The Pedal File – NAMM Picks 2016

Welcome, everyone, to the first pedal post of the rest of your lives!  Today I’d like to (try to) be brief and just talk about a few shiny things that caught my eye from this past week at NAMM.

namm

With each passing NAMM I always hope the Land of Pedals will become more diverse, that cool new things will be made.  I’m sad to say the Land of Pedals got a little bit more gentrified with even more overdrive/distortion/fuzzes that all are transparent yet crunchy (even in milk!), give you lots of clipping options, blah blah blah (how many iterations of the Tube Screamer does one need??) and not a lot of innovation.  Stutter delays seem to be the other hot ticket right now – everybody and their mother’s third cousin twice removed once inserted made one of those.  Like, hellllo?  Don’t get me wrong, they’re cool, but not THAT cool.  Let’s move on to other ideas please!

At any rate, here are the pedals that stood out to me:

WMD Protostar

The Pedal File - WMD Protostar

A rendering of the control layout I found via Analoguezone.com


If you’ve never heard of WMD or their Geiger Counter bit-crushing/sample rate-reducing distortion pedal, I suggest you familiarize yourself now.  I’ll wait.  All I can say is these guys are known for weird stuff that boasts an amazing amount of control over the sounds their devices make.  The Protostar is based on their Super Fatman Envelope Filter and is a literal filtration playground, offering multiple filter modes, a CV patch bay, dry/wet mix, post filter compression, internal LFO, variable envelope control and more.  Check out the little video below for a taste.

Go to www.wmdevices.com for more info

Malekko Combover and Sneak Attack

Malekko has been releasing cool synth style effects lately, which seems appropriate as they have a whole line of modular synth modules.  Although these two pedals were technically revealed at last year’s NAMM, they were at this year’s NAMM and still haven’t been officially released so I consider them fair game.  Plus, they’re way cooler than most of the other ‘new’ stuff.


Sneak Attack
The Pedal File - Malekko Sneak Attack

This is a VCA (voltage controlled amplifier) amplitude based dynamics engine for controlling your volume similar to attack/decay controls on a synth.  You can set attack and decay time with short or long envelopes (up to 6s for both, offering envelopes up to 12 seconds in length).  I like that the envelope can be driven manually (say by your guitar signal or an input trigger), or by an LFO.  (Driving the envelope with the LFO produces unique tremolo effects.)  I assume manual mode will allow for those Slow Gear style volume sweeps, or at least I hope!

Combover

The Pedal File - Malekko Combover

The Combover is a spectral comb filter with a sequencer, sort of reminiscent of the ZVEX Seek Wah (which is basically an envelope filter with a sequencer).  The Combover can also be used as a notch or comb filter, which allows you to hone in on specific frequencies and really carve out your place in the mix.  Or, by running the sequencer you can produce filter-modulated rhythmic grooves that entrance.  Another worthwhile feature is the multi-mode sequencer with settings like Pendulum, Backward, Forward, and Random that can add exciting new movement and filter-modulated sounds to your tone cache.

Check out this video (from last year’s NAMM):

Go to www.malekkoindustry.com for info

Honorable Mentions:

Chase Bliss Tonal Recall
-A full featured delay the likes of which only Chase Bliss could unleash.  Basically an analog delay with digital control over every possible parameter, plus control over parameters you’ve probably never heard of on any pedal (other than one made by Chase Bliss).

Go to www.chaseblissaudio.com for more info

EQD Spatial Delivery
-A voltage-controlled envelope filter for all those auto-wah sounds, plus sample and hold capabilities for tripped out step filter Frank Zappa sounds.

Go to www.earthquakerdevices.com for more info

Hungry Robot The Wash
-An enticing delay made specifically for those looking to add a big ethereal wash of delay/reverb to their signal (Hungry Robot says the sound of this pedal would only otherwise be possible with three or four stacked reverb/delays), but with the ability to keep your guitar on top of the mix so you don’t get muddy.  Mud bad.

Go to www.hungryrobotpedals.com for more info
That’s all for now, thank for reading!  I hope you feel a little bit more with it now that you know the scoop on the hottest new pedals.  No need to thank me, just stick around for more….you guessed it, PEDALS!

