Adam Savage puts his foot down and finds a plethora of new pedals on the market
The electric guitar is up there with the most versatile of instruments and the best way to take advantage of this is to experiment with the abundance of products in the effects category. Adam Savage enters the tone zone to see what’s out there…
With more music out there than ever before, one of the best ways for musicians to make the big time is to offer something a bit different. There are a multitude of ways in which to achieve this, but ‘finding your voice’ is the only sure-fire way of ascending the musical popularity ladder.
This might depend on the genre of music, but experimenting with effects is, and always has been a preferred method for artists seeking the ‘eureka’ moment when that perfect tone is unearthed.
The following pages prove that there is no shortage of gear out there to help musicians seeking this goal, so without further ado, let’s get started.
One of the dominant brands in the effects market is without questions Boss. Roland’s annual Connect launch included two pedals of note, the PS-6 Harmonist and the ST-2 Powerstack.
The Boss PS-6 features four intelligent pitch-shift effects and three-voice harmony in one convenient unit. These include Harmony, Pitch Shifter, Detune and Super Bend capable of three and four octave pitch sweeps.
The ST-2 delivers a variety of Boss distortion sounds, from crunch to high-gain based on classic tube amps and pro amp stacks. The Sound knob is a quick way of blending gain and sound character to access vastly different styles. The ST-2 is also equipped with a two-band eq, as well as bass and treble knobs. This highly original pedal incorporates many years of Boss amp modelling research, resulting in a selection of real stack sounds condensed down into a small unit.
For a rich selection of amp models (33 in total), from classic vintage models to modern high-gain units, as well as a selection of cabinets and effects, the Tonelab ST from Vox is a good choice in this field. The amp and effect editing sections are totally independent for direct visual editing and a USB port means it can be connected easily to a computer.
The Ice 9 pedal is the fourth model to come out of the collaboration between Vox and Joe Satriani. Two distinct overdrive modes (vintage and modern) and the ‘more’ switch help the Ice 9 create its expansive range of tones and it is also a surprisingly easy to use accessory.
The Korg Pandora PX4D is compatible with both guitars and basses and produces various high quality effects via REMS modelling technology. Up to seven effects can be used simultaneously. Quick editing can be achieved with the knob based interface and its 100 rhythm and bass patterns make it suitable for use with a variety of musical genres.
The Japanese Providence brand has an enviable catalogue of effects related goodies, one of which is the brand new Flame Drive FDR-1F, a versatile overdrive pedal that can deliver sweet, silky overdrive right up to rich distortion.
The smallest wah pedal available on the market, the Plutoneium Chi-Wah-Wah, was designed as a space-saving solution for those with packed pedalboards. Its 1.5mm rolled steel housing makes it a highly durable piece of kit.
A range of affordable pedals has recently been made available by Guitar Tech. What the Classic Distortion pedal does is fairly self-explanatory and it includes a simple layout of level, gain and hi and low tone controls, which help it deliver a range of sounds, from classic rock to contemporary metal.
The Analog Delay produces a natural sound reminiscent of the old analog delay units of the 80s and the three-way control of time, mix and repeat knobs gives the user access to sounds ranging from neat 50s slapback styles to some really surreal, spaced-out options.
Chord’s CH-50 is a fully analog chorus effect pedal provides a ringing effect to a guitar’s sound. Another part of the expansive Chord effects series is the GE-50 graphic eq pedal. Ideal for use with pre-gain mid boosting it comes with a seven-band graphic equaliser for shaping both clean and distorted tones.
The DS-50 is a distortion pedal complete with recessed Level, Tone and Dist controls, housed within a die-cast metal case and equipped with authentic analogue circuitry. For an overdrive option, the OD-50 delivers a natural driven amp sound. A wide range of tones can be obtained through this pedal.
Despite appearing on the effects scene just three years ago, Rothwell has established itself as one of Britain’s premier boutique effects makers. The Love Squeeze pedal came about as a happy accident for Rothwell. Light Dependant Resistors (LDRs) were included in the original design, but these contained cadmium, a substance subsequently banned by the EU. A new design free of this material was therefore required. "I could have used the same variable gain amplifier chip that everyone else seems to use, but instead decided to design something from scratch using FETs," explained Andrew Rothwell.
The most recent addition to the Rothwell lineup is the Tornado, a discrete JFET-equipped class-A overdrive model.
