Pedals

Amazon Pedals…7 models starting @ $26.75

2

Bound to be absolutely worth every penny.

3

I can see a kid's eyes light up this Holiday Season.

Maybe that kid is you?

4

It is not me.

But it is a little annoying that guitar pedals are now so mainstream a consumer good that Amazon would feel the need to market their own "basic" line. (Also note JHS's new line of sub-100.00 pedals.) Pedals must be pegged as a sufficiently large and growing segment that Amazon wants to skim off some of the gravy.

I wouldn't have said the proliferation of very similar Chinese mini pedals over the last decade (coming from two or three factories, I think) have made this inevitable, but it does all fit together in a scenario where pedals have are now so standardized as to become - through part of the market - generic, interchangeable commodities

There have always been companies to supply the economy end of the pedal market...well, not always. While there were knockoff pedals almost from the beginning in the mid-60s, through at least the 70s most of the mainstream pedals were affordable enough to most guitarists that there wasn't much room for cheaper. MXR, EHX, then Boss - it's kinda just what there was.

As I recall it, the economy lines came on in the 80s: Arion, Loco, house brands like Electra and even early Ibanez. If I remember aright, they priced at about half what the standards cost. Danelectro has famously picked up that baton several times since the 90s - but at least went to the trouble of doing original designs in (sometimes very) original and distinctive cases. And, again, at half or less of the cost of the standards. Ditto Behringer.

Then along came the boutique builders, and the high-end market which grew out of that, companies doing their best to differentiate themselves with faithful fidelity to reissued classic circuits (often with modern amenities), unique tweaks of classic designs, distinctive graphics and design, and truly creative and innovative circuits which have evolved the state of the art exponentially - pushing the old Standards to keep up.

I guess it was inevitable that the über-cheap minis came along to own the low end, and ultimately that the dominant online retailer in the world would decide to market their own line of surely-Chinese low-enders in resolutely generic garb.

It just feels weird for some reason. Like when Apple started selling through Wal-Mart. Like, there goes the bloom off that rose.

And it's also probably another symptom of the unprecedented boom in guitar and gear sales which has accompanied our new COVID lifestyles. Some companies have sold more to date this year than ever.

So our hobby, our passion, our quirky obsession is now mainstream and commonplace. That's probably good. If music is good, and playing music is good for people, I suppose it's good that more are discovering and experiencing those benefits.

So...the more, the merrier. The only shadow, as from a far distant and unworthy dark cloud, is the vague sense that now that everyone has discovered our clubhouse, is it really secret and special anymore?

5

I'll just keep making my 'merika boxes over there in that freedom corner.

6

I have a Donner looper which looks basically the exact same, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re the ones making them for them.

I’m not a big pedal guy, I just wanted it as a practice tool and it does that job well.

7

I just ordered the compressor. I’ll let you know in a few days.

8

It is not me.

But it is a little annoying that guitar pedals are now so mainstream a consumer good that Amazon would feel the need to market their own "basic" line. (Also note JHS's new line of sub-100.00 pedals.) Pedals must be pegged as a sufficiently large and growing segment that Amazon wants to skim off some of the gravy.

I wouldn't have said the proliferation of very similar Chinese mini pedals over the last decade (coming from two or three factories, I think) have made this inevitable, but it does all fit together in a scenario where pedals have are now so standardized as to become - through part of the market - generic, interchangeable commodities

There have always been companies to supply the economy end of the pedal market...well, not always. While there were knockoff pedals almost from the beginning in the mid-60s, through at least the 70s most of the mainstream pedals were affordable enough to most guitarists that there wasn't much room for cheaper. MXR, EHX, then Boss - it's kinda just what there was.

As I recall it, the economy lines came on in the 80s: Arion, Loco, house brands like Electra and even early Ibanez. If I remember aright, they priced at about half what the standards cost. Danelectro has famously picked up that baton several times since the 90s - but at least went to the trouble of doing original designs in (sometimes very) original and distinctive cases. And, again, at half or less of the cost of the standards. Ditto Behringer.

Then along came the boutique builders, and the high-end market which grew out of that, companies doing their best to differentiate themselves with faithful fidelity to reissued classic circuits (often with modern amenities), unique tweaks of classic designs, distinctive graphics and design, and truly creative and innovative circuits which have evolved the state of the art exponentially - pushing the old Standards to keep up.

