Part 1 here
Virtual FX pedals
Ok, let’s move on… within the MOD ecosystem, we have access to dozens and dozens of different virtual effects pedals, with various types of applications for just about any kind of music you want to create. The time has come to start putting them in between your guitar or any other electric instrument you play, and your amp. Just take it easy! Ideally, you should be able to explore each pedal/effect separately to try to understand exactly what each one does and doesn’t do to the original sound of your instrument. If you’ve ever had experience with physical pedals or a multi-effects unit of some kind, then you will find our approach here will be very similar and will help you improve the creation of tones and effects in your music.
Most probably you have already had some kind of distortion or overdrive pedal as your first dedicated effect. Before explaining what each effect is, I want to propose some small exercises, which I will demonstrate below, to provide some clarity in the search for your sound and your tones.
Let’s start by taking a simple digital overdrive or distortion pedal within the MOD ecosystem and insert it between your instrument and your amplifier. All the pedalboards I’ll show you here are available online, at MOD’s website. Just click on the associated link here, with your MOD connected via USB to your computer and they will load automatically on your device.
The first thing you will want to do is balance the volumes of the instrument with the effect on and off. Play a chord with the pedal turned off and set a measurement for the volume of your instrument. Now turn the pedal on and play the same chord and/or phrase. Is it louder or quieter? Try to make it as close as possible. The second step is to work with the equalization controls on the pedal. Since you have already set the tones on your guitar or other instrument and the equalization controls on your amplifier, try to preserve as much as possible the equalization between bass, mid and treble that already existed before the digital pedal was connected and turned on. Adjust the tone controls on the pedal, slowly, trying to listen to the nuances it causes in the final tone. Some digital pedal controls are more sensitive and react with extreme precision to adjustments, while others are simpler and have only two or three positions to choose from.. Find out what your choice within the MOD ecosystem looks like, and find the right spot.
Next, the big secret for overdrive and distortion pedals is the combination of volume and gain controls. Basically, with more volume and less gain you get a cleaner, fuller sound, and the opposite (less volume and more gain) will give you a more distorted, heavier sound. Try it and find out! Repeat this procedure with all the other saturation pedals (this includes fuzz, distortions, overdrives and boosters) that you have along the way in your search for the perfect tone.
An important note: in this first example, I created the same setup with and without the amp simulator. If you plug your MOD directly into a traditional transistor or tube amplifier, you probably don’t want to use the amp simulator. It is quite common to plug your MOD into an active sound monitoring system, such as a pair of audio monitors present in any home-studio. In this case, you will not only want to use the amplifier simulators (which are great and will be a separate topic soon in my posts here), but they will also be essential for creating your perfect tone.
Try to listen to both examples below, with and without the amplification simulation, and see what changes tonally. Pay attention to the details, the texture of the tone, the sound envelope (attack, decay, sustain and release, ADSR – we will also talk about this soon).