Pedal Feature: Earthquaker Devices Palisades Overdrive

Ahoy-hoy, y’all!  If it’s okay with you, I’m going to talk about a pedal today.  You know what I like in a pedal, don’t you?  That’s right: versatility!  I like to be in control of a pedal and tell it what to do, the more options for knob fiddling, the better.  That is what I try to focus on in this blog, and for that reason I want to draw attention to what is perhaps the most versatile overdrive pedal on the market, made by one of the most ambitious and quirky pedal companies around – The Palisades Overdrive by Earthquaker Devices.  You may also know I like to really get into a pedal’s insides, and this particular pedal is so versatile it has just about ten vigintillion (yes that is a naughty sounding word for a 1 followed by 63 zeros) features for tweaking, and tweaking, and tweaking some more until you tweak out from being over-twerked (or as I always say, Miley Cyrus-ed).   Okay, maybe it doesn’t literally have that many features, but the point is still valid; this pedal is like totally covered in knobs and shit.

Overview

 

To make a long story short (or longer), The Palisades is an overdrive.  Remember – overdrives are typically transparent as in they don’t add a lot of color your tone, as opposed to distortion.  If you desire a somewhat clean yet gritty edge-of-break-up tone in between a boost and distortion, overdrive is the ticket.  The Palisades is based on the Ibanez Tubescreamer, or as EQD refers to it, the Tubes Creamer (hee hee).  The Tubescreamer was originally touted like 30 years ago by the great Stevie Ray Vaughn (the only guitar player with the chops to back up his layers of scarves), which helped it reach the status of ‘go-to’ overdrive for scores of guitar players even today who would rather sound like something they’ve heard before.

The Palisades is ready to be the ‘go-to’ overdrive for guitar players of the modern era; it takes the concept of the transparent overdrive pretty far, offering such numerous tonal options that only a crazy person would have set out to put them all in one pedal.  This device is much heftier than any comparably wimpy 3-knob overdrive you find out there.  On top of its rugged build (no plastic input/output jacks or cheap switches), it sports two switchable channels of gain that can go from clean to near fuzz, a switchable boost, a bright switch to shine things up, a buffer to tighten things up, a voicing adjustment to select which components are causing the clipping for different types of drive/compression etc., and a bandwidth control for selecting the amount of girth and gain.  As I’m sure you can guess, if overdrive was made of (s)tones, then seemingly none would be left unturned by EQD when the Palisades was brought forth unto this Earth.  Seriously, every jangle-y 60’s punk garage indie blues pop country jazz noise guitarist can find their tone in there.

Enough!  Let’s move to the tweakables, shall we?

