No, this isn’t an early April Fool’s post.
Only a moron would dispute that we’re living in the coolest age possible when it comes to guitar gear. Digital has brought a universe of previously out-of-reach tones to us at pretty damn reasonable prices, and the Dark Arts of delicious stompbox malevolence are alive and well at a lot of companies, not the least of which are singularly innovative outfits like Gamechanger Audio, Chase Bliss, EarthQuaker Devices, and Loe Sounds.
One certainly could have made the case in the past that David Rainger of London’s Rainger FX deserved to be mentioned in the same breath as these—what with stompboxes like the Dr. Freakenstein Chop Fuzz, the Drone Rainger Digital Delay, and his ingenious little pressurized parameter manipulator, Igor. But whatever doubt there may have been is now cast aside with the announcement of his latest demented wonder: the Minibar.
The pedal’s concept is so out-there you’re likely to A) consult a calendar to see if you got sucked forward in a time vortex all the way to the first of April, and B) wonder why the hell Rainger didn’t call it the Mad Scientist Minibar. (The answer to the latter is probably that that clichéd moniker has already been done to death, but ’tis a shame, because David is clearly a fan of horror-flick imagery.) Anyway, get this: According to raingerfx.com, Minibar is a “liquid analyzer … that uses the properties of a liquid to decide the sound of your guitar.” As you can see from the pic, all it’s got is a volume control and a little, watertight receptacle into which you pour a liquid of your choice. Interestingly, the pedal yields no effect sans liquid, and “the various qualities” of whatever you pour forth—I’m assuming viscosity is key—determine both the amount and characteristics of the pedal’s resulting distortion, as well as its EQ curve. Is that effing crazy-cool or what?
The second I got wind of Minibar, I messaged PG gear editor Charles Saufley. “Did you see this craziness from Rainger FX? Totally think we ought to get that thing in for a review.” Charlie immediately replied, “I did! I forgot to ask if you’d seen it.” A few more seconds passed, then he added, “In a weird way, it’s not worlds different from an oil-can delay—a liquid medium facilitating a certain electro-mechanical process.” My retort: “Except that you can put Cheez Whiz or whiskey or blood in it!”
To be clear, neither Charlie nor I have heard or messed with this pedal yet, so the jury is obviously out on how truly crazy it sounds. But we can’t wait to take it for a whirl … or a puree. One could (and probably will) lie awake at night contemplating the possibilities. PG managing editor Tessa Jeffers suggested pickle juice, Old Spice, earwax (ew, TJ!), Hi-C’s now-discontinued Ghostbusters-themed Ecto Cooler juice beverage, kombucha, Pabst Blue Ribbon Hard Coffee ... mercury. (Disclaimer: Neither Premier Guitar nor its affiliates condone the handling of toxic substances such as mercury and PBR.) I will say this: If you buy one on the used market, you might wanna give it a thorough cleaning when it arrives.