Monster Rig finally Phase I complete

neilvg

Active Member
I decided to embark upon a MIDI based pedalboard rig that can in some aspects be recalled by a DAW for session specific pedal-based outboard effects.

In addition, I wanted a killer sounding guitar rig as well, and as such wanted to ensure minimal cabling was used (albeit, with a rig this size there is still quite a bit).

I decided to build the rig first as a phase I proof of concept, and once the positioning was finalized, I would then work to make it 'clean' and enable more midi functionality. I started out making most of the cabling using bestronics-0678, but then decided I'd just redo everything once I knew exactly how I wanted it to go (so not all cabling is bestronics, but it will be). So now with Phase I complete, all that's left in addition to making the cabling super clean and mounting the pedals down for a neater look, is to get my RJM setup dialed in with a ton more presets along with all the midi capable pedals. This part will take time and be a continual process.

Pertinent rig notes:
- 3 part rig: Floor control w/pedals, line level rack, standing hand height pedals on top of rack (mixed inst and line level w/stereo)

FLOOR CONTROL TIER -- This is really the pedals I don't tweak with much. Some of it has midi presets, some of it is just stuff I can stomp on with my feet that are pre-RJM or in effects loops for pedals).

I use my a Sarno Steel Black Box as my input buffer located underneath the 3 pedals on the top right. I also use the DPC.micro which allows me to use IA Cycle for my distortion pedals. I basically can click the distortion stomp (not preset) and get various levels of distortion (basically clean, A, B, C) or any combination of A B or C. Also A is a Chase Bliss brothers, so when this is enabled, a secondary button on the RJM becomes available and allows me to select 2 more distortions (high gain and fuzz types).

Also underneath is a MEGX. I needed both the PBC/10 and the MEGX to accomplish what I wanted to. Lastly there is a radial EXTC underneath the floor pedalboard as well. This allows me to run the Gamechanger Plus pedal along with the POG2 and the Lunar Phaser (which are in the plus's effects loop) as a stereo pedal.

The Mission Expressionator allows me 3 expression outs from my Lehle expression pedal. 2 of them go to the EHX Attack Decay and Keyztone Wahouwah respectively. The third output goes to the RJM where it is converted to Midi and lets me control a ton of other pedals including my Suhr Discovery, Neunaber Illumine, Source C4 Synth, Chase Bliss Brothers, Wombtone, & Warped Vinyl HIFI. I can also control the Meris Polymoon and Hologram Microcosm as well. I created a page on the RJM that is just midi expression 'focus' buttons for each midi pedal and parameter I want to control -- I needed about 10 so it fit on one page. I can, while playing, focus the expression pedal on a particular pedal/parameter of that pedal, and it will then be active. I also have a script enabled that allows a given pedals focus to work whenever I activate that given pedals loop. Until I activate(stomp) another, this pedal will be the expression focus if applicable.

THE RACK TIER -- is where my rig goes line level. I use the Mesa/2020 after the Sarno SMS Classic (Fender Twin Circuit) to add controllable power tube saturation. I have a Suhr reactive load box as well as a 2 channel amp switcher (not pictured but it replaced the pull out cabinet under the Mac Power Amp) that is controllable via Relay through the RJM. So by hitting a loop on the RJM, I can turn on 2 levels of power tube saturation (IA Cycle again but with relay control - off/A/B/off) -- one for clean/cleanish and one a bit more hairy and suitable for leads if I want it. I found this power tube stage added a LOT to the overall impact of the sound I was looking for, and having control over it through the reactive load circuit and back into the RJM at line level works like a charm and is very quiet.

LOW NOISE FLOOR -- In fact, a large part of what I was looking to achieve was a very quiet rig, and I took pains to make sure I didn't have any buildup of noise unless absolutely unavoidable. My rig is located in my soundproof recording studio within a room that has a noise spec rating of NC15 - so its whisper quiet, I can hear the tweeter hiss off of my ATC SCM150's.

HAND HEIGHT TIER -- of the rig is where most of my tweaking happens, and it features the pedals I like to get my hands on - either for programming/preset purposes, or real-time manipulation. These pedals consist of line level as well as instrument level as well as stereo wherever applicable.

ROUTING -- An aspect of this rig that took me some time was the routing. Getting instrument level, line level, mono and stereo pedals all in the right order, working together, usable ergonomically, and within the loops of the PBC/10 and MEGX needed several drawn out routing schemes and trial and error. But I am very happy with the outcome, and it works very well - thanks in large part to the RJM's! Such amazingly flexible but also usable (in the real world) gear! I am a musician and engineer first, and a tinkerer and rig builder as a hobby. Having a rig this complex I can just sit down at and use intuitively is a delight!

THE OUPUTS -- The outputs of the rig go to a pair of JBL D123 speakers which are fed by my stereo Mcintosh MC250 which you can see in the rack. The Mcintosh is my main power amp and its a BEAST. Best sounding amp I have ever heard, especially for clean/ish tones. The D123's are incredible speakers as well, as quite full range. This is why I have a few programmable analog EQ stages - especially for distortion.

Before hitting these two Speakers (JBL D123), the power cables pass through 2 UA OX-Top Boxes. The OX adds a the JBL G-125 or JBL D120 IR's and goes to a Manley Dual Mono pre and into a Lynx Aurora Converter and then Pro Tools.

Even though this is a beast of a rig, with a lot of segments, the sound is immediate, I often play clean with a touch of verb, and I absolutely LOVE the sound. I'll likely do a few sound profile videos and rig rundowns since some people have been asking and I think it might be fun. Plus, perhaps we can all share a few tips and tricks!

If you read this far, thank you very much! I'm looking forward to making this rig super clean and tidy.

Thanks!
Neil


Floor Tier
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Rack Tier
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Rack Top / Hand Height Tier
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Some Guitars - my man axe is a PRS Special 22 Semi Hollow LTD with a few electronics mods (very left)
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