Even though octave fuzzes have been around for almost half a century now, they still have the capacity to sound startling. When used with great control and skill, they
Even though octave fuzzes have been around for almost half a century now, they still have the capacity to sound startling. When used with great control and skill, they can catapult notes as high as the heavens. They can also produce some downright weird tones that, depending on your outlook, can sound beautiful or hideous. Blackout Effectors tends to see the beauty in these odd tones. But they also know how to make an octave sound fluid and soaring. The Crystal Dagger covers both worlds—moving from musical to dastardly—and then adds another black sheep to the mix, ring modulation. The end result is a beautifully demented and, at times, very atonal monster.
The octave fuzz and ring modulator in the Crystal Dagger work from their own dedicated analog circuit boards and each has separate controls. What’s cool is that they can be engaged separately and blended from a dedicated control. The fuzz side is controlled with filter and volume knobs and a handy toggle switch that activates the brash octave-up effect. Tones from the more chaotic ring modulator side are governed by carrier-frequency tuning and volume knobs, which help induce phasing sweeps and pulsating effects.
The guts of the Crystal Dagger are both functional and a work of art, with expertly routed wiring from the analog-based circuit boards to the switches, jacks, and pots. Each circuit board is marked with unique etchings that match the function of the corresponding effect—multi-sided crystalline shapes for the ring modulator board, and sharp, dagger-like etchings for the fuzzy and razor-sharp octave fuzz circuit. Even the back panel features a handpainted depiction of a robot built from crystals. It obviously isn’t something that affects the tone, but it’s a nice, personalized touch that reveals how much Blackout relishes creative details.
A single note created with the Crystal Dagger, a Stratocaster, and Twin Reverb will tell you that the Crystal Dagger’s octave fuzz tone is capable of unique things. While most popular octave-fuzz pedals tend toward thick and syrupy, the Crystal Dagger is very clean and tight, with smooth lows and mids, and a not-too-piercing high end. Output is detailed across the entire tone spectrum, which make Hendrix-style leads above the 12th fret sound especially fat. You can emphasize specific frequency bands with the filter function. But it’s also astonishing to hear how easy it is to shape tones with simple picking dynamics too—remarkable given the way some octave pedals can lend a glitchy, gated quality to overtones.
When you want to back off on the gain, your only course of action is to ride your guitar’s volume knob, because the Dagger doesn’t have an onboard gain knob. The omission was a well-considered decision by Blackout, who says that the intense personality of the pedal is as they intended. But as good as the fuzz sounds, it would still be nice to have that additional range in different musical situations.
Things can get really freaky when you add in the modulation circuit. Small movements of the frequency knob will change the tone significantly, especially as you near the point where phasing and octave'd ring modulation begin to blur at around 2 to 3 o’clock. You can tap into some pretty fantastic beating pulses in this frequency range too, along with phasing that can sound like it’s ricocheting off the walls. Pushing the frequency knob to the max creates a palette of metallic undertones that color single notes with a sinister intensity, though the blend knob enables you to tailor the intensity from a fairly clean level to saturated.
To put it bluntly, the Crystal Dagger is not for the faint of heart. Its basic roots are in the Octavia-paved paths forged by the likes of Jimi and Stevie. That said, even it’s most bristling tones have an air of refinement and thoughtful design. Beyond those familiar applications, however, it’s an intensely creative pedal that can inspire voyages to the outer reaches. Both circuits sound great individually, but used together, the octave fuzz and ring modulator are nothing short of shocking. This pedal is sure to bring a devilish smile to those who love the bombastic tones of Steve Albini, Duane Denison, and Paul Leary as much as they relish Axis: Bold as Love. And it should be on the short list of players who crave tearing down established tone rules in order to sculpt their own.
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Flare is a dual-function pedal with a tube-like booster and a 1970s-style ring modulator effect that can be played separately or together.
Flare’s ring modulator is based on the iconic tone of the original Dan Armstrong Green Ringer. This vintage classic was made famous by Frank Zappa who loved the unusual modulations created by generating a harmonic octave over notes. Messiah’s version offers two control knobs: a “Sparkle” tone attenuator and output Level control. Its taupe-gold body, purple and green knobs and stick-figure rock ’n’ roller holding up a flame convey an appropriately rockin’70s vibe.
In a unique twist, Messiah’s Flare pairs the ringer with a warm tube-style boost instead of a fuzz. Flare feeds the booster into the ringer for an extra punch, while preserving the Green Ringerspirit. The ringer side also turns any fuzz into an octafuzz, and it has the ability to quiet signal background noise fed through it.
