The Pedal File – More Weird, More Pedals in 2016!

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Hello, loyal Pedal Filers!  The year is nearly over, so for my last post in 2015 I’d like to thank you for sticking around and reading my incessant ramblings on the subject of effects pedals.  It speaks volumes about your ability to pay attention.

This has been another therapeutic year for my pedal addiction, but of course there is no absolute cure so I ask you to take my hand as I lead you further astray into an even better year for The Pedal File in 2016!

Are you sick of fast-forwarding through demos that talk more than play?  Annoyed by shitty blues wanking?  Are you looking for unique sounds that only the most versatile pedals can provide?  Then come to The Pedal File, er, Side…

Here’s what I’m thinking about the next year:

More pedals, more knobs, more switches, more videos, more reviews, and more weird.

Sound good?  Cool.

I compiled some video (check it out below) of the newest effects I’ve acquired to give you a sneak peek of the coming months, and all I can say is that things are already weirder around here.

Is there anything you’d like to see in 2016?  Maybe then you should start your own pedal website.  BOOM!  Of course I’m kidding guys.  I’m always on the lookout for interesting and exciting pedals that push the boundaries of sound – feel free to alert me if you know something or give me suggestions to improve the page.

That’s all for now.  Thanks for your continuing readership you filthy animals!  Happy New Gear!

Love,

Nick
The Pedal File

More Cool New Pedals of 2014!!

Hallo und guten tag!  Oh, sorry that’s German.  Oh well, good luck translating that sentence…   I try to keep up on the happenings of the pedal world so I can then report to you, the pedal enthusiast.  This year has seen some really unique and innovative designs – so many that I could make this a big long list.  But because I know you have the attention span of Honey Boo Boo in a butter factory, I’ve narrowed the list down to three pedals.  I want to bring your attention to a couple of boxes that are worth a percentage of your hard earned dollars from whatever it is that you do for money (you dirty person).  Get out your notebook, take some notes, and go buy these pedals.

MXR Phase 99

The Pedal File - MXR Phase 99

MXR has some cool pedals in their line, but they often get overlooked for other more boutique brands.  A lot of their designs are simple, standard effects – offering only a few knobs for tweaking, but they sound good as evidenced by the many recordings in which you can hear them by the many artists who endorse them such as Beats Antique and Dweezil Zappa.  But lately, it seems like the engineers over there have decided they wanted to do something a little different.  The MXR Phase 99 basically takes two Phase 90 circuits, joins them at the hip, and adds some nice tweakable features that I was surprised to see on a pedal from them.  A series/parallel switch?  Sweet.  A vintage switch?  Sexy.  A sync switch to synchronize the rates of both circuits?  I like.  I’ll elaborate under tweakables.

Tweakables:
Speed 1 & 2 – controls the phase shift speed on both circuits.  You can set one fast, one slow, or however the hell you want to get unique phase tones.
Series/Parallel switch – run the circuits in series (circuit 1 into circuit 2 to create a more intense effect with exaggerated frequency cuts and peaks) or parallel (circuit 1 & 2 stay separated).
Vintage switch – engage a vintage voicing for the phasing.
Sync switch – like I said above, synchronizes both circuits to speed 1 rate.

Do you want to have classic phase tones, but with added flexibility and tweaking options?  Check this one out!


Check out www.jimdunlop.com for more info

Strymon Deco

The Pedal File - Strymon Deco

This pedal was just announced, and as soon as I read about it/listened to it, I knew I would more than likely own it someday.  The Deco (I assume it’s named after the popular art of the time of tape reels) is all about emulating old tape effects that engineers used in the early days of recording.  Offering a slew of effects like tape saturation for warmth/compression and overdrive, doubletracking for slapback, tape flanging, tape echo, and chorus, and with bypass switches for the saturation and doubletracker, it all feels too much like a wet dream…(what, you don’t dream about pedals?)

Tweakables:
Saturation – smooths out the sound with compression and fattens it up with a transparent overdrive.
Blend – mix between the tape saturation and doubletracker controls.
Lag Time – sets the delay offset like you were controlling a ‘lag deck’ and ‘reference deck’.  This is what gives you the doubletracking, slapback, flange, chorus effects, and tape echo (up to 500ms delay) effects.  Such a big and powerful knob…
Volume – duh, controls the output volume, stupid!
Wobble – adds random modulation from subtle to extreme just like tape would.
Type switch
– sum: the ‘tape decks’ are in phase
– invert: ‘lag deck’ is phase inverted
– bounce: right channel of the ‘lag deck’ is phase-inverted and bounced to the left channel input for ping-pong stereo effects, or a double-repeat effect when running in mono.

