I'm prepping for a new gig, in the past I would use a Princeton Reverb with a high quality analog pedalboard. It was set up to allow multiple levels of volume and distortion, and I would *play* the pedalboard during the set. No presets in other words, except for a favorite switch on the El Capistan. I had multiple dirt boxes, each set up to do a little bit of dirt that could be combined with the other pedals, meaning I could go from 3 flavors of crunch to multiple versions of distortion. I wanted to be able to quickly react on stage to whatever happened musically, and the system works well, still does. One of the best parts is being able to grab a delay parameter on the El Capistan and make creative changes on the fly.
So, rather than a patch inside a performance for each song, I'm working on a master patch that allows the same idea, that I can play a gig with one patch more or less. (There will be exceptions based on specialized fx like a ring mod where I'll need a modified patch.) So, I have a compressor that gives a healthy boost, a Kemper Fuzz, into an AC20 profile that morphs from low to higher gain. The compressor makes a healthy difference between both gain settings, and can be combined with the fuzz for more variety. My guitar is a Collings 290, and I have learned to run the pickups at about 50% for my basic clean tone, adjusting them up or down depending. Low settings work especially well with the fuzz.
I have the rotary speaker as a primary mod, makes a big difference to set the mix at about 45%. Speed is controlled by an extra sustain pedal I have. There's also a trem set up in the X location that I manually turn on and off for the one song I need it. I use two delays, both controlled by a foot switch, so I can alternate between them or set them both to be switched on or off. Delay 1 has a lower mix and is set to 1/8th notes, and since the rig is set to maximum tempo (256) it gives a slap before morphing. After morphing, it switches to 1/4 notes and a higher mix. Delay 2 starts with 1/4 notes, morphs to dotted 1/4 notes. Delay 2 also starts with higher mix levels. I have an Ampero double switch that is set to infinity and freeze. This gives a lot of delay possibilities, similar to getting your hands on the delay. I realize I can just grab parameters on my powered head, so I'm considering where to put it onstage.
I have a Mission exp pedal set to provide a boost level of 5 post stack. I think I need at least one more exp pedal to handle wah and other duties.
Anyway, I'm getting very close to the point where I can simply *play* the rig as if it were a tube amp and pedal board and it is liberating. I'm sure some of the rest of you have come across this approach, please share your experiences!