Finding Your Style and Bucking Traditional Gear Wisdom with Chris Buck

This week on TPS, Dan & Mick continued their summer hospitality with a scwhang-filled hour with guitarist Chris Buck of Buck & Evans. Chris talked over everything from going from imitating Slash on YouTube to playing on stage next to him. He also had a lot to say about how his approach to gear was related to his own journey of discovering a unique style.

While there were a few surprises on the board—like a front and center Electro Harmonix Superego or Boss PH-1R Phaser tucked underneath—most of the episode focused in on Chris’s numerous offerings of overdrive, delay, and the nature of his signal path.

Is There a Holy Grail of Overdrive?

There are nearly endless types of overdrive pedals on the market these days. If you haven’t found the one that’s right for you, you’re not looking hard enough…it’s out there. But that begs the question: is there such a thing as a soul mate overdrive pedal? That one single pedal that does it all and ends your quest for overdrive tone?

If you ask Chris, that type of pedal doesn’t exist. His board consisted of almost half overdrive pedals! At present, this includes vintage favorites (like the Marshall Blues Breaker), modern classics (like the Analogman King of Tone), as well as contemporary contenders (like the Paul Cochrane Tim). So why all the gain sources?

For Chris, it’s all about situation and determining what the gig, room, or track demands. “It’s a case of finding out what doesn’t quite sound right [in the moment] and deciding to try something different…That’s why there all set to a relatively similar point…it’s all kind of figuring out what works best wherever you are.”

Refusing to Downsize on Delay Offerings

If Chris’s board was rich on overdrive options, it was equally savvy with delay pedals. Dan noted, “Now, you have three delay pedals on your board.” Chris commented, “I went through a phase where I was kind of trying to pair things back, but that didn’t last long!” These days, he’s running the Way Huge Aqua Puss, Catalinbread Echorec, and the Empress Tape Delay. Dan continued, “How do you use those delay pedals. Individually or do you stack them?”

For Chris, the approach to delay pedals was not dissimilar to his take on gain: deploy them for what they do best in the context that makes the most sense. For example, the Aqua Puss is generally set to a tight slap back and called upon when there is a need for a bit more depth and space in solos. “It provides just a nice little crutch on the solos to make me feel like I’m not alone!”

Finding Your Fit with Pedal Order and Breaking Tradition

By this point, it is perhaps no surprise that part of Chris’s creative character and approach to gear is about experimentation and going where the situation leads. This is true even of his signal path on the pedalboard.

The Marshall Blues Breaker came first in the chain, which might not sound like an odd thing to do. However, since Chris uses it almost exclusively as a booster, the fronted position is certainly non-traditional. But as Dan noted, “I like that because if you have your pedals set with a lot of headroom, your pedals after [the boost] aren’t dimed, there’s still enough room for the Blues Breaker to work.”

In his early days, Chris put the pedal in that position because he liked it there and that became part of his signature sound. “By the time it came to actually put this [pedalboard] together, and I knew a bit more about what I was doing, I went to put it after and I just thought, ‘Why am I going against what I’ve always done just because common knowledge says that pedal should go last if it’s used as a solo boost?’” Good question and a great outcome. Pro tip: always go with what sounds and feels right. Don’t worry about what a trillion forum trolls say is the right way to get things done.

If you’re looking for a summer project on your pedalboard, be sure to head over to Riff City so we can help find that next piece of inspirational gear.

TPS Rig Rundown:

Guitars: Fender Highway 1 Stratocaster with Radio Shop ID: Chris Buck Signature Pickups, Yamaha Rev Star, Fender American Vintage ’62 Stratocaster, Fender John Mayer Signature Stratocaster (2008), PRS Silver Sky.

Pedals: Boss TU-3 Chromatic Tuner, Ramble FX Twin Bender Unprofessional MkII/I.V., Ceriatone Centura Professional Overdrive, Marshall Blues Breaker, Origin Effects Cali76 Compact Deluxe, Analogman King of Tone, Klon KTR, Paul Cochrane Tim, Lovepedal Amp 11, Keeley Katana Boost, Boss PH-1R Phaser, Mooer Trelicopter, Way Huge Aqua Puss, Electro Harmonix Super Ego Synth Engine, Lovepedal/Hermida Rotary Reverb, Catalinbread Echorec, Empress Tape Delay, Xotic EP Booster.

Amps: Blackstar Artist 30, Fuchs Clean Machine and 1×12 Zilla Cab with EVM12L speaker.

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