The Pedal File – More Great Pedals Made by More Little Guys

Hi.
I like pedals.  You like pedals.  He likes pedals.  She likes pedals.  We all like pedals.

Today’s topic is another attempt to bring you up a notch on the pedal popularity scale.  Whenever I find some cool pedals that I think are obscure and/or weird and/or versatile, I like to let you know about it so you can pretend to all your friends you found it first.  Check out these two exciting pedals from two different little guy builders.

Warm Star Electronics – Shape shift Mountain

Scrolling the webs, I came across this pedal and was instantly intrigued.  A compact yet super versatile Filter & LFO pedal?  I’m down like Donald Trump at an all you can eat baby buffet.  (Correct me if I’m wrong, but I assume he eats babies for breakfast, no?)

The Pedal File - Warm Star Electronics Shape Shift Mountain

Shape Shift Mountain is  the first pedal offered by Warm Star (built in collaboration with Delptronics, maker of eurorack modules, interactive music exhibits, PCBs, and other electronic design type stuff), which to me is a hopeful indication of more cool synth style pedals in the future.

At heart, the Shape Shift Mountain is a voltage controlled 24 db/octave low pass filter with an integrated LFO.  It uses the classic SSM2044 filter chip used in a bunch of synths, but most notably the Korg Mono/Poly synths (if Korg used it, it’s gotta be good).homer

As the name implies, applying a multi-faceted filter, plus LFO to your guitar signal can give you mystical mountain sherpa abilities to traverse your guitar (or anything with a 1/4″ output) across precarious tone-scapes you didn’t know existed.  The cool part is that you don’t really have to worry about avalanches.  Unless you happen to have a jam spot right next to a mountain.

How versatile can the Shape Shift Mountain be?  That’s just a silly question.  Well, silly, for starters you could use this thing’s filter as an EQ of sorts to carve and whittle frequencies to boost leads or thin out/fatten up your signal, which are things guitar players do when they really want to cut through the mix.  You could also employ this pedal as a unique distortion and really fuck your signal up with the gain, gnarl, and resonance controls.  Or, you could tame it as the versatile filter and modulation source it is for filter sweeping and vibrato/trill sounds.

Like that mirror in Harry Potter that shows you your biggest desire or something (I don’t remember, I read that book like 15 years ago), the Shape Shift Mountain can show you what it is you desire.  At least as far as filters and LFOs go.  It would probably not be right for anyone looking for a steady, consistent, one-trick pony relationship with a pedal.

There’s only 50 being made in the first run (going now!) so you should probably get over to their page and tell them you want one before it’s too late!

Warm Star’s Demo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5uG2QovabI

Tweakables
Cutoff – determines cutoff frequency of the filter.  Select the frequencies that shall pass or shall not pass.
Resonance – amplifies or accentuates the cutoff frequency.
Gnarl – in the video it sounds like this knob generates a second frequency one octave below the original signal, but I can’t say for sure.
Gain – the gain seems like it could add an octave as well, but at any rate I’m sure adds gain and distorts the signal.
LFO Rate – rate of the LFO.
LFO Slope – control how the LFO fades in and out.
LFO Amount – depth of the LFO.
CV inputs – control cutoff/resonance via CV signals.
CV out – for LFO.  Integrate this with your synth or CV enabled gear.
Expression inputs – LFO rate, amount, cutoff, resonance.  Control a knob with your foot so you can do synth stuff while you play, like sweep the filter.

Switches
High/low – switch between a high/low octave?
Triangle/Square – waveform selector.

There you have it: a promising first venture out to pedal sea from a fledgling company.  I think I speak for more than just me when I say I look forward to what Warm Star does in the future.

Check out www.warmstarelectronics.com for more info.


Parasit Studios – Into the Unknown Guitar Synth Deluxe

Possibly the synthiest synth pedal ever?

Parasit Studios isn’t just a pedal manufacturer, but a real live Swedish recording studio that also happens to make DIY pedal kits, many of which are pretty unique synth pedal-type designs.  People who produce/engineer records probably have a good understanding of sound, so why couldn’t they make a great sounding pedal (case in point – Recovery Effects)?

The Pedal File - Parasit Studio Into the Unknown Guitar SynthThe Into The Unknown (ITU) is a fine example of the above situation.

