I’ve stated earlier that I find it absurd to spend $500 on a single pedal. Nothing against the people who make them (or buy them), but I still find this crazy, especially when you can buy 4 midrange pedals for the same price and experiment with them.
I buy most of my pedals used on eBay. So as long as they work, I don’t care really how they look. In the past year I bought a Boss BF-2 for $40 and an OD-2 for $50. Both pedals are long out of production and the current version costs 3x that amount. Both are kind of beat up looking, but that just adds to their charm. They sound great and do what I want them to do.
I’m finding it more and more that cost is less important than utility. Admittedly, I bought both of these pedals because famous people used them. I know Rachel from Slowdive had the OD-2 listed on her pedal board. I’m interested in getting a Boss HM-2 soon, mainly because Kevin Shields and Bilinda Butcher used them on all the classic MBV albums. Also, if I ever want to do death metal, I can get that Entombed sound with this same pedal.
I’m also less concerned about digital and analog pedals. Some people refuse to buy digital pedals, but that’s nonsense. Even if you have a tube amp (as I do), sometimes digital pedals are the only way to get certain sounds.
I guess if you play blues and country where your dry tone is important it might make sense, but in more experimental genres like ambient, noise rock and shoegaze, I find it less important. In the case of ambient the less dry signal you have, the better, so “tone suckage” is really a non-issue.
Lately I’ve had good luck experimenting with pedal placement. I have a Hardwire RV-7 pedal at the front of my chain, followed by the Boss OD-2, followed by a Boss PS-3 with a TC Hall of Fame at the end. I run it into my Fender Hot Rod DeVille on the dirty channel (with the fuzz turned pretty low) and the presence knob on 5 and the reverb knob cranked up. It’s kind of shrill and trebly at times (probably because of the single coils in my Strat), but I’ve also learning to experiment with tone knobs on both my guitar and amp.
In more traditional forms of rock it’s unheard of to place your overdrive after delay or reverb. But again, in experimental music, it’s best to place your pedals wherever you get your desired sound. This ain’t Nashville.
Basically I plan to muck about more with pedals and tone before buying an 8 track digital recorder. I have one picked out, but I’d rather wait to buy it. My stuff isn’t good enough to record yet (I’m sure there is a joke in there somewhere), but the more I prac and the more I experiment, the better my sound is getting. I don’t want to sound like another Brian Eno or Kevin Shields or Rachel Goswell, I want to sound like me, dammit.