I guess it was inevitable that the über-cheap minis came along to own the low end, and ultimately that the dominant online retailer in the world would decide to market their own line of surely-Chinese low-enders in resolutely generic garb.

It just feels weird for some reason. Like when Apple started selling through Wal-Mart. Like, there goes the bloom off that rose.

And it's also probably another symptom of the unprecedented boom in guitar and gear sales which has accompanied our new COVID lifestyles. Some companies have sold more to date this year than ever.

So our hobby, our passion, our quirky obsession is now mainstream and commonplace. That's probably good. If music is good, and playing music is good for people, I suppose it's good that more are discovering and experiencing those benefits.

So...the more, the merrier. The only shadow, as from a far distant and unworthy dark cloud, is the vague sense that now that everyone has discovered our clubhouse, is it really secret and special anymore?

– Proteus

I think there were some MXR style knockoffs in the late 70s/early 80s. One of the brands strangely enough was called Corona! They had top mounted jacks...not sure where they were made.

9

We had “Rocktek” pedals here in the UK in the 80s. They were a bit like low rent Arion pedals. All plastic cases with battery access at the top/front of the pedal. I seem to remember them costing about £20-30 in the late 80s early 90s. My old Rocktek flanger was great, falling apart, but sounded surprisingly good.

10

These have to be made by Mosky or Donner. I've got a Mosky XP Booster, and it's a dead ringer for the Xotic EP Booster (which I also own). I've read nothing but raves about the Donner stuff.

I don't need anything from this new Amazon line, but if I wanted a cheap delay for a gig board or something, I wouldn't have a problem buying one of these.

11

All indications are that they are made by Nux. e.g.:

That's not to say Donner and Ammoon, et al. aren't made in the same factory.

I'm sure they sound fine and all, but mini pedals just aren't for me. The knobs are too tiny, and big pedals look cooler.

12

I think in this day and age, the two pedal categories which seem fairly strong are the super-inexpensive clones (like these), and the super-expensive boutique pedals. I'm super-cheap, so you know which category I gravitate to....

It's great for the guitarist, there are so many pedals (that pretty much all do the same thing) across the price spectrum. Something for everyone.

13

One thing is certain: at 30.00, they only need to kinda work to impress buyers. “For the money” will be a major part of the satisfaction equation.

14

I doubt there’re any serious gigging players that would be interested, but I’m guessing there’s some kid(s) somewhere not blessed with rich enough parents to buy them anything they want, just starting out on the journey that could just about afford this, so from that angle I’d say it was a worthy entry into a somewhat flooded market.

On the other hand, if you buy all 7 you still only have 7 effects and you’re in for more than the cost of a Spark amp (I admit you will have a looper that the Spark doesn’t have, but still...).

That for me is the big problem with things like this, once you add them all up a decent multi-effects pedal or modelling amp is a better prospect.

16

I'm also thinking that these can be a real blessing for the young person who is just entering the electric guitar scene (and intermediate players as well). It's an affordable way to get an effects board up and running. I personally, at my stage in life, buy full size and substantially more expensive pedal effects.

While twenty seven to fifty dollars is not much money for many adults today, it can be quite a sum for the fourteen to sixteen year old budding guitarists, especially if they buy several or all seven of these pedals. They are probably quite serviceable for the casual intermediate players as well as the beginners. I doubt many serious gigging and professional guitarists will be interested.

I bought Boss effects in the early 80's, and they were pretty expensive. There wasn't nearly as many makes to choose from back then, and Boss was king at the time. The cheapest Boss pedal, in 1982 (like an OD-1) was around fifty dollars, and that was a lot of money back then. Considering that, these are a super bargain!

17

I've got a Mosky XP Booster, and it's a dead ringer for the Xotic EP Booster (which I also own).

The Mosky may be a direct clone of the EP (and I'm sure Xotic is flattered), but the Amazon Boost, with three knobs on the outside, is not.

While a couple of the Amazon pedals may be Nu-x Mini Core series offerings simply rebranded, the Boost doesn't appear to be. Nu-x's mini boost is a one-knob affair with both clean and "cranked" modes, while their "regular" Core offering is a 4-knobber with gain, output, treble, and bass control (and 3 different "coloration" options as well as selectable buffered or true-bypass).