The booster side features a single Boost knob to control the MOSFET circuit, making it very tube-amp-friendly with a warm, organic boost and gain of up to 32dB.
The pedal is a distinct improvement over the 1970s pedal that inspired it. “Most ringer pedals don’t track well,” Tom Hejda, owner of Messiah Guitars. “The player can’t rely on repeating the same effect even with the most consistently played notes. We carefully matched the components, so our ringer follows your every move, producing that slightly dirty octave you expect on demand.”
Messiah developed this vintage octave pedal with flexible features so that people who love that messy, dirty Zappa-esque sound can get there with ease but there’s also something for those who have not fallen in love with fuzz or the Green Ringer alone. Flare offers an array of sonic options while retaining simplicity in the controls.
Each Flair Pedal Includes:
- 3 control knobs: Boost, Sparkle, and Level
- Two effects – Ring Modulator and Boost – can be used together or separately
- Space-saving top side jacks
- Durable, cast aluminum alloy 125B enclosure with fun artwork
- Easy to see, illuminated True-bypass foot switch
- Standard 9V pedal power input
Flare Pedal Demo
Messiah Guitars pedals are designed with an explorative player in mind. Like their custom guitars and amplifiers, Messiah’s pedals are hand-crafted in Los Angeles for a long life with guaranteed quality.
Flare retails for $199.00 and can be purchased directly at Messiah Guitars or you can hear it in person at Impulse Music Co. in Canyon Country, CA.
For more information, please visit messiahguitars.com.
This feathery little guy is a joy to play because of its incredibly quick response to your right hand - much faster and more expressive than your typical auto-wah pedal.
If it looks like a duck, acts like a duck, and QUACKS like a duck, then it must be a duck. That's how we came up with the name for our new envelope filter. This feathery little guy is a joy to play because of its incredibly quick response to your right hand - much faster and more expressive than your typical auto-wah pedal. Trevor explains how this is possible in the launch video, as well as gives a demo on Le Canard’s operation.
The attack control determines how quickly the filter responds to the envelope, and the decay sets how quickly the filter releases afterward. The range controls which frequency spectrum the filter does its magic on. Add to this relay-based full-bypass switching with failsafe, and you've got one crazy little quacky beast. It is so expressive that you'll want to give up on your rocker-wah forever.
The MayFly Le Canard envelope filter features:
- Super fast responding envelope follower. Touch it and it jumps!
- Range control to dial in the character of the filter
- Attack control to control how fast the filter moves on that first touch
- Release control to control how slowly the filter slides back to baseline
- Full bypass using relays with Fail SafeTM (automatically switches to bypass if the pedal loses power)
- Cast aluminum enclosure with groovy artwork
- MSRP $149 USD ($199 CAD)
Introducing the MayFly Le Canard Envelope Filter
All MayFly pedals are hand-made in Canada.
For more information, please visit mayflyaudio.com.
Outlaw Effects introduces their next generation of NOMAD rechargeable battery-powered pedal boards.
Available in two sizes, NOMAD ISO is a compact, versatile tool that offers the convenience of a fully powered board plus the additional freedom of not having to plug into an outlet. NOMAD ISO is ideal for stages with limited outlet availability, quick changeovers, busking outdoors, temporary rehearsal locations, and more.
NOMAD ISO builds upon the legacy of the ultra-convenient and reliable NOMAD rechargeable pedalboard line originally launched in 2018. The brand new NOMAD ISO editions feature eight isolated outputs (1 x 9V DC, and 1 switchable 9V/12V DC) for even more versatility and clean, quiet power. With an integrated lithium-ion battery pack boasting 12800mAh capacity, NOMAD ISO can fuel a wide array of pedals, and will last over 10 hours* on a single charge.
Each NOMAD ISO pedal board includes adhesive hook & loop pedal-mounting tape, eight (8) standard DC connector cables, and one (1) reverse polarity DC cable, giving you everything you need to build your ultimate "off-the-grid" rig. A rugged, road-ready padded gig bag with shoulder strap is also included, to safely protect your gear while you're on the move.
NOMAD ISO S
NOMAD ISO S: MSRP $309 / MAP: $249
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 5 ¼"
NOMAD ISO M
NOMAD ISO M: MSRP $349 / MAP $279
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 11"
More info: https://www.outlawguitareffects.com.