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Archive for the ‘guitar effects’ Category

I’ve been looking at envelope filters for a long time, and I just haven’t had a need to use one yet with any regularity. But this latest vowel-shaper from EH makes me think I might just give it a whirl to see where it takes me creatively. I was just thinking yesterday that I hadn’t really thought of any new songs in the last couple of weeks; not too much of a surprise as I’ve been really focusing on delivering a major project at my regular job. But now that I can come up for some air, I’m starting to get a bit of a creative spark again, and an envelope filter might just be the pill that the doctor ordered.

As far as the Stereo Talking Machine goes, what I think is attractive is that it has a fairly straight-forward interface. There aren’t too many voices, and it seems you can get a lot out of it. This is definitely on my “things to check out” list!

Here’s a demo video:

For more information, check out the Stereo Talking Machine page!

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Though I’m pretty satisfied with my current rig – actually, I’m pretty settled now as far as pedals are concerned – that doesn’t mean that I don’t look to see what’s out there. While surfing this morning before going off to work, I came across the new Voodoo TC line of pedals from Roger Mayer. These pedals feature huge knobs for changing the main pedal parameters, and they’re meant to be changed with your foot!

What a cool concept! No more bending over to change the drive on a drive pedal or the intensity or pulse of a vibe. Not only that, the Voodoo TC line has this retro, art-deco look, and sporting colors that were apparently inspired by 1950’s Chevy’s!

There are nine pedals in the line thus far, and from what I can tell from the descriptions, they’re heavily inspired by Jimi Hendrix tones, with a few drive pedals, a vibe, and an octavia. But there is one specifically geared towards bass distortion.

For more information, check out the Roger Mayer TC Series page. There are a couple of videos on the page from the Japan Music Fair, with one of the videos being an interview with Roger Mayer, explaining the motivation behind the pedals.

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TC Electronic Corona Chorus

Summary: Part of TC Electronic’s new Compact line, this is just about the most tweakable chorus I’ve ever played. Standard chorus most offers a wide range of chorus tone from subtle, ringing tones to thick leslie-like warble. But with TonePrint and TriChorus, you’ve got even more chorus sounds at your fingertips.

Pros: For the chorus lover, the Corona is a tone tweaker’s wet dream! There’s so much you can dial in with this pedal, and guess what? It all sounds great! Great TC sound in a standard-size enclosure? No problem, mahn!

Cons: None. Granted, I haven’t played with it much, but I just can’t think of anything NOT to like at this point.

Features:

  • TonePrint – instant access to custom pedal-tweaks made by your idols!
  • 3 chorus types – expansive tonal options from glassy shimmer to mind-boggling swirls of sound
  • Speed, Depth, Color and Level controls – sculpt your chorus sounds from subtle to extreme
  • Stereo in & out – for added flexibility to your set-up
  • True Bypass – zero loss of tone
  • Analog-Dry-Through – maximum tonal integrity and clarity
  • ToneLock – protects your presets under all circumstances
  • Easy battery access – makes changing batteries fun! (well, almost)
  • Small footprint – save precious pedalboard space
  • High quality components – only the best will do when it comes to tone
  • Road-ready design – ready to follow you wherever your playing takes you

Price: $129 Street

Tone Bone Score: 5.0 ~TC Electronic is finally coming down from the stratosphere. In the past, price was a big barrier to entry, but with the Compact line of pedals, that’s no longer the case. You get great TC tone at an absolutely affordable price.

Selling Like Hotcakes

I called up my buddy Jordan over at Gelb Music in Redwood City today to see if he had any of the TC Electronic Compact Line in stock. He said he had one chorus and one delay left. He had three of each two days ago, and people are calling, so he has a bunch on order. I’ve been reading the buzz about these pedals for the past couple of days, and it seems that dealers sell them as soon as they get them; and for good reason: At least for the Corona, the pedals sound INCREDIBLE! As soon as Jordan told me he had a Corona (which is what I was originally interested in), I told him I’d be down in a few minutes and he said he’d pull the pedal. He knows me too well; if I like and bond with some gear, I’ll walk out the store with it.