Looks like Amazon's boost is a compromise between those options - and it looks to be a very smart one. Functionally "better" than the Xotic, as it has tone conrols on top, rather than internal DIP switches to enable particular eq profiles. (Though in the process, the Amazon could be said to break the EP's intentional homage to the front end of an echoplex.)

ANYway, if these pedals are all Nu-x, I'm a little more interested (or at least respectful). I had a Nu-x Cerberus multi for a few months and was extremely impressed all round. Build quality was unexcelled (it actually felt "Apple-y"), and it was both well-designed and well implemented, with way tons of functionality "for the money" (there we go). Ultimately the reverb, delay, and modulation effects lacked enough tweakability to satisfy me (a by-product of compromises made to stuff so much into so compact a device), and I went a different direction anyway.

But it put Nu-x on my Perfectly Fine Stuff list. I also found their tech support and responsiveness excellent. (English was a second language in their emails, but we communicated.) Along with Hotone, I think of Nu-X as a premium Chinese developer.

But in the realm of mini-pedals, I've kept only four: Analogman Beano Boost (not even the same concept as the Chinese minis), Xotic EP Booster (also not a Chinese clone), Mooer Rumble Drive, and the recently-grabbed Wampler mini-Ego (which is so good I immediately sold the Xotic SP comp which had been an article of faith for 10 years). I had a Mooer Trellicopter trem which I would recommend without reservation for excellence in minimalism (but was ultimately redundant in my rigs).

Various other minis, both "original" (Wampler Tumnus) and Chinacloney, have come and gone. In those cases, the final analysis - beyond satisfaction with size and/or "value for the money" - was that they just didn't measure up tonally. They were cardboardy, or wrecked the tone of my guitar (along with whatever effect they added), or harsh and brittle...or muddy and undefined. Or noisy. Just mediocre-minus. Even if they were half the money (or less) of the Otherwise Cheapest Thing That Actually Works...

.... well, at that end of the market, while the mulitpliers might be impressive (DUDE, it was HALF the money!), the absolute dollars involved are not significant by comparison to impact on or contribution to tone. It's not like comparing a 20,000.00 car to a 40,000.00 car. It was a 50.00 pedal vs a 100.00 pedal. Well worth the extra 50 bucks.

ANYWAY. Ramble ramble. Back to something like on-point: few of the Amazon pedals look like direct ports of existing Nu-X products, though some look to be mods or mashups of offerings in Nu-X's various lines. And note that the Amazon line is considerably cheaper than Nu-X Mini Core (which Amazon also sells, along with Nu-X's other lines). While Nu-X might consider it smart to increase their volume by virtue of favorable pricing to Amazon, I doubt they'd do it at a loss. So I conclude the Amazon pedals must be revisions - to some extent original designs, perhaps "de-contented" to hit the price point, but likely not stupidly so.

I've found Nu-X more than competent. They can be original, I trust their design and engineering make fine products - and I suppose we could give Amazon the benefit of the doubt and surmise that genuine guitar/pedal enthusiasts (either already employees or contracted) are probably in charge of the project as product managers.

I guess I would grudgingly expect these pedals not just to be "good for the money," but plainol good enough. The Boost kinda even interests me: boost with EQ is always a good idea (if cleanly implemented with satisfying sonic quality), and getting the two together in such a miniature form could be a real boon to many boards. (But it wouldn't be if the pedal was physically larger. It's a situation where size matters, but backwards.)

The Amazon pedal-party also impelled me to visit Nu-X's site and peruse all their pedal lines. There's some very smart stuff there - with impressive originality (along with obvious clonages or inspired-bys) even in parts of the mini series, but especially in the central Core and Verdugo series. Worth a look.

18

As if Bezos doesn't get enough of my money already.

YMMV

19

"The Mosky may be a direct clone of the EP (and I'm sure Xotic is flattered), but the Amazon Boost, with three knobs on the outside, is not."

Didn't mean to imply it was, just that the Mosky is a dead ringer clone for a much more expensive pedal. As are many of the Mosky/Amoon pedals... so maybe some of the Amazons are too, IDK. Just that, while I have the Xotic EP on my home board, the Mosky XP is on my gig board. :)

20

It's certainly possible that these aren't all Nux-of-another-name. Though I've long suspected that most of the Chinese mini pedals, be they Mosky, Tomsline, Caline (the brand names seem to have a very uncanny-valley quality to me), are made in the same factory(s). And if Nux may be the owner of the factory, or simply another name that gets slapped on, I'm sure when Amazon went shopping for a line of pedals, they were presented with all the designs available from that manufacturer.

