Other Equipment

Your 2016 PEDALS in review…

1

It seems that 2016 was my year for trying out new pedals. Mostly overdrive units. I must have tried, bought, sold and traded about a dozen of these babies in my endless search for the pen-ultimate circus of circuitry. Beginning the year with my Wampler Euphoria and Mesa Boogie Flux drive as my base, I proceeded to test virtually everything they had in the Winnipeg area. First up was the JHS series, of which only the Morning Glory passed my acid test. In fact it was so good that I traded my Euphoria in on it. This unit is kind of the* unit for those looking for authentic tube type "edge of distortion" transparency. Also great as a clean boost, it has worked wonders with virtually everthing else I've placed in front of, or behind it, as I continued on my restless journey throughout the spring, summer and fall.

Before going further, I will have to say that the options currently available for guitarists seeking to create their own signature OD tone, is almost mind boggling. There are so many fantastic drive/distortion pedals available for us at the moment, I seriously doubt that any, with the possible exception of Proteus, could possibly wade through them all. A true embarrasment of riches. But I digress.

From JHS I moved to the Greer line. Of these, I found the Lightspeed to be my personal winner. The combo of the Lightspeed and the MG gave me such classic Santana type tones that the MB Flux OD bit the bullet in favor of the Greer. For about two months over the summer, I was utterly and completely satisfied. There couldn't possibly be more. Right? Well, in my reading and reviews I was drawn back into the TS debate. Ibanez, it was claimed, was reissuing some of their classic circuitry. I soon realized that hey, I MUST have one of these too. Just to be safe. Well, I picked up an RI 808 and guess what? They nailed it. Welcome back to TS land. So who needs the Lightspeed now? Right? Trade city.

Until of course, one of the boys at Quest Musique showed me a Zendrive clone that a local builder had just put forth. Robben Ford here I come. Out TSs the TS? Well, not really, but by now the OD sickness had taken complete hold of me. It was me, the MG and the art of Zen! Done! Finis! Totally at the end of my quest.

Sadly, I walked into the pawn shop in Selkirk one afternoon a month or so ago. There, sitting quietly on a shelf with a couple of other assorted pedals, was an Exotic BB Pre MB. What the hell, I had a few minutes. SOLD! As it turns out. This was the best deal I had made on a pedal all year. With the possible exception of the JHS MG. The Exotic is an incredible pedal with a thick, chocolaty, rich distortion that can out Zen, out TS, out clean, out boogies, out blues the best of every other OD pedal I played, lo these past several months. AS far as ODs go, I think I'm done! Well for 2016 anyway.

So then my com-padres, what's your 2016 pedal story? Fess up...

2

BTW, there's more chapters to this tome. However, I have to go eat now. Back later...

3

Pretty meagre on my part, with only three:

  1. Xotic EP booster
  2. Xotic SP compressor
  3. OneControl A/B box
4

A little late to this particular party, but the one pedal I tried this year that I really liked is the Blackstone. It sounds really, really nice with reverb Fenders. Less good with other amps, but still not bad. I've got other boxes for those amps.

5

I just pulled out my Boss Metal Zone pedal after years of laying dormant. If I mix it in just right it sounds fantastic with both my Duo Jet with Dynasonics and my Corvette with HiLotrons, especially the Corvette. Yeah, you can go all metal with it if you choose to but I discovered that it also works great as a small dose overdrive spice pedal. Who knew?

So now I have 3 pedals besides a tuner, a Cry Baby wah which barely gets used but I'm still glad I have it, an Electro-Harmonix Memory Boy and now the Boss Metal Zone.

6

I bought an overdrive pedal this year that I really like - which is kind of a rare thing for me, because I think overdrive and distortion pedals tend to be pretty annoying, ugly and screechy sounding things that screw up the low end of my big old Guilds, or mess with the dynamics of my amps.

Like the General, I'm pretty impressed with Greer pedals : I got their "Tone Smuggler", and it's the first overdrive pedal I got that really works with my old hollowbodies. Tried and loved their "Lightspeed overdrive" pedal too, and might end up getting that one too.

Also lucked out and got a Mojovibe univibe clone as good as new for a really good price. Fantastic sounding univibe for my bad SRV/Hendrix impersonation moments.

Have briefly tried Dunlop's new echoplex delay pedal, and was so impressed with it that I'll probably end up getting one. The sound and feel of the repeats was the closest to my old solid state echoplex I've heard so far. A lot better than other pretend-EP's in any case, and it's small and only has three knobs, which is great.

