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

 

The Pedal File: Cool Pedals to GAS Over

Sup homies?  Word on the street is you’re looking for your pedal fix.  I got just what you need and nothing you don’t.

I’ve gathered a small list of some cool shit that is happening now in the world of pedals.  I can’t possibly keep up with all that’s out there, but rest assured I’ve sifted through lots of pedals and selected the ones which excite and titillate the most.  You see, I’m doing all the thinking and searching for you so you just gotta read (assuming you can).  That’s right, just for you.

Recovery Effects Dead Session Filterbank

The Pedal File - Recovery Effects Dead SessionI stumbled across this beauty on Facebook today.  A new pedal from Recovery Effects??  Why yes, it appears that way!  I did a review of the Cutting Room Floor pedal, and I have to say they are one of the most innovative builders out there combining features not normally seen on pedals.  Recovery don’t try to imitate, no.  They’re all about pushing things forward and the Dead Session seems like a hopeful step in that direction.  No info is available except that it is a filterbank pedal ‘strictly for the freakers and tweakers’.  See, it was even made just for you and me.  If you are neither a freaker, nor a tweaker, why are you reading my blog?  Haha just kidding, everyone’s welcome here…………except no gingers.

Will the Dead Session do resonant LFO sweeps like the Sherman Filterbank?  Will it be more like an envelope-follower like a Mutron?  Will it give one ADSR controls to play with?  I don’t know anything I tells ya!  Quit it with all the questions already…  One thing is for sure – I really really want to find out.  And you should too.

You will probably see a demo of this pedal one of these days….

The Pedal File Editor’s update:  According to Mr. Markel, the Dead Session is ,”basically a 2 filter system- 1 resonant filter [with controls for] resonance, course and fine, and a notch filter section with 2 notch filters (hi / lo). The switch engages the 2nd filter.”

Don’t have any idea what that means?  Rather than confuse you, I’ll let the Wickiemedia video explain resonance and notch filters better than I ever could:

Check out Recovery’s website for more cool pedals

Function f(x) Clusterfuzz

The Pedal File - Function f(x) Clusterfuzz
I’m pretty sure I found this pedal through Effects Database, which is the most extensive pedal site out there (check it out if you haven’t!).

Function f(x) is new on the market with only one pedal to offer, but it’s worth taking a look at.  I don’t get into too many fuzz pedals, unless of course they get tweaky.  Described on their website as ‘a tweaker’s delight; capable of delivering medium-gain overdrive up to raunchy square [wave] fuzz tones,’ – you and your momma both know I had to find out more.

As you also probably know, I’m a sucker for anything with too many knobs plus some switches thrown in for good measure.  The Clusterfuzz is not modeled after any particular fuzz, which deserves an extra point.  Too many people out there just want to clone shit and sell it to you with a different label.  In fact, that’s how many pedal companies get started building before moving on to their own designs.  Function f(x) came out strong, showing maybe they aren’t afraid to do something new, which is why I’m telling you about them in the first place.

Tweakables include:
– Five clipping options for different saturation levels (no diode clipping, LED, FET transistors, and two silicon options).  Cool.
– A Filter switch for a second voicing.  Sweet.
– Volume, Tone and Fuzz knobs.  Probably necessary for a fuzz pedal.
– An “8-Bit” knob to dial in gated fuzz sounds.  Super sweet.
– Soft touch bypass.  Yes.  I prefer a soft touch (or momentary) switch on a pedal.  No noisy clicks or anything to clutter your sound upon engagement of pedal.

Check out Function f(x)’s website for more info

 

Alexander Pedals

I want to tell you about this fledgling company because they make very cool delay pedals – specifically The Radical Delay.  Started by Matthew Farrow of Pharoah Amps and Disaster Area Designs (they make awesome MIDI controllers for pedals), Alexander Pedals is off to a great start with a small yet unique line of effects that include another really cool delay pedal, a boost, and tremolo.

The Pedal File - Alexander Pedals Radical DelayThe Radical delay is like the name suggests – you know, different.  This pedal makes sounds that would only be possible otherwise with an effects loop-equipped delay with a bit crusher, phaser, some chorus/vibrato, and pitch shifter, and probably some other stuff thrown in the mix.  If you’re boring you can just have fun with the dotted-eigth note setting for cool rhythmic delays.  If you’re a wild and crazy guy (or gal) you’ll appreciate the gnarly ascending delay effects that sound almost like a Rainbow Machine.

Tweakables:
Time — Adjusts the maximum delay time from 10ms to 900ms.
Repeat — Controls the feedback of the delay.
Tweak — (Extra point for this label.  Also it is the word of the day.  Er, blog.) Tweaks a different parameter in each mode. See the mode descriptions for full details.
Mix — Controls the blend between fully dry and fully wet echo sound. 12 o’clock is an equal mix of clean and echo.

Mode Toggle:
Mod — Super-clean digital delay with adjustable modulation. The Tweak knob adds a luscious modulation to the delay.  At 12 o’clock there is no modulation. Clockwise adds a slow chorus and counter-clockwise adds a fast vibrato.  Chorus and delay sound like angels having orgies in heaven.  Such a pure sound.
Glitch — Pristine digital delay that you can mangle in unusual and interesting ways (I’m into that).  With the Tweak knob fully counter-clockwise, the Radical Delay will echo exactly what you play. Turn the Tweak knob clockwise to add some “ghost in the machine” style glitches and odd pitch modulation (Ok I’m aroused).  And with the Tweak knob fully clockwise, the Radical Delay sounds more like a synthesizer or video game console (And now I’m finished).  It kind of sounds like a bit crusher is added to the delayed signal only, which I have to say again sounds pretty god damn amazing.
Bend — Delay with pitch shifting that’s based on the earliest technology (aliens?) and spirals up or down with each repeat. Turn the Tweak knob counter clockwise to shift the pitch down or clockwise to shift up.  This one sounds kind of like a Rainbow Machine, which also has my ‘sounds god damn amazing’ stamp of approval.

*Hint: Turn the delay time all the way down and the Radical Delay will take on a whole new vibe. In Mod mode, you’ll find analog-flavored chorus. Glitch mode turns into a “bleep bloop” robot machine. And in Bend mode, try blending the dry signal in for glitchy pitch-shifted harmony lines.  Extra extra points for this feature.  The Radical Delay is asking for it, think of all the naughty things you and this pedal can do.

All that and a portion of your money goes to a cancer charity in honor of the builder’s brother Alex (hence the name).  So you can receive an awesome pedal and give some of your money to charity?  I guess that’s cool.

Check out Alexander Pedal’s website for more info.

That’s all I got for now.  Go forth, and live your life knowing you learned about a few more pedals that you should buy.  Just don’t forget who sent you.

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment, or feel free to follow me to get updates on my next post.  Also, I almost forgot, I’ve added a Contact page so you can contact me directly with any questions, suggestions, or bad words you need to get off your chest.  Or on.

Thanks for reading.

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

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