Well, such was the case with the Corona. As soon as I got to the shop, Jordan handed the pedal to me. I took it and got set up to test it. I tested it through a 100 Watt Sebago Double Trouble with a Gretsch Electromatic at the shop and immediately fell in love. This is a keeper, and will be going on my board – today! Let’s get to the review, shall we?

Fit and Finish

Can you say, “built like a tank?” 🙂 The enclosure is absolutely solid. The knobs feel totally sturdy, and the bypass switch (yes, it’s true bypass) feels solid. In other words, if the Corona is any indication of the rest of the line, these pedals will be gig-worthy.

How It Sounds

Sorry, no clips yet as I have yet to bring it home. 🙂 But all I can say is that the chorus is simply silky-smooth. The “Analog-Dry-Through” (ADT) technique that they’re using really works. Basically, with ADT, the dry signal stays untouched in the pedal, and the effect is simply blended in. I really like this technique, as it ensures that your signal retains its integrity. So there’s no signal loss, and no gain boost like you get with other pedals that modify the dry signal directly. It also gives you a lot finer control over how much effect  you want.

I tested all three modes: Chorus, TonePrint, and TriChorus. Here’s a synopsis of each:

Chorus Mode ~ If the Corona only had this mode, I still would’ve bought it. Based upon TC’s classic SCF circuit, this is a smooth, sexy chorus. There’s nothing bell-like with this mode, but it just adds some very beautiful character to your sound and it doesn’t sound at all processed. Based upon my initial test, this will most probably be the mode I use the most.

TonePrint Mode ~ This mode, of course, offers the ultimate in tweakability. Out of the box, the default TonePrint is an asymmetrical TriChorus that has some really cool swirls. But if you don’t like that, just hook the pedal up to your computer via the included USB cable and print a chorus sound you like. You can download TonePrints from the TC Electronic site, where they’ve had some major artists provide TonePrints. Want a Bumblefoot chorus sound? How ’bout one from Orianthi? Pretty cool stuff!

TriChorus ~ For me, used subtly in mono, this mode out of the box will give you very cool leslie-like tones. Apparently, it’s best used in stereo. While I liked it, it was the least of my favorites, but I can actually see where I can use it in one of my songs. It’ll work perfectly for that.

Overall Impression

As I entitled my previous article on the Corona chorus, I really thought I was done getting chorus pedals. But this is a must-have for me as I wanted to have another chorus pedal that could do sounds that me Boss CE-2 can’t do. The CE-2 is a really in-your-face type of chorus, while the Corona can be dialed back for a much more subtle chorus tone. I’ll be using this pedal – A LOT!!!

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I usually keep up on new stuff, but the Aria has been around for about a year now. Can’t believe I missed it! In any case, I just spoke with Dave Koltai of Pigtronix, and he said the Aria was the result of releasing a product with no marketing. I take it that Dave is one of those back-room geek dudes who come up with lots of amazing shit, then just put it out there. 🙂 Actually, after speaking with him, he’s a really cool guy, and it’s great to meet someone who has a passion for what they do, and that was clear that he has a passion for creating great pedals.

I’ve known about Pigtronix for quite awhile, but it wasn’t until I got the press release on the Keymaster and shared it, that I started looking in on Pigtronix’s product line. They’ve got an impressive array of pedals. The one that I’m really keeping an eye on is the Philosopher King pedal, which is a compressor/sustainer, grit, and envelope filter. Have to save my pennies up for that one, but it’s definitely something I’d like to add to my board. But more to the immediate, I also came across the Aria Disnortion pedal, and that’s what this post is about…

I love dirt pedals! I’ve got a bunch of ’em, and for some reason, I just can’t get enough of ’em (I know… I say that a lot, but it’s true). Each one that I have has a different character, and they rotate on my board with seeming regularity as I get the in the mood for different tones now and then. As of late, I’ve really been into more transparent overdrives and boost, as I love the natural sound of my amps when overdriven, and the Aria definitely seems to fit the bill.