7

Funny you should mention the Echoplex WB. This was the last pedal I tried out (just a couple of weeks ago). Like yourself, I was very impressed with it, and may well decide to pick one up in the new year. Loved the "Age" control. I want to try out the EarthQuaker Devices Disaster Transport JR Delay pedal first though. I've read great things about it. Quest Musique is supposed to be bringing one in so I hope to check it out before long. It'll be interesting to see how it compares to the Dunlop. Also, I'm currently using a Maxon AD9Pro+, which is a damned fine delay pedal, so both the Dunlop and the Earthquaker have some pretty stiff competition if they want to get onto my board...

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@ Jim Krause. Hey Jim, what's the lowdown on the Xotic SP compressor? What other comp(s) might you compare it to?

9

I am over 60 and hold the very unpopular opinion that all distortion pedals should be outlawed* -- but actually started using pedals this year. That's How Modern I Am!! Reverb pedals don't count.. it's just sitting on top of the amp @ all times. But am Boss all the way-- chorus, delay, and trem. If ever find an electric 12 I like, the Janglebox could be good for road test.

  • allowed are 1967 Lafayette Fuzz Sound, 1968 Vox Tone Bender, 1969 Univox Super Fuzz
10

I had a few good finds this year:

  1. Keeley Mini-Katana Clean Boost: I used the original for many years, but the treble-boost switch inside is an exceptional addition on the design. That setting in particular sounds great after a nice analog-style delay; it cleans up some of the dark mushiness without killing the vibe. The small footprint is great too!

  2. T.Rex Reptile 2 Delay: Fun! Lots of knobs to twist and the "preamp" feature is cool for an "always on" setting. The tap is really helpful. My loyalty is still to the Wampler Faux-Tape Echo, but this is a great pedal for someone looking for an Echoplex tape-esque thing. Not as complicated or expensive as a Strymon.

  3. CMATMODS Butah Overdrive: It's a poor man's JHS Morning Glory or Paul C. Timmy (Marshall Bluesbreaker style pedal, but not to be confused with the "Bluesbreaker" amp!), but not cheap sounding if you know how to dial things in. Perfect for Twin Reverb users like me who need some extra "oomph" for rhythm parts every now and again, or something to stack upon for your "5th gear" lead tones.

  4. Astrolab Germanium Fuzz Face (?): I'm not sure on the exact name of this. My band's second guitarist had this thing on his board for a while this summer (Germanium and batteries and all, mind you!) and I can say without hesitation that it makes the most compelling fuzz sound I've ever heard. Good luck finding one, but it's worth checking out if you do.

Nothing really new here, but some good finds if you're hunting for something like any of these. All are very friendly when introduced to a Gretsch!

11

I bought one pedal this year though I have a big box full of unused pedals. I got an Electro Harmonix B9 Organ Machine. I love it and can get many cool organ sounds from it. I love the Hamond B3 sounds.

12

JHS Fuzz and a mini Brain (Thanks TAVO) were my big two

13

The only pedal I can think of that I bought this year is a dbx goRack that Tavo mentioned. Best $30 I've spent on sound gear in a long time. But the year isn't over yet, and I haven't taken my box of trading fodder pedals over to TrueTone yet to see if I really want a Strymon Riverside, so I guess that could change.

OK, it changed. I traded 5 pedals for a Riverside, and made it in before the end of the year.

14

Last night I was playing around with the Boss Metal Zone again but since nobody was home I got to turn the volume up a bit. I have to admit the Metal Zone sounded great on low volumes but once turned up it didn't really do it for me. Oh well. It may work for something eventually.

15

Here's my contribution to this thread:

(1) Way Huge Aqua-Puss

I was looking for an analog delay for rockabilly and this one turned out to be as great as the reviews said. Very organic sound. Yes it's not the most versatile delay in the world, but what it does it does quite well.

Verdict: Keeper!

(2) Way Huge Saucy Box

I was intrigued by this one as some said it was George Tripps' version of a Klon. It is NOT a Klon, but in fact a very smooth, natural, transparent low-overdrive. It works VERY well with my Telecaster and can be stacked with other overdrives. The sounds range from verge-of-breakup blues to ZZ Top. There's just something warm and wonderful about it...

Verdict: Keeper!

(3) Visual Sound H2O

I had this pedal for a while. It's quite versatile, as it blends chorus and delay into one pedal, and you cam switch each on and off at will. The chorus is pretty good, and the delay is just OK. I ended up selling it as I wanted to try some other options for chorus and I ended up getting the Aqua-Puss for delay.