One pedal that can provide such a bounty of effects is surely worth a spot on your pedalboard.


Check out www.strymon.net for more info

Earthquaker Devices Afterneath

The Pedal File - Earthquaker DevicesAfterneath

If you haven’t heard of Earthquaker Devices at this point I’ll assume you’ve been living under a rock or you have just arrived to this planet from a distant solar system.  Welcome to Earth, watch out for humans – they suck.  But they build these things we call pedals, so I guess the ones who make them don’t completely suck, and Earthquaker Devices is on top of the pile of not-sucking.  Just released at Summer NAMM, the Afterneath is yet another unique EQD take on the boring old reverb effect.  The Afterneath is all about transporting you to another world that isn’t above or underneath ours  – it is after…neath (another angle would be a future world).  This one uses a ‘swarm of short delays to create wild and cavernous reverbs and scattered, short rhythmic delays with bizarre characteristics.’  It can self-oscillate, be bright or warm, and generally offers an abnormal and unconventionally open and ambient playground for the reverb lover.

Tweakables:
Length – Controls the decay length of the reverb.
Diffuse – Adjusts the spread of the reverb. Sharper with more attack counter clockwise, more ambient and washy as you turn it clockwise.
Dampen – Clockwise for brighter tones, counter clockwise for darker tones.
Drag – This digital reverb is made up of a bunch of short delays, this separates the delay lines creating a stuttering, pingy effect. This is the coolest control on the Afterneath, we highly advise slowly turning this while you let notes ring out for a cool warped speed effect. More delay as you turn it counter clockwise, more reverb as you turn it clockwise.
Reflect – Controls the regeneration of the reverb, turn clockwise for more wash and echos, counterclockwise for less. This will self oscillate if turned up high.
Mix – Blends the wet signal into the dry. Though it does not actually go full wet, it will gradually lower the clean level as you turn it clockwise and give the appearance of full wet.  This makes me ‘full wet’ just reading about it…

If you’re tired of all those reverb pedals that are so straight-forward, perhaps you should look into this one.


Check out www.earthquakerdevices.com for more info

So there you have it!  Three pedals that are new, exciting, and worth your time.  Feel free to let me know what you think, or what you consider to be sweet new pedals.

Thanks for reading.

Love,

Nick
The Pedal File

My Case of Why Flangers Rule – Specifically, the DOD FX75-B Flanger

The Pedal File - DOD logoOk.  I’ll admit it, I’m not ashamed.  I love flangers (and all modulation effects for that matter).  I get lost in the whooshing, metallic, stuck in a pipe sound that falls somewhere between chorus/phaser/really short delay.  I get hypnotized, mesmerized, and a little aroused by it (maybe not literally, but definitely figuratively).  I just read a Reverb.com interview with Josh from JHS pedals where they mention how flange is always last on everyone’s mind these days.  Reverb.com even references a Facebook survey they conducted where it was voted the most ‘out-of-date’ effect.  I strongly disagree and would like to clarify:  I think people think flangers are lame because they got overused in a lot of lame music.

The Pedal File - DOD FX75-B FlangerThink about all the crappy music out there with fuzz/distortion/etc.  But you don’t hear anyone claiming the Big Muff to be for losers who are living in the past.  This is because enough players have proven that fuzz can be awesome.  Flange has been deemed guilty by association.  However, Josh does prophetically claim the flanger will make a comeback in the next few years as it is showing up more on recent albums, and therefore people will start looking for (re)’new'(ed) sounds.  I’m here to see that happen because, like the title of this article says, flangers rule.

The way the effect was originally developed is interesting.  It was first discovered by the genius guitar/effects/recording pioneer, Les Paul – though he didn’t use tape, but rather employed phase shifting through acetate disks on variable-speed record players.   Later in the 60’s, flange was an issue encountered when recording long takes onto tape.  As the tape would wind around the reel, it would get weighed down.  This would make the reel turn slower by a few milliseconds, which doesn’t seem like much, but the perceived difference in speed would create the harmonic avalanche that we now know as ‘flange’.