According to Parasit helmsman Frederik Lyxzen, what makes the circuit of the Into the Unknown pedal special is ‘that the octave up part is based on a frequency controlled oscillator so it doesn’t scramble chords like [the] usual octave circuit, and it tracks well over the entire fretboard…it can be very controlled, but also make super-glitchy sounds, fuzz, theremin sounds, synthy octaves down and up, flanger-ish modulation, drone-ish noise, oscillation, and more.’

The Into The Unknown’s filter and LFO sounds are similar to the Moog Freqbox, onlyurkel the ITU seems a lot more musical and controllable.  The fuzz on it’s own is one of the closest to sounding like an actual synth I’ve come across.  Be warned, this pedal sounds pretty amazing and will surprise you with it’s satisfying ability to produce sounds that are strange and otherworldly, yet beautiful and inspiring…like Urkel.

Needless to say, when I saw there was a limited run of 25 being sold, I had to jump on it.  Don’t fret though (terrible guitar pun), if you’re handy with a soldering iron, you can always get one of the DIY kits, or you can sign up for the mailing list and be notified of the next run.

Parasit’s demo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5uG2QovabI

Tweakables
Mix – blends between straight square wave fuzz and the synthesized VCO signal coming from the CD4046 PLL chip.
Sub – how much octave down you add to the signal.
Gate – sets input sensitivity.  Can be very gated or glitchy, and can self-oscillate.
Rate – controls the speed of the LFO.
Level – controls overall output.
Filter – controls cutoff of the resonant filter.  The middle position has a strong resonant peak.  Check out the filter sweeps in the demo video.  Super nice.
Track – controls the tracking speed of the VCO.  Turn it up for a slow attack/decay of the octave up or down for a faster attack/decay.
Warp – the man who built this doesn’t even know how to describe this control.  It’s interactive with the track knob and has a strong effect on the character of the modulation.  Can produce ring mod sounds.

SwitchesThese switches are independent from the mix controls so you can add octaves to either the fuzz signal or VCO signal.
Octave down -Toggles between one or two octaves down (down position – two octaves down, up position – one octave down).
Octave up – The VCO signal will be one or two octaves up depending on the switch (down position – one octave up, up position – two octaves up).
LFO – Wave Shape selector/turn off.

I think you’ll agree this pedal is more than worth it’s weight in synths.

Check out  www.parasitstudios.se for more info.

*Bonus: Interesting Article on LFOs and how they can shape your sound- http://www.emusician.com/gear/1332/the-ins-and-outs-of-lfos/36695

That’s all for now.  Thanks for reading!  Make sure to be quick if you want one to claim one of these fine pedals, and as always, feel free to let me know any thoughts you might have.  Stay tuned for video demos!

Love,

Nick
The Pedal File

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 – Pittsburgh Modular Patch Box Pt.2, The Module Breakdown

slothHeyyy youuuuu guuuuuuuys!  Are you sick of me yet?  Don’t answer that!  …Allow me torephrase: are you sick of pedals yet?  No, of course not!  I think we can all agree, pedals are the best.  (I know that I myself am questionable.)  So anyways, I’m back with more details on the Pittsburgh Modular Patch Box!

If you didn’t catch Part 1 where I give an overview of the PatchBox, click this link.  If you did, good job.  A gold star for you, and you may read on.  Don’t ask questions, just do what I say.  Geez.

 

So yes, let’s breakdown and discuss the modules offered in the Patch Box FX1:

Analog Replicator

The Analog Replicator is Pittsburgh Modular’s analog engineer Michael Johnsen’s original design, which I must say is formidable and everything an analog delay should be, modular synth or no.  Offering a mishmash of tweaky options and looking like it was reverse-engineered from a Tesla coil control panel, this is perhaps one of the most musical, versatile, earveloping (ear-enveloping), BBD-based analog delays.  (You know, bucket brigade device?  Read this if you’re scratching your head over what the hell a BBD chip is).   Seriously, it sounds awesome.  Listen to it for yourself:

The lush and complex sound of the Analog Replicator is provided not by one BBD chip, but two.  That’s right, PM don’t skimp when it comes to BBD chips.  This generosity grants one access to a variety of delay times and delay-based effects by selecting either one or two BBD chips in combination with the short mode (a delay time range of 10ms – 350ms) and long mode (10ms – 2600ms).  Short mode provides brighter and cleaner repeats (chorus and reverb are available by selecting just the one BBD chip and Short mode), while long mode brings on the dirty repeats.  The longer, the grimier (that’s what she said).

