Are Amp/Pedalboard Combos Going to Be the Next Guitar Trend?

I usually don’t make a point of writing posts that cover random rig submissions, but when I said “the hell with it” and took a look at this rig-on-a-board from Hemotypsis guitarist Masaki Murashita, well, he had me at “Providence PEC-2.”

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For those of you who’ve made the dark pact and delved into the arts of midi, you know that when you stare into it, the midi stares back at you. Soon you sleepwalk half-lucid through a nightmare world of $1300 foot controllers with knobs like tentacles strewn about your feet. The day that I tracked down an $800 discontinued Egnater 4-head switcher that could feed my dry signal into a delay and power amp for a Wet/Dry/Wet configuration, that was the day I knew I was in too deep.

The Providence PEC-2 is a pretty obscure piece of kit. It’s a Japanese company, although at the website I was surprised to find a U.S. branch selling it directly. When I was shopping for one a few years ago you had to go through an import shop. Of all the small foot controllers that have built-in loops, it’s functionality is, to my mind, the most well thought out. I love how three of its loops can instead be used for 1/4″ channel switching jacks.

Murashita must have all those loops filled with pedals, though, because to handle external switching into his ISP Theta preamp he’s using an RJM Switch Gizmo, another awesome little unit. Now that Axess Electronics is no more, RJM is the go-to company for midi utility boxes. I have an Amp Gizmo in my own rig. That said, RJM’s foot controllers are the weakest part of their product line, hence Murashita’s PEC-2.

The other reason I thought this rig was noteworthy is that the whole goddamn thing is on the pedalboard. The aforementioned Theta preamp is sent to an ISP Stealth 180 watt solid state power amp. It’s a 1.2 pound tiny-as-hell box. You could fit the thing on a sandwich.

I don’t honestly think his rig sounds very good, mind you, but I had just posted about that Taurus amp-as-a-pedal last week, so I’m wondering now if this is the direction everything is headed. As components get smaller, I wouldn’t be shocked if Fractal or Kemper make a unit small enough to fit on a board. When then happens it’ll be a game changer for touring and session musicians.

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Chris Alfano has written about music and toured in bands since print magazines and mp3.com were popular. Once in high-school he hacked a friend's QBasic stick figure fighting game to add a chiptune metal soundtrack. Random attractive people still give him high-fives about that.