Like other great Moog products, the limitless possibilities of the MF-104M analog delay lend themselves to happy accidents and experimentation.
To borrow a sentiment from Mel Brooks’ famous quote about sex and pizza, there are good delays, and there are bad delays—but they are all pretty good. Almost any delay has endearing, useful quirks and a place somewhere in the musical universe—regardless of cost. Occasionally, though, a stompbox like the Moog MF-104M Analog Delay comes along that truly stands apart in this very crowded field.
That Moog would deliver a delay with a little something is no surprise to anyone with even a passing knowledge of their science-project-looking pedals full of knobs, buttons, and sliders with technical-sounding labels. In 2002, shortly after Robert Moog reacquired rights to the brand name from Norlin, he set up shop in Asheville, North Carolina. Quality control in the latter years of the Norlin was spotty at best, so low volume and high quality became a focus of the new Moog Music. The company started out humbly—making theremins, just like the Moog of old. But effects boxes based on Moog synthesizer functions followed soon thereafter. Moog chose the name Moogerfooger for the line, and the product family—which now includes ring modulators, low-pass filters, phasers, and variable-control oscillators—is now coveted by the most demanding guitar alchemists and studio hounds in the world. The new MF-104M, which unites echo and modulation circuits, is a powerful unit that’s unlikely to let any of those folks down.
As pedalboards grow in size, it’s not unreasonable to think of them as little modular synth systems between our guitar and amp. And while the MF-104M (and other Moogerfooger pedals) may look more intimidating than your average delay or phaser, it’s a very smart marriage of the stompbox platform and the considerable sound-shaping power of classic analog synths.
Considering how much this pedal does, the MF-104M’s front panel is very straightforward. The left side is the delay section, and the right is for modulation. Down the middle, you’ll see controls for drive, output level, and mix. The -7 to +28 dB drive control is really handy—it can add grit or low-fi tones to dirty up your signal in the manner of tape echo. And, used on its own with the effect controls at zero, it’s actually a pretty great preamp.
Like all Moogerfoogers, the MF-104M is a beautiful—and beautifully built—piece of gear. The hardwood sides and high-quality switchwork are all classically Moog, making the MF-104M as much heirloom as stompbox.
Sonically speaking, the delay section is everything you’d expect from a Moog product. Echoes are rich, organic, and not at all harsh. Along with the typical time and feedback controls, a switch toggles between short (40–400 ms) and long (80–800 ms) modes. There’s a touch of high-end roll off when you switch to the longer delays—presumably because of a bandwidth change—but with the 80–400ms overlap between modes, you can switch between a brighter or darker version of the same delay over a very wide range of repeat times.
One of the things that makes the MF-104M so special is a very powerful and unique modulation section. Other modulation delays allow you to dial in flanging, chorus, vibrato, or combinations of the three. The MF-104M can, of course, do these things, but it also lets you choose six different waveforms in the LFO section—sine, triangle, square, saw, reverse saw, and sample and hold. Rather than just adding some warble to the echo, this allows the user to dial in bell-like chimes, octave jumps, downward or upward pitch shifts, and that random “we’re in a computer lab now” sample and hold effect that’s a staple of sci-fi shtick. I had great luck with this function by sustaining a note with an EBow while letting the sample and hold do the work.
Combining the delay and modulation sections generates galaxies of unique, unusual, gently bubbling tones and subtle shimmering sounds that are very effective even in small measures. But it takes just a few dial tweaks to make things straight-up bonkers. Been longing for an echo that repeatedly cascades downward? Delays that blend with ping-ponging tonal intervals? A slapback that swoops around before collapsing in a wash of feedback? If these excellent echo mutations are your cup of tea, you are in luck.
With so much going on with the front panel, I’m guessing the feedback insert on the back panel is going to be an underutilized feature, but it’s worth exploring in depth. With an R/T/S cable, one or more effects can be inserted after the delay—but before the feedback control. The results you can get when you insert a fuzzbox, a flanger, or another echo are both innumerable and positively mind melting. But they’re potentially invaluable to a deep sonic explorer, and it adds a layer of possibilities on top of an already overflowing cup of sound-shaping power. I had a lot of fun with a slow volume and a Colorsound Wah inserted in the loop.
The back panel is also home to expression-pedal inserts for feedback, time, LFO rate, LFO amount, and mix. While it might seem like madness to have five rocker pedals at your feet just for one stompbox, the ability to control all sorts of parameters in real time pretty much guarantees that enthusiastic users won’t see daylight for at least a week. These parameters, and others, can be control via MIDI, as well.
