… the endless streams of ‘em. Can’t get enough it seems, always in search of new and cool effects, and there never seems to be a shortage of new innovations, as well as improvements on sounds we’re already familiar with. Many that I come across aren’t always new to the market, but rather ones I’ve just come around to discovering and spending time with. Here are four current notable pedals in my collection or on my pedalboard well worth sharing.
Electro-Harmonix #1 Echo
A simple, all-around and great-sounding 3-knob delay that tucks firmly in your tone. But it’s even more of a pleasant surprise to find that that’s not all it has going for it. Turn the feedback all the way up, and it creates an infinite repeat that does not regenerate and amplify into an exploding racket. It’s a great effect to have, but the Deluxe Memory Man already does that trick splendidly. Instead, the #1 Echo allows you to keep stacking riffs on top of each other, “sound on sound” style that will stack and repeat indefinitely. If you want, screw with the repeats by giving a quick twist to the speed knob, and it’ll repeat that action as well. But again, the key thing is that it sounds good—a digital delay with analog warmth. It has become a mainstay on my pedalboard.
This compressor has been out for a while, but I’ve just discovered it in recent months and have been using it quite a bit. It seems you can never have enough compressors, and this one has inked out a spot of it’s own. If you’re looking for the super jangly tone à la the Byrds’ Roger McGuinn’s Rickenbacker 12-string, this stompbox will be all you need (along with a 12-string Rick, of course). Also think “Ticket to Ride.” It compresses hard with plenty of gain and perfect amount of pick attack, and has a three-way tone switch that I leave on Bright the majority of the time. It sounds like your bestrecorded, super-compressed guitar, without any weird, cruddy compression artifacts. I’ve noticed they’ve come out with the JB2, with additional controls for tone, gain and attack. Added extra fun.
Pigtronix Attack Sustain
Pigtronix is no doubt one of the most cutting-edge effects pedal companies out there, and this box will have you dialing up amazing sounds for hours—from smooth, long compression to aggressive lead anger. Completely analog, and designed by yesteryear Electro-Harmonix legend Howard Davis, the control is very reminiscent of ADSR synth attack/decay setting. You can slow down the attack to create a reverse effect, ramping attacks with a sharp or slow drop off on decay. Also, the Decay control will create unique tremolo effects. There is a Harmonix control that dials in the overtones and distortion. Sit this control on top of an already powerful amp distortion, and you can create a galactic space battle from the year 3000.
Red Witch Pentavocal Tremolo
One of New Zealand’s greatest treasures and exports comes from Ben Fulton, who offers an extraordinary line of pedal designs. I’ve been hearing about Ben’s pedals for years, in particular his Deluxe Moon Phaser (which I’ve still yet to hear but understand to be the bomb.) Eventually, I met and spent time with Ben while touring New Zealand in 2008 and bought one of his Pentavocal Trem pedals, which has proven to be quite versatile, practical and excellent sounding. The key standout feature of his tremolo is the 5-way Rotary Selector—from subtle trem shapes to deep, pulsating tremolo. The Bottom control allows it to range from a full trem to merely pulsating the lower frequencies and keeping the top end of your signal clear and unaffected. Also, there’s a Volume control to recover any level lost with the trem affect. This one is very useful and another mainstay on my pedalboard.
Peter is co-founder of 65amps.