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Electric guitar rig for worship music

Pedalboard - March 21, 2013

Most guitar players are crazy when it comes to gear, and I’m no different. I’m constantly buying/selling/trading/longing/hoping/etc. My acoustic setup has remained unchanged for a while now, and I’ve finally settled into an electric guitar rig that I like.

I’m 100% a rhythm player, so I don’t have a lot of mod effects that would give me really weird sounds. When I play, I focus much, much more on singing and leading than fiddling with pedals. I usually just have two or maybe three basic tones that I stick with for a whole set, and I really don’t like to stomp on anything during a song. Anything that takes my focus away from leading is bad, in my opinion. I do a lot of drive control with the volume knob on my guitar as well. Here we go.

Korg Pitchblack Tuner

PitchblackThe first thing my signal hits is a tuner. A tuner is a tuner, really, but I really like the Pitchblack – mostly because it’s really easy to see. As you can tell, the display is pretty huge, and the little bars across the top light up when you tune. When it’s green, you’re in tune.

I see a lot of people using the Polytune, and it looks pretty cool. I might have to check one out.

One thing that’s missing on the Pitchblack is a bypass mode. I’ve got a Boss TU2, and you can run it in bypass so you can leave it on and let the signal pass through the pedal. With the Pitchblack, you turn it on and it mutes your signal.

See more photos here on my Flickr page

Sasquash Compressor

Sasquash CompressorNext up is the Sasquash Compressor. You’ve probably never heard of the Sasquash Compressor, because it doesn’t really exist.

This thing is actually a Joyo Dynamic Compressor, which is a really cheap clone of an MXR Dyna Comp. It sounds good enough. It did, however, look stupid. Hit the link above and you’ll see what I mean. I always think about a giant scorpion when I think of compression, so it totally makes sense that Joyo would use it on the pedal.

I painted the box orange, made the waterslide decal, and put on cream colored knobs. Much better.

See more photos here

GREAT SCOTT! Overdrive

Great Scott ODNever heard of the GREAT SCOTT! Overdrive, either? It has the same story as the Sasquash. It started out as a Joyo Vintage Overdrive, which is a cheap clone of an old-school Ibanez Tube Screamer. If you click through the link above, you’ll see that whoever designs these pedals at Joyo needs to lay off the glow-in-the-dark yellow. I made it my own with some green paint, Back to the Future graphics, and speed knobs.

This one actually sounds really good, but I don’t use it all that often. I’m starting to use it more and more, and it’s become my go-to for low to medium gain tones.

See more photos here

Fulltone Fulldrive 2 Mosfet

Fulltone Fulldrive 2The Fulldrive is a GREAT overdrive pedal, and it’s one of my main drive pedals (either this one or the Mudhoney). It’s a Tube Screamer clone, but it sounds way better than any tube screamer I’ve ever heard before.

Since it sits right next to the GREAT SCOTT, which is also a tube screamer clone, it’s easy to tell what sets the Fulldrive apart. It’s got way more clarity and it seems to be a lot livelier, for lack of a better word. When you set them up similarly, the fulldrive just has more energy and sparkle.

I run it in the MOSFET and Vintage modes. The boost is a nice touch – I’ll hit it for big bridge or solo sections. GREAT pedal. If you need an overdrive, check this one out.

See more photos here

T-Rex Mudhoney

MudhoneyI’m not going to lie to you, I picked this up years ago pretty much based on the fact that John Mayer uses it. I listened to some demo’s on YouTube and I was sold. I actually sold the pedal in the photo over there and recently bought another one because I missed it so much (which is why the Mudhoney in the pedal rig photo above looks a bit beat up).

I read somewhere that the Mudhoney is based on a Rat, which explains why it sounds way different than my other two drives, which are based on Tube Screamers. Actually, Mudhoney is a great name, but that’s exactly how it sounds. Very smooth, rich, creamy, syrupy, etc. It’s not nearly as hyped sounding as my other drives, but it’s a lot thicker sounding. It also has a boost (that little black button between the knobs) that makes it sound like a fuzz. I play this one about as much as the Fulldrive. I don’t really have certain songs that I use certain pedals for – just whatever I’m feeling that day.

See more photos here

T.C. Electronics Nova Delay

novaI could say a lot about the Nova Delay because it does a ton of stuff, but here are the things I really like about it.

It has a tap tempo button. Essential on a delay pedal, in my opinion.

