A website that offers guitarists an easy way to compare hundreds of effects pedals via a Flash-based virtual pedalboard, auditioning pre-recorded loops played on two different guitars in a variety of well-known styles, is now live.
ShootOut.fm currently features over 100 guitar pedals, covering the five main categories: Chorus, Compressor, Delay, Distortion and Reverb. Within each pedal category, the user can choose between ten different pre-recorded riffs, in different playing styles, as performed on either a Gibson Les-Paul or a Fender Stratocaster.
The loops have names intended to evoke either the spirit of key musicians, such as Jimi Jam, Slash’ing, Dave Solo or Coldplay, or a style of playing, such as Soft Chords, Chicken Pickin’, Hot Chili or Space Chords. Again, the riffs change according to the selected pedal type to best illustrate the pedal’s performance.
The Settings section for each pedal responds as you switch pedal type to represent the fundamental controls common to each. Thus, the Delay pedals have more settings than the Distortion pedals.
The Settings are also fixed for each loop and remain consistent across all pedals. For example, when auditioning Distortion pedals (which also includes fuzz and overdrive pedals) the Dave Solo loop has the Drive set on maximum, while the Coldplay loop has Drive dialled back somewhere between 11 and 1 o’clock.
There is also a Blind-test mode that hides the pedal images, names and prices and shuffles the order of the current virtual pedalboard, enabling users to audition pedal sounds without preconceptions.
Detailed information is also provided for each pedal, with video demonstrations and links to online stores to buy.
ShootOut.fm was devised by two Israeli musicians: the guitarist Adam Ben-Amitai and his partner Aya. All loops on the site were played and recorded by the duo.
The recording chain was deliberately kept identical for all recorded loops, using standard mid-range equipment that will be familiar to most guitarists. The guitars are either a 2002 Les-Paul Standard or a 2007 American Standard Stratocaster, connected directly to a Digitech Stereo looper using a Soar Lava cable.
From there, the signal was routed to each pedal individually and sent to a Fender Blues Deluxe Reissue valve amplifier. The amplifier output was captured using a Shure SM57 microphone, connected to a Golden Age Project Pre-73 preamp, and recorded in a Reaper-based DAW using an HDSP 9636 audio interface.
Beside the effects pedal focus, ShootOut also has a similar comparison set-up for 40 well-known microphones, with demonstration loops recorded on male vocals, female vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass drum, snare and used as drum overheads.
The shoot-out concept is common on musicians' websites, with individuals independently sharing their own tests or blind A/B comparisons and inviting a forum community, such as Gearslutz.com, to comment.
The idea of guitarists wanting to audition multiple pedals in their eternal quest for tone also inspired Pedal Genie, an online pedal loan service. This is a physical pedal loan service, which posts items out for users to audition at home, using their own gear chain, according to what they’ve placed on their Wish List. The service is currently US-only, although the company has plans to expand to other territories.