Love,

Nick
The Pedal File

The Pedal File – The Time for Pedals is Now

Is there a more beautiful word than ‘pedal’?  I don’t think so.  Say it.  Say it again.  It feels good doesn’t it?  Mmm, pedal.

I love pedals.  I love experimenting with their sounds, tweaking their knobs, caressing their enclosures, rubbing my face against them, etc.  I’m always on the lookout for pedals that are well built, entertaining, unique, strange, experimental, and/or inspiring.  That’s why I’m here today to tell you about two cool pedals and how cool you are for reading this.  No need to thank me, just doing my job.

Keeley Electronics Vibe-O-Verb

The Pedal File - Keeley Vibe-O-VerbLately Keeley has been pumpin’ it out like Bill Cosby in a coma ward.  Seriously they’ve released like 25 pedals (give or take) in the last year.  Keeley must have employed Underpants Gnomes or something to do all this work for them in such a short time.  Pretty clever because they work for underpants, not money.

Anyway, I just caught a glimpse of the brand new Vibe-O-Verb and I was pretty impressed with Keeley’s most recent reverb rendition.  It’s a modulated reverb (usually reverb with chorus on the reverb tail), the likes of which have been around for a while, but the Vibe-O-Verb takes this idea up a notch like it was bammed by that fat greaseball Emeril himself.  With the Vibe-O-Verb you can achieve sounds that would only be possible with a reverb equipped with an effects loop, plus the other pedals for adding modulation to the wet signal; that could be a whole small pedalboard’s worth of space.  The reverb is dense and moody, full of movement, sway, and atmosphere, especially when utilizing the modulation.  You don’t want your reverb to be modulated all the time?  No worries, just turn the depth knob down and all you’ve got is the nice simple reverb to play with.  You Philistine.

fibonacci

Yup, that’s a galaxy and a cabbage.

Did I mention the delay space algorithms are based on the Fibonacci sequence?  If nature follows this pattern, why wouldn’t it be a good idea to model reverb decay time after it?

Tweakables:

Depth – this affects the amount of modulation on the reverb.  Set it low for a little or high for a lot, or turn it all the way down to eliminate the modulation.  I recommend leaving this up.
Rate – Also affects the modulation section.  Set it low for a nice wash, or high for faster rotary or choppy tremolo type stuff.
Decay – Adjusts the length of the reverb.  I’m not sure of the specifics, but based on the video it can be subtle or pretty cavernous.
Blend – blend in your clean signal.  You get to choose how much effect you want.  How liberating.

Modes:

harmonic reverb – imparts some choppy harmonic tremolo (basically like a vintage Brownface amp trem or Keeley’s DynaTrem) on the reverb tail.  Some settings end up sounding like delay as the reverb reverberates and the tremolo chops.
vibrato reverb – can do anything from subtle to extreme chorus/vibrato sounds on the reverb tail.  I don’t get into vibrato too much, but I really like the way it sounds on this pedal mixed with the reverb.  Of course the chorus sounds brilliant and seems perfect for getting all spacey and out there man.
phaser reverb – the most subtle of all.  Adds a notch filter to the tails.  From what I can tell this makes the brightness/darkness of the reverb shift from one extreme to the other.  Honestly it’s hard to detect in the video, but hopefully it’s more apparent when playing in person.

Check out the video from Pro Guitar Shop for a nice taste:

For more info:  www.keeleyelectronics.com

Mr. Black Shepard’s End

The Pedal File - Mr. Black Shepard's EndMr. Black is a small, but reputable company based out of Portland, Oregon.  They specialize in two categories of effects: dirt and modulation.  When I say specialize, I mean Jack Deville (the dude behind the mysterious company name) eats lesser dirt and modulation pedals for breakfast, which fuels his ability to produce effects that are perfect for getting all heavy and psychedelic like your momma on an acid trip.  Snap!

Mr. Black is kind of a big deal when it comes to modulation.  A lot of guitar players (and players of other things) swear by their Eterna reverb for it’s lush tone and I even once spotted a Black LTD Overdriver on the board of Jamie Stillman (owner of EQD).  My point again is that this guy knows pedals and has designed a real paragon in the Shepard’s End Infinite Flanger.