Tweakables

Boost: ‘Sets the level of the output boost.’  You can have just a little, or a large helping of boost suitable to feed Honey Boo Boo on pageant night…
Volume: ‘Sets the output level.’  Lots of volume.  See aforementioned joke.
Tone: ‘Brighter clockwise, warmer counter clockwise.’  Aside from Wampler tone controls, this is one of the most versatile tone controls I’ve encountered – it’s quite sensitive and in combination with the normal/bright switch provides you with all you need to find just the right tonal shade you need.  Bright, dark, and everywhere in between.
Gain A: ‘Sets the gain for the Channel A (lower gain).’  It is lower gain than Gain B, but cranked up it gets pretty heavy, especially when set to heavier voicings/bandwidths.
Gain B: ‘Sets the gain for Channel B (higher gain).’  I believe channel B is a totally independent channel.  I noticed that you can make Gain B your low gain channel, if you so desire, by keeping the gain low while cranking the gain on channel A.  (Not that it makes much of a difference, just wanted to point that out.)
Normal/Bright: ‘Normal is a warm full tone, Bright is livelier tone with more chime.’  This is great if you need to add or take away some treble-y bite from your signal or make proper adjustments for dark/bright amps and/or humbuckers/single coils (if you need to go further than the tone knob can go by itself).  The brightness does make your tone livelier and seems to provide more harmonic richness, sort of like a tube amp.
Buffer: ‘Turns the input buffer on or off.  ON is a tighter and brighter tone while OFF is a warmer tone with more sag. The buffer is part of the drive circuit & is only available when the Palisades is activated.’  The word on the street is that you can ‘feel’ the buffer more than you can hear it.  How zen.  But it’s true – there isn’t really a perceivable tonal difference except for maybe in picking response.  Check out my video below to see if you can hear it.
Bandwidth: ‘This sets the overall tone and gain structure of the Palisades. 1 is the thinnest setting with the least amount of gain and 5 is the fattest setting with the heaviest gain. Everything else is in between. This control has a major effect on all the settings of the Palisades, especially the gain and voice controls.’  It will also have a major effect on the pants of those in hearing range, either filling them with poop or causing them to get a little tighter….  Depending on how you set it.
Voice: ‘This sets the nature of the Palisades distortion by changing the clipping diodes.’  EQD could have stopped with this knob.  Even staying on one bandwidth setting and adjusting the voice knob can give you an astounding array of overdrive tonez, brah.
1- No diodes: The most open and least distorted.  This can be used as more of a clean boost or as a way to shine and grit things up a bit.
2- LED clipping: light clipping with a lot of volume.  More of a low-gain, edge-of-breakup sound
3- Mosfet clipping: light gain OD with great harmonics.’ Medium-high gain, I like this setting a lot.
4- Asymmetrical Silicon clipping: Tighter light gain OD closest to stock 808.  This clips the waveform unevenly or asymmetrically providing more compression/clarity.
5- Symmetrical silicon clipping: tighter distorted tone.  Clips the positive and negative cycle of a waveform evenly giving the effect of more distortion (as opposed to asymmetrical clipping).  Everyone knows symmetry equals beauty.
6- Schottky Diode clipping: Looser fuzzy tone.  I had never heard of this diode before learning about the Palisades.  After some research it looks like people traditionally put them directly in their guitar as a way to add a switchable overdrive boost right to the guitar.  Loose and fuzzy is a great description of the tone as well as for the matriarch of your family.  Ba-zing! Seriously though, this setting is pretty fuzz-like for an overdrive.  It gets pretty nasty and nasally the more you crank up the gain and tone knobs.

Check out my video.  By looping a riff and tweaking knobs, I try to give an overview of different tones and show how the controls interact all without boring you with needless talking.

Conclusion

As evidenced by the Palisades, Earthquaker pedals are for tweakers and practically beg to be touched.  The versatility found in them gives one the ability to go exploring beyondThe Pedal File - Scary Carrot Top traditional tones (the Sea Machine & Afterneath come to mind) like a regular Dr. Livingstone (I presume…only the goal is to not make it back from the unspoiled land of new tones).  This ability to cover a fuller spectrum of ‘unusable’ to usable tones makes their pedals perfect for too-cool-for-school noisey noise-makers and square traditional tone hounds alike, which I’m sure is a big part of the success of the EQD pedal line.  I also admire that Earthquaker didn’t buckle to the requests for just another Tubescreamer clone and instead went out on a very large limb and brought to life their own perverted version, like a forsaken monster pieced together from human remains, a.k.a. Carrot Top.  But in pedal form.

If Stevie Ray Vaughn somehow had a chance to check out the Palisades, I think he’d go back in time and let his Tubescreamers take that helicopter ride to oblivion.  Too bad that’s not the way it went down.  No other single pedal more sensitively straddles the line of boost, chimey mid-focused overdrive, and dirty high-gain fuzzyness.  I said it before, but it still stands:  If you need to replace your whole collection of overdrives with one pedal, this one could and should be it.

As always, leave me a comment and let me know what you think about the Palisades, or whatever!  If you really can’t share your thoughts in public, you can also drop me a line via my Contact Page.

For more info on the Palisades, as well as the rest of the EQD pedal line, check out: www.earthquakerdevices.com

Thanks for reading.

