The Virgo Overdrive reviewed is the rock overdrive member of the five-pedal Celestial line.
Astrological Control Freak
Housed in a blue powder-coated box adorned with graphic representations of its associated astrological sign and a young lass who seems to have misplaced her clothes, the Virgo has four clearly labeled knobs for Volume, Tone, Edge, and Gain. These are augmented with a 3-way switch that selects between a pair of silicon diodes (position 1), no diodes (position 2), and an asymmetrical combination of a MOSFET and germanium diode (position 3). Standard input and output jacks are located at the top front of the Virgo with a 9V or 18V power input between them. The switch is true bypass.
A Bucker’s Best Friend
The Virgo loves humbuckers and Marshalls, which I found out when I fired up my Les Paul R8 and 1970 Super Bass through a ’68 basketweave 4x12 cab housing Celestion Vintage 30s and G12H-30s in an X-pattern. I set up the Virgo in MOSFET/germanium mode, cranked the Gain, Tone, and Edge knobs, and the immediate result was ’60s and ’70s saturated goodness. It’s easy to extract Leslie West vibes and early Montrose tones that are incredibly brawny and inspiring. In general, the Volume control seems to thicken a guitar’s sound as much as boost your signal, though the boost becomes much more detectable in the more extreme ranges of the Volume control’s travel.
Setting the 3-way switch to a no-diode setting, pulling the Gain down, and cranking the Volume yielded a tighter, more focused overdrive that sounded a lot like my amp on steroids. It’s a killer setup for hard-rock rhythm and slightly boosted solos. This was one of my favorite modes, and I could see using this pedal extensively in the studio for tracking to take advantage of the tight and defined overdrive.
The dual-silicon setting offered a smoother sound that was slightly less responsive to my pick attack. In this mode, I found I could darken the tone in a very cool way by bringing down the Edge and Tone. References to Clapton’s ’60s “woman tone” are not always apt, but that’s exactly what you get in this setting, and I absolutely loved the way it cut through on notes without sounding sharp.
Celestial Effects has not stumbled blindly into the pedal business. It’s clear that the Virgo’s designers have carefully analyzed what it takes to make a great classic-rock tone—and then they’ve given you a little more width to work with. The pedal is beautifully quiet, which is fortuitous, considering how well it works as a boost. If you have a big amplifier and a humbucker-equipped axe, you’ll likely come to believe the Virgo is your sign—because it’s a sure ticket to sweetly sustaining heaven à la Cream-era Clapton.
you want thick, defined, and versatile overdrive for your humbuckers and Marshalls.
you’re more of a fuzz player.
Street $199 - Celestial Effects - celestialeffects.com
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Looking for more great gear for the guitar player in your life (yourself included!)? Check out this year's Holiday Gear Finds!
D'Addario XPND Pedalboard
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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.