Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

Chat about Equipment Info
 #56019  by Capt Rosebuddy
 Tue Feb 03, 2009 11:02 pm
I am in the final stages of building a birch cabinet to house my effects similar to the one that Jerry used onstage in the late '70's & 80's ect.. I want to rack mount my effects boxes, I know I need a switcher and it seems like the Voodoo Labs GCX is the most popular switching unit, which is fine with me, however I don't really like the Voodoo foot switching unit. From what I understand any MIDI foot switch will work with the GCX, what I'd really like is a rectangular foot switch with 5 "ibanez" style buttons (as opposed to the push button type on the Voodoo unit). Any suggestions?

Do I need a "power conditioner"? since the only things I'm planning on running is the switcher and a power supply do I really need one?

Finally during the research stage of this project, I watched several late 80's GD DVD's I noticed Garcia had small Hammond box with one dial on on it gaffer taped to the stage right side of his FX rack....what the hell is that thing?


 #56030  by playingdead
 Wed Feb 04, 2009 5:50 am
Looks great, Andrew.

Just a couple quick thoughts ...

Whatever footswitch you choose, you'll want to have 8 loop buttons, one for each loop on the GCX ... if you use a 5 button switch, two of them will have to be for "up" and "down" on the presets, which will only allow you to select three things at a time. In my setup, each effect is on its own loop (total of 7) and I use the 8th loop as a tap tempo for my delay. You want to be able, with one press, to switch in the Mutron, when you already have your delay, octave and overdrive on, for example (not that that would sound very good).

The Ground Control Pro has an advantage with the GCX because you can program everything right from it, save four instant presets for common settings, as well as switch the individual effects in and out of a given preset at a time, and plug in two expression pedals -- I use one for a MIDI rack wah in my setup, but you could use it to change the delay values on a rack delay, like Jerry did. The way my gear runs now, I have both the guitar cables running back to the rack, and the only thing running out to the floor in front of the vocal monitors is one MIDI cable for the Ground Control Pro.

I would tend to stay away from a smaller footswitch, although Rocktron makes a MIDI Mate ...


Also, make sure the footswitch can take its power over the MIDI cable from the GCX, avoids having a wallwart to go along with it and cleans up the cabling. Note that you'll need a MIDI cable with all the pins wired, some of the cheaper ones only wire 3 of the pins, so it won't deliver the power.

You definitely want a power conditioner, most people use a Furman. It will help you avoid current problems, as well as help with grounding issues. And, you can turn everything one with one flick of a switch instead of turning off all the rack units, the head, the power supply for the stomp boxes, etc. etc. etc.

I would guess that the volume knob was either an overall volume for Jerry's rig, so he didn't have to be messing with the preamp or poweramp settings on the fly, or it was a level for the keyboard monitor that was just to his left onstage.
 #56031  by strumminsix
 Wed Feb 04, 2009 6:45 am
2 thoughts:
1 - The GCX controller you want is called the ground loop. It has a simple 8 on and off buttons (pic below)
2 - A power conditioner is a must. Plan to spend more than $150 since anything else doesn't help condition power.

Now there are alternatives to GCX (I started a thread around here somewhere) like what WOBO electroncis makes and it is simpler and cheaper and non-MIDI.

Here is my rig with the groundlink (photo is outdated, the GE7 is gone, added serrano picosso and cmatmods deeelay)

 #56105  by Capt Rosebuddy
 Thu Feb 05, 2009 8:52 am
Thanks guys,
Vic, I didn't know you solved the "tap tempo" issue you where having when you first went with a rack effects set up. Are you still using a Boss Delay or is it a rack unit now? Either way sounds like a slick fix to be able to control it right from the foot controller.

What is the conventional thinking on wiring a rack? I realize that cables can cost as much as any other part of the puzzle and obviously I don't want the sound to suffer but I also can't afford to spend a ton..Any recommendations? Since the lengths are going to be odd ones is there a kit or something that I can buy to make my own?
 #56107  by strumminsix
 Thu Feb 05, 2009 9:37 am
I went to GC and had my contact there get some made by LiveWire that were all custom.

$200 was the price for 10 pedals worth and 10 loops.
 #56115  by playingdead
 Thu Feb 05, 2009 11:50 am
The new Boss DD-7 Delay has a tap tempo input on it; I wired that to the 8th loop on the GCX. It's perfect.

For cables, since I wired all my pedals in a pedal tray, and space was at a premium, I had Redco make me six custom 40" 1/4 inch stereo cables, I think it was with Mogami 2528 cable, with the slimmest Neutrik right-angle jacks on one end and straight Neutrik jacks on the other end. The right-angles go to the pedals, the straights to the back of the GCX. I used the stereo cable so the cable bundle would be half the size it would be using single 1/4 cables. I think the cables were $30 apiece or so.

My first couple of attempts, I made my own cables using the Planet Waves Cable Station setups, but that got a little out of hand with all the right-angle plugs for the back of the GCX, it worked and sounded fine, but pulling the rack drawer out when it was wired caused some issues with pulling the cables out. The Redco route was much easier. If anyone needs a bunch of the Planet Waves stuff, I'll cut you a deal ... LOL

However, if you are going to be running all sorts of custom lengths, making your own cables would be a good way to go; in the rack, 40 inches worked well for everything, your "trays" are bigger and there are two of them, while I had to get all my pedals in a very small space to fit in the rack drawer.
 #56119  by strumminsix
 Thu Feb 05, 2009 12:27 pm
Having even more of a space issues I used much shorter cables. My decision was to use an effects rack vs an amp rack cuz it is shorter and lighter. However, much tighter room for cables. I also opted for rack vents to store warts in back and so my cables can velcro onto for convenience.

Click on the pic below - it's a slideshow of progress... (mind you new pedals since then!)

 #56945  by Emoto
 Fri Feb 20, 2009 8:05 pm
Looks pretty cool! When are you going to come down the let me hear it?
 #56949  by Capt Rosebuddy
 Fri Feb 20, 2009 9:03 pm
When are you going to come down the let me hear it?
Soon enough Bro..Looking forward to it! those drums still at your place?
 #56954  by playingdead
 Sat Feb 21, 2009 5:39 am
How the heck are are you going to fit that into your Mini?!

Looks terrific, Andrew. I'm jealous. Now, if you're anything like me, you'll spend hundreds on custom cabling and rewire it all about six times ...

Did you ever get your guitar back?
 #56963  by Emoto
 Sat Feb 21, 2009 9:55 am
Capt Rosebuddy wrote:
When are you going to come down the let me hear it?
Soon enough Bro..Looking forward to it! those drums still at your place?
 #56982  by kenneybonz
 Sat Feb 21, 2009 5:36 pm
great pictures and videos folks.. really inspirational. I gotta pull the pic to post it but am working on one too.. it's patterned after a late 80's early 90s one .... so much other stuff and so little time...