Now y’all should know by now that I think flangers are the shit, and thanks to this golden age of gear we live in there are more and more flangers coming out all the time; I’m only interested in the ones that sound good and/or have something unique to offer, and that’s why I want you to want the Shepard’s End.

The Shepard’s End is unique because it’s an infinite flanger, meaning it’s capable of producing what is called ‘barberpole flange’.  So what the hell is ‘barberpole flange’ you ask?  Well you see kids, in normal flanger pedals, the filter will oscillate, or move up and down, to create that nice pleasant whoosh that is so thrilling to at least my ears.  In contrast the Shepard’s End tricks are based on the Shepard tone or effect.  The Shepard effect creates the auditory illusion of a tone that continually ascends or descends in pitch, but does not seem to get any higher or lower (if you want to learn more about it click here).  Basically it means the flange wave has no beginning and no end (how zen), which means the filter can perpetually sweep up or down.  Like forever, or at least your brain is tricked into perceiving that it does (damn naive brains).  Hence the term ‘barberpole’ being applied here.  It can also do continual ‘through-zero flange’ and also features positive and negative regeneration, so your flange can sound more chorusy-phaser-like or like an imploding metal tubular black hole respectively.  This means that this is probably the weirdest flanger you’ll come across.  In the video it sounds very synthy and at times almost laser-like.

Tweakables:

Wave – adjusts the shape of the flange wave for upward, through-zero, or downward cycles.  Either way it’s gonna get goopy and it’s gonna go on forever, like a signal sent out into space in search of extraterrestrial life.
Speed – Adjusts the rate of the filter sweep.
Regen – Adjusts the regeneration, or the amount of signal fed back into itself anywhere from none to negative and positive.  Lots of tones reside here in this knob I’m sure.

You can find the Shepard’s End and the whole line of Mr. Black pedals at www.mrblackpedals.com

That’s all for now.  Thank you for reading!  As always feel free to leave me a comment about how your day is going.  Or something about pedals is cool too.

Love,

Nick
The Pedal File

More Cool New Pedals of 2014!!

Hallo und guten tag!  Oh, sorry that’s German.  Oh well, good luck translating that sentence…   I try to keep up on the happenings of the pedal world so I can then report to you, the pedal enthusiast.  This year has seen some really unique and innovative designs – so many that I could make this a big long list.  But because I know you have the attention span of Honey Boo Boo in a butter factory, I’ve narrowed the list down to three pedals.  I want to bring your attention to a couple of boxes that are worth a percentage of your hard earned dollars from whatever it is that you do for money (you dirty person).  Get out your notebook, take some notes, and go buy these pedals.

MXR Phase 99

The Pedal File - MXR Phase 99

MXR has some cool pedals in their line, but they often get overlooked for other more boutique brands.  A lot of their designs are simple, standard effects – offering only a few knobs for tweaking, but they sound good as evidenced by the many recordings in which you can hear them by the many artists who endorse them such as Beats Antique and Dweezil Zappa.  But lately, it seems like the engineers over there have decided they wanted to do something a little different.  The MXR Phase 99 basically takes two Phase 90 circuits, joins them at the hip, and adds some nice tweakable features that I was surprised to see on a pedal from them.  A series/parallel switch?  Sweet.  A vintage switch?  Sexy.  A sync switch to synchronize the rates of both circuits?  I like.  I’ll elaborate under tweakables.

Tweakables:
Speed 1 & 2 – controls the phase shift speed on both circuits.  You can set one fast, one slow, or however the hell you want to get unique phase tones.
Series/Parallel switch – run the circuits in series (circuit 1 into circuit 2 to create a more intense effect with exaggerated frequency cuts and peaks) or parallel (circuit 1 & 2 stay separated).
Vintage switch – engage a vintage voicing for the phasing.
Sync switch – like I said above, synchronizes both circuits to speed 1 rate.

Do you want to have classic phase tones, but with added flexibility and tweaking options?  Check this one out!


