting this book at your local library reading it and returning it. It's a bit dated and lacking in detail. After your finished with it it's not one of those books you wish you had on your bookshelf. It's a good read. Has some valuable tips. But, it is what it is.
A far better choice would be: "Analog Man's Guide to Vintage Effects." Fascinating book. Well-written. Tons of photos and other illustrations. And "Analog Mike" who has written it is The Man when it comes to all things stomp box.
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