Monday, May 14, 2012

M. Ward's Pedalboard

I've been chasing M. Wards tone for ages. In fact, it was Never Had Nobody Like You that got me hooked on fuzz and set me on a fuzz journey that is still going strong (10-15 fuzz pedals later). I still can't tell you what fuzz he used on that song. I can tell you that he sounded great at the 9:30 Club last night with a pedalboard full of Boss pedals and an Ibanez delay. All powered by a (wait for the collective gasp from the Gear Page folks) a One Spot.

Here's the list:
Boss TU-2 Tuner
Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive
Boss RC-20XL Loop Station
Boss FRV-1 Fender 63' Reverb Pedal
Ibanez AD9 Delay

Guess I'm going full circle and buying an SD-1. At least it should only be about $35-40. Borderline free compared to some of these fuzz pedals I've bought.

And that's it folks. Take two Gibson Johnny A's (one tuned to D6), add these pedals, and a Fender Twin Reverb, and it sounds amazing.


  1. I'm this close to order one of this

    I've been in search for "THE FUZZ PEDAL" for years but seems like I can't quite find it... This fuzz thing will eventually drive me nut, I know. BTW, I love your blog. Keep up the great work.

    Bologna - Italy

  2. I don't think he's using a fuzz pedal live, there may be one on the record though. As far as I can tell, in both instances, it's just him overdriving his Fender with the SD1. I can definitely get very very close with my SG Standard -> SD1 -> Princeton Reverb.

    The search for his overdrive tone definitely took me full circle to the SD1 this week. I've been through them all since I got my first SD1 when I was 16, and I just bought a new one this week after seeing it pop up in pictures of his board over the last few years. Can't say I regret it (although it was $35 when I got my first one, they're up to $50 now! lame!).

  3. Thanks for the comments and compliments.

    Christian - my fuzz journey has been ridiculous. I think (famous last words) I'm finally all set with a Mojo Hand Huckleberry, a Throbak Stonebender, a EHX "Black Russian" Big Muff, a Fulltone '69 MKII, and a Danelectro Cool Cat Fuzz.

    Scott - I agree, as far as I know, M Ward never uses fuzz live. But the recording of Never Had Nobody Like You has to be a fuzz. Either way, I've gotten closest to it using my Danelectro Cool Cat Fuzz and/or my Throbak Stonebender. In both cases, I run my Reverend Roundhouse into the fuzz on the bridge pickup with the volume backed off slightly and put that into a clean amp.

    At this point, it almost doesn't matter what M. Ward used. This song opened up the world of fuzz for me. Prior to this, I had only ever owned overdrive and distortion pedals (seems insane in hindsight).

    And yes, I've gone full circle as well and picked up a used SD1 the day after the show. I haven't used it in a band setting yet, but it's been fun at home. Although, I'm still bothered by the bleed through that occurs when the drive is up beyond 10 o'clock. If I keep it, I may have the do the AnalogMan mod that fixes this.

    1. @P90 - Talkin' about fuzzboxes: through the years have you stumbled across any particular fuzz/vibe combination that you felt sounded better than others? (supposing that you're in to vibes at all...).

  4. Okay, so following up on my fuzz comments, Matt's new website has a Little Big Muff on the homepage. That might be worth checking out, if you haven't already!

    ps I'm 'Scott S' from before, Blogspot changes my login options every time I comment on something...

  5. Wow - good catch and thanks for the update. I did pick up another SD-1 as well. It's fine - not great, not bad. Guess I might need to pick up a Little Big Muff now...

  6. Can't believe there's a reverb pedal in his chain. I don't think less of him, just figured his live rig would be more organic.

    cool blog dude.

  7. Thanks for this post. I always wondered how M. Ward achieved the oscillating/wawa/reverb effect. It is a continuous effect that really culls up a vintage feel. Is it the whammy bar only? Or is there a pedal or amp he uses?

  8. Just saw M. Ward tonight (5/11/14) at Gruene Hall in New Braunfels, Texas. He had four pedals sans pedal board: an Ibanez AD9, a Malekko Ekko 616 (a bucket brigade echo), a Malekko Wolftone Sloika Distortion, and a Boss TU1. To echo Scott, he's running the Distortion pedal with the drive all the way down and the volume well past unity, which pushes the hell out of his Twin. That combined with Input 1 on the Vibrato channel of the Twin, and his distorted tone was phenomenal. His most fuzz-like sound came when he would roll back the tone knob on the Johnny A.

  9. Stop buying pedals and pick up a Fender Tweed Champ or Champion 600 and turn it up.

  10. I still can't show you what fuzz he suited for that song. I can show you that he sounded great with the 9: 30 Club last night with a pedalboard brimming with Boss pedals and the Ibanez delay.

  11. Nice pedalboard, bro.
    I love when pedal boards are very minimal, allowing the musician to just jump up on stage and wail. The greatest musicians can make any guitar through any amp, and hardly any effects pedals, sound great.