21

I've long suspected that most of the Chinese mini pedals, be they Mosky, Tomsline, Caline (the brand names seem to have a very uncanny-valley quality to me), are made in the same factory(s).

I've no doubt about that, and have seen some reasonably convincing documentation to that effect. But I think Nu-X, Hotone, and Mooer are more their own things - if only for identity purposes. That is, those company's factories may be involved building pedals for others - or those brands may have their pedals built by the Pedals-R-Us Extrusion Facility - but the products which emerge under those brand names seem to have unique features, implementation, and identity.

By comparison, the cloneware (clone war?) generics are more likely to be interchangeable paintjob affairs.

We're all very capable of distinguishing between differently branded guitars (even at different market tiers) coming out of the "same factories" - where function and identity devolve from the material and features specified by the companies who commission/order and will market the instruments.

No reason they can't do the same with pedals.

22

For sure. I just doubt Amazon had any say in designing/spec-ing the product, and likely just selected from a list of existing designs. Unlike, as you say, Nux, who do seen to have some design ethos/product-ecosystem in mind for their own pedals.

Nevertheless, I'll stick with the big pedals. They're more fun to work with, and really don't take up much more space, especially considering these minis all need to have their jacks coming out the sides. The only exception I've made is the Fairfield Accountant, which unfortunately doesn't come in a larger size. I'm also not trying to fit a dozen pedals on my board, and I'm pretty satisfied with the variety afforded by the 6-7 bigger pedals I'm able to fit.

23

This is one of those old MXR style knock offs

24

Nevertheless, I'll stick with the big pedals. They're more fun to work with, and really don't take up much more space, especially considering these minis all need to have their jacks coming out the sides. And even if you can place them marginally closer together, you end up with a tabletop board, because feets are likely to fail you in discriminating between closely spaced stompers.

(Not to mention you have to take your eyes off the musical ball to direct your feets's attention to the task at hand. Which is, podiatrically speaker, no small feat. For most players. Petite ballet dancers and native women with wrapped-and-compressed feet excluded.)

Absolutely. Mini "space-saving" is seriously undermined by the side jack positions (especially in comparison with standard pedals which smartly put the jacks in the north end). Likewise, I'll continue to select pedals based primarily on their functionality and tone, size secondary. (Though too-big pedals admittedly give me more pause than too-little pedals. A oversized pedal really has to earn its keep.)

The mini pedals which are most compelling to me are those which wouldn't be any more useful if they were bigger, and in which bigger pedals would just be filled with more air - like simple function switches - and those minis which don't have comparable bigger brothers. I don't know of bigger pedals that directly replace the Mooer Rumble (the best Dumble-izer I've played with) or the Wampler Mini Ego (which I swear is a better sounding, more usable pedal than the regular-size Ego).

25

Nevertheless, I'll stick with the big pedals. They're more fun to work with, and really don't take up much more space, especially considering these minis all need to have their jacks coming out the sides.

Absolutely. Mini "space-saving" is seriously undermined by the side jack positions (especially in comparison with standard pedals which smartly put the jacks in the north end). And even if you can place them marginally closer together, you end up with a tabletop board, because feets are likely to fail you in discriminating between closely spaced stompers.

Not to mention you have to take your eyes off the musical ball to direct your feets's attention to the task at hand. Which is, podiatrically speaking, no small feat. For most players. Petite ballet dancers and native women with wrapped-and-compressed feet excluded.)

Likewise, I'll continue to select pedals based primarily on their functionality and tone, size secondary. (Though too-big pedals admittedly give me more pause than too-little pedals. A oversized pedal really has to earn its keep.)

The mini pedals which are most compelling to me are those which wouldn't be any more useful if they were bigger, and in which bigger pedals would just be filled with more air - like simple function switches - and those minis which don't have comparable bigger brothers. I don't know of bigger pedals that directly replace the Mooer Rumble (the best Dumble-izer I've played with) or the Wampler Mini Ego (which I swear is a better sounding, more usable pedal than the regular-size Ego).


Register Sign in to join the conversation