Now with respect to transparency, let’s face it, nothing is transparent. Everything you put on your board will change your tone. But what I tend to look for – especially in dirt pedals – is that they don’t take anything away, ESPECIALLY dynamics and and note separation. Some pedals I’ve tried in the past sound pretty decent and have lots of dynamics, but at high gain levels, lose clarity and note separation. While I’m not a speed demon on the fretboard by any stretch of the imagination, I do have more of a legato style of playing where I play several notes in one complete phrase which I’ll end with a bend or sustain, depending upon what I’m playing. So note separation is VERY important to me. There’s nothing worse than playing a well thought out phrase, only to lose it in a mush. From what I’ve heard from the demonstrations by Peter Thorn and Andy at Pro Guitar Shops, even at high gain settings, the pedal retains note separation. That’s a huge plus!

Another plus of this pedal that I can see is the 3-band active EQ that provide 12dB of cut or boost to really shape your tone. The gain knob will give you clean boost to fuzz, which makes this an incredibly versatile dirt pedal. This ain’t no one-trick-pony; that’s fo sho!

Then add to all that this pedal retails for a street price of $149, OMG! I have to get this pedal! 🙂

For more information on the Pigtronix Aria Disnortion (no, it’s not a typo), visit the Pigtronix Aria product page!

In any case, for your viewing/listening enjoyment, check out these demo videos!

Peter Thorn

Andy @ ProGuitarShops.com

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No, not the sexual kind – though we do like that – but the spring reverb kind. 🙂 Specifically, I’m talking about the Tone Candy Spring Fever. I reviewed the Spring Fever back in May, and gave it a 4.5 Tone Bones. But now that I’ve got it and after spending a few hours with it last night, I’m now giving it 5.0 Tone Bones! Here’s why:

  1. As I said in my original review, the Spring Fever is just about the best spring reverb pedal I’ve ever played. It sounds incredibly realistic, and unlike many of the digital varieties I’ve played, while it’s jangly with some top-end, it also doesn’t lose bottom end, so your tone stays nice and rich. That’s a little disconcerting to some folks because they’re used to a brighter tone, but for me, the retention of the bottom end is really what sold me on its tone, plus with the Spring Fever, you can go from subtle spring ‘verb, to rich, spacious, swirling surf tones, so there’s lots of variety on tap.
  2. What I didn’t get to test out in my original audition of the Spring Fever was its Volume knob which also acts as a clean boost if you turn the Reverb and Mix knobs all the way down. I’m not sure how much boost the pedal adds, but there’s enough boost on tap to slam the front end of your amp with loads of gain.

I particularly like the Volume knob because it solves a real problem for me when I play my acoustic gigs at venues where I have to plug directly into a PA board. My acoustics’ pickups don’t have much gain, and I usually have to crank up the volume faders on the board, which can be problematic as it makes it difficult to balance out the guitars’ volume with my vocals. I’ve solved this in the past by lugging my Presonus TUBEPre preamp with me, but that’s a bit of a pain to lug (read: extra gear, not because it’s heavy), and requires a separate 12V power supply. The Volume knob on the Spring Fever eliminates the need for me to bring a preamp with me. Nice.

If I have one complaint of the pedal, it has to be its finicky nature with power supplies, and will add some noise to the signal. Mike Marino explains this on the Spring Fever product page, and recommends some power supplies to use, such as the 1-Spot. I used the 1-Spot in my clips, and when the Spring Fever was activated, there was a slight, but noticeable hiss. This has to do with the power supply, and not the pedal. This also happens when I use my MXR Carbon Copy with the 1-Spot. When I hook it up to a regulated power supply like a Dunlop DC Brick, the pedal is as quiet as can be. So despite Mike’s recommendation about the 1-Spot, don’t use it. Get a regulated power supply like the DC Brick. Luckily, I have an extra DC Brick, so that will be powering my mini board.

