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Lovepedal Echo Baby, Babyface Tremolo, Pickle Vibe, and Amp 50 Pedal Reviews

Lovepedal''s mini''s bring the company''s quality tones to ultra-compact packages

Chances are good that, like many guitarists, you suffer from Gear Acquisition Syndrome and lust after every cool new stompbox that hits the market or appears on the forums. A side effect of this disease is a pedalboard that looks like an overflowing bowl of M&Ms, with brightly colored effects spilling out over the edges and onto the floor. If this describes your plight (it certainly does mine), you’ll welcome the new line of ultra-compact effects designed by Lovepedal’s Sean Michael.

Each stompbox comes in a rugged, diecast aluminum case that measures 1 1/2" x 3 5/8" x 1 1/4". Yeah, you read it right— that’s roughly half the size of an MXR Dyna Comp. Of course, this leaves room for only one knob per pedal—along with audio input and output, a 9-volt DC input, one or two LEDs, and the odd mini toggle. Michael has come up with a variety of approaches to the control issue, while continuing to focus on the stellar sound that has helped establish his reputation in the stompbox community.

We checked out four flavors of these little morsels, so read on as we throw down the lowdown. I tested these pedals with a 1965 Stratocaster loaded with DiMarzio Virtual Vintage pickups and a Reverend Reeves Gabrels model played through an Orange Tiny Terror and an Egnater Rebel 30.

Echo Baby

Download Example 1

The bright blue Echo Baby offers up 760ms

of delay. Delay effects usually come with

a host of controls, including blend, time,

feedback, modulation depth and speed, and

tap tempo, so how do you make a delay

pedal with only one knob? Lovepedal has

assigned that knob to control the length of

the delay time, adding two trim pots accessible

with a small screwdriver through holes

on the bottom of the pedal for adjusting

the feedback and dry/wet blend.

In addition to delay, the Echo Baby offers

modulation. To set the amount of modulation,

you hold down the footswitch switch

for two seconds and then twist the pedal’s

chicken-head knob. Once you’ve set the

modulation amount, the pedal automatically

adjusts the modulation speed and

depth according to the chosen “time”

setting—that is, as you decrease the delay

time, the modulation speed and depth

increase slightly.

Unless I wanted a sick warble at longer

delay times, I found a relatively low modulation

amount suited my tastes. At this minimal

setting, the pitch waver adds a simulated

analog-tape flutter to the echoes in

both long and short delay settings. If you

don’t want modulation, you can shut it off

by holding the footswitch for two seconds

and turning the knob all the way down.

The Final Mojo

I didn’t plan on getting out my little screwdriver

in the middle of a gig to change the

delay amount or feedback, so I set the unit

for just a couple of repeats occurring well

below the original signal. With the delay

set on the short side, the Echo Baby created

a reverb simulation that added warm

depth to my Strat through the reverb-less

Tiny Terror. Longer delay settings added

a subtle sustaining tail to the notes. For

me, this setting offers the maximum bang

for the buck. It also allows you to dedicate

another more-programmable or fully controllable

delay to ambient or heavier slapback

effects. However you choose to set

up and use the Echo Baby, it will deliver

gorgeous sounding, studio-quality delay.

Buy if...
you want a small-footprint delay that offers great analog-style sound.
Skip if...
you need full control at your fingertips.

Street $219 - Lovepedal Custom Effects -

Babyface Tremolo

Download Example 1

Tremolo replaced chorus as my modulator of

choice quite a while ago—sorry, maybe it’s

my roots-music upbringing or the fact that

something about chorus screams “last millennium”

to me. The lone knob on this tremolo

pedal controls the rate—from extremely slow to near-ring-modulation ping. A mini

toggle lets you choose between the opto

sound (sine wave) of a blackface amplifier, a

sawtooth wave that recalls the tremolo of an

Ampeg amp, and a full square wave, which is

suitable for stutter and chopper effects.

To access the Babyface’s depth and volume

trim pots, you need to remove four screws

and the back panel. Though Michael says

he is considering drilling a hole to allow

quicker depth adjustment, ultimately

you’ll probably find yourself sticking to

one setting. I chose to set the depth for

a subtle tremolo level and pretty much

stayed with the sine and sawtooth waves,

as the square wave cried out for increased

depth settings. However, I could easily see

myself cranking the depth and turning the

Babyface into a dedicated chopper pedal.

