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If you have any enthusiasm for the art and craft behind stompbox building, you have to love the story of Jeorge Tripps. Tripps, of course, is the man behind the original Way Huge, a short-lived stompbox company that’s arguably one of the real vanguards of the effects-pedal renaissance in which we now live. From 1992 to 1999, Tripps designed and built more than a few classics. His Swollen Pickle, Red Llama, Green Rhino, and Aqua-Puss could be found in the rigs of everyone from bedroom tone snobs to touring pros. And when Tripps closed the doors on his original operation, the rush on his wares on eBay and elsewhere bordered on maniacal.
Needless to say, Way Huge Mk I is not the beginning and end of this story. Thanks to Dunlop, an outfit that has obviously long harbored a rather substantial appetite for stompbox adventure, Jeorge Tripps has again been tinkering in his mad-scientist’s laboratory and bringing his forward-thinking visions to life since 2008. One of the latest offspring from Tripp’s expansive imagination is the Supa-Puss, a formidable bucket brigade analog delay with what seems like almost infinite sound-coloring potential.
Aqua-Puss Through a Wormhole
Players familiar with either the original Way Huge line or the current Dunlop-made reissues already know the Aqua-Puss, a straight-ahead and dead-simple—but highly effective and rich—analog delay that a lot of guitarists have cherished for years. As the name implies, in many ways the Supa-Puss is an evolution of the Aqua-Puss—and certainly the same lush repeats that made the Aqua-Puss such a prize are present here. But where the Aqua-Puss was about as streamlined as delays come, the Supa-Puss is more akin to Willie Wonka’s factory in analog-delay form—fun, full of surprises, and at times even a little scary.
For the most part, any Aqua-Puss user would be at ease with the Supa-Puss’ most essential controls—a delay time knob that ranges up to 900 ms, a feedback control, and a mix knob. And as you get to know the Supa-Puss, it’s best that you acquaint yourself with the way these familiar controls interact and shape your sound. Indeed, that process is almost essential, because the extent to which the wealth of other controls can tweak, massage, twist, damage, and otherwise pervert your basic delay tone is impressive, to say the least.
At the heart of this secondary control set is a 4-subdivision tempo control that’s accessed by pressing the feedback knob. Pushing the knob, which yields with a dull but satisfying click, enables you to scroll through quarter-note, dotted-eighth, eighth-note-triplet, and 16th-note subdivisions. And though it takes the right footwear (combat-boot wearers need not apply), the switch has just enough resistance and is spaced far enough from the other controls that you can actuate it with your foot. Pressing and holding the feedback control unlocks the gate to far weirder realms—a chase mode that runs through the subdivisions in various orders (ascending, descending, random, alternating, and combination) that can be selected by pressing the feedback knob. And like any box-of-a-billion-tricks delay worth its salt, there’s a tap-tempo function so you can dial in exactly the speed you want when things get nutty.
In general, the other four controls impart tape-delay-style textures and control. The two mini knobs on the far left are called depth and speed. As the names suggest, they control the intensity and rate of delay modulation—effectively replicating the wow and flutter of an aging Echoplex. The two mini knobs on the right control gain and tone. Gain boosts the delayed signal and adds a gritty overdrive when you crank it. More timid settings yield a more crystalline but still distinctly analog tone. The tone knob also seems Echoplex inspired, with the capacity to lend a cloudy and mysterious haze of magnetic-tape entropy when set full counterclockwise or add clarity, definition, and presence to your delay signal when set all the way to the right. Adding an expression pedal enables you to control the delay time and create radical pitch-shifting effects.
In the simplest application of the Supa-Puss’ capabilities, the output from the Tripps-engineered circuit is warm and deep. From lush, Gilmour-style echoes to more percussive Edge-style delays, the tones are round and robust enough that you can be fairly conservative with the mix control and more aggressive with the feedback and delay rate controls to create a beautifully atmospheric base delay. At these settings, the quarter-note subdivision works well for spacious leads and slide. The eight-note and eighth-note-triplet settings, however, lend a percussive quality and a sort of morning-sunlight-refracting-through-dewdrops shimmer to arpeggios. It’s a spacious range of sounds that work great for intros and rhythm parts in particular.
Any guitarist with experimental tendencies, who fills the role of texturalist in a band, or who tinkers endlessly in the studio will love the tailoring and tweaking potential of the deeper functions. The wide-ranging depth and speed modulation controls can be used to apply just a touch of tape-style warble and vintage-studio ambience that lends old-school authenticity to slapback delays or a submarine quaver to longer ones. Aggressive depth and speed settings can make longer delays sound positively queasy. Max the mix, though, and you can inhabit otherworldly lo-fi zones and approximate the tones of fractured intergalactic radio transmissions—a texture that becomes especially musical and well suited to a band situation when you crank the tone knob for a little additional presence.
If you need to get freakier still, the chase function is a little like having one of James Bond’s secret weapons from Q Branch in your back pocket. While just about all the settings will unleash a measure of sonic dementia, the random mode is particularly bonkers. That said, when you mix it a little lower than your dry signal it can contribute a delicious heap of mayhem to a simple chord vamp or a droning, one-chord climax.
You’d have to look far and wide to find an analog delay that can deliver more sound-shaping potential from a compact package than the Way Huge Supa-Puss. In the most basic applications, it delivers warm, rich, clear echoes that can hang with the most classic analog units. But the wealth of modulation and tone-shaping tools and extensive tempo-regulation controls make the Supa-Puss capable of keeping up with some of the more impressive, cutting-edge digital units. And perhaps the only drawback to all that versatility is that, as an analog unit, there are no presets for managing all of your tone-crafting options.
At almost 250 bucks, it’s hardly inexpensive. But the price is competitive with a lot of comparable analog units that deliver of fraction of the Supa-Puss’ power. And if you’re a guitarist who wears a lot of hats—ambient texturalist one night, roots rocker the next—the Supa-Puss may just be the one pedal that stays in your rig for every occasion.
Watch our video demo: