From the Grand Ole Opry to the “Man in Black,” the culture of Nashville’s music scene is in a league of its own. To be dubbed “Country Capital Of The World” is a bold yet durable claim that’s held it’s own weight influencing artists and musicians around the world for decades.
Forefathers like Scotty Moore, Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed invented the styles of Travis-picking and rockabilly and gave country music its signature style. In the modern era, the torch has been passed to hybrid players like Johnny Hiland, Brad Paisley and Daniel Donato, who continue to raise the bar stylistically and sonically.
If there’s one thing that all of these guys have in common, it’s their love and obsession for the gear they use to get their sound. Here are five essential pedals to get you on the road to that classic Music City tone.
Brent Mason is one of the most prolific country session players in the industry. No matter what the job calls for, the Wampler Hot Wired V2 leaves no stone unturned. Channel 1 delivers a transparent overdrive to add some body to your chicken pickin’, while Channel 2 has more saturation to nail those vintage Plexi tones.
There’s no question that one of the classic foundations for any country guitarist is a Tele into a Deluxe. The immediate next in line is a good compressor to make your double-stops and hybrid picking stand out in a set. The Origin Cali76 is a painstaking recreation of the legendary Urei 1176 studio compressor in pedal form. It features high current, low noise, Class-A circuitry and the warmest, most transparent compression you’ll find on the market today. For all of you steel players out there, be sure to check out the Slide Rig!
In the early 1980s, Boss released its first compact analog delay pedal, the Boss DM-2. While only toting a single bucket-brigade chip, the DM-2 had a limited 300ms of delay time. This didn’t bother any of the pickers down in Nashville since their primary use of delay was to create a quick, single-repeat, slapback effect. The sonic character of the DM-2 is a soft, darkened, three-dimensional reflection that floats perfectly underneath your dry signal. As eBay prices started rising and demand becoming more apparent, Boss released the DM-2W; A faithful, sonic recreation of the original with a few modern appointments added including 600ms of delay time for longer echos and an expression pedal input to control the delay time on the fly.
If your amp doesn’t have a spring reverb to get that rockabilly “splash,” then the Spaceman Effects Orion is a no-brainer. It’s the smallest, all analog spring reverb on the market. Oh yeah! This thing has two springs inside of it! As with everything that Spaceman makes, the Orion is hand-wired and built like an absolute tank.
In the 1950’s, before the world of pedals, effects and plugins, musicians had to think outside the box to “effect” their sound. From cutting holes in their speakers to achieve clipping to putting your thumb on a reel-to-reel to modulate your sound. Enter the Strymon Deco. The Deco is a one-stop shop that harnesses the three main categories that every effect falls into; tone-based, modulation and time-based. The Tape Saturation side acts as the tape machine’s preamp, which gives you everything from subtle compression to transparent overdrive. The Doubletracker showcases some of the most iconic modulation effects ever discovered. The Lag control set’s the offset between the two tape decks allowing you to sweep between chorus, flange, slapback and echo up to 500ms. Chet would have loved this thing!