Premier Guitar

Lovepedal Echo Baby, Babyface Tremolo, Pickle Vibe, and Amp 50 Pedal Reviews

August 17, 2010
Chances are good that, like many guitarists, you suffer from Gear Acquisition Syndrome and lust after every cool new stompbox that hits the market or appears on the forums. A side effect of this disease is a pedalboard that looks like an overflowing bowl of M&Ms, with brightly colored effects spilling out over the edges and onto the floor. If this describes your plight (it certainly does mine), you’ll welcome the new line of ultra-compact effects designed by Lovepedal’s Sean Michael.



Each stompbox comes in a rugged, diecast aluminum case that measures 1 1/2" x 3 5/8" x 1 1/4". Yeah, you read it right— that’s roughly half the size of an MXR Dyna Comp. Of course, this leaves room for only one knob per pedal—along with audio input and output, a 9-volt DC input, one or two LEDs, and the odd mini toggle. Michael has come up with a variety of approaches to the control issue, while continuing to focus on the stellar sound that has helped establish his reputation in the stompbox community.

We checked out four flavors of these little morsels, so read on as we throw down the lowdown. I tested these pedals with a 1965 Stratocaster loaded with DiMarzio Virtual Vintage pickups and a Reverend Reeves Gabrels model played through an Orange Tiny Terror and an Egnater Rebel 30.

Echo Baby

Download Example 1
The bright blue Echo Baby offers up 760ms of delay. Delay effects usually come with a host of controls, including blend, time, feedback, modulation depth and speed, and tap tempo, so how do you make a delay pedal with only one knob? Lovepedal has assigned that knob to control the length of the delay time, adding two trim pots accessible with a small screwdriver through holes on the bottom of the pedal for adjusting the feedback and dry/wet blend.

In addition to delay, the Echo Baby offers modulation. To set the amount of modulation, you hold down the footswitch switch for two seconds and then twist the pedal’s chicken-head knob. Once you’ve set the modulation amount, the pedal automatically adjusts the modulation speed and depth according to the chosen “time” setting—that is, as you decrease the delay time, the modulation speed and depth increase slightly.

Unless I wanted a sick warble at longer delay times, I found a relatively low modulation amount suited my tastes. At this minimal setting, the pitch waver adds a simulated analog-tape flutter to the echoes in both long and short delay settings. If you don’t want modulation, you can shut it off by holding the footswitch for two seconds and turning the knob all the way down.

The Final Mojo
I didn’t plan on getting out my little screwdriver in the middle of a gig to change the delay amount or feedback, so I set the unit for just a couple of repeats occurring well below the original signal. With the delay set on the short side, the Echo Baby created a reverb simulation that added warm depth to my Strat through the reverb-less Tiny Terror. Longer delay settings added a subtle sustaining tail to the notes. For me, this setting offers the maximum bang for the buck. It also allows you to dedicate another more-programmable or fully controllable delay to ambient or heavier slapback effects. However you choose to set up and use the Echo Baby, it will deliver gorgeous sounding, studio-quality delay.
Buy if...
you want a small-footprint delay that offers great analog-style sound.
Skip if...
you need full control at your fingertips.
Rating...


Street $219 - Lovepedal Custom Effects - lovepedal.com


Babyface Tremolo

Download Example 1
Tremolo replaced chorus as my modulator of choice quite a while ago—sorry, maybe it’s my roots-music upbringing or the fact that something about chorus screams “last millennium” to me. The lone knob on this tremolo pedal controls the rate—from extremely slow to near-ring-modulation ping. A mini toggle lets you choose between the opto sound (sine wave) of a blackface amplifier, a sawtooth wave that recalls the tremolo of an Ampeg amp, and a full square wave, which is suitable for stutter and chopper effects.

