Big Ten Guitar Pedals
Today I am going out on a limb to rank the Big Ten football teams to what I think would be their guitar pedal counterpart. What’s a guitar pedal you ask? It’s those things you see guitarists stomp on during a show.
Do they make you a better guitarist? Will it help your guitar tone? That’s a question to be debated in another article. For the most part, they are a fun device that helps you get whatever sound you want from your ax.
There is not one sound or reason why I picked each pedal for each school. Most of it comes from something that pedal is attached to, sounds like, or looks like that helped make this ranking.
To be honest, it was harder than I thought it would be and I am probably wrong on a lot of levels. So, I reserve the right to change any of these down the road.
Anywho....without further ado...
Ohio State — Klon Centaur
The Klon Centaur is one of the most coveted pedals out there. It was made in the 1990’s and 2000’s by a gentleman by the name of Bill Finnegan. It is a “transparent” overdrive pedal. Wait, maybe it’s not a transparent overdrive....What does “transparent” mean? I’ll let the guitar nerds describe it in the comments.
He eventually caved into demand for more and made a smaller version later on to try and appease the masses but that was a fantasy. Some things are never enough. People still crave this expensive pedal to this day.
The Klon is known for it’s ability to create a clean and uncolored overdrive sound and can be used with great ease. Regardless of your guitar setup. Many very famous players have this on their boards. Everyone wants it, but very few can have one unless you are willing to pay used prices of around $5,000.00
Many clones have been made of this. But none compare to the original. Yes, there are other pedals out there that do just as good of a job. Sometimes, even better. But people still look towards this as the holy grail.
This is Ohio State. Everyone wants to be where they are at, but there is really just one Ohio State. What they do, they do very well and everyone is just playing catchup. Every once in awhile someone will come along and challenge the hierarchy but until someone in the Big Ten figures out how to out Ohio State, Ohio State. It will still be the best. Even though there are other and sometimes better ways to make a football team, people still try to be like the king.
Wisconsin — Electro Harmonix Big Muff
The Electro Harmonix Big Muff is a tried and true classic fuzz. There are various versions of this and many pedal makers have replicated this over the years. It’s a workhorse and, if you like fuzz, will most likely never let you down. Can it do a ton of stuff? Not really, but what it does it does well.
This is what I think of when I think of Wisconsin. It may not be the most fun to watch but when you do watch it you respect it and the fact that they’ve been doing the same thing year in and year out with little issue.
Penn State — Ibanez Tube Screamer
The famous Ibanez Tube Screamer. The guts have changed over the years but very few can tell. The outside, on the other hand, has had a “few” variations but it has never veered away from it’s green, black, and sliver motif. Making it a classic not just by sound but also by looks.
This is a lot like the uniforms of Penn State. The football may change over the years but they will still have that simple blue and white color scheme on their uniforms that has seen very little change over the years. Maybe they change the piping every once in awhile. Throw some players names on the back for a few years. But they always come back to the same look in the end.
Michigan — Dallas Arbier Fuzz Face
Another fuzz pedal! This time I’m not picking it for what it does. Though, like Michigan football it is somewhat iconic. No, I’m picking it for the shape. The Fuzz Face has not changed it shape since it was made and is still one of the few pedals that is round. Reminds me of Michigan’s Big House and their winged football helmets. It’s iconic and everyone know what it is when they see it.
Northwestern — Strymon Big Sky
The Strymon Big Sky is a very nice and very expensive pedal. Phenomenal reverb and a million ways to make it work for you. However, do you need all of this? Is it really going to be the one pedal that makes you sound better?
The Big Sky is just like Northwestern and its brand new facilities. What they have is big, beautiful, and sits on the coast of Lake Michigan. Is it more facilites than you need? Yes, just like the Big Sky. But it’s still pretty awesome anyway.
Iowa — Boss DS-1
This pedal has been around forever. Some people like it and some people hate it. Very few, absolutely love it. It is a distinctive high gain distortion. Not a whole lot to it, but what it does it does well. It get’s the job done. Especially if you are a beginner guitarist with little cash to spend on pedals. It has not changed much since it came out in the 1980’s and I doubt it ever will.
This pedal reminds me of Iowa. It’s not flashy. We all know what it does. Very few people I know love it and many hate it. Iowa is respected by many but not many will put them on the mountain as being the best. Because, they’re good enough and I think Iowa is perfectly happy with that. Just like the Boss DS-1.
Indiana — ProCo Rat
When I think of the ProCo Rat distortion pedal, I think of the 1980’s. When I think of Indiana, I think of the 1980’s. The reason I think of the 1980’s for the ProCo Rat is because it was used by many guitarists on many records during that time. It became a hallmark of many albums sounds during that decade.
