The NFL Draft is now behind us, which means there are still a few weeks left until the season starts and—more importantly—a few weeks left until fantasy football begins.
With fantasy sports being such a significant cultural phenomenon, we here at TRW decided to do something a little different to keep our minds sharp: a fantasy pedalboard challenge.
The rules were simple: eight players, ten rounds and the whole world of guitar pedals to build one gig-worthy board to rule them all.
There were a few caveats though:
• Once a pedal is picked, it is permanently removed from the pool
• Choices must be actual pedals and not just effects units
• Big multi-fx pedals (like the Line 6 M9) are strictly forbidden
Those participating in the draft included eight of TRW’s finest editorial contributors: Phillip Dodge, David A. Evans, Ian Garrett, Sam Hill, Nicholas Kula, Yoel Kreisler, Fletcher Stewart and Eric Tischler.
I, Nick Rambo, acted as moderator and will provide some round-by-round insight and analysis below.
Here’s how it all went down:
The idea of a “fantasy pedalboard draft” was a novel concept from the start. Unlike fantasy sports, which are governed by complex scoring mechanics, position scarcity and varying tiers of talent-based predictability, the determining factors at play here were considerably more subjective. And yet, seeing a vintage Big Muff go as the number one overall pick made complete sense. In Yoel’s words, “Every board needs a Big Muff, so why not start with the ultimate classic?”
The Rockbox at #2 still seems like a bit of a reach in retrospect, but in what wound up being a drive-heavy first round, perhaps Eric was just ahead of the curve. And he managed to snag his favorite drive pedal right off the bat. “This is still the most throaty-but-stringy, articulate and dynamic OD I've ever played. And if I can't get my OD right, I can't get my mojo working.”
The steal of the round had to be the Strymon Timeline at #6. I expected it to go in the top three, so I’m sure Nicholas was happy to see it slide down to him at #6. He stated from the beginning that his strategy was geared toward “max computational power,” so starting with the current king of the megadelays is a fantastic first step.
Side Note: it was awesome to see a couple of my favorite pedals go in the first round. The remarkably versatile Lunar Module and hauntingly ambient Dispatch Master have both spent a considerable amount of time on my real-life pedalboard.
The run on compressors in such an early round was a surprise. I can’t fault the actual selections much, but with a ton of pedals still in play, so many compressors so early seemed hasty. For Ian and Phillip, compression is a foundational element of their respective tonal arsenals, so checking that off the list ASAP was clearly a priority.
David said the Saffron Squeeze offered “warm compression that doesn’t suck tone or produce that terrible, distorted crunch that some cheap analog compressors do.”
And of the Pale Green, Phillip said, “It’s almost always on and makes life (or at least my tone and playing) a little better.”
The best value pick here though was clearly the Twosome Fuzz. Eric said it was a “no-brainer” at the time and how can you argue with the logic? The Twosome is an absolute monster and comes with nearly unlimited fuzz tones.
Also interesting to note that Fletcher and Yoel grabbed pedals they reviewed for previous issues of Tone Report. For Fletcher it was the GFI System Specular Reverb 2, which he said is “as good or better than any rack or pedal.” And for Yoel, the Source Audio Nemesis Delay, a pedal that has “everything he could ever want from a delay.” High praise on both accounts.
Electro-Harmonix has completely dominated the draft to this point. The NYC-based company is essentially the Ohio State of pedal builders. Through 24 picks, EHX has already tallied four selections—and all by different players.
Phillip said the C9 probably seemed like an odd choice, but that he’d fallen in love with the Shimmer and Mellotron settings. ”They sound extremely cool on their own, but they are even better for building a pad under clean and slightly dirty rhythm parts.”
And there was quite a bit of discussion in the draft about Ian’s pick of the Thorpy FX Muffroom Cloud. He called it “his new favorite Muff” and said the interaction of the controls was “brilliant.” It seemed that this was one that a few others were hoping to get in a later round.