A wild pitch tracker for those with the time to tweak
|Download Example 1|
Switching between the first three settings on the Magical Selector dial. Played through a Diamond Positron into an Emperor 4x12 loaded with Weber C1265s mic'ed with a Shure SM57.
|Download Example 2|
Intentionally erratic to illustrate the pedal's ability to react to input sensitivity. Square wave only sent to a B52 AT-100 and a custom 4x12 loaded with Celestion seventy-Eighties, mic'ed with a Studio Projects C1 LDC.
|Download Example 3|
Ultra-random, last setting on Magical Selector dial. Square wave only sent to a B52 AT-100 and a custom 4x12 loaded with Celestion seventy-Eighties, mic'ed with a Studio Projects C1 LDC.
|All clips recorded using a Gibson SG.|
Into the Wild
While the Mini-Ark can look and sound intimidating to the uninitiated, it’s simply a pitch-tracker. It reads your incoming pitch and uses it to control the pitch of an analog square-wave voltage-controlled oscillator (VCO).
With its large psychedelic silk-screened control surface, six knobs, three rotary switches (one is named “Magical Selector”), two footswitches, and two toggle switches, this pedal is likely to excite synth-gurus and, at least at first, scare the pants off of everyone else. But even those unfamiliar with analog modular synthesis can begin to unlock this pedal’s secrets with a modicum of effort.
The 6-position Octave selector allows you to set the VCO at different octave positions (-2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3). The 8-position Interval knob lets you select different harmony intervals. And the Hold knob is the volume for yet another synth harmony set at a fixed octave below the input signal. Because each of these three harmony generators has a dedicated Level knob, you can mix them independently.
The Mini-Ark also has a knob for setting the balance between synth and instrument at the pedal’s Out jack. You can also divide guitar and synth signals using the Square-wave output jack. This is particularly useful when you want to send your guitar to one amp and pipe the analog synth signal in its pristine glory to a second amp or channel.
You can select various modes via the 8-position “Magical Selector” switch. The first mode is straightforward pitch tracking that can be modified with the octave, interval, and other controls. The other modes contain algorithms that launch the VCO into noise, vibrato, swells, multi-octave bends, and random pitch patterns.
Space and Beyond
Plugging in my Gibson SG, I first adjusted the pedal’s Input Sens knob, a control that allows you to optimize your instrument level for the Mini-Ark’s pitch tracking brain. This is quick and easy to determine by ear, though the manual also recommends backing off the guitar’s tone knob to allow the pedal to track without being confused by your instrument’s natural overtones.
As long as you play notes articulately and accurately, the Mini-Ark will perfectly track even speedy lead lines and subtle bends. As the pedal tracks your pitch, it also sends your playing strength to the CV output, allowing you to control any device with a CV input (including the Snazzy FX “Tracer City” analog filter box) with your dynamics.
Even in the other, more radical modes, the Mini-Ark interacts dynamically with pick attack and other playing nuances, and you can mix the synth sounds with your dry guitar signal. And though you may not always be able to predict exactly what will happen, such weirdness mixed with a sensitive touch can make the strangest sounds quite musical.
The Mini-Ark isn’t a plug-and-go pedal, particularly if you don’t have analog synth experience. But it isn’t a complete bear to decipher, and it can be very intuitive once you’ve spent some time learning how the various controls affect your tone and one another. And as radical as many of the sounds and applications can seem, there is a real expressive potential in this pedal that can enhance fairly traditional playing when used as a texture. In a feature role, the Mini-Ark can inspire whole directions for a song. However you use it, The Mini-Ark is your ticket out of the been-there-done-that sonic doldrums.
you’re excited by a musical, all-analog guitar pitch-tracker that expands your creative potential.
you’re looking to perfect Clapton’s Disraeli Gears woman tone.
Street $449 - Snazzy FX - snazzyfx.com
|Tone Games 2010: 30 Stompboxes Reviewed||Next in PEDALBOARD EXTRAS: Cusack Effects Pedal Board Tamer|
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.