Some smart person (allegedly John Lennon/George Martin – The Beatles’ producer) realized it actually sounded pretty cool, so a technique to recreate this phenomenon was developed.  An archaic method of flanging was achieved by recording two identical takes to two separate tape machines.  The machines would be played back simultaneously.  At some point (the point at which one would want some tasty flange) the engineer would put a finger on the edge or ‘flange’ of one of the reels, causing playback of that tape to be slightly delayed.  This pairing of the normal speed tape with the delayed tape is what produced this unique sound.  Pretty neat, huh?

I’ve mentioned before I’m not a big fan of Eddie Van Halen, but there is something about his guitar tone that really fascinates me.  He used a lot of chorus/flange and was all about crispy textures with a multidimensional tone that makes you feel like you’re a small animal being carried away by a large eagle.  But alas, who can stand to listen to Van Halen (or especially Van Hagar) for that long?  (I hate the 80’s.  That’s when the word ‘rad’ became popular – please stop saying rad, hipsters.  Plus, every musician during the decade seemed to develop some kind of musical retardation, except for maybe The Police.)
The Pedal File - DOD FX75-B

Even though I like the sound of that hideous guitar, it’s hard to get past the cheesiness that was inherent in music during the 80’s – like dipping your ears in a big fondue pot of cheeseburgers.   One thing the 80’s had right though was the sound of the flange (chorus is a runner up and another article topic).

I should point out that not all flangers are equal.  Too many don’t have the kind of control you need (I prefer to have control over the delay time), or they don’t offer any good useable tones (most digital flangers).  There are a few companies like MXR that cater to the EVH fans or like Subdecay, whose flangers are more complex than a modular synth (not really, but they’re pretty intense) and cost well over $100.  But I’m here to remind you in this article that you don’t always have to look at brand new or boutique gear.  Some 80’s and 90’s pedals were well-made and can usually be found for less than $100.  A lot of them aren’t true bypass and whatnot, but if you’re open to the idea of modification or if you don’t care, vintage pedals are a great bet!
The Pedal File - DOD FX75-B
I’ve found a true flanging diamond in the rough in the DOD FX75-b stereo flanger.  It sounds so thick, metallic, and robotic.  Like dipping your guitar in electric molasses, this pedal takes your tone to a sticky gooey territory.  It’s easy to dial in a pretty shimmery chorus, but it also does to-the-max jet pack blast-off flange, as well as some vibe-y, rotary type stuff.  I can’t say enough how great this pedal sounds.  I love it so much, I now have two – just in case.  I plan on getting at least one of them modded to be true bypass (they do generate some noise at some settings) and have even thought about rehousing them both into one enclosure.

Tweakables:
Delay – sets the delay time, which controls the degree of phase shifting. Set it shorter for a chorus-y sound or longer for voluptuous flanging.  Like I said, this knob is really useful for different sounds (on chorus pedals too).
Speed – sets the speed at which the delay time changes – low settings are good for a thick chorus or subtle flange or crank it up for vibe-like throbbing, pulsations, etc.  (The width and regen have to be set around noon or higher for the vibe stuff).
Width – sets the range through which the delay time will vary.  I think of it kind of like a depth knob.  Turned all the way down, there is no sweeping time delay.  Turn it up and the time delay gets introduced to the phase shifting at the sweeping speed that is selected by the speed knob.  Lower settings = time delay sweep through a narrower range.  Higher settings = wider range.
Regen(eration) – adjusts the height of the comb filter peaks by controlling feedback through the delay circuitry.  This feeds the effect back onto itself for more phasing/time delay.  This knob is also what takes you from subtle to totally tripped out alien robot space monster sounds.

Even at low and subtle settings, I love what this pedal does to the guitar.  It excites your playing and makes it feel more alive while thickening the tone up a bit.  At more extreme settings, you can really impart a sense of movement and make people feel sea-sick.  The DOD FX75-B makes it hard to tell sometimes if it is actually chorusing or phasing, but that’s what I love.  It puts a mystical, intangible quality into your riffs.  I implore you to stop over-looking flanger pedals and dare you to put one on your board.  I guarantee if you’re a modulation fan, you’ll enjoy it.  If not, send it to me.

DOD is now owned by Harmon/Digitech who has released a few reissue pedals under the DOD name, but if you want in on the great DOD pedals of yore, your best bet is to check out EBay or Reverb.com.

Check out my band’s new single, ‘I Miss You’, for an example of how I used the DOD FX75-B to achieve 80’s tone for modern rockingness.

As always, let me know what you think!  Please leave me a comment below and tell me how right I am.  Or what your favorite flanger pedal is.

That’s all, 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