Representing a major step forward in amp modelling is the Pod HD500 from Line 6, the only multi-effects pedal to offer 16 high-quality HD amp models, over 100 modern and vintage M-class effects, a comprehensive set of digital and analog inputs and outputs and a 48-second looper with dedicated footswitches for undo, play once, pre, post, rec/overdub, play/stop, half speed and reverse.
More than 90 M-class effects (made famous by the manufacturer’s M13 and M9 stompboxes) are featured as part of the Pod HD400, including 30+ distortions, eqs and compressors, over 35 analog and digital delays and more than 25 swirly phasers, filters and other mods.
The Fender Fuzz-Wah does exactly what its name suggests by offering some delicious funky fuzz and wah sounds with a simple push of a pedal. The wah effect can be brought by tilting it back and forth and the fuzz can be accessed by rotating it left or right. The bottom panel allows the order of the effects to be switched in the signal path for two very distinct sounds.
Compatible with both guitar and bass, the Fender Phaser is a retro-styled accessory with rate, intensity and frequency controls for achieving the perfect phasing sound and the rate dial glows blue and red in synch with the phase shift rate. Turning the frequency anti-clockwise makes the bass most affected and a fully clockwise turn does the same with the treble frequencies.
MAKING A MARK
To complement its new line of guitar amplification, DV Mark has released the DVM Compressore, a high-quality tube compressor complete with threshold, ratio, attack, release and volume controls. Its ECC 81 tube compresses the signal, neutralising sharp peaks during play, while adding warmth and harmonics to the sound.
Also from DV Mark is the Guitar Tube Marker, which provides natural distortion similar to that from an amp, ranging from sweet overdrive to crunch distortion and it can be used for a variety of musical styles.
Source Distribution looks after several brands with products in the guitar effects category. Eventide is one of these, with its new Pitchfactor model, a unit that includes Eventide’s ten best harmoniser pitch and delay effects with 1.5 seconds of stereo delay and simultaneous pitch shifting effects, making it the most versatile stompbox in its class. The Pitchfactor also features 100 presets, a USB function, instant program change, tap tempo and a built-in tuner.
The MF-104Z from Moog is a 1,000-millisecond, pure analog delay pedal, making it the longest standalone analog delay module out there. The accurately honed frequency response and overload contours reproduce the sound quality of various classic vintage delay devices. The inclusion of drive and output level controls means users can balance the levels of the in and out stages and the delay time can be tweaked to anything between 50 and 1,000 milliseconds.
Palmer describes its Thruster unit as a solo-booster, due to its ability to produce a louder sound for guitar solos and give them more presence.
The high frequencies can be enhanced by the Thruster in three stages. A second preset has also been added and is activated via a footswitch, giving this unit a high level of practicality.
The German company’s overdrive device is intended to ‘saturate’ the user’s guitar and amp. The clean and overdriven signals can be mixed via the clean control, the result of which is an amp stack effect with plenty of attack and definition and two sets, one clean and the other distorted.
The quality of Marshall’s effects means it shouldn’t just be thought of for its amp lineup. The Regenerator is an all-in-one chorus, flanger and phaser package that offers six different modes and a tone-preserving passive bypass. Guitarists can enjoy full control over speed, depth and regeneration.
One other Marshall pedal well worth mentioning is the Reflector reverb, with its six reverb variations that add diffuse trails to the sound without ruining the tone. Playing around with the dials results in everything from a spacious hall sound to a crisp, studio effect.
Seymour Duncan’s Deja vu tap delay pedal, as well as offering the usual controls commonly found on units of this kind, also includes an analog/digital blend control so the user can perfect the balance between warm and squeaky clean sounds.
Also from SD is the Double Back compressor, which helps create a professional sound by ensuring smooth dynamics and enhanced sustain. Using the Double Back function itself sends some of the uncompressed sound to ‘double back’ into the compressor output, resulting in the sensation and essence of a string being plucked.
From Ibanez, the TS808HW handwired Tubescreamer features the same JRC4558D chips as the original TS808 and prodces a warm overdrive that gives a delightful tonal boost to guitarists of all levels of ability. This stompbox forms part of a series that is seen in various musical settings, from arena stages down to small studios and bedrooms.
