Cardinal Black are about to play the Royal Albert Hall supporting Peter Frampton and we'll be honest; that's the kind of venue Chris Buck's guitar playing deserves. The gifted South Wales band are the perfect home for Chris's soulful sonics and the songcraft on their recently-released debut January Came Close speaks volumes. But we want to know all about the effects pedals behind it – and Chris has a feast for us here.
A two-layered Schmidt Array smorgasbord of a pedalboard (with a side dish mini 'board too); it's full of carefully considered choices. And as we find out, Chris is pragmatic about digital modelling…
The GigRig G2
"It's kind of the brain of the pedalboard: everything bar one pedal actually runs through that. Then you can see we've got labels for different songs which then control different patches or presets on the Line 6 HX Stomp XL.
"So that pretty much controls everything and saves me doing too much of a Michael Flatley through the course of a set."
Mythos Pedals Golden Fleece
"That's a single knob fuzz pedal; pretty intense in isolation so it gets stacked a lot with different overdrive pedals. whether that's the Black Box or the King Of Tone, which we'll come to.
"From there we go into the G2 and it's kind of run in series from the G2…"
Snouse Black Box 2
"Pretty much a one-to-one recreation of the old Marshall Bluesbreaker pedal from the '90s, sans idiosyncrasies or inconsistencies that you inevitably get with a 20-30-year-old pedal.
"I've got an original Bluesbreaker that sounds amazing and sounds pretty much the same as the Black Box to be honest, but it's intermittent to say the least. So having the Black Box takes the worry out of that and sounds every bit as good."
Next to the King Of Tone, I probably get the most use of this during the course of the set. It's one of my favourite overdrive pedals.
Great Eastern FX Small Speaker Overdrive
"Better than any pedal I've ever tried that does the sound of a small guitar amp about to blow up – it does that cranked Tweed thing, right on the edge of implosion. It's just a really cool sounding pedal.
"The Low control on that is really useful. As much as controlling the lows it generally controls how much it farts out, which is quite nice.
"If you stack that with the Mythos Mjolnir that's a really cool sound. Speaking of which…"
Mythos Pedal Mjolnir Overdrive
"I get grief for saying the name wrong every time I talk about it. It's Zach's [Broyles. Mythos founder] take on a Klon type of circuit.
"It's particularly pokey in the midrange and you can see I've got the tone set fairly high as well, so that's a last ditch, 'I need to poke through' and I turn that on."
AnalogMan King Of Tone
"I bought my Analog Man a fair few years ago – we're probably talking about 2017 and I think I waited about 18 months for mine. I do believe the waiting list is up around three or four years now so it's getting insane. Down to Mike Piera's exacting standards and he doesn't want to compromise on those.
"Obviously MXR has brought out the Duke Of Tone as well which I'm yet to try – it's based one the single-channel Prince Of Tone as opposed to [the King Of Tone] which, if I understand correctly, is essentially two Prince Of Tones in one box.
"This is the standard version, it's not the higher gain version, although having tried the higher gain version I can attest to there not being a great deal of difference between the two to be honest.
"If I'm ever short of readies I can probably stick that on Reverb and get a couple of quid for it but seeing as it is my main overdrive pedal throughout the set I'm not going to be doing that anytime soon. I'll probably resort to selling my body before I sell that."
Jackson Audio Bloom
"We're on top of the 'board now. This is a compressor pedal and for a very long time I was using the Origin Effects Cali76 and it would probably still be there if it wasn't for the fact it's on my bass player's [Sam Williams] 'board, who nicked it when I wasn't looking. Apparently it's more important to be on his 'board than mine.
"In lieu of that this is an amazing sounding compressor, with the added advantage of being to control your EQ a little bit as well. So we've got the Mid, we've got the Treble. Invariably when you turn on a compressor you get a decrease in top end so obviously being able to dial that back in on EQ control is a particularly nice feature.
"It's got a boost built in as well, which I don't really use to be honest. It's got different compression emulations as well, which I haven't really dug into because it just sounds great in standard mode."
Xotic Effects EP Booster
"The Xotic EP Booster is my solo boost and has been for a good number of years now. It's just a fantastic sounding pedal and just kind of makes you louder.
"To be honest I could probably get away with having that on all the time and then getting another one for solo boosts. It's a recreation of the preamp circuit from an Echoplex but just does wonders for your tone, irrespective of whether you use it as a solo boost or it is always on. So I'll probably get another one of those at some point."
"Not much to say about that really; it's a great little tremolo pedal. It's set at it's maximum setting so it does that Tom Morello-esque chop.
"Imagine the start of Green Day's Boulevard Of Broken Dreams, that's pretty much how that's set."
"The Catalinbread Echorec kind of interchangeable [for me] really with the Dawner Prince Boonar. The Echorec is there at the moment, for whatever reason.
"I bought that on the day of its release going back many many moons ago, because I'd read about the [Binson] Echorec and not ever having tried one, I convinced myself this was going to be a sound that was for me. Fast forward the better part of ten years and it's still there.
"It's just a great sounding Echorec emulation."
Line 6 HX Stomp XL
"We're into the latter-stage brain of the 'board now with the Line 6 HX Stomp XL, sacrilegiously so in the eyes of many tone purists but this controls all the delays and modulations for the most part.
"It's just a great sounding pedal; we've got different presets saved within the G2 and for example, 'Rise Up' here – plug: the first single from our debut album – changes to the Rise Up preset. I've got two Cosmos Echoes within that preset then, as well as a slap delay we can control independently.
"If it's just kind of the standard Cardinal Black setting which has got a plate reverb, analogue chorus, a Poly Sustain – which is kind of Line 6's take on the EHX Freeze – and it comes into use at various time in the set.
"We've got a tape echo, a slapback and last but not least, a harmonic tremolo. So that gets a hell of a lot of use. A particularly versatile pedal that's obviously being controlled by MIDI via the G2. That's the extent of my MIDI knowledge; I have zero idea of anything beyond that."
Gurus Echosex 3
"Again, it's based on the single head of an Echorec which is one of my favourite delays of all time. It just does a single head emulation of that particularly nicely and as you can see, it's incredibly dusty. You never see these things until you whack a big old light on it."
ThorpyFX Deep Oggin Chorus/Vibrato
"Moving out of the 'board via the patch bay and into the auxiliary board, or whatever we want to call it, we've got the ThorpyFX Deep Oggin. Arguably the best chorus pedal I've ever tried and gets used particularly heavily in two tracks in the Cardinal Black set. Just an incredibly versatile chorus.
"I did the demo of that for Adrian when it first came out and probably had more fun doing that video than probably any other I've done, just dialling in different classic chorus sounds. "
Boss RE-202 Space Echo
"A modern recreation or emulation of the classic Space Echo. That gets used on a track called I Don't Care. I've got a preset within that in memory bank number one then we've got a ramp function on the tap control which is particularly cool – you can take peoples' heads off!
"If you hold [the first footswitch] down you get almost like a faux freeze effect that loops and gets progressively louder and a little bit more intense, which is very cool."
Universal Audio UAFX Golden Reverberator
"Last but not least we have the Universal Audio Golden Reverberator this we have two different [reverbs]. The one saved is a '63 spring emulation. I tend not to use that too much if I've got my amps – I've got a Fender Pro Reverb over there that has a gorgeous spring reverb in it, as does the Victory Copper. That's a kind of failsafe in case I don't have reverb for any reason."
"The one that does get a lot of use is the plate… or the hall, I can't remember what it's set to now because I set it up such a long time ago now. It's just a really cool, long, slightly epic delay that gets used in more ambient parts of the set."