Years ago, when i first read about electric guitars being equipped with piezo pickups, i was fascinated by the idea of having electric and acoustic sounds on one guitar, and being able to blend between them.
A number of years later, i finally got a Parker Fly Classic, and was finally able to get the sounds i'd been hearing in my head for years. Then i started playing seven string guitars, and i got my amazing Petrucci 7 with the piezo option. But actually using the two sounds in a live context the way i wanted to would have required an extra hand or two to blend seamlessly from one sound to the other, or to add just a bit of magnetic warmth to a clean acoustic sound, as an example.
I started looking around for a stereo blend pedal... one that would allow me to go from 100% magnetic to 100% piezo with both at full volume in the middle of the pedal's travel, while i played, without using my hands... which were obviously occupied with the task of playing! Much to my amazement, nobody made one. At least not that i could find. Fishman made a "PowerBlend" pedal for a while, which was essentially a Morley volume pedal with an acoustic buffer/preamp circuit and a pass-through for the electric signal. It didn't really "blend" at all. (Apologies to Blendtec.)
I emailed just about every company that made volume pedals, including Ernie Ball, even a bunch of boutique pedal makers. Nobody made something that did what i was looking for.
For a while, i used a convoluted workaround of using a stereo expression pedal (a BOSS FV-300L) that allowed me to simultaneously control the volume of my GT-6 and Yamaha AG-Stomp in opposite directions with custom settings that made the volume pedal only work in half of its travel on each device. It was big and kludgy, but it worked. But i wanted something simple. Something passive. Something i could use on its own or in different rig setups.
So i made my own.
I wanted it to be passive, and as simple as possible. I bought an empty wah pedal shell, a 500k blend pot and a 25k blend pot (i wasn't sure which would work best), and a bunch of jacks. I wired it all up and started testing, experimenting, troubleshooting and tweaking.
What you see here is my second prototype. I use a stereo cable coming out of my guitars, and that goes into the right side of the pedal. The signal is split to the two halves of the blend pot, and then output to a pair of mono jacks on the left side. Simple. Effective. It's not pretty, but it works.
(One of my other guitars uses a GraphTech GHOST piezo system, and in the first prototype, i encountered an issue with the stereo/mono detection feature in the GraphTech AcoustiPhonic preamp that makes it work in an undesirable way with a pot placed directly after it in the signal chain. I worked around this issue by placing another active device in the chain before the pot. The "send" and "return" on the top of the pedal are for inserting my Tech21 Acoustic DI before the piezo signal reaches the blend pot.)
In the heel position, i get 100% piezo (or as close as the pot will get me). In the toe position, it's all magnetic. In the middle, there is a very slight detent, which you can just barely feel through your foot, and both signals are at full volume there. With the tension on the treadle set just right, it's a little easier to locate, and you can quickly find it and the pedal will stay there.
This is exactly what i've been looking for. It enables me to blend smoothly and seamlessly from one sound to the other, or to add a bit of one sound to the other, without interrupting my playing.
If anyone is interested in something like this, i am considering building them to order, now that i've worked out some of the kinks. I've tested it with my GraphTech GHOST-equipped guitar and my Music Man JP7 with piezos. I no longer have my Fly Classic, but i remember it had a stereo/mono switch by the jack, so i don't see why it wouldn't work with Parkers, though i don't know how the newer ones are set up. I suspect it should also work with Godins, or other Fishman, L.R. Baggs or RMC-equipped guitars as well. But it works flawlessly with my JP7 running out of the stereo jack.
What are your thoughts? Am i the only one who's pursued something like this? Am i the only one interested in being able to blend hands-free?