Another colourful option available from Ibanez is the Paul Gilbert Airplane flanger, which can be described as two pedals in one. The first is a classic chorus flange called Taxi, consisting of manual, speed, range and enhance controls and a separate knob labeled ‘takeoff’, which produces guitarist Paul Gilbert’s personal Crazy Flange sound.
The T-Rex Phaser gives the user everything they need to call forth a great phased sound. Guitarists can choose from two modes: Modern, for a crisp, thick sound or Vintage, for a classic analogue vibe.
The Morley Maverick Mini Switchless Wah is equipped with electro-optical circuitry in a cool switchless design. A simple step on the pedal engages the Wah effect and releasing it goes back to the bypass. Armed with a custom HQ2 inductor and TrueTone Buffer circuit, the Maverick is a perfect blend of both modern and vintage Wah tones.
Totally Wycked Audio (TWA) has launched a new line of boutique effects pedals, with one of the highlights being the Triskelion. This device utilises vintage synthesizer technology to add punch, clarity and depth to the tone by re-shaping the structure of the input signal.
TWA’s Great Divide is a multi-voice octave unit that features both classic analogue octave division capabilities with digital programmability. Five blendable octave voices are available: Dry, Octave Up, Octave Down, Sub and Synth.
This accessory’s digital memory means all voice and switch settings can be saved and recalled with ease and each voice’s tonal settings can be finely honed via the extensive variety of internal Trim Pots and DIP switches.
Plutoneium Chi-Wah-Wah – £189
The Level, Contour and Gain knobs offer plenty of control and the Chi-Wah-Wah also includes Plutoneium’s very own analogue inductor-based resonant wah circuit.
Boss PS-6 Harmonist – £149
Two or three voice harmonies can be created with selectable key and voicing. An optional expression pedal can be used for pitch control and its harmony function is quick and easy to use, supporting several interval patterns.
Chord CH-50 – From £21.99
The CH-50 is capable of producing clean arpeggios and jangly chord sequences across a multitude of settings that will suit various guitar styles.
Vox Tonelab ST – £299
A 12AX7 triode vacuum tube within the power amp circuit delivers unmistakable tube tone and fifty preset programs allow the user to get started straight away.
Rothwell Audio Love Squeeze – £129
The Love Squeeze compressor has the ability to offer compression without any added noise and it doesn’t affect the dynamic feel of the guitar.
Guitar Tech Classic Distortion – £39.99
This unit’s True Bypass function prevents signal loss and its sturdy metal chassis ensures toughness and durability.
DV Mark Guitar Tube Marker – £119
A true bypass feature, featured on all pedals from the brand, means that when off, the signal goes straight from input to output jack, without affecting the audio quality.
Line 6 Pod HD500 – £409
The new modelling technology incorporates ten times more amp information than before, resulting in improved warmth, feel, sustain and articulation than with previous versions. All of this is contained within an extremely robust bent sheet metal housing.
T-Rex Tonebug Phaser – £145
The Phaser is part of the Tonebug series from T-Rex, a range that provides the sort of tine found in the brand’s high-end lines, but with intuitive, easy-to-use and an affordable price tag.
TWA Triskelion – £POA
Lead guitarists will appreciate the midrange frequency boost and the switchable Amplitude control that delivers a nice level boost for huge amp sounds, lead-breaks and sustain.
Fender Fuzz-Wah – £139.83
The Fuzz Volume function can be used either to boost the volume of the Fuzz effect or for matching the volume level of the guitar when the Fuzz is switched off.
Marshall Regenerator – £69
The Regenerator is an all-in-one chorus, flanger and phaser package that offers six different modes and a tone-preserving passive bypass.
Eventide Pitchfactor – £469
It can be used in either mono or stereo and with a wide variety of instruments, including guitar, bass and synthesizers and would also not be out of place hooked up to a recording studio console or in a front-of-house application.
Ibanez TS808HW Hand-Wired Tubescreamer – £319
Equipped with a Japanese high-end Mogami OEC cable, this represents the most advanced Tubescreamer yet.
Palmer PEOD Overdrive – £59
With the gain control set at 0, it can take on the role of a booster and with the clean control off, it becomes a full-on, classic overdrive effect.
Seymour Duncan Deja Vu Tap Delay – £249
The Tap Tempo footswitch is useful for matching the delay time with the tempo of the music and the Ratio control provides multiple delays for each press of the Tap Tempo.