It has a nice big display that shows you BPM if you like. We play all our songs to click tracks, so I can dial in exactly what tempo I want.

It has a ‘subdivision mode’, which means I can tell it I want dotted eighth delay while I have it set to 90 bpm and it does it. It will also do dotted eighth and quarter note delay on the same setting – kind of like two delays in one. In case you didn’t know, this is the U2 setting, which also doubles as the “Modern Worship Guitar” setting.

One thing I don’t like is there is no footswitch to change between the saved presets, but you can have it modified to do that if you like.

See more photos here

Digitech RV-7 Reverb

Digitech RV-7 ReverbThis is a very solid reverb pedal with a ton of options. I typically stick with the Hall setting, but the Spring setting is great if that’s the sound you’re looking for. It has the Lexicon reverb modeling in it, which is pretty good stuff.

The Modulate setting is also pretty nice. It’s a bit different than the Boss RV-5 mod setting, but it comes close. This one has more of a chorus effect, and it’s not nearly as over the top, but if you turn it all the way up, it definitely gives you some cool ethereal kind of sounds.

I also really like the big blue light.

See more photos here


night-train-02So what do I run all this stuff into? Currently it’s a Vox Night Train, and I’m quite happy with it. I’ve been all over the map with this stuff. Modeling amps (Vox Valvetronix), modeling footpedals (Line 6 POD XT Live and HD500), and a few different amps (Peavey Classic 30, Vox AC15).

I settled on the AC15 for quite a while, but eventually it was just too loud. We really try to keep our stage volume as low as possible. The Night Train sounds a lot like the AC15, but you can run it in 7 watt mode, which is way quieter.

I run the head into an Egnater cab, but I’ve swapped the stock speaker out for an Eminence Red Fang speaker, which is a clone of the Celestion Blue.

See more photos of the Night Train here

How about guitars?

I switch back and forth between two main guitars…

Gretsch G5120

5120How awesome is a big orange hollow body guitar? Pretty awesome. I love this thing, and it works quite well for modern worship stuff (think Hillsong). It is prone to feedback a bit, but with our low stage volumes, its rarely an issue.

There lots of things I love about this guitar (the way it sounds, looks, feels, etc), and a few I don’t. I’d love to upgrade the following things: Pickups – the stock pickups lack a lot of clarity and bite. Bridge, nut, and tuners: I fight tuning issues with this guitar. Wiring: sometimes it’s a bit noisy, and every once in a while it cuts out when switching to the bridge.

Other than those issues, it’s a keeper. And it’s perfectly playable in it’s stock condition – these are just wish-list kinds of things.

See more photos of the Gretsch here

Blue Telecaster

blue teleThis guitar is near and dear to my heart – I built it with my Grandfather who is a retired carpenter. There’s really nothing I would change about this guitar. Here are some specs:

Body: Alder
Neck: Warmoth
Pickups: Seymour Duncan Vintage Mini HB (neck), Seymour Duncan ‘Lil 59 (bridge)
Electronics: 4 way switch (4th position is both pickups in series, which acts like a boost)

This guitar sounds like a mix between Telecaster and Les Paul with the dual humbuckers. We didn’t know what we were doing when we built this thing, but the stars must have aligned, because I haven’t played many other guitars in my life that top this one.

See more photos of the blue telecaster

Finally, here is a photo of me just this past weekend playing the Gretsch through all this stuff:



25 Responses to Electric guitar rig for worship music

  1. Mike Watson Mar 25, 2013 at 5:17 pm #

    Hey Brian. Great blog! Tell me more about the stuff you play while leading from electric. Do you play more chords, arpeggios, etc.? Do you have a lead electric player when you lead from the Gretsch? I’m 100% acoustic player who’s looking to venture out into leading with an electric. Educate me!

    • Brian Wahl Mar 25, 2013 at 10:52 pm #

      Thanks, Mike! I play mostly chords. I’ve been a 100% acoustic player for most of my life as well, so switching to playing electric a lot was definitely a transition. I still play the electric too much like an acoustic (just hammering out open chords), but I’m starting to play a bit of lead (more like rhythm lead).

      I think a great thing to do is start learning different voicings of open chords. I also try to always keep in mind that less is more on electric – especially when you’re using overdrive.

      • jay Jun 11, 2018 at 3:39 am #

        hello brian, we are from palo christian church, philippines, do u have musical instruments that we could use for our church.Thanks!