Check out www.jimdunlop.com for more info

Strymon Deco

The Pedal File - Strymon Deco

This pedal was just announced, and as soon as I read about it/listened to it, I knew I would more than likely own it someday.  The Deco (I assume it’s named after the popular art of the time of tape reels) is all about emulating old tape effects that engineers used in the early days of recording.  Offering a slew of effects like tape saturation for warmth/compression and overdrive, doubletracking for slapback, tape flanging, tape echo, and chorus, and with bypass switches for the saturation and doubletracker, it all feels too much like a wet dream…(what, you don’t dream about pedals?)

Tweakables:
Saturation – smooths out the sound with compression and fattens it up with a transparent overdrive.
Blend – mix between the tape saturation and doubletracker controls.
Lag Time – sets the delay offset like you were controlling a ‘lag deck’ and ‘reference deck’.  This is what gives you the doubletracking, slapback, flange, chorus effects, and tape echo (up to 500ms delay) effects.  Such a big and powerful knob…
Volume – duh, controls the output volume, stupid!
Wobble – adds random modulation from subtle to extreme just like tape would.
Type switch
– sum: the ‘tape decks’ are in phase
– invert: ‘lag deck’ is phase inverted
– bounce: right channel of the ‘lag deck’ is phase-inverted and bounced to the left channel input for ping-pong stereo effects, or a double-repeat effect when running in mono.

One pedal that can provide such a bounty of effects is surely worth a spot on your pedalboard.


Check out www.strymon.net for more info

Earthquaker Devices Afterneath

The Pedal File - Earthquaker DevicesAfterneath

If you haven’t heard of Earthquaker Devices at this point I’ll assume you’ve been living under a rock or you have just arrived to this planet from a distant solar system.  Welcome to Earth, watch out for humans – they suck.  But they build these things we call pedals, so I guess the ones who make them don’t completely suck, and Earthquaker Devices is on top of the pile of not-sucking.  Just released at Summer NAMM, the Afterneath is yet another unique EQD take on the boring old reverb effect.  The Afterneath is all about transporting you to another world that isn’t above or underneath ours  – it is after…neath (another angle would be a future world).  This one uses a ‘swarm of short delays to create wild and cavernous reverbs and scattered, short rhythmic delays with bizarre characteristics.’  It can self-oscillate, be bright or warm, and generally offers an abnormal and unconventionally open and ambient playground for the reverb lover.

Tweakables:
Length – Controls the decay length of the reverb.
Diffuse – Adjusts the spread of the reverb. Sharper with more attack counter clockwise, more ambient and washy as you turn it clockwise.
Dampen – Clockwise for brighter tones, counter clockwise for darker tones.
Drag – This digital reverb is made up of a bunch of short delays, this separates the delay lines creating a stuttering, pingy effect. This is the coolest control on the Afterneath, we highly advise slowly turning this while you let notes ring out for a cool warped speed effect. More delay as you turn it counter clockwise, more reverb as you turn it clockwise.
Reflect – Controls the regeneration of the reverb, turn clockwise for more wash and echos, counterclockwise for less. This will self oscillate if turned up high.
Mix – Blends the wet signal into the dry. Though it does not actually go full wet, it will gradually lower the clean level as you turn it clockwise and give the appearance of full wet.  This makes me ‘full wet’ just reading about it…

If you’re tired of all those reverb pedals that are so straight-forward, perhaps you should look into this one.


Check out www.earthquakerdevices.com for more info

So there you have it!  Three pedals that are new, exciting, and worth your time.  Feel free to let me know what you think, or what you consider to be sweet new pedals.

Thanks for reading.

Love,

Nick
The Pedal File

Recovery Effects: Cutting Room Floor Demo!

Hello all you tweaked out pedal people!  Time for an update from your favorite pedal peddler who tells you about pedals!  Please contain all excitement to the vicinity of your pants.  After doing my write up about the Recovery Effects Cutting Room Floor, I convinced myself (and probably no one else) that this pedal is really cool and unique and therefore must be acquired.  Now that I’ve thoroughly tweaked, probed, and prodded this pedal I decided I should do a demo video to share with you some of the awesomely weird things it can do – twisted things that a normal innocent pedal probably should not do, like an Amish kid on Rumspringa.

