Pedal Feature – Henretta Engineering’s Choad Blaster

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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

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

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 – Wampler Pinnacle Deluxe

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Greetings, pedal seekers and tweakers.  I bring you news and tidings of pedals and such!  Today I’d like to talk to you about a great pedal company I think is underrated and not well known – Wampler Pedals.  Specifically I want to talk about the Pinnacle Deluxe, my current favorite distortion, but first allow me to give you some background info.  In fact, you have no choice in the matter (I’m beaming mind-control waves through the screen to keep your attention on every single glorious word…and you thought it was the Ritalin.  And the aliens.)

IMG_3127Brian Wampler started out modding pedals and even wrote a book (now out of print damnit) about pedal building and modification.  Since about 2006 he’s built a high quality product line that mostly consists of distortions/overdrives and ‘amp-in-a-box’ pedals with a few takes on modulation effects like delay, reverb, and an exciting new deluxe tremolo that I posted about previously.  He also offers a buffer and a compressor, the latter of which is currently on my board…not that you care.  But famous muckymucks like Brad Paisley who actually matter use them so you should care!  In addition I’ve begun to notice a lot of session guitarists and studios use Wamplers, which to me said, “Hey Nick!”  And then I was like, “What?”  And then my brain was all like, “Wamplers must be pretty god damn versatile to be used by so many people needing so many tonal options!”  Then I was like, “Brain, you might be on to something!”  My brain and I agree for once. Any company that can build such a reputation so quickly must be doing it right.  You might be thinking, “Come on, the Brad Paisley Drive?  I don’t want to sound like a country guitar player.  I play punk or metal, I’m super hardcore, and that’s not for me !”  Well I say ‘listen with your ears and not your dick’ (what, that’s not a saying?).  I’m no Brad Paisley fan, but I can’t deny a pedal that sounds fantastic.  Even if they called it the ‘Justin Bieber Drive’, I don’t care, it’s all about the tone, right?
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Speaking of tone, we’re not talking about the Brad Paisley Drive so why did you even bring it up?  Kind of off topic, but anyway…The Pinnacle is like a Chipotle burrito chock full of distorted goodness.  Stay with me.  The guitar is your mouth and the amp is your ass.  Let them become one and you’ll be blasting diarrhea geysers of tone like volcanoes erupting into outer space like a true ass-tronaut!  This sexy red-sparkled contraption offers up everything from mild overdrive to fat and crunchy, super high gain distortion that borders on fuzziness, to scooping those mids, to the famous or infamous ‘brown sound’ (depending on your opinion of Eddie Van Halen).  I like the idea of tone that could potentially make people poop their pants, and I’d like to think Eddie’s was named after the elusive frequency.  Simmer down you damn hipster, I’m not that crazy about Van Halen either, I just admire the tone: high gain, crunchy heaviness with presence that’s not too treble-y or muddy.  That is what Nicky likes and again it’s about what pleases your ears, not imitation.   (But let’s be real, who wouldn’t enjoy playing to an arena of a bunch of drunken people who all crapped themselves at once?)  I haven’t been successful at making anybody poop yet, but don’t be scared because even if you hate Van Halen I’m convinced you could still produce distorted tones that are satisfying.  The Pinnacle goes way far beyond just emulating the EVH sound.

Tweakables: Quoted text is taken from the Pinnacle ManualIMG_3130

Volume – This perky knob adjusts the output level. Mr. Wampler says, “There’s plenty of volume on tap in either standard or Boost mode, so whether you want to go farther than your input level or just make sure it can do unity volume (the same level of signal going out as you feed it, when active), you’re covered. The Gain, Tone and Contour knobs, and the Boost toggle (or for Pinnacle Deluxe owners, footswitch) all have an impact on total output volume level, so you’re probably better off waiting to adjust the Volume until you’ve dialed in the other controls. Re-adjustment might be necessary if you get it to the desired level and still need to tweak the sound.”  He makes volume sound hard, but don’t worry, I have faith you can figure it out!

Gain – “This control, in conjunction with the Boost toggle (or, for Pinnacle Deluxe owners, footswitch), lets you dial in anything from a classic, almost laid back early rock tone all the way to modern high-gain.  Our users, from international pros to weekend warriors, all have their own favorite ways of using the pedal, so however you end up liking the Gain setting, that’s just fine.  The “Brown Sound” is in there, that’s the goal after all!  But in terms of how much distortion you want, there’s a great deal of flexibility and we encourage you to run through the whole gamut to get a good sense of how it works and responds before you settle on how you’ll use it.”  I agree.  The gain is incredibly touchy so you have really fine control of how much break up you want in that there tone of yours.  Also, I think it’s totally cool that this pedal is made to emulate a certain tone, yet it can also sound pretty much like any distortion/overdrive (and almost fuzz) you could want.  Extra points all around, Sir Wampler.