Verdict: OK but sold it.

I also built a lot of pedal circuits in 2016 (a hobby of mine) but that's for another thread...

16

The other (and final) pedal that made it's way into my greedy little hands this year is an MXR Dyna Comp Script. Unlike the hand wired RI issued a couple of years back, this one uses a PC board. It does however, sport the original metal can IC chip of the original. I did a review of this unit several weeks back and you may refer to that thread if you wish. I will say however, that this is one damn fine little compressor and in MHO, a much more musical and classic sounding pedal than the current MXR block version. If you are in the market, check one out before they end production. As I said, classic...

17

Well as business is quiet I have spent a lot of this year building my own pedals. I can't afford to build amps too often! Pedals are inexpensive, unless you get heavily into germanium.

Standouts for me would be (my version of...) the Wampler Euphoria, the Ramble FX Marvel Drive and the Fairfield Barbershop. The Barbershop sounds ok by itself but outstanding as a boost for something already dirty. It seems to add clarity somehow. It's a simple JFet drive - sounds almost crude by itself - but as a boost is amazing. Quiet, too.

The Marvel Drive is another JFet drive, this time based on the old Marshall set up where you would bridge the inputs. So for gain you have bright and normal, and a master volume. Bright is like turning up the bright channel - you get dirt and lots of high frequency stuff. For more low end grunt turn up the normal knob. Simple, cool and has a wonderful feel to it. It really feels like playing into an older Marshall. Only mod from standard in mine is to add a little low end oomph. Great pedal stock.

But my fave is the (modified) Euphoria (Ecstasy). I built it as per the exact original spec, found which bits I liked and then built it again without all the bits I didn't need. I also tweaked the low end a bit because it had too much. Now with a hollowbody it sounds like I just turned the amp up a bit. In some ways it's not a spectacular sounding pedal but it sounds exactly how I like, and lets the guitar and amp do all the heavy lifting. At lower gain levels (where I normally play) it really does sound like an old amp turned up to clipping point. It's not overtly saggy like some of the BJF stuff. It feels totally natural and I never lose definition.

For any fans of Pink Floyd or the Church I can't recommend the Skreddy Lunar Module enough. I have built a few for myself now! Fab lower-gain Muff kinda sounds - unbelievably good with a Strat but awesome with an ES-225 too.

18

Hey guys and gals I haven't posted here in quite a long time. The last couple years of my career as an illustrator have been more productive then ever. But last year I became aware of this company (Dawner Prince) making the Digital equivalent of the legendary echorec delay. Having used the Catalinbread Version of it for the last three years I kind of was telling myself that it was good enough. But what I found was a more thorough interpretation of the analog echo unit. What sets it apart from most bucket brigade types of delay is the swirling ambient quality of the repeats, it is quite beautiful and addictive sonically.

19

The ones I am happiest with that I bought this year are: JHS Angry Charlie, Digitech Trio+, Lovepedal Kalamazoo, MXR 10 band EQ, Xoric EP booster, BeatBuddy.

I could do a review but these are pretty common so what's the point. I never had an EQ before. Really helps to quickly dial in a tone I like when swapping around guitars and amps.

20

cheapest and sweetest pedal I purchased all year was the Boss DS-1 from '84 w the original toshiba linear chip.. a couple tavo mods and its gooooD!!

Best pedal I've purchased this yr is the Dr Scientist Reverburator for its plate reverbs plus its wet and dry mix are fantastic not to mention its got a volume control. I still use my catalinbread topanga but its shadowed by the dynamic response of the Dr's plate verb.. a blues dream! I'm still using the Blue Note overdrive and I seem to stomp it more than my Barber these days, but now its got this Strymon Riverside glaring at it for now. We'll see how that plays out as I depend on the Tim pedal mostly and I think I'd like a second one :)

Best pedal I've made and am madly in love w at the moment is my Nailhead tremelo. I used it this last Sunday w my tele for Jackson Brown's "the Rebel Jesus" and it was a great pulse against my youngest son's Bodhrán, my wife's accordion and the gorilla playing arco on the upright w my buddy Mark on his vintage Gretsch sparkle kit! I'd say the Mystery Brain is my favorite but its a collaboration pedal, while the Nailhead is all mine. :)

Most expensive pedal I will be purchasing before the year is over is the TC Helicon Voicelive 3 :)

ps. Ironically, I was using my new Black Setzer sig but those damn schallers that they are using now, totally failed me on the song before it as I flip the bigsby bar back towards the tail and hit it for effect.. totally went bonkers out of tune like never before. I guess I have to fault the stock 10gauge strings that I didnt have time to move up to the 11gauge I'm used to but ya.. she lost and the tele won for the rest of the set. It was a good match for the mornings work and that was my last gig for 2016 as they gave me 2 weeks off paid, whoo hoo!!

