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Boost and Overdrive

The Journey x The Mission

8 of my all-time favourite pedals surrounding my own idealised compact pedal prototype design


Guitar Pedal [X] = GPX


GPX1 = The Guitar Pedal Xperience


GPX2 = Guitar Pedal Xtra


GPX3 = Guitars x Pedals x Gear


I - Stefan Karlsson am a Guitar Gear Enthusiast / Aficionado and the author of this site. I am particularly fond of Guitar Effects Pedals and the majority of features here will be on Pedals, although I do touch on Guitars, Amps, related Gear and Maintenance from time to time. My first journeys into sound / guitar in the mid 1980’s were largely unsuccessful - as I found it difficult to recreate at home the various core sounds / tones of my then favourite guitar heroes.


Just a few years ago I was encouraged to revisit and rekindle my guitar passion, and I discovered that I could now with relative ease - replicate pretty authentically those tones I tried so hard to achieve in the 80’s. When I started up again, my first inclination was to keep things simple - with a quality guitar and a decent practical and versatile modelling amp.


I am still delighted with my very first acquisition then - which was my now much loved Whale Blue Smoke Burst PRS CE - the first in a while to feature a bolt-on neck, as well as giving you access to that celebrated PRS USA Core Instrument quality for nearly half the price of a Custom. Many argue about whether you should buy a more expensive guitar or more expensive amp - I say the guitar comes first - as that is the most essential interface which you need to live with, and if it manages to blend in wholly seamlessly with your playing - then you have achieved nirvana for that particular aspect. For me, an essential characteristic of Guitars, Strings and Picks / Plectrums is that you sort of forget they are there - they just feel like a totally natural extension of yourself, and you don’t need to think or adjust your stance or grip to play - it just all happens naturally and effortlessly.


I went through a few amps before arriving at my current preferred stereo setup with a solid-state / DSP Boss Katana KT100 on the left channel and a Carvin V3MC all-tube amp (EL84) on the right channel. The progression to stereo rig kind of happened naturally too, and everything along the way seemed to lead me towards that solution. I am fully intending to stick with a Katana on the left - will probably update to a Katana Artist at some stage, and maintain a Tube amp on the right - where I am still very happy with my Carvin, but think I may one day get a MESA/Boogie 5:50 + Express - unless something more suitable comes around. I also really like the new PRS MT15 Head and Cab - which is unusual for me - being an avowed combo player.


I have to say here that I am entirely a ’hobbyist’ and a home player with no pretensions of musical celebrity. I don’t have an enormous house - in effect having a music corner - or back-wall more specifically in the upper lounge of the house - which means that space is finite. I also live in close proximity to neighbours on every side sort of - which means again a finite degree to which I can run the volume at most times.


All players will have certain limits and restrictions they need to operate within, and it’s important that you are wholly aware of your environment. So for me, space is of a premium, and I need to be able to achieve harmonically rich and searing saturation at relatively low volumes. This in itself really meant that I had to / have to go the ’Pedal Platform Route’ - applying effects pedals on top of sparkly clean amp channels. Within the ’Pedal Platform’ dynamic it is critical that you provide a versatile environment that makes it easy to plug in any effects pedal in sequence and be able to stack and alternate / rotate to produce a highly satisfactory output.


I did not set out to have 39 pedals in my chain - but you can read the story of how that evolved on this site. In fact you might think of my rig as being more of a studio setup - as it would be nigh on impossible / impractical to replicate on-the-road. In any case, the mission has been to acquire a veritable ’Spice Rack’ of tone components which I can freely, easily, instantly and successfully blend together to achieve almost any tone imaginable.


Over the years, I have evolved distinct methodologies - such as ’The 12 Degrees of Saturation’ where I try to pinpoint different flavours and establish where they best fit within the chain. I will note here also that I often mention of ’12 of the Best Pedals...’ for a particular category, where most pedal categories really have dozens of viable options - so there really is no ’Best’ overall, simply what’s ’Best for Me’ or what truly works optimally for specific conditions, context and criteria as such.


My aim is to keep exploring and experimenting in a never-ending quest (ToneQuest) to find the absolute best pedal/s for me - for each of my now 39 pedal category slots in my existing pedal-chain. I welcome you all to join me on this journey - our exact tastes won’t necessarily match, but hopefully I will open your eyes and ears to something you weren’t previously aware of, and you yourself will be better equipped to also find the very best pedals and gear for your own needs.