  2. aaron Oct 25, 2014 at 5:45 pm #

    I also lead worship or play with the band, I currently have the POD HD500 which we run through the PA etc, I also have a Bogner Spider Valve (the first 1) which is essentially a modeling amp tube combo. I am a very amateur player, and find with 4 kids there isn’t much time to tweak with it all and really have been thinking its too much. I am thinking of just selling it all and buying a small amp and 4 or 5 pedals. Can you elaborate on why you dumped the modeling pedals like the HD500 for pedals? What pedals would you recommend (not specific pedals, but what do I need… i.e. chorus, tube screamer, compressor etc?? I thought the HD500 would be easier because it gives me so much but it just seems like to much to deal with as I get older with less time etc.

    • Brian Oct 29, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

      I keep going back and forth on what I’d prefer to use, actually. Pedals and amps are just lots of fun, in my opinion. I really think you can get stellar results either way. I’m about to start a series highlighting some POD HD500x patches, so check those out when they are uploaded.

  3. Trevor Bechtel Nov 18, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

    Which Vox Night Train model do you have? I did some research but could not find which one had the capability to go to 7 watt mode, which would be great for my church as well (smaller building and needing to diminish stage volume). Thanks!

    • Brian Nov 25, 2014 at 11:10 am #

      Hey Trevor – I actually don’t have that Vox anymore. I sold it, but it was one of the older (1st gen) Night Trains. Mine was the 15 watt version and you could run it at 7 watts. I’m not sure what the features are on the current Night Trains, but I know that Vox has made some changes with them.

  4. Logan Feb 2, 2015 at 11:48 pm #

    Hey! This is a pretty cool site, Brian. I recently started and would love for you to check it out. Feel free to use my email and let’s chat.
    About the Nova Delay – I had one. To switch between presents you tap the Tap Tempo button once and then tap the On/Off switch as many times as you want to change presets. I believe you can save up to 9. I love that it can be changed between eighth, dotted eighth, and quarter without bending down to touch the knobs. Hope this helps! Cheers.

  5. FDeSalvo Apr 21, 2015 at 4:04 pm #

    LOL @ your Joyo pedal commentary!

  6. maxter131 May 22, 2015 at 1:29 pm #

    Hey Bryan what did it take for you to make the great scott overdrive image and would it be possible for me to have that file? my uncle and i both want our own great scott overdrive

  7. megador Jun 26, 2015 at 7:17 pm #

    How did you go about painting your pedals? Just got the Vintage Overdrive and considering the same thing…

    • Brian Jul 3, 2015 at 2:38 pm #

      I just sanded the old paint off and used spray paint. After I applied the decal, I spray painted clear coat on to it.

      • megador Jul 10, 2015 at 9:09 pm #

        Thank you!

  8. Best Reverb Aug 31, 2015 at 6:40 am #

    I keep going back and forth on what I’d like better to use, actually. Pedals and amps ar simply immeasurable fun, in my opinion. i actually suppose you’ll get stellar results either approach. I’m on the point of begin a series highlight some POD HD500x patches, therefore check those out once they ar uploaded.

  9. Ziaul Haque Oct 29, 2015 at 1:19 pm #

    We carry on backwards and forwards on which I’d such as easier to make use of, really. Pedals as well as amps ar merely immeasurable enjoyable, for me. we really assume you’ll obtain stellar outcomes possibly strategy. I’m about the stage associated with start a sequence emphasize a few POD HD500x areas, consequently examine individuals away after they ar submitted.
    Many thanks.

    • Brian Nov 28, 2015 at 2:45 pm #

      Hi Ziaul – I like both kinds of setups, too.

  10. Keith Duhart Oct 30, 2015 at 12:59 pm #

    Just was wondering when you could do some lessons on small venues. I am working in a church with under 100 people in a small room. But we have a nice sound board and system. I would like to hear teaching for small churches who may have ok equipment on how to have good coverage in the room.

    • Brian Nov 28, 2015 at 2:46 pm #

      Hi Keith – definitely something we’ll talk about in the future here at Worship Tutorials.

  11. Michael Rodriguez Nov 24, 2015 at 12:16 pm #

    Hey Brian,

    Just wondering, was it a 12″ 16 ohm Red Fang (Red Coat series) speaker that you put in your Egnater cab? How did that speaker sound with that Night Train head? I’ve had the Vox AC15 Custom Combo with Alnico Blues in my sights for some time now, but I found the NT15H just like yours for a steal of a price that I couldn’t pass up. So now I need a 1×12 cab to pair it up with. Although I would love the Blues in my cab, I’m curious to know how the Red Fangs sounded?