Tweakables

  • TIME Knob – Adjust the delay time.
  • TIME CV IN Knob – CV attenuverter used to attenuate and/or invert the incoming TIME CV signal.  (A dual purpose knob whose purpose I can’t quite discern.  Obviously it affects the CV signal, but I’m not sure how that affects the Time Knob in terms of the sound it produces.  Feel free to school me if you know.)
  • 4,096 / 8,192 Switch – Select between 1 and 2 BBD chips. 8,192 doubles the amount of available delay range.  (Very nice)
  • SHORT / LONG Switch – Select between SHORT and LONG delay ranges. Short range is bright and clean, long range is dark and dirty.
  • FEEDBACK Knob – Sets the number of repeats generated from the delay signal.
  • INVERT POLARITY Switch – In the up position, the switch inverts the Feedback polarity. This setting has an interesting effect with shorter delay times.  (I don’t quite understand exactly how this translates to affecting the sound either, but I’d sure love to dig in and find out!  Perhaps it’s like a phase switch to bring out different feedback frequencies?)
  • FEEDBACK CV IN Knob – CV attenuverter used to attenuate and/or invert the incoming FEEDBACK CV signal.
  • BYPASS SwitchEnable or disable the analog delay effect.
  • SPILLOVER Switch – Enable or disable the analog delay effect. Feedback is allowed to trail off.
  • INPUT DRIVE Knob – Audio signal input level control.  (Delays with this control are cool because who doesn’t like an overdriven analog delay sound?  Nobody, that’s who!)
  • MIX CV IN Knob – CV attenuverter used to attenuate and/or invert the incoming MIX CV signal.
  • OUTPUT MIX Knob – Sets the signal mix sent to the MIX OUT jack.
  • INPUT JACK – Audio signal input.
  • TIME CV Input JackCV input used to modulate TIME (length of delay time).  (This input and the following CV inputs are controlled by their corresponding knobs.)
  • FEEDBACK (FBK) CV Input Jack – CV input used to modulate FEEDBACK amount.
  • MIX CV Input Jack – CV input used to modulate the OUTPUT MIX.
  • DELAY OUT Jack – Delayed signal only output.
  • MIX OUT Jack – Mix of dry and delayed signal output.

There you have it.  One of the finest delays to ever be produced on Earth that can emit almost any delay based effect your dirty little heart could desire.  (It may yet compare to delays made on other planets, but that’s for another post!)  The Analog Replicator calls to mind the food the Lost Boys eat in the classic film Hook – it can be anything you imagine (but you have to use your imagination).  Ru-fi-OH!

www.pittsburghmodular.com/analog-replicator

Filter

Ah filters.  Good for enveloping wah sounds, flangies, phasies, carving tonez, brewing coffee, you name it.  PM defines their filter module, creatively titled ‘Filter’, as a state variable filter (i.e. a filter that can provide all types of filtering – high pass, band pass, and low pass), of which it is an apt example.  Filters can give one a surprising amount of access to a wide range of tones (especially with access to all filtering in the known universe as is the case with the Filter).  While this feature is not uncommon in synth world, it’s pretty damn cool in the guitar world because most guitar pedal filters only offer one or two types of filtering (usually low and/or high pass).

With the Filter module, you can run control voltages to the CV in of each individual filter section, or the variable knob can sweep from one filter to another (or another).  The variable knob can also provide notch filtering for even further precision tone sculpting.  Now that’s a spicy a-filter!

The best feature in my opinion is the ‘Filter – Oscillation’ switch.  Set to Filter, you are gifted with a more ordinary, organic and sweet (as in pleasant) sounding filter.  Set to Oscillate, you will unlock the ability to play the filter if no incoming audio signal is present (a beautiful sine wave is produced), or alternatively you can mangle your incoming signal like Caitlyn Jenner’s face (oh snap!) and produce  tones PM describes as ‘ring mod’-esque or heavy distortion.  (If you’re familiar with the filter section, more specifically the Brute knob of the Arturia MicroBrute, I believe this is a similar idea.)

