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

Pedal Feature – Henretta Engineering’s Choad Blaster

henretta1
Hey there.  Hi.  Hello…  Want to hear about a pedal?  No?  Well then what the hell are you doing on my site?  Please leave and go back to looking at cats or whatever it is non-pedal-loving squares look at on the internet.  If you are actually interested in hearing what I have to say please send me $5 via PayPal to continue reading.  Haha jk, I do this out of the good of my heart so maybe you can impress somebody with your vast pedal knowledge.  I want you to sound as good as you look.  Plus, chicks and barnyard animals totally dig pedals.  Just don’t forget where you learned it, son.

I’d like to use your precious internet-surfing poop time to tell you about a great and affordable distortion pedal.  I mentioned it very briefly in a previous post, but now it’s time to give you the full-on hardcore details.

The venerable Choad Blaster, made by Henretta Engineering, for a long time was the only ‘normal’ sized pedal with knobs (the recently released Lake Effect fuzz tremolo and just released Big Zapper envelope filter are exceptions, but that’s another post or two!) they had to offer.  I refer to this pedal as a distortion pedal, which it is to the unenlightened.  But to the true pedal sage it is actually an overdrive, distortion, and fuzz pedal.  You mean you don’t know the diff?  Ok, let me break it down for you, you noob, with a helpful (although poorly edited on their website) explanation from the website of Dr. No Effects:

Overdrive – more mild, transparent gain.  Responsive to how you play/set your amp and tone.  Think Tubescreamer, Klon etc.
Distortion – more intense gain, tends to color your tone.  Think Boss DS-1, ZVex Box of Rock, etc.
Fuzz – more organic, can be aggressive or smooth with nice harmonic character and overtones.  Some can be great for fat, single note lines, others for thick chords and/or octave effects.  Some clean up with the volume knob.  Some are crazy, some are tame. Think Fuzzface, Fuzz Factory, etc.

So then to break it down for you further, the Choad Blaster can offer tones that compete with any of the aforementioned pedals/tones making it difficult to apply one label to this device.  Let’s get on with the pedal then, shall we?

I’m a sucker for knobs (knob-sucker?).  While the Choad Blaster has only 4 knobs (and one internal trim pot), they’re as sensitive as Bill Cosby‘s nipples while committing rape in a pool full of Jello pudding? Paula Deen‘s nipples while basting a turkey? A choad in the wind? A freshly circumsized choad in the wind?  Americans over a tasteless joke?  The Choad Blaster is designed so the EQ knobs adjust frequencies in the guitar’s ideal frequency range (i.e. mids), which allows you to boost or cut the important stuff to shine through the mix.  It doesn’t just work the mids though, the tone knob can dial in the proper bass/treble ratio.  This is truly a ‘one size fits all’ pedal that can be the only source of dirt on your board.  If you’re into looping and can’t afford the luxury of endless pedals at your disposal, the Choad Blaster could be THE pedal you use for any boost/distortion/fuzzyness you need.  It’s important that looped layers sit in different places/frequencies in the mix so they don’t turn into a big muddy ball of shit.  I would also find this useful in a recording studio as you can sometimes get away with strange tones you wouldn’t necessarily use live, but work well in the context of standing out in a mix.

Tweakables:
Green Knob – controls output volume.  This pedal can get so loud it’s like being stabbed in the ear with a choad.  Ouch.  Not that I would know…but your mom would.
Yellow Knob – controls amount of upper-mid frequency gain and gives you a classic British-style crunch.  Sometimes when setting this knob high, it sounds like you’re gonna get a big, fizzy, mid-scooped tone, but it always comes out with surprising crunchy clarity.
Red Knob – controls amount of low-mid gain and turns to mild fuzzyness as you turn it higher.  Could also be named the ‘balls’ knob to stay with the theme of the pedal.
Blue Knob – turn clockwise to add treble and counter-clockwise to add bass.  At noon with the red and yellow knobs turned fully counter-clockwise acts as a transparent boost.  I like to keep mine a little more on the bass side, but it’s nice to be able to choose.  Changes the tone quite drastically from dark and bass-y to bright and treble-y.
Internal trimmer – compresses fuzz more as your turn clockwise.  As you turn it up it gets more into Fuzz Face/Fuzz Factory type territory with octaves appearing on notes played in the upper register, but nothing that glitchy or too crazy.
Switchable Op Amp – Say what?  You can switch out the op amp to customize your tone further?  In the words of Team America, “Fuck yea!”.  I think Kevin Henretta should draw more attention to this feature; it’s kind of hidden at the bottom of the manual.

Let me clearly state that this pedal is neither a gimmick nor a typical distortion pedal (I do admit the name ‘Choad Blaster’ piqued my curiosity to investigate).  It’s simple controls easily let you dial in a wide range of ear hole-pleasing tones.  Overall, this is a great distortion pedal and, to me, it stands out from being just another tube screamer or amp in a box.  Also, if you’re like me and not the biggest fan of fuzz, the Choad Blaster can be your safe trip into fuzz territory, like your trail of bread crumbs so you can find your way out of the fuzz forest.  It’s controls won’t confuse and with the ability to switch the op amp, this pedal can easily take the place of your existing distortions and fuzzes.

I think it was clever to design the Choad Blaster with the ability to distort upper and low mid frequencies.  Seeing how the guitar primarily sits in this part of the frequency spectrum means you have strict control over your tone and where you sit in the mix that would make Kim Jong-un red with envy.  Most distorted guitar tones you hear can be matched by distorting the proper frequency – the Choad Blaster offers this ability.  If your current distortion is blending in with your band, I suggest trying the Choad Blaster on for size (hehe).  Beware however, I’m pretty sure you can’t hold Henretta liable for any torn speakers and/or holes.

For more info check out Henretta’s website.

Check out my video demo:

That’s all for now.  As always, let me know what you think about the Choad Blaster.  Yay or nay?

Thanks for reading!

Love,

Nick
The Pedal File