Your ticket to riding waves of trad-to-freaky modulations on the cheap.
Immersive modulation sounds that range from smooth to warped. Stereo functionality. Useful volume control
Controls can feel twitchy and elusive in the get-to-know-you phase. No tap tempo.
Electro-Harmonix Nano Pulsar
I loved the first few iterations of the EHX Pulsar tremolo—particularly the stereo version that appeared in the early 2000s. Two decades ago, there weren’t that many pedal-tremolo options. But the Pulsar didn’t just stand out for lack of competition. I thought it sounded ace and not a million light years away from the optical tremolo in the black-panel Tremolux that I used most at the time. If it didn’t quite nail the sound of real amp tremolo, it sounded mighty fine in a band context and with other effects. And the fact that the tremolo on the old Tremolux worked as irregularly as it did meant I got pretty well acquainted with the Pulsar. I came to love the way it sounded, its name, and the way it looked hooked up with my Big Muff and Small Stone. (Note to self: Revisit that chain at the earliest possible opportunity!)
The new Nano Pulsar is the latest old-guard EHX pedal to receive the shrink-ray treatment. And while I miss the look of that big enclosure, the Nano’s small size and volume control arguably make it a pedal of much greater utility.
Mass Reduction Plan
Over the years, original Pulsars (along with quite a few other pedal tremolos) have been criticized—unfairly in most cases—for what users perceive as volume loss. I never experienced the phenomenon in my own 2000s Pulsar. But to make sure they don’t hear any such beefs going forward, EHX has included an output-volume control that ensures users don’t mistake the volume attenuation intrinsic to tremolo as signal loss. The amount of available extra volume isn’t huge, but it’s considerable. And if you set your tube amp at the verge of its distortion threshold, it’s enough the make the amp perceptibly dirtier. There’s a lot of range for reducing the output volume of the tremolo’d signal as well. That may not sound very useful at first, but as I checked out these volume-attenuated settings, a little ditty based on tremolo’d quiet verses and un-effected louder choruses practically wrote itself. No matter how you use the volume effect, it definitely extends the dynamic potential of the Nano Pulsar.
As I checked out these volume-attenuated settings, a little ditty based on tremolo’d quiet verses and un-effected louder choruses practically wrote itself.
The controls elsewhere are pretty sensitive, which means it can be hard to dial in a just-right depth or rate setting at times (this will almost certainly stoke the ire of tap-tempo addicts—there is no such option here). But though it’s trickier to find given depth and rate recipes on the Pulsar than it is on the Fender Vibrolux I used for comparison, practice made perfect. After a few go-rounds with the Nano Pulsar, I was able to intuitively find the settings I wanted or used regularly. Remember, too, that some of the sensitivity in the rate and depth controls is attributable to their greater range. There are things you can do with the Nano Pulsar that you can’t do with amplifier tremolo. The rate control, for instance, ranges from a preposterously slow 20-seconds-per-cycle (which sounds super cool with amp feedback) to super-fast sounds that sound like ring-modulated robot gibberish.
The depth control, too, is much quirkier than the depth control on an amp. Much of its lower range generates pulses that verge on imperceptible. And the most traditional sounds generally reside within the 10 o’clock to 1 o’clock range. Beyond that point, the pulses modulate between positive and negative phase, which gives the waveforms a twitchier personality. To my ear, these sounds are especially effective at advanced rate settings, which highlight the hanging-in-the-flying-saucer-engine-room sensations you can produce here. They are even cooler when you work the wave-shape knob, which shifts the wave peak from center to form asymmetric rise and fall rates. As with many facets of the Pulsar’s performance envelope, finding the wave shape that precisely suits your needs and musical vision might take patience, but the search can yield bountiful surprises.
Though I’m pretty familiar with the quirks of the old Pulsar, the Nano reminded me that the controls can feel pretty unconventional compared to amp tremolo controls or those on more straight-ahead tremolo pedals. That shouldn’t be a deterrent to exploring what the Pulsar has to offer though. The trad sounds are rich and satisfying, while the weirder fare is fun, sparks musical ideas, and can be utilized in subtle or freaky and intense settings. The simple stereo capabilities yield big payoffs when you introduce a second amp, and even if this isn’t a practical move in performance, it’s a blast to use in recording situations. At just a click more than 100 bucks, it’s a very inexpensive way to enrich your library of modulated tones in a big way.
Electro-Harmonix Nano Pulsar Stereo Tremolo Demo | First Look
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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
DR-05X Stereo Handheld Recorder
Wampler Pedals Ratsbane
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.