Along with the new modulation section, what sets the MF-104M apart from its predecessors, the MF-104 and MF-104Z, is its tap-tempo switch. Many players now find this feature indispensible for synching and other on-the-fly effects, but the MF-104M’s can also be pressed and held for a second in order to function as a rate-tempo switch for the modulation.
The trails mode is another wonderful addition from Moog’s “Unexpectedly Useful Switching Department.” Many delays let you choose between stopping delays cold or having them trail off when the bypass switch is engaged, but the MF-104M allows you to choose between the two every time you deactivate the effect by pressing and holding the switch for one second. That means that if you want your echoes to linger over one part of a song and turn off instantly in another, you don’t have to open up the box and mess with DIP switches or enter some cryptic programming mode. Conveniently, each mode is indicated by a different color LED.
The Moog name has long been associated with wild sonic experimentation and otherworldly sounds, and this box delivers those goods in quantities that are impressive by any standard. In fact, it’s not outlandish to go as far as saying that sounds never heard before lurk within this thing.
A tool this capable, imaginatively designed, and well built comes at a price of course. At almost $700, the MF-104M will cause few to say it’s a bargain. But when you consider that it’s nearly a musical instrument by itself, the price tag seems a lot more reasonable. This is the kind of effect and production tool that can transform and define whole records. Its considerable size can make a Big Muff seem compact, and as soon as you start adding expression pedals, you no longer have a stompbox, but something that would probably qualify as a system. In this sense, it’s probably best suited for players who prefer to get a lot done by extracting the most from very few pieces, rather than the inverse. I can definitely see this being a welcome addition to any studio—home or professional.
Like any great Moog product, the MF-104M’s limitless possibilities lend themselves to happy accidents and experimentation. But that doesn’t mean it’s not stage ready. Though it would be a shame to bring this beauty home from a short tour caked in beer and mud, with so many control options, such an intuitive layout, and such rock-solid construction quality, it might just be too good to leave behind. My guess is Moog is just fine with that.
Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the release of the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses. The new Relentless P and Relentless J series pickups feature the Relentless cover designed in collaboration with Billy Sheehan.
As with the Relentless pickups, we removed all the hard edges from the standard P Bass and standard J Basspickups, and added an arch to the top of the pickups to bring the sensing coils and pole pieces closer to the strings. These improvements increase the dynamic range and make active circuitry unnecessary.
The Relentless P and Relentless J pickups incorporate Neodymium magnets and produce 70 percent more output than traditional passive pickups, and they’re dead quiet due to the incorporation of metal covers and foil-shielded cables. To dial in (or fine-tune) the individual string output, the Relentless P and Relentless J include eight adjustable pole pieces. These pickups also have a broad magnetic field so you can even bend notes without volume dropout.
DiMarzio’s extra shielding makes the Relentless P and Relentless J better for both recording and stage performances. We’ve mounted them onto robust .09375” thick circuit board base plates to eliminate the annoying protruding mounting screws — ultimately creating a more comfortable and consistent foundation to rest your fingers on.
The new Relentless P steps beyond the traditional P-Bass sound and can only be described as massive. It has more of everything: more volume, beefier lows, a growling midrange, and crispy highs with better individual string definition.
The Relentless J incorporates a new invention, (patent pending) parallelogram-shaped coils, offering an expanded mid-range punch, snappy highs, precise lows, and a new dimension to the sound of the Relentless series pickups.
Relentless P and Relentless J pickups will breathe new life into any bass, increase playability, and work well for any style of music from Motown to metal.
DiMarzio’s Relentless P, Relentless J Bridge, Relentless J Neck, and Relentless J pair are made in the U.S.A. and may now be ordered for immediate delivery.
Suggested List Price for the Relentless P is $169.00 (MAP $119.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Bridge and Relentless J neck is $155.00 (MAP $109.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Pair is $296.00 (MAP 209.99).
For more information, please visit our website at dimarzio.com.
Mystery Stocking is coming soon! Sign up for PG Perks below so you don't miss it.
Sign up for PG Perks on the form below to make sure you don't miss the launch announcement!
About Mystery Stocking
Each year, Premier Guitar likes to put out these mystery boxes as a part of bringing some fun to the holiday season. Remember, this is supposed to be a fun holiday treat! If the contents of this box will ruin your holiday, deplete the last of your bank account, or end your ability to see the good in humanity, it may not be for you.
