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

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Pedal Feature Update – MAK Crazy Sound Technology Space Reverb

Hello fellow pedal aficionados!  Welcome back to my ramblings.  It’s been a whole month since we last met and I’ve really missed forcing you to read what I write.  It fills me with sick pleasure, not unlike that of effects pedals.  Today I’m going to elaborate on my previous post about an obscure effects pedal company.  Yes my friends, I finally received the MAK Crazy Sound Technology Space Reverb!  Yay!

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It only takes 29 days to send a package from the Ukraine to Ohio.  In case you were wondering.


I used to think reverb was boring, like why would I ever need more than one reverb pedal?  But there’s lots of crunchy-outer-coated-gooey-centered reverb-ery pedal flavors out there, some with one knob, some with controls over every parameter.  It turns out the world of reverb is much bigger than I ever suspected.  After some exploration I realize it’s cool, not boring, and useful because it adds extra depth and dimension to your tone.  It’s an effect that can take you out of whatever room you’re in and place you in a bigger room, or hall, or chamber, or canyon, etc.  Or you can just throw on a little and be subtle with things.  I have reverb on my amp that I have set low enough that you only really notice when it’s off.  I like that.  However I realized recently that sometimes it’s cool to make your chords or leads or farts sound really really big.  Something to make you feel like a rock star at some big arena, like Steve Perry at The Q.  I still leave a subtle amount of reverb on the amp all the time, and have the pedal out front for the big tones.  The Space Reverb is perfect for this.  It makes for a great subtle reverb, but excels at those big tones I’m talking about.

I was drawn to the Space Reverb primarily because it sounds superb and has versatile controls.  What really sold me was the multi-mode toggle switch.  Nicky likey multiple functions on one pedal.  Why?  Versatility, stupid!  This pedal can easily be your tool chest of reverb.  Whether you want familiar sounds or crazy ass ones you’ve got everything you need to put yourself, your band, and your audience out to sea.  In space.  And for real, the shimmer mode can get pretty freaky.  Like when they find out the alien is on the ship.  Or you can be a pussy and stay in the shallow end of the reverb pool with your swimmies and wimpy short room reverbs.  Just kidding short reverb has a place too!  …And all this can be achieved with one pedal!

Tweakables:
Decay – sets the reverb decay from a short room slap-back verb all the way to putting your amp in caves inside caves inside a volcano on Mars while you play and listen from Earth.  It can be barely there or it can be a powerful intoxicating cloud that takes you over like you’re locked in the garage with the car running.  Be sure to get some fresh air and don’t got lost in any hazy corners of your mind.  Or jam room.
Hi – sets amount of hi frequency you want in the reverb or effected signal (controls the high intervals of the shimmer mode)
Low – sets amount of low frequency you want in the reverb or effected signal (controls the low intervals of the shimmer mode)
Mix – wet/dry mix for adding the clean signal back in.  Every pedal should have a mix knob!  Retain just enough pick attack to make your playing stand out over the reverb washes.  With this maxed out, it gets reallllllllly spacey.
3-Way Toggle:
Plate – emulates a plate reverb.  Not a dinner plate, silly, metal plates.  Not many pedals do the plate reverb.  It’s a different sound than a spring or room reverb.  It has a metallic quality to the reflections.  It’ll make your surf riffs sound a little sweeter.
Ambient – is what it is.  The higher you set the mix knob the more your intitial attack will disappear and the deeper you will descend into a blissful watery grave.  All the way up there is no attack, which creates a sort of reverse reverb or swell effect.  With the decay maxed it sounds kind of like a freeze pedal, or an analog delay softly self-oscillating reminiscent of an Echoplex.  It creates a beautiful and gentle wash behind what you’re playing, like a modulated infinite delay.  So great for adding drama and texture to your tone, and it even works great on keyboard.
Shimmer – sounds kind of like a harmonizer.  In octaves and 5ths possibly?  It’s hard to say, it seems to change interval depending on where you’re fretting the neck, lower fretted notes make a nasty tritone.  It’s easy to get organ or synth pad sounds by controlling the shimmering octaves with the hi and low knobs.  If you turn the octaves down, the reverb is has a hall or cathedral character.  Also with the hi knob down and low at different positions I was able to get a very nice low octave (electric) bass guitar sound and reproduce low strings like cello or bowed upright bass.

