Killer reverb, delay, and OD in one convenient box
Even the most pedal-obsessed kook must admit there’s something magic about sounds recorded in the ’50s and early ’60s, before pedals could replicate everything from a fluttering butterfly to the sound of a British stack vaporized by a Martian plasma ray in the third week of June. Back then electric guitarists relied on amp overdrive, reverb, and tremolo, and maybe tape echo if they were lucky, plus whatever tricks a resourceful studio engineer might have up his sleeve. Yet the sounds made via those means were often surreal, evocative, and wildly psychedelic.
Now Analog Alien’s Rumble Seat gives you the ability to approximate many of these classic formulas by combining delay, reverb, and overdrive in a single stompbox.
Electric Orange Flake Elegance
You can’t pick up the Rumble Seat without thinking, “Man—this, a guitar, and an amp are all I need,” and then feel the rush of potential liberation from your overflowing pedalboard. For many of us the rush won’t last—but I’ll bet the Rumble Seat sells a lot of players on a more economical approach.
The Rumble Seat is a cool-looking box. Bright orange-flake paint makes it hard to miss, and the layout is simple and smart. Three bypass switches—one for each effect—line the bottom of the unit. They’re a bit close together if you have the Rumble Seat wedged between other pedals on your board, though if you’re using the pedal by itself, there’s little risk of hitting the wrong switch. The proximity can be useful too, if you want to switch between all-dry and all-wet delay/reverb settings on the fly.
The controls for each effect are positioned near their respective bypass switches. They’re color-coded (blue for reverb, white for delay, orange for drive) and arranged in a breaking wave pattern that makes labels easy to read and facilitates real-time effect manipulation.
The controls are super-simple: A single reverb knob seems to control dwell and mix simultaneously. The delay section has controls for delay time, number of repeats, and wet/dry mix. The drive section has a familiar gain/tone/output knob set.
While the overdrive is analog, the reverb and delay are digital, though their tones have been fine-tuned to mimic analog warmth. To my ears it’s an excellent compromise: the organic glow of analog with the clocking precision of good digital delays and reverbs.
The only drawback to the Rumble Seat’s straightforward design is that you can’t insert fuzz between the OD and delay/reverb. Putting a fuzz in front of the Rumble Seat still sounds great, and some players prefer that routing. But guitarists who like driving the front end of their fuzz with an overdrive must use a second OD pedal (which, economy aside, is always pretty fun).
Ventures in Space
There’s a distinct classicism in the voice of the Rumble Seat’s effects. All three effects also have excellent range. The “rumble drive” section, which Analog Alien says is voiced to approximate a vintage Marshall Plexi, provides much of that circuit’s reactivity, snap, and capacity for muscular grit. High-gain settings are ideal for chugging and slashing classic rock riffs, and they give a blackface Fender amp a more Marshall- or Vox-like feel. I mostly used the lower reaches of the gain control, dialing the output control and tone knob to approximate a clean treble-boost combo. The drive section excels here, lending color, breadth, and presence to single notes without sacrificing definition or dousing your signal in filth or excessive compression. It’s a perfect setting for clean lead tones and heavier arpeggios, especially if you’ve got a good set of single-coils out front.
The rumble drive works great with the reverb and delay. The drive and reverb make an especially satisfying pair, particularly at clean boost settings. Hot boost and treble levels never overpower the reverb. They lend a bristling yet warm wash of overtones that can be enveloping, or a slap in the face when you really attack the strings.
Aspiring Dick Dales and rockabilly fans will find this addictive setup perfectly suited for their respective missions. The reverb is equally happy and dynamic at lower settings, and it adds lovely, warm sweetness to arpeggios and languid lead runs.
Mellow musical settings are also a perfect match for the warm, forgiving, and authentically analog-sounding delay. With a little dirt from the drive section, the effect sounds uncannily like my old analog Deluxe Memory Man. Echoes have a dark, husky patina that I could clarify with a touch of treble from the drive circuit. Delay times range from 25 to 650 ms. Repeats can vary from a single echo to an infinite, self-oscillating vortex that’s actually quite easy to control and incorporate into your playing when you ride the repeats and mix controls just right. The Rumble Seat’s cool layout makes it easy to perform that trick.
The U.S.-built Rumble Seat delivers excellent delay, overdrive, and reverb tones. Its effects dovetail seamlessly, making the unit forgiving in both practical and sonic terms.
Surf guitarists and Gretsch-slinging rockabilly rumblers will be stoked at how naturally they can incorporate the Rumble Seat into their rigs. Americana players that dig the rowdier tones of Neil Young, Gary Louris, and Jeff Tweedy will have access to many of their aggressive, honey-thick sounds. Country players whose tastes range from Don Rich lines to wilder psychobilly textures will love this unit’s chameleonic qualities.Portable, sonically rich, reasonably priced, and convenient as can be, the Rumble Seat is a welcome and inspired exercise in common sense.
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