Tone –“This adjusts the frequency emphasis on the highs.  It interacts substantially with the Contour knob and  Vint./Modern switch.  There are several ways you can approach adjusting the Tone.  You could start with it maxed and roll it off until you like the amount of highs, or you could start with it lower and adjust it either direction if you want more or less.  Either way, it’s a fairly straightforward control, but the interaction with the other tonal adjustment options means you should expect to spend some time getting used to the overall tonal possibilities.”  Maybe this is a stupid thing to say, but it still surprises me how much control this knob has over the tone of the pedal.  It adjusts from way scary dark to shiny, bright and glittery.  I like to keep mine set from around noon to 3 o’clock depending on how bright I want it.

Contour –“This adjusts the frequency emphasis overall.  It interacts substantially with the Tone knob, and is affected by the Vint./Modern switch as well.  At noon, this knob gives you a balanced presentation of the overall frequencies; counterclockwise it becomes very midrange-forward, and clockwise it takes the mids out pretty heavily, contouring the sound for a very “scooped” tone.  A little adjustment goes a long way with this control.  The best approach would be to start with the Contour knob at noon, and adjust from there.  Of course, making such broad tonal changes, you’re going to want to adjust the Tone control in conjunction with the Contour knob!”  This knob is how you go from vintage to modern voiced gain.  I’m not usually a fan of scooped mids, but I’ve been digging the scoopage on the Pinnacle!  This is a useful feature for recording because I don’t have to have 7 pedals on hand (I do have them on hand anyway just because!  Pedals!!).  I can use the Pinnacle’s versatility to give it to me (ooh yea).  Typically I keep mine around 9 o’clock as I prefer more mids in the mix.

Vint./Modern Switch –“This control essentially sets the overall voicing of the pedal’s frequencies, to be either darker with a classic tonality or brighter and more modern if you’d prefer that.  Setting this up first will give you a good “starting point” for your tone, but it’s also useful if you’ve adjusted everything else and feel the overall tone needs to shift in a larger direction.”  Once again this feature makes this pedal great for the studio.  I wouldn’t say the change in voicing is incredibly drastic, however I would say it’s enough to be like two pedals in one.  Why do I like that idea?  That’s right, versatility, Stupid!  I prefer the vintage setting myself, but the modern is great for when you need to kick it up the gain some more.  The Pinnacle is perfect for intricate riffage and lead playing alike, and the ability to toggle between the two modes makes it well-suited for blues, jazz, rock, punk, metal, polka, muzak, easy listening, hard listening, and your mom.  Just kidding about that last one, don’t plug your mom into the pedal or vice versa!  I doubt that’s covered by the warranty…

(Pinnacle Standard Only) Boost Toggle –“This switch alters the internal gain structure of the pedal to bring much more drive, heavier and more aggressive distortion when engaged.  On the Pinnacle Deluxe, this functionality is found on  the Boost foot switch, for adjustment on the fly!”  I don’t use the boost a whole lot, but it does add a nice dose of gain to push the pedal a little further if you need extra cream in your crunch.  Brian Wampler says it’s not intended to be an actual volume boost but I swear my ears hear a boost in volume.  Could be my stupid brain perceiving something that’s not there…  There’s also an internal trim pot to adjust the output volume if you want to ‘go to 11’.  I do.  I do want to go to 11.

At first impression it’s easy to presume the Pinnacle (and Wampler pedals in general) aren’t intended to get too wild.  But it doesn’t take much knob-fiddling to realize it possesses a deliberate flexibility that could surprise the naughtiest of noise-makers and tone-chasers (especially when stacking pedals together.  This pedal stacks fat with fuzzes and other distortions as well as any gauntlet of modulation effects.  I like it stacked with an EQD Bit Commander>Wampler Pinnacle>Pigtronix Envelope Phaser.  It’s the fattest, funkiest, fuzziest synth sound from hell).  I’ve owned my Pinnacle for a while now and can still find new tones I didn’t know it could make every time I play.  The best part is that 99% of them are pleasing and musical, proving to me that Wampler pedals kick ass.  Even though Brian Wampler seems kinda nerdy and unassuming (I presume he smokes less weed than the goofs at ZVex or my silly neighbors at Earthquaker Devices), it doesn’t mean his pedals aren’t creativity-inspiring mean green tone machines much like those of the more experimental builders.  Just seems like most Wampler players are Nashville chicken pickers and not so much the shoegazers or experimentalists.  Part of this review is to spread the truth of the good word to the world:  Wamplers are for everyone!  Hallelujah!

Speaking from personal experience, Wampler pedals are rugged and could take any hard wample-stomp (I’m coining a new word…) from your combat boot, chuck taylors, or stilettos better than a fetishist’s balls.  Some pedal companies skimp on jacks and switches and whatnot, but not Wampler.  Rest assured that your pedal will sound and look great for a long time.  With a 5 year transferable warranty on a ‘Merican-made product you can’t go wrong!

For more info, please check out www.wamplerpedals.com

What do you think about Wampler?  Love em, hate em, don’t care?  Make sure to leave a comment in the reply box at the bottom of the page!!!  Oh yea, and also be sure to subscribe to stay up-to-date with The Pedal File!

That’s all I got.  Thanks for reading!  Until next time…

Love,

Nick
The Pedal File