Pedals come in all shapes and sizes - and while I like the larger workstation pedals, and have had a thing or two for Mini pedals at various stages, my absolute favourite form factor is the standard / compact enclosure - as initially pioneered and popularised by pedal-makers Boss and MXR. My current favourite form factor for a pedal is a twin-footswitch compact enclosure with a signficant number of tone-sculpting dials and switches, and ideally some semblance of presets onboard. I’m also a huge fan of the analogue-signal / digital-control methodology - which is why I like Chase Bliss Audio pedals so much in particular.


As with everything though - there is always room for improvement, and I continue to seek out improved versions of key pedals which don’t just sound better, but all-round work smarter and offer more possibilities and more versatility. I endeavour to keep everything positive on this site - I will never feature something that I don’t personally like in some way, and I will endeavour to steer clear of negative pieces. I’m all about expanding people’s horizons and encouraging you all to be more open-minded, experimenting more and helping you succeed in your own ToneQuests.


It must be noted that I don’t mind constructive input, I will not though tolerate Trolls or disrespectful and abusive behaviour. By visiting this site you are in my house now - so just as I am when I happen to be a guest - please can we all be on our best behaviour!


The vast majority of articles on here will be about pedals in some way, although I do focus on guitars, amps, accessories and other components from time to time, as well as general maintenance and upkeep. This site plots my own journey and endeavours to explain how I came to make my various decisions. I do hope you enjoy this journey with me and find some benefit from these resources.


GPX Author Stef : Self-Portrait

GPX Author Stef : Self-Portrait

A quick Prysmed and Colourized Snap for promo purposes!

Use of Language

UK and USA are two countries separated by a common language! So goes the saying...


The vast majority of quality guitar gear is still USA-made - which means 'Analog' vs 'Analogue' and various other spelling distinctions. I typically refer to a product using the semantics of its native country - so you will find both spellings apply on this site.


If I am referring to a UK pedal or the like I will always use the UK spelling. In general articles which have a wider focus - the context of the overall piece will influence which spelling is used.


I am quite happy for people to spot and point out typographical or grammatical errors - I do carry out significant due diligence, but when one person does all / most of the work - it can be tricky for them to spot all anomalies. Please indicate where I may be at fault - if that is important to you - otherwise just let it be!


Note also that I am a fan of progressive use of language much like the honourable William Shakespeare, and some of these articles may be lightly peppered with neologisms!

Navigating This Site

You have various ways of getting into the content on this site

  1. The Topic Bar at the top of most pages allows you to view just the selected higher category of articles
  2. Every article is tagged with relevant categories / brand names etc - click on a tag to see more of the same
  3. Every article is related to other relevant articles on the site - these appear in the right hand column - for cross-collateralisation
  4. A full index of all the the assigned topic categories can be found on the 'index' page - note this does not include the brands, which would be too numerous eventually

Getting Quick and Easy Article Updates

I do have a newsletter signup on this site, but official mailings will be very few and far between.


Instead I encourage everyone to use Content Subscriptions - which allow you to subscribe to the two available article types - News and Glance Updates. You can then select if you want instant / real-time, daily, weekly or monthly digests.


I myself prefer to get updates as soon as the articles go live - but it's up to you and how it fits into your schedule!


You may email me at - but as I hold down a couple of jobs and responsibilities I can't guarantee that absolutely every message will be responded to - I will do my absolute best though to get to the vast majority within 24 / 48 hours depending on peak frequencies.


For those interested to communicate on-site - we have Comments and Ratings enabled on the News Article - to encourage readers to keep conversations on topic, and about the main feature's under focus. If you wish to post comments, you need to Register on this site.


Registrations will be auto-approved unless we notice anomalous emails or bad behaviour - in which case those users will be removed from the system and blocked.


Even though this site is in many ways a sort of one-man-band thing, it would not be possible without my amazing colleagues at Affino.


My brother Markus nudged me into doing this and gave some pretty decent advice along the way. Mark Foster helped me with the Logo, Site Design and Implementation. Luismi Montiel has helped refine and improve the GPX Experience all along the way, Gyuszi Metyko has helped with various key exercises - including the original content port across from and the Redirects. And Chris Bristow of course assisted me with all matters technical. Furthermore Lucas Sala and Rao Kancharla have helped out with some incidental refinements, and Quang Luong and Sebastian Salcedo have helped progress many of the key tasks that make the site 'work'.


The site of course runs on our own proprietary Affino Unified Digital Business Platform - which may be a touch overkill for a site of this simplicity - but hopefully showcases well the simpler side of Affino - of which we are currently using about 1% of the full feature set!


Credit also goes to the many readers of these blog posts on their original home on as well as sympathetic friends and family members - without your words of praise and encouragement, this site would not exist.


Thank you all for you inestimable contributions...