Love,

Nick
The Pedal File

 

Iron Ether, Part 2 – The Subterranea

Hello to you knob lickers and switch ticklers!  Ready for the next installment of my thoughts on Iron Ether?  No?  Well I guess I have to call tough shit on this one!  You’ll thank me someday for bestowing such wonderful knowledge upon you.  If you missed Part 1, click here.  Now that you’re up to speed, read on.

The Subterranea

All kidding aside, this is a fantastic synth/octave pedal.  Do you want your guitar to sound like a fat slob of a fuzzy synth?  Buy this pedal!  Seriously.  It compares (minus a few features) to the EHX Microsynth in tone, but excels far better at down-your-leg-dripping warm analog octave tone.  Also it has lots of knobs and switches and I’m into that.  Did I mention each one has a unique finish?  You never know what you’re gonna get, making each pedal it’s own collectible little work of art.  It makes for an attractive and superbly versatile pedal that can let you compete with the asshole synth player in your band who thinks he’s so cool with all his tricked out sounds.

You get a bunch of octaves (three to be specific), waveform switches on two of them, and a low pass filter on the third.  There’s a clean mix knob, which of course leads to a crazy amount of tweakability.  The blending of the octaves with the filter and waveform switches grant awesome power to this pedal to churn out unprecedented synth tones like a Moog – on fuzz, man.  Somehow Taylor Livingston (the man behind Iron Ether) designed this pedal to sound like a lo-fi arcade synth that tracks well everywhere on the neck, with any pickup.  Pleasing video game tones are hiding beneath higher notes on the neck.  You can use the low octave and filter knobs to make your guitar sound like a deep bass.  Playing chords makes it glitch out a bit, but this can get really cool when you bring your clean tone back in.  I found even just playing with one octave voice can provide hours of experimental fun.  It’s like a kingdom of rugged synths at your fingertips and you are their king and stuff.

Tweakables – Quoted text from Iron Ether’s website

  • “Octave: This controls the volume of the main octave voice. This voice is based on classic octave down effects and offers a fat sub sound. Some elements of the original signal’s timbre remain unaffected.”  This is gnarly.  You’ll forget what the hell instrument you’re playing and lose yourself in the deep dark octave-y goodness.  Oh yes.
  • “Filter: This controls the cutoff frequency of a lowpass filter on the output of the Octave signal. This allows for sounds from deep, dub tones up to funky harmonically-rich signals. The filter only effects the “Octave” voice.”  I wish this was controllable with an expression pedal as it would be a sweet ass sweeping filtered wah, but I guess it probably was too hard to fit in the circuit.  It’s okay though, it’s still cool.  You still can make an impressive amount of tones with just the Octave and Filter controls with your good ol’ fingers doing the job.
  • “Octo Synth: This controls the volume of a synth voice tracking at one octave below the input pitch.”  Indeed it does.  A fuzzy glitchy octave sort of like the EQD Bit Commander.
  • “Octo Synth waveform switch: This selects between a saw, narrow pulse, or square wave for the Octo Synth voice.”  This is an awesome feature.  Get harsh nasally quacking fuzz, or a more mellow and rounded character if it’s been a rough day.
  • “Uni Synth: This controls the volume of a synth voice tracking at the same pitch as the input signal.”  Another nice fuzzy octave to add to the mingling of octaves.
  • “Uni Synth waveform switch: This selects between a saw, narrow pulse, or square wave for the Uni Synth voice.”  Once again, shape your attack for what it is you want to kill…or stun if you have feelings.
  • “Clean: This controls the volume of the unaffected signal.”  You know the drill, adds clean tone, versatility, blah blah blah…

Check out Iron Ether’s website for more info.  Also, the rest of their line of pedals is totally worth your time:  www.ironether.com

Please also watch my video demo:

A final thing I found really cool about the Frantabit and Subterranea is that even with just the clean tone dialed in, the guitar tone sounded, well, better.  It reminds me of a tube preamp with nice clarity and top end chime.  You could just use them as a tone enhancer/boost and not use the effects at all.  …But that would mean you are a horrible person and I will hate you for not using these exceptional pedals to their potential!