To access the Babyface’s depth and volume trim pots, you need to remove four screws and the back panel. Though Michael says he is considering drilling a hole to allow quicker depth adjustment, ultimately you’ll probably find yourself sticking to one setting. I chose to set the depth for a subtle tremolo level and pretty much stayed with the sine and sawtooth waves, as the square wave cried out for increased depth settings. However, I could easily see myself cranking the depth and turning the Babyface into a dedicated chopper pedal. Whether you go for subtle, amp-like trem or more extreme sounds, once the pedal is attached to your board, you’re not likely to be adjusting the depth very often. It might make sense to add a second mini-toggle that offered three depth options.

The Final Mojo
Depth adjustments aside, at all settings the Babyface sounded warm, analog, and chock full of low end. The internal level trim ensured that I didn’t suffer from the psycho-acoustic volume drop that happens with some tremolos. If you need just one trem-type modulation, be it vintage opto or modern chop, this could be your pedal.
Buy if...
You’re looking for that one greatsounding volume-modulation effect.
Skip if...
you need a number of different trem tones quickly.
Rating...


Street $139 - Lovepedal Custom Effects - lovepedal.com




Pickle Vibe

Download Example 1
The Uni-Vibe is a classic effect, but unless you perform in a Robin Trower tribute band, you’re not likely to use this watery sound more than a couple of times a night. So why sacrifice a lot of pedalboard real estate to get it? Slotting neatly between two existing pedals on my board, the Pickle Vibe produced huge, inspiring vibe tones.

As with the Babyface Tremolo, the pedal’s single knob controls the rate. A blue LED flashes the tempo of the vibe, while a red one indicates the effect on/off status. There’s a sensitivity trim pot inside, but don’t bother unscrewing the back. I tried other settings and none sounded as good as the factory one.

The Final Mojo
As with most Uni-Vibe emulations, the Pickle Vibe responded best between the guitar and some sort of grit, whether an overdrive pedal, the slightly broken up Orange, or the lead channel on the Egnater. According to Lovepedal, rather than using an exact copy of the Uni-Vibe circuit, the Pickle Vibe generates those classic tones with a unique circuit. Clone or not, from slow psychedelia to fast Leslie blues, this pedal sounded so good it could increase the number of times I go for the vibe on any given night.
Buy if...
you want great-sounding vibrato effects in a tiny box—and at a great price.
Skip if...
you perform in a Robin Trower tribute band.
Rating...


Street $139 - Lovepedal Custom Effects - lovepedal.com


Amp 50

Download Example 1
Sean Michael made his bones largely on his “Church of Tone” pedal, the COT 50 Boost/ Overdrive. Lots of players agreed that it nailed certain classic-rock sounds associated with guitar icons like Jimi Hendrix and Billy Gibbons. For the mini version, Michael has modified his original design to afford cleaner tones at the bottom of the gain/bias sweep and dirtier tones at the top.

The Amp 50’s single knob adjusts the bias of the circuit, which causes some noise as you turn it. I found that, by putting a volume pedal or a muting tuner after this pedal, I could mute the noise—a good thing, as I could see using a number of different settings throughout a set.

With the gain/bias down all the way, the Amp 50 added a buffer-like sparkle to the clean sound of both the Tiny Terror and Rebel 30. Between there and 12 o’clock, a small amount of grit entered the equation— more so when using the hot-humbucker equipped Reverend than with my Strat. From noon to 3 o’clock, the Amp 50 became more overdrive-like, adding sustain to solos and crunch to rhythm chords. From 3 o’clock to full on, a fuzz effect started creeping in. Turned fully clockwise, the control produced a sound like an amp on the verge of destruction (in the best sense).

The Amp 50 is all about response. In its cleaner modes, it added a dynamic “give” to what would otherwise be an unforgiving clean amp tone. Backing off the guitar volume at almost any setting cleaned up the sound quickly. The pedal added a whole array of British sounds to the Egnater’s American-toned clean channel, while interacting much like a classic treble booster with the British-voiced Orange.

The Amp 50 also played nicely with other overdrive pedals. It was no surprise that it worked well in front of a Lovepedal Kalamazoo, but it also matched up delightfully with a Maxon OD-9, not only adding sustain but injecting a new British character to the tone. In either combination, the Amp 50 effectively turned my single-channel Tiny Terror into a three-channel amp.

