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Stomping Grounds: 25 Pedals Reviewed

Stomping Grounds: 25 Pedals Reviewed

MODULATION

Fuchs Plush Good Verbrations

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One thing I’ve learned from playing live is that you probably shouldn’t rely on soundmen to enhance your guitar tone. Most of the time, you’ll be lucky if they boost up your solos when they’re supposed to! Like most things, if you want something done right (and to sound right) you need to do it yourself, and that includes using sound-enhancing effects such as delay, chorus and reverb.

Good Verbrations, from Fuchs’ Plush line of pedals, is a nice addition to your effects collection. It features the same reverb circuit as Fuchs’ Verbrator pedal, but with a slightly different algorithm. Unlike a lot of other reverb pedals, Good Verbrations allows you to adjust both the level and the decay of the reverb signal. You can have a short tight decay, or a longer lush decay, which is a welcome addition for any guitarist who would like a little more control over their reverb. The pedal is simple: one reverb and two parameters, mix and decay. The reverb circuit is an audiophile grade 16kHz bandwidth digital circuit.

The reverb in Good Verbrations has characteristics between a spring and hall reverb, and being able to control the decay allows you to be more expressive and musical in your playing. You’re not just stuck with a standard reverb sound found on other pedals or amps. With a clean sound, I turned up the decay and found it was great for slow, melodic and mysterious sounding phrases, while a little gain gave it a bit more smoothness and depth, especially for the leads. It also sounded great in the effects loop in my amp. Overall, Good Verbrations has a nice sounding reverb with simple, yet very useful controls. If you liked the reverb in Fuchs’ Plus Verbrator, you’ll like having a dedicated pedal of that same reverb. – GG
Buy if...
you’d like to control the decay of your reverb
Skip if...
you prefer more detailed control of reverb with more parameters
Rating...
5.0 

Street $249 - Fuchs Audio Technology - fuchsaudiotechnology.com


Whirlwind Orange Box Phaser

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Single Notes
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Original MXR Direct Comparison - Speed (Whirlwind, then MXR)
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Original MXR Direct Comparison - Sweep (Whirlwind, then MXR)
Whirlwind has long produced great musical products, and the company’s three newest pedals—each of them featured in our pedal roundup—are no different. All of them were designed by Michael Laiacona, who just happens to be the original designer of the MXR Phase 90, The Distortion Plus and the Dyna Comp pedals. Of course, each of the latter pedals has found their way onto countless recordings spanning many genres, becoming highly collectable units in the process.

The new Orange Box Phaser is one of the new ones, and is fitted with a 9V power jack and an LED On/Off indicator, and bears a resemblance to the original MXR pedal in size, metal box construction and knobs. The single knob on the Whirlwind unit shows the same “waveform” design as on the old phase 100 model, and lets loose a deep, wide sweep that is almost reminiscent of a Uni-Vibe. I got some very cool Robin Trower-type tones with a Strat, and compared to similar phasers of this type, it was clean and had a relatively low noise floor. Also, having more depth makes it great when using it before a distortion pedal, allowing it to cut through with more authority. It was, of course, great for the famous Eddie Van Halen tone associated with the original MXR phaser.

The comparison to the original also showed that the range of the speed controls was a bit different. The original went both slower and faster, where the Whirlwind opened the envelope a bit more by achieving a higher frequency at the top of the sweep. I think Whirlwind set out to capture the original vibe of the old pedal, but with a few upgrades. This one does just that.

The new Whirlwind Orange Box Phaser certainly provides a new alternative to the phase units presently on the market, and is both solidly built and offers a lower noise floor. I got the feeling that I was playing through a pro piece of gear rather than something that would break or fail. It’s not exactly dead-on to the original version, but it does have some upgrades I think are valid in today’s market. We’ve learned a lot since the ’70s … amps, guitars and pickups have changed and so have the requirements for good pedals. – KR

Buy if...
you’re looking for a great phaser with lots of presence that won’t get buried in your distortion
Skip if...
you’re looking for a totally vintage unit and your mind is made up
Rating...
4.0

Street $129 - Whirlwind - whirlwindusa.com


Maxon VJR9 Vintage Jet Riser Flanger

One of my all-time favorite pedals is an old, beat up Ibanez FL-9 Flanger. I still use it, and it’s definitely seen the rigors of the road. I’ve kept it for so long because it has a much understated effect on guitar tone. It never gets overbearing or cheesy-sounding, and it provides a nice, subtle flange that gives the tone extra depth and dimension, making it perfect for clean rhythm work. Maxon, the company that Ibanez originally commissioned to design the effect, has recently released a hoppedup successor to its famous yellow ancestor, dubbed the Vintage Jet Riser Flanger.

With a 2009 G&L ASAT Classic plugged into a Fender Deluxe Reverb reissue, my favorite flange tone was preserved in the Jet Riser, and with clearer presence than before. With the FL-9 set to moderate settings, it almost seemed at times that the flange wasn’t even on … just something in the mix that was causing the guitar to exhibit slight traits of modulation. The Jet Riser can demonstrate the same effect, but there’s a more apparent flange affecting the tone. You can hear it moving its way through the frequency spectrum in the background. The Jet knob, which controls the intensity of the effect, works hand in hand with the Width control, and was capable of reproducing some great classic flanging effects from the grunge era, à la the Smashing Pumpkins classic, “Love.” For the players who like to push their effects into newer, stranger sonic territories, the Jet Riser features a Sensitivity control. I recorded myself playing chunky fifths into my Boss RC-2 and ran the loop into the Jet Riser, playing with the Sensitivity control as the playback commenced. As the knob goes up, the effect starts to exhibit a strange “wash out” effect, as if the flanger circuit is distorting. It’s a really neat sound, but one that should be used in moderation, as the highest settings can result in a garbled mess of white noise. From subtle to downright strange, the Maxon Vintage Jet Riser should satisfy any player’s flange cravings. – JW
Buy if...
your quest is for one of the most versatile, compact flangers out there.
Skip if...
you’re in need of a simpler flange effect.
Rating...
4.5

Street $412 - Maxon - maxonfx.com


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