    • Brian Nov 28, 2015 at 3:01 pm #

      Yeah I have a 12″ Red Fang in the Egnater – I believe it’s the 8 ohm version, though. I really like it – it smoothed out the top end a bit when I put it in my old AC15 combo. With the Night Train, it’s the only speaker I ever used with it, so I can’t really compare to other speakers.

      • Michael Rodriguez Dec 14, 2015 at 12:54 pm #

        Thank you for the reply Brian and I want to share this. That Vox NT15H is KILLER!! I was using the amp that belonged to my church (Fender Champion 100) and I was having some noise humming issues. I borrowed a Decimator pedal to calm the noise and it did, but it also changed my tone. I placed that pedal everywhere in my chain, but I still noticed the tone change. But with that Vox NT15H, I play in the Triode mode (7.5 watts) and the noise is completely gone. So I won’t need a noise suppression pedal and my worries of a changed/colored tone are gone as well. I have never owned a tube amp before and WOW what a difference. Even in the Triode mode, those tubes are amazing! I also got a 1×12 cab and placed a Celestion Alnico Blue in there and it sounds glorious!! I have a JHS Double Barrel pedal that is always on and the sound that comes through the EL84’s and the Alnico Blue really sparkles. I also got a Mudhoney and when I stack it on my Double Barrel for hard choruses/bridges, it rings like a champ. But what tops it all off is my BBE Sonic Stomp. I found a used one on for $40 a couple weeks ago and I’m so glad I got it. That pedal cleans up EVERYTHING…even the boost setting of the Mudhoney is crisp and clear. I highly recommend checking in to that pedal. Thanks for this thread because it helped me out tremendously when I switched to leading with an electric…and I’m still learning!!

  12. Ricky Dec 8, 2015 at 9:44 pm #

    I JUST updated my current worship rig. You can check it out here:

  13. James Kim Mar 3, 2016 at 8:58 am #

    Hey! I use a couple of different od. Pedal order would start with the rc booster for a small underlayer for bright or dark tone add to my tone. It has a very slight grit, not really noticeable for any auditioning pedals to have its sound more available. It would plug into a disasterareaamps dpc8ez (don’t quote me on the names). The order in the bypass would first be micropog. Then deep six compressor for sustain and slight grit and brightness. Then the Timmy as an always on breakup point pedal. Then little green wonder for low gain dark rhythm style playing. It’s not too dark but to the point where it’s slightly bright and dark at the same time using the tone knob. Then signa drive for high gain playing, then the rat proco on low gain towards od for lead solos. It would then have a volume input on the 8ez, (can be placed on whichever channel when made – customized through email)… Ernie ball vp jr. Into Cusack tap a whirl tremolo for tremolo swells, then old blood endeavors black fountain for wavy modulated effects for swells and other special sounds, but not delays. 8ez would then go out to a strymon time line then into a big Sky for hall/room/shimmer/choral effects, into a goodwoodaudio junction box custom made with stereo audition l/r sendputs/tuner button/stereo to mono toggle. The 8ez would have a tuner out option to my boss tu3 tuner. The strymon pedals would be connected to a dmc6d which is used as bank up/down for the strymon, each bank saves 4 different presets to the dmc6d. And preset a/b switchability. It has an external out to favorites/tap tempo for easier action to a summed up favorites setting to all pedals and a tap for timeline. The strymon and midi controllers are connected using trs cables, everything else custom soldered at goodwoodaudio. The order of pedals is important to tone as it loops to each other pedal, unless it is a bypass signal pedal which means the pedals initial effect doesn’t add on to the next pedal in the chain. This goes into a vox ac15 and matchless lightning playing with a special run duo jet light gild chrome black guitar Gretsch from wildwoodguitars(Seymour Duncan dynasonic pickups) If you guys have any questions on what other things I do With these pedals, feel free to ask in case I forgot to specify something. Any techniques or ways of using these pedals included. Thanks

  14. David Aug 17, 2016 at 8:13 pm #

    Do you have an acoustic pedalboard setup?

    • Brian Aug 22, 2016 at 11:15 pm #

      Hi David – usually I just plug in straight to the PA for acoustic.

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