How It Sounds

As I said, the Spring Fever is about the best spring reverb pedal I’ve ever played! Capable of producing a wide range of reverb, this pedal will be a permanent fixture on my board! I’ve still got to play around with it some more, but I recorded a few clips to give you an idea of what it can do. The clips below were all recorded using my 1958 Fender Champ output to a Jensen Jet Falcon 1 X 12. I start out each clip with a dry signal, then play it again with some “grease.” What that pedal adds with respect to spaciousness is amazing! All the clean clips were recorded at unity volume, while the dirty clips were played with the amp turned up to about 2pm, and the boost at 1pm with Mix and Reverb completely off. I wanted to demonstrate the clean boost and its effect on an overdriven amp.

Les Paul, Middle Pickup, Fingerstyle. Reverb: 11am, Mix:10 am

Left Channel: Les Paul Middle Pickup, Reverb and Mix same settings as above
Right Channel: Les Paul Neck Pickup, Reverb: Dimed, Mix: 8pm

I love the right channel track on this clip. Turned up all the way, you get this cavernous room sound, but with the Mix set real low, it becomes a much more subtle effect, providing almost a delay-like ambience without the echos.

Squier CV Tele Middle Pickup. Reverb: 10am, Mix 10am
MXR Carbon Copy with long delay time, Mix at about 10am

Les Paul Middle Pickup (biased toward bridge), Volume: 2pm, Mix/Reverb Off

Squier CV Tele Bridge Pickup (biased toward bridge), Volume: 2pm, Mix/Reverb Off

Overall Impression

Yeah, it’s pricey at $275, though you can find it at a lower price if you look. But I haven’t heard as a good a spring reverb pedal like this – ever. And the fact that it has a booster in it just rocks! For me, and especially for my acoustic gigs, this is a game changer!

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While I did a “mini review” of the Mad Professor Deep Blue Delay a couple of months ago, that was in a shop in a controlled environment, and though I played it for almost an hour, there’s no better test of gear than using it at a gig where nothing is predictable.

After I originally auditioned the pedal, I anguished for the last couple of months about getting it. Why? Simply because of its price: It is NOT a cheap pedal by any means (I got it for $335), and it was always easy for me to reason why not to get the pedal. However, I’ve been a bit disappointed with my VOX Time Machine when using it with my acoustic rig. I thought that since it performed so well with my electric rig, that it would translate well to my acoustic rig. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Truth be told, while the Time Machine simply kicks ass with my electric rig, my tone feels and sounds “processed” with my acoustic rig. The net result is that I stopped using it for my acoustic gigs.

I knew I had to get a good delay that would work well with my acoustic rig, and I also knew that after auditioning quite a few digital and analog delays at the shop, it was the Deep Blue Delay that spoke to me. But the price of the pedal made me shudder, so I put off the purchase for the last couple of months.

Then yesterday, in a moment of weakness, I purchased the pedal on my lunch break at work. Jordan, the sales guy I’ve been buying gear from at Gelb Music for years, swears by this pedal, and he just said, “Dude, I know the price is steep, but there’s none better than the the Deep Blue Delay. It’s always on my board, and it’s almost always on. The VOX Time Machine is a killer pedal (he sold me that one as well), but you know how the Deep Blue sounded with the APX900 (Yamaha – I bought that one from him too – though he didn’t make a recommendation that time 🙂 ) when you tested it a couple of months ago. Believe me, you won’t be disappointed.” Mind you, I trust Jordan’s advice implicitly. I’ve been buying gear from him for years, and have learned that when he raves about some gear, it’s not bullshit because he owns it or has gigged with it. And with the Deep Blue Delay, I’ve never witnessed him rave so much about a pedal!