- This year's Mystery Stocking will cost $44.95. ($39.95 + $5 Flat shipping)
- Each box will be guaranteed to contain $40 or more in value.
- US only. (Sorry World.)
- Make sure your shipping address is correct.
- Have your credit card ready to go before you refresh the page. Paypal is not available. Autofill may not fill in your information.
- There will be NO REFUNDS given.
- There has been a huge demand for these in the past. We really did sell out in less than 4 minutes last year. When they are gone, they are gone.
- One per household, one per person.
Q: What's in the Mystery Stocking?
A: It wouldn't be much of a surprise if we told you, now would it?
Q: Will I definitely get my money worth?
Q: Can I return it if I don't like it?
A: Nope. All sales final.
Q: What if I live outside the US?
A: Sorry, US only.
Q. How much is it?
A. $39.95 Plus $5 shipping
Q. When will it ship?
A. On or before December 10, 2022.
Q. What form of payment do you accept?
A. Credit cards only. Sorry, no Paypal for this.
Q. Can I ship to a different location than my billing address?
Q. I tried last year and didn't get one. Will I get one this year?
A. There is an overwhelming demand for Mystery Stocking. Be sure you have a fast internet connection and be ready when they go on sale. Last year we sold out in 3 min 33 seconds.
Q. I want to buy 5. How can I buy 5?
A. You can't. This year, we're limiting to one per household, so more people can get in on the fun!
For part two of our crash course in harmony for bassists, we’re talkin’ triads.
As bass players, our job is often to indicate and support what is happening rhythmically and harmonically in the music we’re playing. And to do that, it’s important for us to understand the basics of tonality and how it works. In fact, every bass player must have a strong knowledge of harmony to do their job correctly. This month, we’ll continue last month’s harmony crash course with some more ways to brush up on your ear skills, in italics below, so you can do your low-end job effectively.
The basic building block of harmony is the dyad, which gives us our basic intervals. But the basic building block of tonality is the triad, a grouping of three or more tones (root, 3rd, and 5th) that give us the four chord qualities—major, minor, diminished, and augmented—which you’re probably already familiar with.
Just as with intervals, we should train our ears to recognize chord qualities instantly. Start with two qualities (major and minor). Once you can identify those two correctly about 95 percent of the time, add another. Keep going until you can identify all four qualities consistently.
Another great exercise is to take a melody (either major or minor) and convert it to the opposite quality. Start out with something you know well, like “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” This may take a while at first, but the goal is to keep on doing these until you can convert most stuff on the fly instantly.
“This feeling of resolution, in some ways, is the whole point.”
Each chord quality has its own distinct sound, but major and minor are related, and both feel very grounded. Because of the 5th in each, our ears can easily hear which note in the chord is strongest (the root), which gives major and minor a sense of gravity. This feeling persists even if we change the order of the notes (invert the chord).
Have a friend or an app play inversions of major or minor triads. Find the root of each chord by singing it. Work towards being able to identify these triads in root position (root in the bass), first inversion (3rd in the bass), or second inversion (5th in the bass).
Pay attention to bass lines that land on a root, 3rd, or 5th on the first beat of the bar and then practice coming up with your own examples.
Diminished and augmented triads are much more ambiguous. Without a perfect fifth (diminished has a b5 and augmented has a #5), no tone in particular sounds strongest. Thus, both chords lack gravity. In fact, to most of us, every tone sounds equal, like being lost in the woods where every direction appears the same. Both seem to want to move towards something else more stable. When this occurs, it gives a sense of release, or resolution. This feeling of resolution, in some ways, is the whole point.
The top part of a dominant seventh or V7 chord is a diminished triad. For example, a C7 consists of the notes C–E–G–Bb. If you remove the C, we’re left with an E diminished triad. This is where the moving sound, or the desire to resolve, comes from. The important takeaway is that we’re making something very stable—a major chord—and making it less stable when we add the b7, because of the diminished sound, which in turn sets up the need to resolve.
Listening for V–I: On a guitar or keyboard play any major chord, then add a b7 (transforming I to V7) and try to hear where the progression “wants” to go next. Move to the new key (a fifth down) and repeat. After twelve V–I progressions you’ll arrive back at the original key.
The Dominant Gateway: On bass, try playing a walking bass pattern over the cycle of fifths, strategically using a b7 to move to the next key. This foreshadowing is a great voice-leading skill.
That's all for our crash course in harmony. If you take your time with these exercises, you should notice not only your ears improving, but your bass playing too!