Tortuga Effects founder Matt Johnson clearly likes his cocktails in the evening. No, there’s nothing sloppy or woozy about his hip line of timedomain and distortion/fuzz pedals. On the contrary, they’re thoughtfully designed, with smart, common-sense controls and clear, warm sonics. But with names like the Mai Tai Dual Classic Phaser, the Single Malt Dual Vintage Delay, and the Martini Dual Analog Chorus, it’s easy to see that Johnson enjoys making pedals as much as some folks enjoy a night on the town. But there’s a sonic precision and warmth to these all-analog effects that is anything but tipsy—though you may well get a buzz while drinking one in.
Pour Me Another
The latest addition to Tortuga’s cocktail list is the Manhattan Dual Analog Flanger. Housed in a rugged, powder-coated aluminum enclosure, the Manhattan is relatively light but feels solid and roadworthy. It has two independent channels governed by controls labeled “single” and “double,” so you always have two modulation options on tap. In fact, the Manhattan does chorusing just as well as it does combfilter- style flanging, so you can switch from chorusing to a jet swoosh without another piece of hardware in the mix—pretty nice for such a compact pedal! Switching between channels is as simple as stepping on the footswitch labeled “How Strong?” The order footswitch turns the effect on and off, with true-bypass switching.
Taking the Town
Maybe it’s because of its newold- stock bucket-brigade delay chip or the tastefully voiced range of the two rate knobs (single and double), as well as the depth and feedback controls (mix and bourbon), but the Manhattan just plain sounds good. With the mix control and single and double knobs around 3 to 6 o’clock, and bourbon set at minimum, it generates creamy chorus effects reminiscent of the classic Boss Chorus Ensemble, with rich low-mid seasoning and diffuse filter effects that lend pleasant graininess without a hint of ’80s cheesiness. Bump the rates up even further (again, using single and double) and goose the mix, and you’re in underwater territory—the kinds of fast, Leslie-speaker tones that are perfect for ’80s chime licks or psychedelic “Black Hole Sun” moments.
With bourbon past noon, mix at or past noon, and rate controls anywhere from 9 to 6 o’clock, you’re in the proper flange zone. Here you’ll find milky, swooshing sounds ideal for arpeggiated clean chords— imagine Eddie Van Halen’s intro to “Hear About It Later” and you’re on the right track. I especially liked the glassy, arcing overtones that swooshed and combed across the high-end frequencies when mix, single, double, and bourbon were all at higher settings. With bourbon maxed, those swirling overtones almost resembled distinct parts—as if a guitar synth with a Moog resonance control was taking musical cues from your chords and adding space-age orchestration. These are really lovely swaths of sound—exactly what you hope to get out of a genuine analog flanger.
It’s easy to hear the Manhattan’s sonic kinship to the venerable MXR Flanger, the Electro- Harmonix Deluxe Electric Mistress, and the legendary A/DA Flanger—all classic, standard-bearer flangers capable of variable millisecond delay, generating comb-filter artifacts, and moving easily between chorusing and phasing modes. But while the Manhattan certainly pays homage to those classic flange recipes of yore, its dualchannel flexibility, sweet voicing, and righteous combination of smoothness, complexity, and depth make it a unique concoction. Bottoms up!