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more... GearReviewsPickups & AccessoriesOctober 2013Decibel ElevenEC Custom ShopMusicomOne Control

Pedal Switcher Shootout

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Decibel Eleven’s Pedal Palette
Don’t let its modest size and price fool you: Decibel Eleven’s Pedal Palette boasts key features available from no other pedal switcher on the market.

The Pedal Palette may support only four loops, yet it offers great flexibility for combining, arranging, and mixing effects. It comes in a compact but rugged red aluminum chassis. There’s a single input, a single output, and send/return jacks for each loop. There’s also a tuner output plus MIDI ins and outs.

Most pedal switchers have both buffered and non-buffered inputs. Buffers compensate for signal loss along longer cable runs, but they can compromise the tone of some vintage pedals, especially Fuzz Faces. The Pedal Palette lets you run loop 1 buffered or non-buffered—perfect for those vintage-style fuzzes. Meanwhile, loops 2 through 4 are always buffered.

A Palette Apart

The Pedal Palette is the only unit in this shootout that lets you change the order of effects in your signal chain. A set of top-row footswitches lets you invert the order of loops 1 and 2, and of loops 3 and 4. Additionally, you can swap the order or the two loop pairs. (You might, for example, change the effect order from 1-2-3-4 to 3-4-2-1 swapping loop 1 with loop 2, and then swapping loop 1+2 with loop 3+4.) One possible issue: these same switches are used for bank switching and loop bypass, and you must change modes to access the multiple functions.

Ratings

Pros:
Effect order swapping. Parallel mix bus. Tails feature preserves delays. MIDI compatible.

Cons:
Only four loops. Single input and output.

Tones:

Playability/Ease of Use:

Build/Design:

Value:

Street:
$400

Decibel Eleven
decibel11.com

Another feature that sets the Pedal Palette apart is its parallel mix bus. Normally, signal flows from the first loop to the last loop on its way to the output. If you have a pedal with no wet/dry mix controls—an MXR Phase 90, say—you have no choice but to apply the effect to your entire signal. Here, though, you can assign any of the four loops to the parallel mix bus, and then add as little or as much of their output to the main signal as you desire. It’s a great way to get unique and creative tones. For example, I have an abrasive ring modulator I use for synth work, but because it has no mix control I usually can’t apply it to guitar without sounding like Dr. Who’s Dalek robots. Using the parallel mix bus, I could apply just a touch of the effect. You might also use the parallel bus to mix compressed and uncompressed signals. And should you encounter unexpected phase cancellation, just flick the phase inversion switches attached to each loop.

Yet another cool feature: the option of letting delay and reverb tails decay naturally, even after you switch effects. Say you’re wrapping up a David Gilmour-esque solo using long, strong delays, and you want to transition from end of the solo back to a drier sound. Once you assign the tails function to the loop hosting your delay effect, the loop’s output gets dumped to the mix bus. That way, you can switch to the dry sound while the delays trail away.

The Verdict
Of all the switchers in this shootout, the Pedal Palette boasts the most ambitious features. These solve typical pedalboard problems while opening the door to exciting sonic possibilities. Some features, like the tails settings, require delving into program menus, but Decibel Eleven has done a fine job keeping things simple while driving innovation.

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