As much as I’d love it if this thing wasn’t named and labeled in English (something about globalization?), the name ‘Space Reverb’ certainly describes the pedal more efficiently than I ever could…  Spacey, atmospheric, trippy, ethereal, ambient, etc. are all good words to describe this pedal.  With any mode selected you’ve got instant depth to the depths of depth, man.  Don’t take my word for it, check out my demo video and hear it for yourself.


One thing is for sure.  MAK has my seal of approval on pedals, I only wish they were more readily available in the States.  What do you think, does this get your approval?  Don’t be a-scared, you’ve got a computer to hide behind!  If you’re like me and you have to have one, send them a Facebook message or snag one off EBay while you can.

MAK’s Facebook Page

I wish them the best of luck with their pedal endeavors.  I’m sure they’ll do well if they keep on making sweet and inspiring pedals!

Thanks for reading.

Love,

Nick
The Pedal File

Pedal Feature – Catalinbread’s Echorec

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Howdy pardners!  I was moseying down a dusty internet trail looking at delay pedals when one caught my eye that I think is worth sharing.  So everyone knows analog delays sound really good and most of them are at least loosely based on the sound of an Echoplex (fun and coincidental fact [for me at least]: In 1962, the Echoplex patent was bought by a company called Market Electronics based in Cleveland, Ohio.  Yay Ohio!).  Don’t get me wrong, they sound amazing, but I’m becoming a little desensitized to all the delay pedals that sound like another tape delay.

The silly Portlandia-dwelling hipsters at Catalinbread took a look at recreating another popular, but perhaps less well-known echo unit, the Binson Echorec.  The Binson Echorec is mostly known for being a big part of Pink Floyd‘s sound, as well as being used by other famous musician types in the 60’s.  The major difference of the Echorec was it’s use of an analog magnetic drum recorder instead of a tape loop.  It incorporated 4 playback heads and a spinning magnetic drum as its recording mechanism.  According to Catalinbread, ‘The Binson…has long captivated musicians for both its rhythmic and ambient characteristics. We managed to include all the features of the original (and then some) while still keeping it in a small standard pedal sized enclosure.’  Way to go!

Check out the video by Pro Guitar Shop.

Other tweakables include:
• The Swell knob controls the number of repeats regenerated – from a single repeat of each playback head to infinite repeats.

• The Tone control tilts the EQ of the repeats from dark and fat to bright and thin. Dark settings makes the repeats sit in the background. Bright settings emphasizes the attack, great for playing off the syncopated rhythms of the multi-head arrangement.  Makes me think of The Edge.

• The original Echorec had a maximum delay time of 300ms. The delay time on the Catalinbread Echorec goes from about 40ms -1000ms. And the cool thing is you can twist the Delay Time knob in real-time to get speeding-up / slowing-down, spaceship warp landing sounds!  Those are cool 🙂

• Mix knob goes from full dry to full wet giving a lot of flexibility to use the Echorec in a variety of situations, even wet/dry rigs by setting the Mix full wet.  I like being fully wet.

• The original Echorec had a 12 position switch which controlled the various playback head configurations. Since the original was mechanical with the disc only able to go one speed, not all combinations were available for use. The Catalinbread Echorec changes all that. With the ability to vary the delay time on the single playback head, we were able to include all combinations, which include rhythmic patterns not available before.  Sounds like a sweet idea.

I have to admit I might end up with this on my board.  What do you think about this pedal?  Do you have a favorite delay pedal?  Leave a comment and let me know!

Thanks for reading.

Love,

Nick
The Pedal File