Whether you go for subtle, amp-like trem

or more extreme sounds, once the pedal is

attached to your board, you’re not likely to

be adjusting the depth very often. It might

make sense to add a second mini-toggle

that offered three depth options.

The Final Mojo

Depth adjustments aside, at all settings

the Babyface sounded warm, analog, and

chock full of low end. The internal level

trim ensured that I didn’t suffer from the

psycho-acoustic volume drop that happens

with some tremolos. If you need just one

trem-type modulation, be it vintage opto

or modern chop, this could be your pedal.

Buy if...
You’re looking for that one greatsounding volume-modulation effect.
Skip if...
you need a number of different trem tones quickly.

Street $139 - Lovepedal Custom Effects -

Pickle Vibe

Download Example 1

The Uni-Vibe is a classic effect, but unless

you perform in a Robin Trower tribute band,

you’re not likely to use this watery sound

more than a couple of times a night. So why

sacrifice a lot of pedalboard real estate to get

it? Slotting neatly between two existing pedals

on my board, the Pickle Vibe produced

huge, inspiring vibe tones.

As with the Babyface Tremolo, the pedal’s

single knob controls the rate. A blue LED

flashes the tempo of the vibe, while a

red one indicates the effect on/off status.

There’s a sensitivity trim pot inside, but

don’t bother unscrewing the back. I tried

other settings and none sounded as good

as the factory one.

The Final Mojo

As with most Uni-Vibe emulations, the

Pickle Vibe responded best between the

guitar and some sort of grit, whether

an overdrive pedal, the slightly broken

up Orange, or the lead channel on the

Egnater. According to Lovepedal, rather

than using an exact copy of the Uni-Vibe

circuit, the Pickle Vibe generates those

classic tones with a unique circuit. Clone

or not, from slow psychedelia to fast Leslie

blues, this pedal sounded so good it could

increase the number of times I go for the

vibe on any given night.

Buy if...
you want great-sounding vibrato effects in a tiny box—and at a great price.
Skip if...
you perform in a Robin Trower tribute band.

Street $139 - Lovepedal Custom Effects -

Amp 50

Download Example 1

Sean Michael made his bones largely on his

“Church of Tone” pedal, the COT 50 Boost/

Overdrive. Lots of players agreed that it

nailed certain classic-rock sounds associated

with guitar icons like Jimi Hendrix and

Billy Gibbons. For the mini version, Michael

has modified his original design to afford

cleaner tones at the bottom of the gain/bias

sweep and dirtier tones at the top.

The Amp 50’s single knob adjusts the bias

of the circuit, which causes some noise

as you turn it. I found that, by putting a

volume pedal or a muting tuner after this

pedal, I could mute the noise—a good

thing, as I could see using a number of different

settings throughout a set.

With the gain/bias down all the way, the

Amp 50 added a buffer-like sparkle to the

clean sound of both the Tiny Terror and

Rebel 30. Between there and 12 o’clock,

a small amount of grit entered the equation—

more so when using the hot-humbucker

equipped Reverend than with my

Strat. From noon to 3 o’clock, the Amp 50

became more overdrive-like, adding sustain

to solos and crunch to rhythm chords. From

3 o’clock to full on, a fuzz effect started

creeping in. Turned fully clockwise, the control

produced a sound like an amp on the

verge of destruction (in the best sense).

The Amp 50 is all about response. In its

cleaner modes, it added a dynamic “give”

to what would otherwise be an unforgiving

clean amp tone. Backing off the guitar volume

at almost any setting cleaned up the

sound quickly. The pedal added a whole

array of British sounds to the Egnater’s

American-toned clean channel, while

interacting much like a classic treble booster

with the British-voiced Orange.

The Amp 50 also played nicely with other

overdrive pedals. It was no surprise that

it worked well in front of a Lovepedal

Kalamazoo, but it also matched up delightfully

with a Maxon OD-9, not only adding

sustain but injecting a new British character

to the tone. In either combination, the Amp

50 effectively turned my single-channel Tiny

Terror into a three-channel amp.

The Final Mojo

Given all the ways the Amp 50 can enhance

your sound without adding significantly to

your gear load—or subtracting much from

your pocketbook—it’s hard to imagine not

picking up one of these mini-monsters.

Buy if...
you want to give your sound a character- laden kick in the butt.
Skip if...
you have all the tones you need.

Street $129 - Lovepedal Custom Effects -