So I am now the proud owner of the Mad Professor Deep Blue Delay, and like Jordan, I can’t rave enough about it! What about my Time Machine? It goes back on my electric rig board. I love that pedal because it has such a great sound with whatever electric guitar I use on it. But for acoustic, it’ll be the Deep Blue from now on.

Fit and Finish

With a gorgeous, shiny, blue powder coat finish, this is simply the most gorgeous pedal I have. I’m partial to blue, but the gloss is like a mirror, as the photos below show. If I have one nit, the blue LED is a bit difficult to see in bright lighting conditions, but that’s just small nit. Other than that, the pedal is solidly built. The knobs have good resistance without being tight, and the toggle switch is heavy duty. I’m not sure what kind of jacks were used but connectors snap into place nicely, so I’m assuming they’re fairly high-quality jacks.

Taking the back off the pedal, there are LOTS of wires connected to a foam-wrapped circuit board (that I didn’t want remove), so it’s clear that the Deep Blue Delay is completely hand-wired, save for the circuit board. The wires are all fairly heavy-gauge with thick shielding, which speaks to the quality of components used in the pedal. I didn’t want to lift the foam pad because the wires were so heavy and I didn’t want to have to deal with putting them back into place. 🙂 Mad Professor could’ve easily used thin-gauge wires for this pedal, but I like the fact that they opted for the heavier gauge.

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How It Sounds

I know that I use the words “awesome” and “incredible” on this blog. After all, this is a “best of breed” type of site. So let’s just assume that the pedal can be described with those words, and I’ll take a different tack and describe what that sound does to me.

I know a piece of gear is incredible when it just makes me close my eyes and soak up the sound it produces. That’s the effect the Deep Blue Delay has on me. The delay effect, even at high levels is always smooth, and amazingly enough sounds so natural. There is nothing processed about this sound. And unlike other analog pedals I’ve played, the Deep Blue Delay doesn’t get dark, which is what has kept me from getting analog delays in the past.

At last night’s gig, I turned a disaster into a way to fully evaluate the Deep Blue Delay. With my acoustic rig, since I don’t have too many pedals, I use my BOSS TU-2 to power up the rest of my pedals. But last night, I had forgotten that I removed the TU-2 to use at a gig last week, so when I opened up my pedal bag, I was shocked to see my TU-2 missing. Luckily, I had left my 9V plug in the bag, so I figured that it was a great way to use the Deep Blue. So I plugged my guitar into the pedal, and it went straight into my Fishman SoloAmp.

I set up the pedal with the Delay and Repeat knobs at about 2pm, and the Level at 9am so I could get a nice, ambient sound that didn’t dominate. That created a hall-like effect that was simply delicious. I kept it at that setting for several songs. Then just as an experiment, I upped the level to 11, and then the skies parted and a voice rang from the heavens, “You have found s a sacred tone!” 🙂 Seriously though, I was completely blown away by what the pedal produced. The repeats were on the speedy side and the decay was a nice tail without being overbearing, and at that level, the wet/dry mix was just perfect!

The wonderful thing about the Deep Blue is that it seems like there’s a pre-delay built into the pedal. The one thing that sets this apart from other delays I’ve used is that at anything greater than low level settings, you get delay going right away. But even at 11am, whatever I was playing, whether finger picked or strummed, didn’t start repeating until there was space – or at least that was what it seemed like. Of course, at higher levels, the delay kicks in right away, but despite that, what you’re playing is invariably clear and doesn’t get washed out by the repeats.