I hope you found this ungodly creation from Iron Ether as interesting as I do.  As always feel free to leave a comment about your thoughts and to tell me how your day was.

Thanks for reading.

Love,

Nick
The Pedal File

The Pedal File: Yay Pedal News!

Hey there!  I realize you may not spend your time scouring the web for new pedals to feed your horrible pedal addiction, which is why The Pedal File is at your service.  It’s been  a minute and I’ve been seeing blurbs here and there about various new pedals that are getting me all bothered and excited!  I thought I’d share this stuff with you so you can also be excited and feel ahead of the curve and like you’re better than others (because you so are just for reading my site right now!).

Earthquaker Devices Palisades

Earthquaker Devices Palisades

I saw some forum posts about this new overdrive/distortion from the folks at Earthquaker.  Apparently some goober was touring the shop, took a pic of this unreleased pedal, and thought it was cool to post on Tumblr or something, which of course spread through the pedal community faster than Ricky Martin’s butt cheeks in front of a mariachi band.  No big deal, right?  Honestly, not a huge deal, but he probably should’ve asked if it was cool beforehand as it seems Earthquaker was scrambling to stop the wild speculation of what type of pedal it was and let it be known this was no hoax.  But now, ToneReport has the scoop that this baby is a indeed a distortion device, featuring parameters that seem to combine distortioning, EQing, and buffering.

(***Pedal File Editor’s Note:  Premier Guitar printed a press release from Earthquaker claiming the Palisades is basically a TS808 Tubescreamer with all the bells, whistles, mods, curves, and angles you could possibly want on the TS808 circuit.  Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the Tubescreamer, but I’m still excited because do you know what I’m a big fan of?  VERSATILITY!)

My favorite tweakables are:
-the ability to toggle between two different gain settings (via Gain A/B knobs & a stomp switch)
-you have some control over the bandwidth frequency going into the pedal with a rotary switch.  There are actually 5 total frequencies to select, so you have a lot of tone options there.  Kind of like a frequency knob on a distortion pedal (think the Rat here).
-another rotary switch selects how you want to ‘clip’ the signal or in other words – how do you want to distort the signal?  The Palisades offers 6 ways to do so:

Diode life (no clipping): not sure what this means.  I’m guessing you can use this setting more as a clean boost or for tone shaping?
LED:  more of a low-gain, edge-of-breakup sound
MOSFET: higher gain
Asymmetrical Silicon: clips the waveform unevenly or asymmetrically providing more compression/clarity.
Full silicon: I assume this is symmetrical clipping meaning it clips the positive and negative cycle of a waveform evenly giving the effect of more distortion (as opposed to asymmetrical clipping)
Schottkey diode clipping: I’ve never heard of this diode before.  After some research it looks like people traditionally put them directly in their guitar with a way to switch them on for more gain.  I like the idea of using something in a way it was not intended.  The description of the way they sound makes me think this has a ‘germanium’ texture to it.

This is apparently what happens when a man like Jamie Stillman gets to be alone all day with electronics.  If you need to replace your whole collection of overdrives with one pedal, this one could and should be it.

For some more info/pics check out the most recent ToneReport.

 

Wampler Latitude Deluxe Tremolo

Wampler Latitude Tremolo

I’m a big fan of Wampler pedals.  They are solid, versatile, and sound great.  So naturally I’m excited for their new deluxe tremolo.  The Latitude, much like the Palisades, is a knob-tweaker’s dream.  Most tremolos these days are suited for either a vintage or modern sound and feature about 2 or 3 knobs (yawn!).  Empress and a few others make very nice and tweakable trems but they’re awful expensive and big.  Wampler has proven again that they really can compete in the pedal trade by jamming so many cool features into such little enclosures (You get controls more recognizble on a delay pedal for instance, like tap tempo and four selectable time subdivisions).  Brian Wampler is stepping up his game, yo!

