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Corey Christiansen Shares His Pedalboard

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Jazz guitarist Corey Christiansen talks about interesting ways he uses his pedalboard to enhance his sound.

Bob Bakert (editor of Jazz Guitar Today) reached out to me to ask me about the role of my pedalboard in self-expression and sound which really translates to “my music.” I’ve been working on my sound my whole life. For years I used nothing but a shielded cable into a good amp but eventually, I’ve migrated back to using some pedals to enhance certain aspects of my sound. I should probably talk about my pedalboard and maybe just walk through my signal chain.

Corey Christiansen

I plug into an MXR wah wah which then runs through this chain: Vertex Boost, Empress Para EQ, KTR Overdrive or a Jetter Altair IV, 2 Electro Harmonix Pitchforks (used for modulation in the unison setting or an octave above/below setting), Diamond tremolo, MXR Carbon Copy, Strymon Timeline, Strymon Big Sky and then to a good tube amp. As you can see it’s a bunch of pedals, but in reality, they don’t do much. I have researched these pedals and use them because they can color the sound in an almost transparent way. I think the only pedals I really use as full-blown effects are the wah, overdrive, and the pitchfork. I use the wah very rarely and not in the typical funk rhythm way. I might use it once a night to color a melody. Overdrive is basically the same, maybe a couple of times a night and only when I feel I need to take it up a notch. I’m a huge rock guitar fan from my youth and love the extra “gear” a good overdrive can deliver. Like I mentioned earlier the two pitchforks are both used but one more than the other. I love the modulation sound I get from the unison setting and maybe once a night I’ll kick on the octave pedal. Ok, maybe twice.. once with the octave above (ala Jim Hall) and once with the octave below (ala Jimi Hendrix). It’s all about simply coloring the tone in a way that makes it interesting to me. The other pedals are there to simply be the core of my sound. I love a good tremolo that almost can’t be noticed for playing melodies on ballads and the delay and reverb are used so I can get a little bit more horn-like sustain. 

Corey Christiansen Pedalboard

How has it affected my music? It’s just my sound. That’s a tricky question that maybe someone else should answer about my playing. To me, I’m playing the same language. I do find there are times where I need to back off the sustain element in my sound to let the guitar be more jabby. But that’s where the Strymon pedals I use shine. They allow me to store a couple of different sounds (long and short) for easy access so I can dial up things rather quickly in a live setting. These effects, however, have guided me to ideas with my compositions and recording production that I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have used or figured out without these sounds at my fingertips (OK, toe tips). I will say that having these sounds available has allowed me to blend my rock/blues and jazz language in ways that I feel are unique to me. I have tried to create a sound that allows me to utilize ALL of my background. But really the sounds are just colors. That’s all, just colors that help me paint, with sound, my background as a musician. 

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