Demo Video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvHtLlujpz8#action=share

Tweakables

  • Q Pot – Adjusts the resonance (Q) of the filter.
  • FREQ Pot – Adjusts the Frequency of the filter.
  • L-H Pot – Sweeps between lowpass, notch, and highpass filters
  • QCV Pot and Jack  Resonance (Q) control voltage input and attenuverter.
  • FCV Pot and Jack – Frequency control voltage input and attenuverter.
  • 1-Q Switch Switch between Gain to 1 (VCA Mode) and Gain of Q (Standard Mode).  Basically switch between a regular filter reponse to a voltage controlled amplifier where the Frequency knob effects the volume of the signal rather than frequency.
  • F-O Switch – Switch between Filter and Oscillator Modes. (ring-mod and distortion is available by setting to oscillate).
  • LOW Jack – Lowpass Output
  • L-H Jack – Output based off of the L-H Pot
  • HI Jack – Highpass Output


PM points out that their self-described Jekyll & Hyde sound design philosophy is evidenced by this flexibility of the Filter module.  Everyone has a dark side right?  Dark secrets to tell like that one time you put your input into that pedal’s output?  (You dog.)  Well with the Filter module, you don’t have to choose a side.  You can simply straddle the line, kind of like how Courtney Love straddles the line between ‘musician’ and murderer…Oh double snap!  Point being, you can make this thing play nice.  Or not.

Another manufacturer quote to sum it up: ‘The goal was to produce a filter that does not have a single sweet spot. We worked to make every turn of a knob or flip of a switch offer something new and musically engaging.’  I’m engaged.  Extra points all around.

www.pittsburghmodular.com/filter

Crush

If you’ve had the pleasure of using a bit crusher before you may be aware that many existing bit crusher guitar pedals can make cool noises, yet many of them can be too trebly, too digital, and too harsh; you know, when it feels like you’re getting tattooed on your ear drums.  It can be a struggle to use them musically, especially in a band context.  The Crush module alleviates this issue by offering all analog juiciness that will still sound metallic and squashed, but ooze with sonic goo like you just stepped on a robot grub.

This guy is pretty simple, with only a few knobs and a switch.  Most of the controls are pretty standard for a bit crusher, like a sample rate control to select just how degraded your signal should be, and a mix control to be subtle or outrageous.

The really interesting feature of this module is the Interpolate/Step Mode switch.  Step mode offers regular bit crushed sounds, while Interpolate takes the crushed bits and tries to Humpty Dumpty that shit back together, but you know how the rhyme goes…  It doesn’t exactly fit nicely so your tone could be the sonic equivalent of a Picasso portait.  Far out.

Tweakables

  • Sample Rate Control – Sample rate control.
  • Sample Rate CV In Control – Sample Rate CV input jack attenuator.
  • Interpolate/Step Mode Switch – Step mode offers true downsampling. Interpolate mode attempts to smooth the downsampled waveform.
  • Output Mix Control – Controls the signal mix of the Mix Out.
  • Mix CV In Control Mix CV input jack attenuator.
  • SR CV IN CV input modulates the Sample Rate.
  • MIX CV IN CV input modulates the Output Mix.
  • INPUT Waveform Input.
  • CRUSH OUT Processed waveform output.
  • OUTPUT Mixed waveform output.

Such sonic beauty in so simple a package!

www.pittsburghmodular.com/crush

LFO2

The LFO2 module is probably the simplest of the Patch Box FX1 package in terms of operation, but don’t underestimate it’s ability to take your tonez to higher levels of existence.  LFO’s (you know, low frequency oscillator) allow you to impart lots of mood and emotion into your signal, whether it be slow swirling modulation or quicker vibe-like warbles (thinking of chorus/vibe stuff).  Sometimes adding a little bit of LFO movement to a riff can be the bee’s tits.

The LFO2 is the perfect tool for creating a multitude of modulation with two separate LFO’s and plenty of wave shapes.  The first LFO section utilizes a Shape knob to allow access to saw, ramp, and triangle wave forms.  This feature is cool because you can have a fluid sweep between different wave forms, rather than flicking a switch and causing interference (or audible click) to your signal.  Just think of all the different textures, moods, and even frequencies/overtones that could be created depending on how they’re set…

The second LFO section offers access to triangle and square waves to offer even further options for sonic manipulation.  By mixing the 2 LFO’s together, what do you get?  Even MORE sonic options, duh!

I like to imagine LFO 1 is one galaxy and LFO 2 is another.  Tragically enough, these two galaxies are headed right for each other.  The inevitable collision is occurring, but you get to decide just how they collide, mesh, and intersect with each other as if you’re some sort of intelligent space being with the power to do so.  The only thing you can do is try to make beautiful music out of the situation.  Can you handle this responsibility?  (Say yes!)

