Simple, inexpensive, and easy-to-use delay

Download Example 1
SciFi - Cycling through Time settings, Repeats 5, Level 5
Download Example 2
May - Time 5, Repeats 12, Level 2. Pedal in effects loop.
Download Example 3
Pluck - Time 12, Repeats 10, Level 5. Pedal in effects loop.
Download Example 4
Slapback - Time 9, Repeats 7, Level 12. Fender Strat.
Unless otherwise specified, all clips recorded with a Parker Fly guitar, Egnater Tourmaster 4212 amplifier, Audio Technica AT2021 Microphone, Avid Pro Tools
Nashville-based Visual Sound has made effects since 1994, when founder Bob Weil introduced his Visual Volume pedal. The business has expanded steadily since. And these days, pedals like the company’s Route 66 overdrive and Jekyll & Hyde distortion can be found on pedalboards belonging to all types of players.

In 2010, Visual Sound introduced its GarageTone line of affordable effects pedals, which combine high-quality construction and sounds for players on a budget. The Axle Grease is the delay offering in the GarageTone line. But it differs from many affordable delays by using an analog/digital hybrid circuit.

Simple and Effective
The Axle Grease’s hybrid circuit means the delay section itself is 100 percent analog, while the circuitry that controls the effect is digital. And in theory, the hybrid setup helps the pedal serve up warmer analog tones with precision digital control. The Time knob controls the number of delay repeats per second, the Repeat knob controls feedback, and the Level knob adjusts the mix between wet and dry signals. The sturdy housing is made of folded dark grey metal, and includes an on/off switch, a red LED indicator, and a single input and output.

Plugging my Strat into the Axle Grease and setting the delay for a slapback effect sent me straight to the honky tonk and rockabilly zone. And the Axle Grease actually achieves a cool reverb-like effect if set to a really quick delay. The Axle Grease also works well if you want a fast delay on short chord stops, quick melody lines, or faster rhythms à la The Edge. On slower, longer melodies where the delay is timed so the regenerated notes harmonize with your playing (think Brian May), it’s sometimes hard to get a delay that’s long enough for really slow passages. If you tend to play faster, the limitation isn’t much of a concern. But for players who really like to stretch out a given note using big spaces between repeats, the Axle Grease may be a bit constraining.

Sonic tricks—like tweaking long repeats with quick Time knob adjustments to manually induce super-high squeals and low rumbles—were fun and easy with the Axle Grease. However, if you’re inclined to tinker with infinite echo effects, keep in mind the pedal is self-oscillating and will often stay in infinite repeat mode after you’ve turned the pedal off and on again, requiring a reset by zeroing the Repeat knob.

The Verdict

The Axle Grease Delay is perfect for players who don’t want to spend a fortune for a quality delay pedal or for whom delay is not their primary effect. It works nicely as a simple delay for echoing chords and notes with faster delay times and is great for rockabilly-inspired slapback. And with its hybrid analog/digital circuit, you still get a warm analog tone at a digital price.

Buy if...
you want a basic, easy to use and inexpensive delay pedal
Skip if...
you need a more complex delay unit with long delay times

Street $70 - Visual Sound -

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