This sly update of a cult tremolo effect offers a cool new option: subtlety.
As far as classic effects go, the Vox Repeat Percussion isn’t exactly one of the pillars of the Parthenon. Because it was sold as one of Vox’s rather flimsy plug-in effects (or buried in the rat’s nest circuitry of guitars like the Starstream and Ultrasonic), the Repeat Percussion lacked the visual cachet of a Fuzz Face or Vox Wah. Even its name is misleading: Sure, it’s percussive and repetitive, but really, it’s a deep, choppy, sawtooth-wave tremolo.
Still, the songs the Repeat Percussion shaped are legendary in certain circles. The fuzz-on-nitrous sound of the Electric Prunes “I Had Too Much To Dream” is a Repeat Percussion raging at stroboscopic speeds. Meanwhile, Spacemen 3’s mantra-like “How Does It Feel” from the Playing With Fire LP (an album virtually defined by liberal use of Vox repeat percussion) showcases the effect at its slow motion finest.
Magnetic Effects’ Electrochop reimagines the Vox Repeat Percussion. It’s capable of all the original’s extreme sounds, but is much more flexible. It provides interesting textures the original can’t deliver—even some subtle ones.
Chopping Blue The original Vox Repeat Percussion had a single rate control voiced for a deep sawtooth-wave pulse. But unless you’re the kind of regressive caveman rocker for whom more than two knobs is sacrilege, the Electrochop’s additional features are welcome advances.
The expanded functions include a depth control (actually, a blend for the dry and modulated signals), plus a volume knob that boosts the pedal’s output, overcoming the volume drop players often perceive when a tremolo is engaged. There’s also a speed switch that toggles between an Vox-like range of speeds and a second range that maxes out at freakishly fast rates.
Pounding In My Brain, Going Insane Achieving the Vox chop that gives the Electrochop its name means raising the depth control to near-maximum settings. Here’s where you tap into the heavy pulsing sounds of the Prunes or Spacemen 3. Compared to a vintage Vox, the repeats are less noisy and a touch more contoured and civilized, yet they’re still deep and heavy. For many, the Vox tones will be worth the price of admission—but Magnetic made this pedal capable of much more.
Moving the depth control counterclockwise fades the repeat effect into the background until you’re left with a sweet, undulating wash beneath your dry signal. At slower speeds, it’s ideal for folk-rock arpeggios and languid, jazzy chord melodies. Faster speeds add a mysterious pulsing texture to leads and power chords.
The Electrochop sounds most lush when using a combination of neck and bridge pickups, especially in clean, spacious musical settings. Bridge pickups—especially single coils—add an angular sci-fi edge. But the Electrochop positively excels with a nasty, buzzing ’60s-style fuzz out front—it lysergically transforms the simplest lick, bridge, verse, or chorus section into a maniacally distinctive hook.
The speed mode switch also has considerable transformative power, especially at the fastest speeds. High-depth settings yield almost ring modulated effects, while lower depth settings conjure unique twitching textures that sound amazing with heaps of reverb and delay.
The Verdict Had the original Vox Repeat Percussion been as sturdy and practical as the Electrochop, it might have had survived the high psychedelic era. That said, this is still a niche effect. It won’t easily replace a conventional pedal or amp tremolo if you prefer the softer sound of vintage Fender and Ampeg amp trem. But if you tend toward experimental/psychedelic sounds, the additional features and the subtle textures they provide all but guarantee the Electrochop will see plenty of use.