Tweakables

LFO 1 (top)

  • FREQUENCY Knob – Adjust the frequency of LFO 1.
  • Shape Knob – Modifies the shape of the SHAPE and PULSE outputs.  (Lots of versatility here)
  • SHAPE Jack – Saw / Triangle / Ramp Wave Output
  • RANGE Switch – Switches the frequency range of LFO 1.
  • PULSE – Square / Pulse Wave Output

LFO 2 (bottom)

  • FREQUENCY Knob – Adjust the frequency of LFO 2.
  • TRIANGLE Jack – Triangle Wave Output
  • RANGE Switch – Switches the frequency range of LFO 2.
  • SQUARE Jack – Square Wave Output

www.pittsburghmodular.com/lfo2

You may still be unimpressed by each individual module, but keep in mind kids that since these are modular, you’ve got CV ins/outs to patch together and make sounds ain’t nobody ever heard before.  Remember that by creating patches, you have open access to the circuit itself and can create new pathways within the modules.  If that doesn’t excite you, I suggest you check your pulse.

I hope it has become apparent that PM wants you to have the best of both sonic worlds; to be able to play nicely with their modules, but also to wage intense, epic battles of destructive sound.  They want you to abuse and humiliate their modules and then take them out to a fancy dinner.  I like that idea because you know, being nice is cool and all, but sometimes you gotta just be evil.  The choice ultimately, is yours…

That’s all for now.  Thanks for reading!  As always, feel free to comment and let me know what you’re thinking.  You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here…
Love,

Nick
The Pedal File

The Pedal File – Stacking Pedals for the Maximization of Pedal Fun: Synth Sounds

/or thrid

Hi kids.  You like pedals, right?  Right.  You like when your guitar doesn’t sound like a guitar, right?  Right.  At least I do.  And since I seem to be the one writing I guess you just have to be captive and read.  So let’s talk about a few easy ways to achieve the aforementioned idea.  It’s easier than giving candy to a baby, taking the candy from that baby, and then eating the candy in front of said baby.

The Pedal FileOne method is to think about how a synthesizer synthesizes sounds and treat your effects pedals as if they were ‘modules’.  If you’re familiar with the idea of a modular synthesizer, it’s easy to find equivalent effects (or ‘modules’) that will make up your pedal board.  Essentially when you wire up multiple pedals in a chain, you’re creating a modular system (in that you can stack them in various combinations).

For example, you could employ an envelope filter or something with ADSR controls like the Pigtronix Attack Sustain as your ‘filter module’ and so on.  You only need like 3 or 4 pedals minimum to get down like a clown my friend, and then you’re free to mix, match, shake, and/or stir any combo of ‘modules’ you like.  Granted the control over your signal path is much more limited, but the basic idea is the same.

Another approach is to sort through a slow but steadily growing amount of ‘synth’ pedals on the market – pedals specifically designed to break down your guitar signal and put it back together in the form of synthesizer sounds/textures.

Examples of these would be the Electro-Harmonix Microsynth & HOG2, the Subdecay Octasynth, Earthquaker’s Bit Commander, etc.

The Pedal File - Pittsburgh Modular Patch Box

But for guitarists looking to get their hands into some actual synthesis, look no further than Pittsburgh Modular’s recent foray into guitar effects.  Their floor-sitting Patch Box Enclosure allows any guitarist to pick and choose real deal synth modules (made by Pittsburgh Modular and/or third party modules) to flavor one’s tone tea if you will.  (You will.)  The ability to use the 3.5mm patch cables like a real boy modular synth provides unprecedented flexibility to create new guitar sounds only limited by your creativity.  (Don’t be mad at it if you can’t make it make good sounds.)  This is one of the only ways that I know of to completely break the oppressive chains of a fixed signal path normally found with effects pedals, but you gotta pay over $1000 for it when all is said and done.  Butttt like I said regular pedals are still a bit away from offering this type of flexibility.

My last tip is don’t poo poo even your boring regular old guitar pedals, there are ways to make these work in your synth rig as well (modulation effects come to mind – pretty much any chorus/flange/phaser will enhance your synth sounds).  Most importantly though, experiment and find sounds you like!

I made a video of some of my favorite synth rig pedal combos:

Do you like what you hear?  Do you hate pedals and everything they stand for?  Let me know by leaving a comment!

That’s all for now, 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