Fast track your way to Jimmy Page drive sounds.
A compact, convenient means of gain staging. Thick, characterful, Page-style overdrive sounds.
The controls are simple enough, but the cryptic labels may frustrate some.
Imperial Electrical Zeppelin
The new Zeppelin preamp and overdrive by Imperial Electrical is an enthusiastically executed and thoughtful attempt at achieving Jimmy Page’s tones in an effects pedal—no mean feat if you can pull it off. In general, it does its Pagey magick by approximating the function of an Echoplex-style preamp and amp-style overdrive in a single box. Simple as that may sound, it gives the player a bundle of gain-staging capabilities.
Lead Balloon Takes Flight
The Zeppelin—like much about the band that inspired it—isn’t immediately easy to decipher. Two-letter acronyms beneath each knob are rendered in Zep’-inspired Art nouveau fonts. The knob to the far right labeled PL controls the gain of the Echoplex preamp, which is essentially a pre-overdrive boost. The right-side footswitch engages this circuit independently of the overdrive. The next three knobs from right to left are PO (plexi output), TO (tone), and PR (preamp, or plexi drive/gain control). The left footswitch engages this section. The status LED at the top-center glows red when the plexi side alone is on, green when the Echoplex alone is on, and orange when they’re running together. Coded control legends aside, it is a practical, streamlined array. And though the compact dimensions might be the cause of an occasional stomp on the wrong switch, most will find that risk a small price to pay to get this much effective gain staging into so little space.
Interestingly, though, it doesnail the throaty, thick, midrange overdrive tone achieved by pushing a Valco-made Supro amp into distortion.
Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the printed circuit board fills the whole of the enclosure, with nary enough room to squeeze a gnat in around the edges. That also means there’s no space for a 9V battery, so it’s adaptors only for the Zeppelin.
The Zeppelin’s big, ’70s-inspired, arena-rock-grade rhythm and lead tones are heavy, gutsy stuff. The overdrive side arguably sounds best with its PR (gain) control in the 11 o’clock to 1 o’clock range, where it generates low-to medium-gain overdrive sounds with a lot of body and clarity. Turning up the gain from there makes the tone denser and more saturated. But it can also sound a little bit raspy and guttural, and some note separation goes missing when this control is maxed out. This sound can be a lot of fun, but it’s a gnarly, heavy voice, for sure.
Although billed as a plexi-style overdrive, the Marshall-inspired side of the pedal doesn’t sound especially Marshall-y to my ears. Interestingly, though, it does nail the throaty, thick, midrange overdrive tone achieved by pushing a Valco-made Supro amp into distortion, which is, of course, the type of amp Jimmy Page used to create the sounds of Led Zeppelin I. Regardless of my perceptions, the result is substantial and grittily Page-like.
The Echoplex side of the pedal works really well, and the pedal often sounds best with a little of this pre-OD boost added to the overdrive. Modest-to-judicious overdrive levels respond highly to a bit of kick from the boost. And they rarely yield mud. Instead, the combination tends to add sweet saturation to the overall tone.
In classic Page style, I experimented with a Les Paul and Telecaster as drivers for the Zeppelin. The Telecaster’s single-coils were the best pairing when I wanted to highlight the eviscerating clarity in the Zeppelin’s overdrive tones. But, as you’d expect, there’s still a sharp edge to the tones you get from a Les Paul, and the Zeppelin is more than articulate enough to keep the fatter guitar distinct at reasonable gain settings.
The Zeppelin takes a creative approach to replicating Jimmy Page’s early Led Zeppelin tone recipes. It packs both a thick '70s arena-rock-inspired overdrive and a very agreeable preamp boost into one compact, well-made box. And though my ears hear the overdrive as more Supro than Marshall-plexi-like, the Zeppelin’s voice is no less enjoyable, practical, or Page-like.
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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.