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Tone Games 2010: 30 Stompboxes Reviewed

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Tone Games 2010: 30 Stompboxes Reviewed


It’s a beautiful time to be a pedal nerd. Between the stompbox builders out to unearth and resurrect the most obscure vintage circuits and mad scientists bent on exploring the outer limits of guitar–driven sound, we’ve never had more options for warping, warming, phasing, fuzzing-up, and freaking out what we play.

It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to replicate Pete Townshend’s tone at 3:58 on the Live at Leeds version of “Heaven and Hell,” capture the never-before-heard sound of piercing the Horsehead Nebula at the speed of light, or just put some bite in your blues bends, there’s probably a pedal builder that can get you there. And it’s our good fortune to profile 30 of their most inspired creations in these pages.

A full spectrum of manufacturers is here too. Familiar names like Electro-Harmonix, Boss, and MXR are represented with new innovations and reissues of classics. Creepy Fingers, Stomp Under Foot, and Analog Man give us faithful interpretations of rare, pricey, and impossible-to-find vintage units, while builders like Snazzy and Strymon are setting new standards for how much sonic mayhem you can unleash with a single pedal.

Indeed, at this arcade of tone-shaping marvels, new and exciting possibilities are raining down like tetrominoes in Level 12 of Tetris. Though this stompbox deluge can seem overwhelming at times, it means there’s something to satisfy every player regardless of skill or experience—and that’s great. We dare you to go away without dropping a token in the slot.

LEVEL 1: DIRT
Boss ST-2 Power Stack
Earthquaker Devices Chrysalis
Emma Electronic RF-2 ReezaFRATzitz Overdrive/Distortion
Hao OD-16 Omega Drive Sixteen
Maxon ST-9 Pro+ Super Tube
Resonant Electronic Design/Field Effects Manifold Drive
Vox Amplification Ice 9 Overdrive
WMD Acoustic Trauma

LEVEL 2: DIRTIER
Analog Man Astro Tone
Creepy Fingers Effects Doomidrive
Creepy Fingers Effects Pink Elephant
Jack Deville Buzzmaster
Stomp Under Foot Ram's Head
T-Rex Mudhoney II

LEVEL 3: MODULATION
Build Your Own Clone Analog Chorus
Jam Pedals Waterfall
MXR '75 Vintage Phase 45
Radial Engineering Bones Vienna Chorus
Tortuga Effects Martini Dual Analog Chorus and Vibrato

LEVEL 4: TIME-BASED
Lightfoot Labs Goatkeeper GK3
Malekko Heavy Industry Ekko 616
Strymon El Capistan dTape Echo
Visual Sound GarageTone Axle Grease Delay

LEVEL 5: OUTER LIMITS
Boss PS-6 Harmonist
Electro-Harmonix Freeze Sound Retainer
Real McCoy Custom RMC8-Guitar Eqwahlyzer
Rocktron Black Rose Octaver
Snazzy FX The Mini-Ark

BONUS ROUND: PEDALBOARD EXTRAS
Cusack Effects Pedal Board Tamer
Sanyo KBC-9V3U Pedal Juice
T-Rex Fuel Tank Chameleon


Get started with DIRT: Boss ST-2 Power Stack
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