Interview: Dream Theater's John Petrucci Talks About the New TC Electronic John Petrucci Dreamscape Signature TonePrint Pedal

Last month, TC Electronic released the new John Petrucci Dreamscape Signature TonePrint Pedal, the first custom pedal to capture the Dream Theater guitarist's signature tones in one small package.

The Dreamscape — which features chorus, flanger and vibrato effects — is actually the first signature pedal for both TC Electronic and Petrucci, a longtime user of the 2290 Dynamic Digital Delay and the Stereo Chorus Flanger.

Petrucci recently stopped by Guitar Center on 14th Street in New York City to promote the Dreamscape. We caught up with him to find out what went into the creation of his first signature stomp box.

GUITAR WORLD: How did your relationship with TC Electronic begin?

I've been using their stuff forever, ever since I was turned on to the 2290 [Dynamic Digital Delay]. I was blown away. "What is this magical device?" [laughs] When I heard that chorusing sound, I fell in love with it. I've always had a 2290 in my live rack, and I've used them in the studio as well. I've also used a TC chorus for as long as I can remember. I would use it as a stomp box right before my amp, and I just loved the way the chorusing would interact with the distortion on the Boogie.

That's how it kind of started — I fell in love with the gear as a player early on. Eventually, as a pro, I got in touch with them and we started talking about doing a signature pedal. I've never done a signature pedal, this is my first one. They've never done a signature pedal, this is their first one. So it's our first one together.

Where did you begin when you were tasked with creating a signature pedal?

The perfect place to start, in my opinion, is the chorus because I use it so much; it's a big part of my sound. Besides the TC chorus, there's nothing out there that really comes close to it, so the question became, what would I do differently? How would I improve upon this chorus?

The SCF pedal came out years back, but there's a lot things I would change — it's got kind of a big shape, it could use more headroom and things like that. So with the trend of all the modded, boutique-y pedals, I said I would do a modded version of that pedal, and we started talking. "Let's make it more road-worthy, let's make the chassis stronger, have a true bypass feature, stereo ins and outs, give it more headroom" — all the things I would do differently, but it would still have to sound like the SCF.

When they started their TonePrint line, it kind of got tied in because we realized the shape and format of the TonePrint pedals could encompass all the ideas I had for the modded SCF pedal. I think the important thing was that I wanted to make it so that the sounds that are on it — I think we made it so that if you put the controls at 12 o'clock on the pre-sets, those are my go-to sounds. If I was tweaking a pedal, where would I end up? That's where it ends up.

So you get a chorus, vibrato and flanger all in this one pedal. How did you go about packing three effects into the one pedal without sacrificing the quality of any one effect?

It's all the technology. I guess it uses similar algorithms to create those types of effects. As long as they had the technology available to put into the pedal, there was no compromise that needed to be made. As soon as they told me that we can have a rotary that can select either a chorus or a flanger, we didn't have to make that decision that it was either one or the other, it can actually have everything. At that point, it's their genius programming. I told them what I was looking for and they were able to dial it in.

The thing I love about this pedal is that you use it just like the original pedal, you plug it straight in and use it as a stomp box. It interacts with the guitar and the speaker in a way that a stomp box does. I even designed it so that there are a couple of different presets, one for a clean sound and one for a distorted sound; but not only that, there's a stereo in and out so you can have it in your effects loop.

Have you gotten the chance to try out the pedal in your live rig yet?

Yeah! I have it in the live rig now. I'm the kind of guy who just dives in. Just give me the pedal and I'll throw it in and we'll see if it works when I step on it. [laughs]

For fans who may be looking to pick up one of these pedals, where would they be able to hear it during a Dream Theater live set?

I use chorusing all the time, particularly on most of the clean arpeggiated intros to songs, or interludes. "Pull Me Under" has that clean, chorusy sound. Alex Lifeson of Rush is a hugh influence on me, and he's probably why I use chorusing with distortion. When I play big open chords with 9ths and ringing open strings, I throw the chorus on and it just creates this big, beautiful, wide, monstrous effect.

Dream Theater starts a run of shows in Asia at the end of this month. What else does the rest of the year hold for the band?

We're still in full touring mode in support of A Dramatic Turn of Events. Like you said, we do have the Asian run, which will take us to Seoul, South Korea and a few shows in Japan. We're also going to Indonesia for the first time, and we'll be in China and Hong Kong as well.

Then we have a U.S. leg that we're planning in the summer, and then we have a South American leg at the end of the summer. We're also planning a live DVD as well, so our plate is pretty full.

For more info on the new TC Electronic John Petrucci Dreamscape Signature TonePrint Pedal, head here.

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Josh Hart

Josh Hart is a former web producer and staff writer for Guitar World and Guitar Aficionado magazines (2010–2012). He has since pursued writing fiction under various pseudonyms while exploring the technical underpinnings of journalism, now serving as a senior software engineer for The Seattle Times.