Please watch the demo for a taste:

The Cutting Room Floor is so awesome, in fact, it helped take my band’s (SexyPigDivas) new song to the next level.  There is a trippy breakdown part in said song that needed something I couldn’t put my finger on – like a texture or a certain effect that was eluding me.  On a whim I kicked on the new pedal.  The Cutting Room Floor’s insanely spacey random modulated delay sound was exactly right, materializing what I heard in my head that I didn’t even know I had heard at first!  Now I couldn’t imagine that part of the song without it.  Has a pedal ever done that for you?

Update on tweakables now that I have a feel for them:

Time – sets the delay time from short to long.
Intensity/Modulation – these interact with each other and the delay time control to bring about gritty doubled chorus-y sounds to delay with runaway blastoff yoshi modulation on the repeats – like playing through a maimed & dying tape machine that someone just went all ‘Office Space Office Space‘ on.  At some settings you can also achieve something close to half-step pitch shifts on the repeats.  It sounds like stuff is melting, if melting stuff had a sound.  Man.
Blend – blend the amount of effected signal with your clean signal.  I love this knob on any pedal and I don’t think I have to explain why…  This one is really cool because turned fully clockwise, your clean signal is totally removed.  Crank the delay time and get dizzy while you only hear the delayed part of the signal.  Tweak the time, intensity, & modulation and get ready for some really musically non-musical sounds!
Volume – controls your volume of course, but I noticed that as you turn it up, gain is introduced making the Cutting Room Floor also part distortion pedal.  My only complaint is the pedal volume becomes much louder than your unaffected signal at maximum dirt level.  I think it’d be perfect with separate volume and gain controls, but what do I know?  This can be a good thing, however, in the sense that you can plug anything with a 1/4″ jack into The Cutting Room Floor and find a good volume whether the signal is hot or not.  I found unity gain for my set up at about 1 o’clock.
Stutter/Reverb Toggle Switch – toggles between stutter and reverb modes.  Stutter mode is like turning the repeat knob (there isn’t one on this pedal) all the way up.  Near endless repeats that slowly decay and don’t self-oscillate.  This mode is awesome if you’re a sucker for atmosphere.  Reverb mode switches the delay to one repeat so you can get really great slap back delay/echo as well as doubling/chorus-y effects.
Freeze Momentary Stomp Switch – Only works when reverb mode is selected.  Stomp on the momentary switch to make the delay repeat as long as you’d like or only for a moment.  As you hold this down, the repeats layer, build, and become all gritty and bit-crushed until you think your amp might be exploding.  Hopefully it isn’t.

As you can see the Cutting Room Floor can play nice, but deep down it’s a dirty and debased delay/modulation/distortion pedal.  With this one pedal you can create tones and textures that will surprise traditionalists and noisies alike.  Just beware – I sure wouldn’t want to be left alone with it…  For instance, every time I put it away in it’s place I awake the next morning to The Cutting Room Floor waiting outside my bedroom door, and I swear it moves when I’m not looking.  Plus this one time a nice old lady told me that it tried to steal her handbag.  I told her this was a good pedal and it would never do that.  But I can feel there is something not quite right about it.  I’m sure it’s possessed or something.  Possessed with awesomeness!

For more info check out:  Recovery Effects

So what do you think of this beast, my friends?  Has anyone made the purchase based on my review?  Would you put it on your board?  Or would you chase it out of town with torches and pitch forks?  Let me know!!!

That’s all for now!  Thanks for reading.