The Final Mojo
Given all the ways the Amp 50 can enhance your sound without adding significantly to your gear load—or subtracting much from your pocketbook—it’s hard to imagine not picking up one of these mini-monsters.
Buy if...
you want to give your sound a character- laden kick in the butt.
Skip if...
you have all the tones you need.
Rating...


Street $129 - Lovepedal Custom Effects - lovepedal.com




Pickle Vibe

Download Example 1
The Uni-Vibe is a classic effect, but unless you perform in a Robin Trower tribute band, you’re not likely to use this watery sound more than a couple of times a night. So why sacrifice a lot of pedalboard real estate to get it? Slotting neatly between two existing pedals on my board, the Pickle Vibe produced huge, inspiring vibe tones.

As with the Babyface Tremolo, the pedal’s single knob controls the rate. A blue LED flashes the tempo of the vibe, while a red one indicates the effect on/off status. There’s a sensitivity trim pot inside, but don’t bother unscrewing the back. I tried other settings and none sounded as good as the factory one.

The Final Mojo
As with most Uni-Vibe emulations, the Pickle Vibe responded best between the guitar and some sort of grit, whether an overdrive pedal, the slightly broken up Orange, or the lead channel on the Egnater. According to Lovepedal, rather than using an exact copy of the Uni-Vibe circuit, the Pickle Vibe generates those classic tones with a unique circuit. Clone or not, from slow psychedelia to fast Leslie blues, this pedal sounded so good it could increase the number of times I go for the vibe on any given night.
Buy if...
you want great-sounding vibrato effects in a tiny box—and at a great price.
Skip if...
you perform in a Robin Trower tribute band.
Rating...


Street $139 - Lovepedal Custom Effects - lovepedal.com


Amp 50

Download Example 1
Sean Michael made his bones largely on his “Church of Tone” pedal, the COT 50 Boost/ Overdrive. Lots of players agreed that it nailed certain classic-rock sounds associated with guitar icons like Jimi Hendrix and Billy Gibbons. For the mini version, Michael has modified his original design to afford cleaner tones at the bottom of the gain/bias sweep and dirtier tones at the top.

The Amp 50’s single knob adjusts the bias of the circuit, which causes some noise as you turn it. I found that, by putting a volume pedal or a muting tuner after this pedal, I could mute the noise—a good thing, as I could see using a number of different settings throughout a set.

With the gain/bias down all the way, the Amp 50 added a buffer-like sparkle to the clean sound of both the Tiny Terror and Rebel 30. Between there and 12 o’clock, a small amount of grit entered the equation— more so when using the hot-humbucker equipped Reverend than with my Strat. From noon to 3 o’clock, the Amp 50 became more overdrive-like, adding sustain to solos and crunch to rhythm chords. From 3 o’clock to full on, a fuzz effect started creeping in. Turned fully clockwise, the control produced a sound like an amp on the verge of destruction (in the best sense).

The Amp 50 is all about response. In its cleaner modes, it added a dynamic “give” to what would otherwise be an unforgiving clean amp tone. Backing off the guitar volume at almost any setting cleaned up the sound quickly. The pedal added a whole array of British sounds to the Egnater’s American-toned clean channel, while interacting much like a classic treble booster with the British-voiced Orange.

The Amp 50 also played nicely with other overdrive pedals. It was no surprise that it worked well in front of a Lovepedal Kalamazoo, but it also matched up delightfully with a Maxon OD-9, not only adding sustain but injecting a new British character to the tone. In either combination, the Amp 50 effectively turned my single-channel Tiny Terror into a three-channel amp.

The Final Mojo
Given all the ways the Amp 50 can enhance your sound without adding significantly to your gear load—or subtracting much from your pocketbook—it’s hard to imagine not picking up one of these mini-monsters.
Buy if...
you want to give your sound a character- laden kick in the butt.
Skip if...
you have all the tones you need.
Rating...


Street $129 - Lovepedal Custom Effects - lovepedal.com