My favorite tweakables are:
– the wave form selector.  Select from square, bell, or sine waves for different trem flavors.  Get some vintage amp tremolo or modern helicopter (judo) chop.
-the spacing knob.  Increases the space between volume bursts or ‘throbs’ or ‘pulsations’.  It controls the amount of ‘dead space’ while you play.
-the attack knob.  Adjust from punchy all the way to rolled off attack.  Possibly can do volume swells.  Sweet!  With these three controls alone you can do much more than the average tremolo.

The Latitude has no price listed until the official release (May 29th) but I’d imagine this one falls around the $200 mark.  If you’re in the market for a new tremolo I just found it for you.

Check out Wampler’s site for more info.

That’s my update for you, I hope you feel that much more informed.  Stay tuned for some cool new things coming soon the the site!

Thanks for reading.

Love,

Nick
The Pedal File

Pedal Feature – Sweet New Pedals of 2014

If you’re like me and obsessed, you keep up with all the news and products of the pedal world by reading blogs, checking manufacturers’ websites, and scouring the latest trade show news.  Wait, you don’t??  It’s just me?  Whatever, I can quit any time I want!  …Ahem, sorry…  Allow me to compose myself by telling you about some of the cool new effects that I’ve come across over the first month or so of 2014.

Blackout Effectors –
Cadavernous Pandimensional Reverb

cadavernous_reverb_blackout_effectors

I noticed that as soon as I started getting more into reverb, every company has now been making super cool reverb pedals.  I never thought you could need more than one, but the differences regarding features and tones make the need (perhaps want is a better word?) quite apparent.

The Cadavernous Pandimensional Reverb looks enticing with unique controls usually seen on delay pedals such as swell and regeneration.  Using these controls in combination can create self-oscillation.  Cool!  I can imagine all sorts of thick atmospheres being summoned with these controls.  Also via an internal switch you are free to choose if you want to engage or disengage the swell effect while holding down the swell button for creative dynamics in your songs and solos. The dampen knob is a low pass filter for darkening or brightening tone while the reflections knob adjusts the ‘room size’ or reverb time. Another great feature of this pedal is the dry mix knob.  I love me a dry mix knob so much I think every pedal should have one.  This allows you to mix in your clean signal to create dimension and keep your clean signal as intact as you like. By adjusting the reverb knob in conjunction with the dry mix, I’m sure you can make a staggering amount of ambient and dreamy tones.  More info can be found at: Blackout Effectors

Walrus Audio –
Descent Reverb

Walrus-Audio---Descent-Reverb

The Descent is an interesting take on reverb that tackles the usual sounds, but gets weird with ‘reverse’ and ‘shimmer modes’. Reverse reverb builds up before you strike a note, like a little ambient cloud hanging around your attack.  Shimmer of course is for when you wish to sound like a crystal wind chime on Jesus’ porch.

Other weird features include a dry mix as well as a dry signal knob.  Dry mix is that knob I love so much to add your clean signal to taste.  The dry signal knob is a separate control where you have the ability to mix your dry signal with an octave up and/or octave down for really cool ethereal effects more akin to the organ sounds EHX HOG/POG and Earthquaker Devices Organizer.  I’m not certain, but the tweak knob is probably a tone control for darker or brighter reverberation.  More info at:  Walrus Audio

MAK Crazy Sound Technology –
Space Reverb

spacereverb

I mentioned MAK in my previous post and am excited to actually get to try out this pedal and post a demo soon (I bought it on Ebay, no one sends me pedals to demo by the way).   This made-in-Ukraine reverb caught my attention because it also has three modes: ‘plate’, ‘ambience’, and ‘shimmer’.  I’m a big fan of plate reverb, which emulates the sound of an audio signal reflecting off a metal plate (hence the name).  The Beach Boys, Beatles, and My Morning Jacket have all used plate reverb to create very nice reverb washes in their music.  ‘Ambience’ reverb is described by MAK as ‘deep reverberation with NO ATTACK’.  To me this sounds sort of like a reverse reverb.  Lastly, ‘shimmer’ mode seems to differ from others by the way the company describes it, as a ‘unique technology named Dark Krystal [that] will grant your guitar [tones] from space-atmospheric-cosmic to otherworldy – underground sounding.’  That’s deep.  Check back soon for a more in-depth article about this one.  More info at:  MAK Crazy Sound Technology

Mojo Hand FX –
Speakeasy Preamp

mojo-hand-fx-speakeasy

Note: the Speakeasy demo comes in around 2:00 mins

I’m not that into preamps/boosts because they’re usually kinda boring.  Shaping and crafting tone is a relevant art and a skill, but ‘tone-shaping pedals’ are pretty straightforward.  This new preamp by Mojo Hand FX caught my eye because it’s based on the Echoplex preamp circuit.  I’ve seen other Echoplex preamp pedals out there, which seem like great tools for adding warmth, depth, and character to your signal.  The idea came about this one time when some guitarists realized that simply running a signal through an Echoplex with very short or no delay time made shit sound better – like an aurally administered analog beef injection.  The only problem is that an Echoplex is easily like $700 used and who has the money to justify that?  Well now you can afford to have better tone with this preamp, especially if you use a solid state amp and are lacking in tube warmth/compression.  The Speakeasy boasts an added tone control for tweaking your high end.  Good idea.  The toggle acts as a boost selection, from clean to fat and gritty.  More info at:  Mojo Hand FX

Wampler –
Deluxe Tremolo Prototype

Note: The Tremolo demo starts around 3:30, after the ‘Thirty Something’ (also a cool pedal).

I’m a big fan of Wampler pedals.  They’re sturdy and sound great, and they have enough distortion/overdrive/fuzz pedals to keep me occupied for a long time or at least a few weeks.  Wampler hasn’t strayed too far into the realm of modulation (their line only has one chorus, reverb, and delay pedal – all are worth checking out) so of course I’m intrigued by a new modulation offering from them.  The video is all I have to go by, so it’s hard to talk about the tweakables without making guesses.  I can see controls for speed (to set the rate), space (if it’s anything like the Tremulus Lune, for adjusting the loud/quiet balance of the waveshape… or maybe it adjusts the size of the wave from the highest-lowest points?), depth (controls the amount of effect), wave form (all the classic wave forms – sine, sawtooth, square, etc.), attack (probably to make it go ‘chop’ or be on the smooth, pulsating side), volume (duh), and also a time division indicator of some kind.  I have to say this pedal excites me, which means I’ll probably post an update once it’s officially released.  More info at: Wampler Pedals

Pigtronix –
Rototron Rotary Speaker Emulator

Top-Best-Guitar-Effects-Pedals-Winter-NAMM-2014-06

I’m a fan of Pigtronix. They definitely have come a long way over the last few years, releasing innovative idea after idea.  Their line includes everything from a one-knob boost pedal to an amazing synth pedal to envelope filters and distortions.  This latest pedal is an expansion to their modulation line, the most recent of which, the Quantum Time Modulator, made big waves in the pedal community for conjuring chorus, vibe, and flange tones reminiscent of the great Frank Zappa’s DynaFlanger.  I’m a sucker for chorus, and the Rototron seems like it can do some really tasty leslie-style chorus/vibe effects.  Nice.

Tweakables include stereo ins/outs, ramp, depth, slow, and fast knobs.  The ramp knob allows you to speed up and/or slow down the ‘rotation’.  By setting the fast and slow knobs you can change or ‘ramp’ between the two speeds by stomping on the Slow/Fast button.  Depth of course changes the amount of effect.  These features come together to make a simple, yet great and versatile effect.  More info at:  Pigtronix

That should be enough to keep you pedal junkies calm for a little while.

Thanks for reading.

Love,

Nick
The Pedal File