Love,

Nick
The Pedal File

Recovery Effects: Cutting Room Floor

Greetings, I come in peace.  Unless you are an effects pedal – then I wish to become your owner and make you a slave unto me.  I’m not sure why I feel the need to open every post like this, it just kind of happens when I’m alone with my thoughts and a computer…

logo-web-banner

But anyway, today I’d like to direct your attention to one of the weirdest and most interesting pedals I’ve seen in a while.  On top of being point-to-point hand-wired with no printed circuit board, I’m not even sure how to classify it because it combines functions not normally seen in one pedal.  Possibly ever.  The Recovery Effects Cutting Room Floor is a pedal designed by someone who isn’t afraid to really get dirty with experimentation (and I’m pretty certain this is expected of the user considering the unorthodox tones that can be brought forth).  This effect is like frankenstein, built of parts that never belonged together in the first place and brought to life through ritual black magic and a big tesla coil shooting lightning bolts into it.  I’m not even sure if Graig Markel, the mad scientist behind Recovery Effects, has even realized the monstrosity he’s unleashed on the world.  And now it’s too late….  The Cutting Room Floor is upon us.

Recovery Effects bills this pedal as a glitch, pitch, echo, modulation pedal.  Here’s a description in their own words:  “[The Cutting Room Floor]…offers mountains of wild modulation, delay, freeze and stutter.  Anything from light lo-fi chorus to broken-tape-deck sounds can be achieved with this unique pedal. Melt, then freeze tones in place, or use it as a gritty echo or faux reverb.”  At first I wasn’t quite sure how to interpret that description or the list of features for that matter.  Then I thought about the name – Cutting Room Floor, which is a film industry expression referring to edited portions of footage not used in the final edit of a film.  So you see, this pedal is like taking small bits of different effects units and jamming them into one nice tight enclosure.  Do the pieces belong together?  Maybe not, but it’s companies like Recovery that are raising the bar by re-imagining effects in a market overrun with clones and modifications.   And that my friends is what makes me feel all warm and fuzzy on my insides.

The Pedal File - Recovery Effects Cutting Room Floor

Tweakables:
*Don’t quote me on any of this since I don’t have a manual to use as reference.  Basically, I’m typing out my ass right now.  Just don’t smell my keyboard….

Time – sets the delay time.  Probably something like one or no repeats at minimum up to a 1000 ms at the max?
Intensity – sounds like it controls the amount of pitch shifts only on the repeats, like a modulated delay but the pitch shifting is random like someone (or something??) is cranking an invisible delay time knob up and down on the repeats.  This control (I think) can make sounds like hatching a Yoshi in Super Mario. Awesome.
Modulation – controls oscillation or rise and fall (like a sine wave) of the delayed repeats.
Blend – to blend or mix in your clean unaffected signal.  And yes, I do always have to point out that I really like this knob on any pedal.  And yes, stupid, I like it because it provides a lot more versatility than an effect that is ‘all or nothing’.  (I kid, you’re not really stupid…I mean, you can read, right?  If you’re American, that’s pretty damn good!!)
Volume – duh, to control how loud this naughty pedal can get.  Not sure if it goes above unity gain or not.
Stutter/reverb toggle switch – switches between stutter or reverb.  I can’t be sure how the stutter is controlled, but I get the feeling it makes the repeats cut off abruptly to make them sound choppy and tremolo like?  I think you press the freeze button and it momentarily engages the opposite function of what is selected by the toggle switch.  The freeze button also sounds like it slams and/or pounds the delay time knob causing crazy lo-fi tape delay self oscillation whirlpools that can suck you down faster than if you were caught alone in a dark alley with Justin Bieber.

Since I don’t have a manual or much to reference, you should definitely watch Recovery’s video and see for yourself.  It’s short, and I get the feeling it only scratches the surface of what this pedal can do.  Feel free to leave a comment and tell me what you think!  I think noisy noise heads would probably love this pedal as they can expect it to do a bunch of crazy things loosely related to delay, reverb, and unpredictable pitch shifting anarchy.  I love all the sounds on the video from the slap back garage verb, to the ambient chorus/reverb, to the lo-fi analog delay, and of course the ‘slamming the tape head’ crazy oscillating helicopter sound.  Anyone who is looking for that weird or experimental tone for their board should deeply consider owning this pedal.  I know I am as I would love to see everything The Cutting Room Floor can do.

Check out Recovery Effects’ website for more info.  As always, feel free share your opinions in the comment box below!  Oh and I almost forgot.  Head over to the Look page to see some cool new pedal acquisitions!

That’s all for now.  Thanks for reading!

Love,

Nick
The Pedal File