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Way Huge Aqua-Puss MKII Analog Delay Pedal Review

Way Huge re-releases an underground classic

Video Review:

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Back in the early 2000s, I came across an original Way Huge Aqua-Puss delay for sale in a used guitar shop. It was pretty pricey—well over a few hundred dollars, as I recall. I eventually caved into my desire and bought it, original packaging and all. Before that time, my experience with Way Huge pedals could be summed up in the phrase, “Completely missing the boat.” Before the big gear boom that came a few years later, those in the know bought them up for their consistency, reliability, and great, unique sound. My inexperience and shortsightedness with anything that didn’t involve a major brand name had caused me to miss out on the ground floor of something truly special.

So there I was, years later, entranced by its incredible sound—having paid much more for a used one than the original cost new. Alas, I eventually needed some new wheels, so I sold the pedal to make a down payment on a car. Think about that for a second: the price I sold the used pedal for was enough to make a down payment on a new car. Such is the tale of supply and demand, something the story of the original Way Huge line certainly illustrates. In comparison to the massive numbers of effects produced today, the original Way Huge line was manufactured in mere handfuls. As word caught on, the used prices skyrocketed—up to thousands of dollars in some cases. That demand alone is what prompted the resurrection of Way Huge, which now has Jeorge Tripps back at the helm. The reissue of the Swollen Pickle Jumbo Fuzz was massively popular, and now the release of the Aqua- Puss MkII Analog Delay seems ready to attain similar popularity.

A Change of Plans
Tripps stated in an interview with PG (March 2009) that he never planned to reissue his famous delay. “Why would you want a 300ms analog delay?” he asked. However, he did say he’d leave the idea open, just in case demand got high enough. Soon afterward, Internet guitar forums were abuzz with guitarists begging Way Huge to bring the storied pedal back. After a debut at Winter NAMM 2010 (and a plug from a photo on John Mayer’s Twitter page), PG received a review specimen.

The new pedal is housed in Way Huge’s sturdy, bent-steel chassis, with the same sky-blue paint and funky lettering as the original. Three familiar controls for Delay (time), Feedback (repeats), and Blend (wet/ dry) are located on top of the pedal. Unlike the Swollen Pickle reissue, the new Aqua- Puss has no features that weren’t on the original (the miniature trimpots on the circuit board are for calibration and fine-tuning the pedal at the factory).

I tested the Aqua-Puss with a Vox AC30CC2 and a Fender Road Worn Telecaster. After setting the Blend and Feedback controls at noon and the Delay control to 11 o’clock, I played a simple riff with double stops. The Aqua- Puss really showed off the warm qualities that made it so popular in the first place, but what really made it stand out to me was the way it affected the overall tone. The dry combo of the AC30 and the Tele was fantastic, but when I added the Aqua-Puss into the equation, the tone took on the same sorts of qualities that make vintage recordings sound so inviting. Technically, this is because analog delays add a slight amount of even-order distortion to each repeat, yielding a comfy, lived-in tone that a lot of players find preferable to the crystalline duplication of digital delays. With a much shorter delay time and fewer repeats, the Aqua-Puss turns into a killer rhythm tool that’s great for fattening up overdriven riffs. I used to employ an old Ibanez AD-9 for a similar effect, and the way the Aqua-Puss exhibited comparable traits was a big reason I bought it in the first place. Speaking of old analog delays, I found out in an interesting manner something that the Aqua-Puss has in common with them, which is clock time noise. At higher delay time settings, there is a slight whine over the repeats. On my AD-9, this would happen when an internal trim pot was cranked to increase the delay time, so I would dial it back with a screwdriver to find a happy medium. At first I thought this was a flaw with the Aqua-Puss, but Tripps informed me that this was intentional, because that’s one of the qualities old analog delays exhibit—similar to how tape delays have a slight warble.

The Final Mojo
As a reissue of one of the most illustrious members of the Way Huge canon, the Aqua-Puss MkII is a fantastic analog delay and tonal tool. The small amount of delay time is certainly something to consider if you like huge swashes of deep echo, but the thick tonality and warm repeats of the Aqua-Puss can still create pleasant soundscapes. Probably the most conspicuous difference between the reissue and the original is the price difference: The reissue is far more affordable. That’s why, for slapback repeats and thick delay, the Aqua-Puss MkII is hard to beat.
Buy if...
you’re looking for a delay that adds depth and dimension to your sound.
Skip if...
you need longer delay times.

Street $149 - Way Huge Electronics -