21

It was a lean year pedal-wise for me. The one great find I had was a Mesa Tone Burst. I was initially shopping for an OCD. The Tone Burst isn't exactly a OCD, but what it does do is revive and color my tone quite nicely. I use it as a clean but with the slightest grit type of boost. It's an always on pedal.

I bought an MXR Badass 77 Distortion used on a whim. I'm not really thrilled with it, and will probably sell or trade in when I find something I like.

I also got a Ditto Looper used after seeing a solo acoustic artist use one nicely. It has really come in handy after our singer on some songs/rhythm guitarist left the group. Anything we're lacking I can create a loop while playing the song and then solo over when the time comes. Takes some getting used to the toe tapping, but it's time well spent.

22

Hi Mark. I think that the Mesa Boogie line of pedals is a kind of under rated sleeper line at the moment. I found the Flux Drive to be very fine indeed, with a great sound of it's own. Very Mark II in character. These pedals are also unusually attractive, if you go in for visual aesthetic, which of course, I do. At any rate, I may just pick up another Flux Drive along the way again. Just to have access to that great Boogie vibe. Meanwhile, I'm currently in love with the Xotic BBPre MB. For now at least, it's all good...

23

What sets it apart from most bucket brigade types of delay is the swirling ambient quality of the repeats, it is quite beautiful and addictive sonically. - bamboobast<

Hey bamboobast, thanks for dropping by. That is one intriguing delay. Made in Croatia no less!

Also, if you happen to read this post, could you tell me where you get your cables from? I've never seen that type of jack before. Ultra cool. Very Gretsch looking. And they look to be extremely functional. Hand made perhaps?

24

Some of that Mesa Boogie line is just a bunch of copies of other pedals. The Flux Drive Is basically an Xotic BB. The Grid Slammer is an Ibanez TS 808. At least the Throttle Box looks original.

The Dr Scientist Mini-Reverberator is amazing. I foolishly sold mine but should get another one. Only the fact I have a perfectly good Flint stops me. Now I'm off to find out all I can about that Boonar... I married into a Croatian family.

25

I splurged this year on a number of pedals:

  1. Supro Drive: It colors my tone in a good way - it is not a "clean" overdrive or boost, it's more like an amp in a box that can go from warm overdrive to tons of available gain which gets into fuzz territory at the more extreme settings. It's not for metal, as it's not a "clinical" sound. Plenty of sag. Better at 18 volts than 9 volts (more open, louder). Has an expression pedal input that controls the gain. I have it on almost all of the time as there is not a bad sound in it.

  2. LIC Pedals Professional MKII (Tonebender clone): Don't use it often, but I like it when I do. It's quite large. Why do I continue to buy fuzz boxes? Will keep, but I'm not entirely sure why.

  3. Xotic EP Booster: Good boost, adds warmth. More usable at 18 volts than 9 volts. Very small.

  4. Retro-Sonic Chorus: I wanted something that could cop the thick chorus tone of a friend's CE-1 that I used many years ago. This seems to do the trick - I'm not much of a "clean and crisp" chorus guy, more of a "seasick" chorus guy, so the thickness and enhanced bass of the tone is quite useful to me (as opposed to the crisper CE-2 sound). I like using it with overdrive and fuzz, though it's clean sound is great too. Syrupy, rather than brittle.

  5. ADA PBF Flanger: Quite tweakable - can go from subtle to crazy and the controls are very interactive. Does jet plane sounds, strange metallic sounds, chorus sounds, even tremolo-like sounds. It's almost too complicated/feature-laden, but I'm a home player who doesn't gig, so that's ok. This is a fun pedal and quite useful.

  6. Moog MF Drive: Very tweakable and the controls are very interactive - gain, output, tone, filter, with additional switches for "Peak" and "Drive". Like the ADA PBF Flanger, it's almost too complicated/feature-laden. Superior build quality. The overdrive and distortion are good and the tones are quite tweakable (can do the cocked-wah thing or sound quite open), but I'm on the fence if it's really my thing. It can change the character of your sound quite easily, or simply work as a clean boost. I may hook this up to other sound sources like a drum machine or synth. It has an expression pedal input for the filter control which is sort of interesting.


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