Jam Pedals Ripply Fall Review
Phaser, chorus, vibrato, and ring modulation meet in a subtle-to-strange modulation mélange.
:0 to 1:35 - Various Chorus Settings
1:36 to 2:11 - Vibrato
2:12 to 2:50 - Phaser Only
2:51 to end - Chorus/Phaser combo
Subtle-to-strange modulation effects with lovely lyrical voices. Seamless composite effects. Option for expression pedal control of speed and depth. Nice build quality and design.
Placement of speed multiplier footswitch makes fast switches tricky.
Jam Pedals Ripply Fall
Ease of Use:
It’s taken nearly my whole guitar-playing life to warm to chorus. But I have always been a phaser fan. Chalk it up to being a psychedelic-era Beatles nut from the minute I could hear, perhaps. But I have always loved phase effects’ ability to transform a simple song or phrase into a mind scramble. Another personal aside regarding phasers: They helped me learn to love chorus—quite accidentally—when I borrowed an engineer’s Boss CE-2 for a session and placed it upstream from my Small Stone. The two textures together were intoxicating, strangely complementary, and despite my inclination toward deranged modulation, just as magical in subtle doses as in extreme applications.
Given all that, I approached Jam’s Ripply Fall—which combines the company’s excellent Ripple analog chorus, its Waterfall analog phaser circuit, and a ring modulator—with great enthusiasm. It offers fans of demented sounds copious compound modulation textures. But it also excels at shimmering, complex chorus and phaser weaves that mimic throbbing Uni-Vibe textures and enlivens leads and chords with classy aplomb.
Ways to Color
Though it’s not especially complex, the Ripply Fall is a feast for the eyes. And while the topically hued enclosure might evoke a souvenir t-shirt from a Maui holiday circa 1989, the layout of the multi-colored knobs and LEDs (which align with the shifting color of the fish graphic) is thoughtfully executed—effectively dividing the pedal into three segments, each dedicated, more or less, to the chorus, ring modulator-like chorus speed multiplier, and phaser effects. As on Uni-Vibes of old and other chorus effects, there is also a vibrato switch that transforms the chorus channel into a wobblier pitch-shifting mode.
The phaser and chorus effects have dedicated bypass switches on the left (blue) and right (yellow) sides of the pedal. The twitchy chorus speed multiplier is activated via its own dedicated footswitch in the center of the enclosure. Each effect uses a very streamlined control set. The blue speed knob modifies the rate of the phaser effect. The chorus section, meanwhile, features depth and speed controls. The chorus/vibrato switch is situated between the chorus speed and depth knobs. A second toggle between the phaser and chorus rate controls switches the chorus effect’s intensity. There are also jacks on the left and right sides of the stomp that can be used for expression pedal control of the speed and depth, respectively.
Inside, not a fraction of an inch is wasted. The enclosure is packed to the gills with the circuitry that helps the Ripply Fall work its modulation magic. It couldn’t have been an easy enclosure to lay out, given the dearth of extra space, but it is flawlessly executed.
As weird as the Ripply Fall can get—especially with the speed multiplier in the mix—Jam tuned each effect with a sense of musicality, and even subtlety. The chorus tones and modulations are warm, watery, and gorgeously contoured. And it’s easy to imagine the welcoming, shimmering waters of the Agean, not far from Jam’s Athens home, being a subconscious influence on these textures. In more pedal-specific terms, the Ripply Fall’s chorus evokes a very nice vintage Boss CE-2 or CE-1. Fans of Johnny Marr and Robert Smith’s immersive ’80s modulation tones will find much to love here. Though to my ears, the Ripply Fall chorus sounded even warmer, rounder, and perhaps less sterile and angular than those classic Boss units. Boosting the intensity and depth levels induces convincing Leslie effects—especially at higher modulation rates.
The vibrato effect is understated, but more characterful than the vibrato settings on many Uni-Vibe clones and choruses, which often seem like a grudgingly executed afterthought. Slower speed and heavy depth settings lend a crystalline wooziness to chord arpeggios with more than a hint of vintage Magnatone amp wiggle as well as touches of cool vinyl record warp and tape oscillation.
By itself, the phaser is rich and lyrical but a little more subtle and less vowel-y than a vintage Small Stone or Phase 90. Peaks are softer and the phase cycle is less whooshy overall. MXR’s more sedate Phase 45 might be a more apt baseline for comparison. While the phaser may fail to impress heavy-handed phase users that dig effects like a Small Stone’s intense color settings, it’s never overbearing, and its relative subtlety enables the phaser to work seamlessly with the chorus side of the effect. Together they are a thing of beauty. Uni-Vibe comparisons are most appropriate when the phaser and chorus are used together. And while the two effects together don’t ape a Uni-Vibe to the letter, they create a unique, immersive and inviting take on the texture.
To many ears, including mine, the gold standards for analog chorus and phase were formulated years ago in the shape of the Small Stone and Phase 90, Boss CE-1 and CE-2, and Ibanez CS-9. But if the Ripply Fall doesn’t better those pedals by light years, it certainly offers many refinements and reflects a design mindset geared toward coaxing the more lyrical side out of each effect. The results are lovely and truly musical individual and composite modulation effects.