Overall Impression

In other words, this truly is an incredible pedal. I’m still smarting just a little from the price, but as I haven’t played a delay for my acoustic as good as this – ever – it is well worth the price! I originally gave the Deep Blue pedal a 4.75 Tone Bones rating because of its cost. But my thinking now is that if that’s what it costs to get this kind of delay, then that’s what it costs, and I’m so much happier playing with this pedal in my signal chain. I’ve re-rated it as a 5 Tone Bones pedal. If you can afford it, this pedal will not disappoint; in fact, I’ll wager that it’ll make you practically squeal with joy!

About the Photos

Another hobby of mine – and no, I don’t sleep all that much – is photography. With this hobby, I don’t aspire to be a professional photographer, but I do like to take good photos. These photos were taken with a Nikon D40 with a f1.8 35mm fixed-length lens. All shots were taken in manual mode. I don’t remember the settings, but I shot about 60 photos and picked what I felt were the best shots. Then I used Adobe PhotoShop Elements to crop the photos and did a minimal amount of color correction on a couple of them. I believe that unless you’re going to make artistic enhancements to photos, you should set up your shots so you can “print” them immediately without color manipulation; that is, set up your camera so you don’t have to compensate later.

I know, this is a guitar gear blog, but going forward, I will be doing my own photos of gear. What I love about this particular set is that my camera caught the wonderful reflections off the shiny powder coating of the Deep Blue Delay. I find that marketing photos tend to be a bit too sterile. This is the best-looking pedal in my collection, and I wanted to do its look justice.

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Yup, you guessed it… yet another overdrive pedal. I came across this pedal while perusing the forums over at Mark Wein Guitar Lessons. Mark occasionally posts “Pedal of the Day” entries, and this was his latest. I know, lots of people complain about “yet another OD pedal.” But if you stop to think about it, there’s probably a great reason why there are so many OD’s on the market. What comes to mind for me is that no one overdrive can cover everything. Let’s face it, a Tube Screamer or TS-like OD can only take you so far tonally.

Don’t get me wrong: Not all OD’s are created equally. Admittedly, there’s lots of crap out there, which is a fallout of the boutique gear movement. I’ve suspected several boutique gear “manufacturers” of simply building gear based on kits, putting a nice paint job on them, then selling the pedal for hundreds of dollars; which is why I’ve always stressed to folks – try before you buy!

The LovePedal Kalamazoo is no exception to this rule. While it has some very cool features (I’ll list them below), you really never know how a pedal will work with your rig until you put it in your chain. But despite that, I’m really intrigued by LovePedal’s twist on the overdrive with the Kalamazoo.

So what’s to like? As you can see, there are two little knobs called Tone and Glass under the common Level and Drive knobs. I believe this is where the magic of the pedal lies. Tone is a treble content roll-off, while glass is a treble booster that doesn’t affect the lows. These are wired in series, so they interact with each other. From what I could gather from the demo from ProGuitarShops I’ve seen, these two knobs offer up a world of tonal possibilities.

Another thing that appeals to me is that I prefer a more “open” kind of overdrive to let my power tubes do the compression. To me, it sounds more natural that way. The Kalamazoo was designed to create an “open” type overdrive tone. With it, you can slam the front-end of your amp, and make that gain push the power tubes into compression.

And from what I could gather, the Kalamazoo is VERY responsive to input gain, which is demonstrated in the ProGuitarShops video.

Here are the pedal’s features (from the Love Pedal site):

9VDC Input
True Bypass LED Status
Compact Die cast Aluminum Case 4.37″ X 2.37″ X 1.07″

Controls:
DRIVE – Sets the amount of overdrive
LEVEL – Master volume control
TONE – Softens the treble content
GLASS – Increases treble without cutting bass response
STOMPSWITCH – Turns effect ON or OFF

Cost: $199

To top it off, the pedal has a mirror finish! I really dig that! My Creation Audio Labs Mk.4.23 booster has a mirror finish as well. Sweet! And at $199, this is a pedal that will not break the bank!

Here’s LovePedal’s Intro Video:

And here’s ProGuitarShop’s Demo:

For more information, visit the LovePedal site!

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