Check the Obvious

Took one of my guitar rigs out to rehearsal on Saturday evening. This rig consists of a really great sounding amp, the Mega Boogie Lone Star Special, and a pedalboard.

The pedalboard has a fairly sophisticated signal path. From the guitar the signal goes through an Ernie Ball volume pedal which has two flows: one to a Boss tuner and the other to a Dunlop wah pedal. From the wah pedal, the signal goes through an Analog Man orange compressor, an Analog Man modified Ibanez TS-9 overdrive pedal and out to the guitar input of the Lone Star.

Within the Lone Star is an effects loop. The signal from the pedalboard goes out through the effects send back in to the pedalboard where it is processed by a Line 6 DL-4 delay modeler and a VooDoo Labs chorus pedal and then back into the effects return.

I have another footswitch on the pedalboard to select one of two amp channels as well as a Solo switch to add some boost when I solo.

As usual, the rig worked flawlessly on Saturday evening. But rehearsal on Sunday morning was different. I turn everything on and no sound.

Bad tube? I check the amp and all of the tubes are lit. I turn the unit off and, with my gloves on, I check the seating of the tubes. Everything seems fine.

Maybe it is something in the pedalboard. I unplug my guitar from the pedalboard and I go direct into the amp.

No difference.

I switch cables on the guitar.

No difference.

I am now starting to panic. I call my wife and ask her to bring my backup amp — a modified Fender Deluxe Reverb Reissue with NOS tubes and a Weber speaker.

And then I noticed something.

The cable from the VooDoo Labs chorus pedal was not fully plugged in. I use George L cables for the rig and I have solderless connectors. Most of them, including the plugs in the chorus pedal, are right-angle plugs. This plug had been pulled out by someone. Not by me as the position of the cable is deep in the centre of the board.

Not sure why the cable had been pulled. Fortunately pushing it back in resolved the problem and everything worked as normal.

I always have to remind myself to check the obvious when things go wrong. In this situation, more often than not, a loss of signal is a cable issue not a tube issue. I have this wonderful tendency to make simple problems complicated.

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