The serpent may be a global symbol for treachery and deceit, but to pro-audio engineers, “snakes”—the audio pipelines that bundle onstage mic and line signals and shuttle them to the mixing board—are essential hardware. Believing that guitarists also deserve to be free of messy electrical entanglements, Stagemagic developed the Pedalsnake line of ten guitarist-specific snakes.
I tested the PS-16-31 ($99 retail/$74 street), which houses three color-coded 1/4" instrument lines and one power line within 16 feet of tough rubber tubing. I’m no neat freak, but the Pedalsnake let me send all my pedalboard needs—including DC power for my stompboxes, send and return lines for the delay pedal in my Marshall’s effects loop, and a return line for the pedals not in the loop (which, on my pedalboard, includes a wah, a boost, and a phaser)—across the stage in a single cable. It also saves time during set up and teardown, because you can leave all four connectors on the Pedalsnake’s pedal end attached to your pedals, and simply deal with one cable.
If your stompbox setup changes, and you suddenly require, say, two different DC voltages, or additional loop send and return lines, you may have to purchase a different Pedalsnake. However, Stagemagic can perform some clever modifications. For instance, by taking advantage of a patent-pending twisted-pair wiring scheme, any of the 1/4" audio lines can be split into two lines. This is especially useful should you decide to convert an instrument line to an additional DC power line. The Pedalsnake uses heavy-duty shrink-tubing to protect the solder joints in each Switchcraft jack from violent tugs, and Stagemagic guarantees you can all but drive a tank over the snake without damaging the wires within.
Voodoo Lab Amp Selector
Housed in a rugged metal enclosure and powered by a 9-volt battery (or optional 9VDC power supply), the Voodoo Lab Amp Selector ($329 retail/$225 street) gives tone freaks an easy way to practice the multi-amp religion made popular by cats such as Eric Johnson and Stevie Ray Vaughan. The Amp Selector sports dual inputs, four transformer-coupled outputs with independent Volume controls, a buffered Tuner Out jack that doesn’t load down your pickups and can be used as an additional output, and four ground lift dip switches to safely eliminate ground-loop hum.
The Amp selector offers two programmable operational modes. In On/Off mode, you simply step on the desired footswitch to turn the output on or off. This is where you want to be if you’re into stacking up several amps to construct a monster tone (with maybe the option to add in an amp with its tremolo or vibrato rocking for spice). In Exclusive mode, a foot tap turns the previous output off, and the newly selected output on. This arrangement lets you do things like set up one amp for a verse sound, one amp for a chorus sound, one amp for solos, and the fourth amp for layering tones. Here, the outputs for amps one through three would be set to Exclusive (so you could toggle from one sound to another with a single stomp) and amp four’s output would be set to On/Off (so you could add the “layer” amp to any of the verse, chorus, or solo amps). You can also split the Amp Selector in half to run two stereo rigs or accommodate a setup where two different guitars (say, an electric and an acoustic) each switch between two different amps. Switching is silent, and the Amp Selector is absolutely transparent—it doesn’t color your guitar or amp tone at all. The Amp Selector is a brilliantly configured solution for any multiple-amp application, whether you actually carry all that tonnage to a gig, or simply like to effortlessly toggle between different amps or modeling processors in your home studio.