Why do I think of the 80’s when I think of Indiana? Probably because of Indiana basketball’s success during that decade. Also the movie Breaking Away. Yeah, I know it was made in 1979 but it just reminds me of the 80’s.
Minnesota — Zvex Effects Fuzz Factory
The Zvex Fuzz Factory is a very fun and weird pedal. There’s a lot going on in this little box and while many herald it as a classic, while others think there is just too much going on. It works for some people, but not for everyone. (you can hear radio signals if you turn the knobs just right)
This is kind of like P.J. Fleck and his Golden Gopher squad. P.J. has his own way of doing things that rubs some people the wrong way. Not quite sure what’s going on all the time but it seems to work for the most part. There’s a lot of moving parts and talking that somehow turns out a decent football squad.
Also, they are both from the Twin Cities.
Nebraska — Boss Hyper Fuzz
Okay, here’s my story. I was a budding guitarist back in the 1990’s. It was right around junior high when I started really getting into it. I eventually picked up a decent guitar and amp and it was time to get some effects. So, I went to my local guitar shop (40 minutes away) to pick up a distortion pedal. I wanted something to make big loud obnoxious music.
The owner mentioned that the Boss Hyper Fuzz would be a good addition to my rig. Back then, I had no clue what a fuzz was. Overdrive, fuzz, and distortion were all the same to me. We had the internet back then but not to the extent where I would know to look this stuff up so I had no idea what was going on.
My mind was not ready for what he sold me that day.
I took it home, plugged it into my amp and was of course...bewildered at what was coming out of it. It was a poppy Velcro type sound that I had no knowledge of controlling. I honestly thought it was broken. So, I took it back and had them order me another one. As you probably guessed, same issues.
Ended up trading it in for a Danelectro Fab-Tone that I still have this day along with a few other guitar pieces to make up the price difference.
Now, this pedal goes on the market for hundreds of dollars. It is coveted by many. Especially doom metal rockers who can really make it, well doom!
I had no clue what I had. Much like Husker football back in the 90’s. There was this great big beautiful moment that was taken for granted. If only someone was there to properly guide them into the future of college football instead of sticking with what little knowledge we had.
Michigan State — Vox Wah
Is it the most well known pedal? No, but everyone knows what it does and how long it has been around. It’s a good wah. Is it better modded out? Yes, of course it is. Make it a true bypass and add volume and wah control and you have a very nice pedal.
Michigan State football is like that when it’s rolling. Very good overall but still needs something extra to make it sparkle. If Sparty is lucky, it’s a dynamic running back or a quarterback who knows what they are doing.
Purdue — EarthQuaker Devices Data Corrupter
I want to get this pedal, but I have no idea what I would use it for. Earthquaker devices are a straight up bitchin’ company that make some out of this world pedals. The Data Corrupter, for example, is one of these magical boxes. It is a “Modulated Monophonic Harmonizing PLL” which is....basically is a trippy ass guitar synthesizer. I really want one, but I have no clue how I would use it in my rig. This is something that I would have to sit down and really figure out before I would get what would probably be some of the most mind bending sounds that would blow my tiny little mind.
This is much like Purdue Football. I really want this team to be good. But they have to be different. That’s how they’ve done well in the past. The Boilermakers need someone to spend time with them and make something special. Until then, you are basically turning knobs trying to make something happen and you’re not sure what.
Maryland — Dr. No Effects Road Runner
I am sure the Road Runner is a great wah pedal. I’m sure if I played it I would be thoroughly impressed. I want to be impressed. I really do but there is a lot going on with this pedal. Too much, if you ask me. I mean, look at it. It’s awesome but what that hell?
I look at Maryland the same way. The coaches, history, and uniforms are just...a lot. There’s just too much going on there to wrap my head around.
Rutgers- DeArmond Model 600 Volume Pedal
The DeArmond Model 600 is considered to be one if not the first guitar pedal made back in the 1940’s. That’s it, that’s it’s claim to fame.
Rutgers played in the first college football game back in 1869. That’s it, that’s it’s claim to fame.
Illinois — Digitech Eric Clapton Crossroads
Eric Clapton is a phenomenal guitarist who peaked a long time ago and had some great hits. Illinois is a football team that peaked a long time ago and had some great championship years.
Quite a few years back Eric Clapton gave his name to DigiTech to put on an overdrive pedal. To many, this was a big mistake and has been considered one of the worst pedals ever made. To be honest, I’m not even sure he ever was seen playing it.
Illinois has tried many times to get back to it’s winning ways but for some reason keeps falling on it’s face. Some of their squads have been considered some of the worst ever.
Until Illinois get’s their shit together, they will be linked to the Crossroads and no not the cult classic film with Ralph Macchio.