Traditionalists need not apply - the WMD Geiger Counter delivers extreme distortion
|Download Example 1|
|Download Example 2|
CV Decreasing Volume
|Download Example 3|
|Download Example 4|
|All clips were recorded with a 1965 Fender Strat into an M-Audio 1814 Firewire interface, Abelton Live 7 and Overloud TH1 amp modeling software. An M-Audio expression pedal was used to control the pedal.|
Lately though, I find myself drawn to rougher sounds: the octave fuzz excursions of Oz Noy, or the bit-crushed noise of Nine Inch Nails. I am rediscovering my Fender Blender and Ampeg Scrambler fuzz boxes, reveling in their ragged, lo-fi quality. Apparently I am not alone; an increasing number of guitarists are eschewing the smooth sounds of the power ballad solo in favor of tones that make you fear for their amplifiers—and their sanity.
Thus, the time seems right for the WMD Geiger Counter. Though it can serve up standard overdrives and distortions, this pedal’s forte is a full menu of signal destroying, twisted effects—not a fancy restaurant menu with only four or five items, but a diner menu that goes on for page after page.
Ground Based Interceptor
The Geiger Counter packs a high gain, modern preamp, driving an 8-bit computer into a 4.5” x 3.5” box. Colored bright yellow, with a radioactive insignia that warns of the extreme effects within, this solid metal housing crams a multitude of controls into its small footprint.
Those new to the world of more complex signal processing should not be scared off by the unit’s five knobs, three LEDs, Control Voltage (CV) input, two toggle switches, and HEX display. Operation is well covered in the blissfully short manual.
The rotary switch-selectable wave tables are simply described by WMD as a stage that “takes your signal and destroys it with math.” The Gain and Tone Knobs are self-explanatory; their adjacent toggle disables the Tone. Though this increases the gain, I found that some wave table settings sounded better with and some without the tone engaged. Pressing the Wave Table rotary switch can place the Bit reduction control before or after the wave table for radically different effects. Rather than get into a technical description of all the controls, let me just describe some of the cool effects I was able to conjure from this little box.
The first surprise was that with the sample rate and bit depth up full, and the wave table set at 20 on the display, the Geiger Counter produced a relatively normal, dynamic overdrive that responded nicely to touch and changes in the instrument volume level. You can hear this fat, rock tone in Clip 1 on the website. Any crackling you hear is coming from the guitar, not the pedal, which is comparatively quiet, given the insane gain it can fabricate.
Of course, there are dozens of pedals that can do a basic distortion; the fun began as I increased the wave table numbers. The higher I went within each number set (10s, 20s, 30s, etc.) the wilder the tone got. The Geiger Counter let me choose from 252 wave tables. When you combine that with various bit settings—before or after the wave table, and a sample rate adjustable from over 58kHz down to 280Hz, you approach an infinite number of ways to contort and distort your guitar signal. The second surprise was how many of these sounds are usable. The actual amount will depend on your level of musical dementia. Many are exhilarating variations on filtered fuzz.
Plugging an expression pedal into the CV input let me command some of the crazier effects even as I played. For Clip 2, I sustained a chord, while sweeping the sample rate with the pedal. I loved how the sound changed, as the chord faded, from a full-throated scream to a high banshee wail—all this from just rocking the pedal as the chord decayed. For Clip 3 I played a melodic line, and then swept the pedal at the end of the lick. The WMD pedal gave the line a character unlike any other distortion pedal out there: in some ways synthlike, but still retaining a guitar quality.
The Final Mojo
If you remain unconvinced about the pedal’s musical potential, check out Clip 4, where I threw the previous clips together for a track that sounds like ZZ Top from Mars. All the noises save for the bass and beat were made with Geiger Counter and guitar through a clean amp model using Overloud TH1 software. For those who want to add the sounds of the future to their arsenal of traditional tones, the WMD Geiger Counter is a must-have.
you love extreme new sounds.
you are a tone traditionalist.
Street $299 - WMD - wmdevices.com
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Created in collaboration with legendary guitarist George Lynch of Dokken and Lynch Mob fame, the Mr.Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage and an onboard Deep control, which together are designed to enable an amp to have increased sustain while still retaining note definition and dynamics.
LegendaryTones, LLC today announced production availability of its new Mr. Scary Mod, a 100% pure tube module designed to instantly and easily expand the capabilities of many classic amplifiers with additional gain and tone shaping. Created in collaboration with legendary guitarist George Lynch of Dokken and Lynch Mob fame, the Mr.Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage and an onboard Deep control, which together are designed to enable an amp to have increased sustain while still retaining note definition and dynamics.
Originally released as the Lynch Mod in February 2021, the updated Mr. Scary Mod features the same core circuit as the Lynch Mod but is now equipped with a revised tube mix combo per George’s preference as well as a facelift in a newly redesigned electro-galvanized steel enclosure. As with the Lynch Mod, each run will be limited and the first run in Pumpkin Orange with Black hardware is limited to just 150 pieces worldwide.
The Mr. Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage on top of the cathode follower position, keeping note definition and articulation while further increasing sustain. Each Mr. Scary mod is meticulously built by hand in the USA, one at a time, and tuned using high-grade components. Equipped with a single ECC81 (12AT7) in the first position and ECC83 (12AX7) in the second, the Mr. Scary Mod can clean up beautifully when rolling down your guitar’s volume, and still adds scorching gain when you roll it back up. This is a gain stage that’s been tuned and approved by the ears of the maestro George Lynch himself.
“The Mr. Scary Mod excels with dynamics and is incredibly touch-responsive, allowing me to shift from playing clear, lightly compressed cleans to full-out aggressive sustain and distortion –and control it all simply by varying my guitar’s volume control and picking,” said GeorgeLynch. “In many ways, it’s an old-school approach, but it’s also so much more natural and expressive in addition to being musically fulfilling when you can play both the guitar and amp dynamically together this way.”
The Mr. Scary Mod installs in minutes, is safe and effective to use, and requires no special tools or re-biasing of the amplifier. Simply insert the module into the cathode follower preamp position of compatible amplifiers (includes Marshall 2203/2204/1959/1987 circuits) and
immediately get the benefit of enjoying a hot-rodded amp that delivers all the pure harmonic character that comes with an added pure tube gain stage. The handmade in the USA Mr. Scary Mod is now available to order for $319.
For more information, please visit legendarytones.com.
October Audio has miniaturized their NVMBR Gain pedal to create two mini versions of this beautifully organic-sounding circuit – including an always-on gain device.
The NVMBR Gain is a nonlinear amp that transitions gracefully from clean boost to overdriven tones. Volume increases from just over unity to about 10db before soft-clipping drive appears for another 5db of boost. Its extraordinary ease of use is matched by outstanding versatility: you can use it as a clean boost, push a stubborn amp into overdrive or create a just-breaking-up sound at any amp volume.
October Audio’s new family of mini NVMBR Gain pedals includes a switchable version that allows you to bypass the effect: one option features brand logo pedal graphics, while the other sports a fun “Witch Finger” graphic with a Davies knob as the“fingernail”.
The second version in the new lineup is an always-on device featuring the Witch Finger graphic and Davies knob, with the same NVMBR Gain circuit that lies at the core of the switchable version.
- Knob controls gain and clipping simultaneously
- Stunning silver hammertone finish
- Switchable versions are true-bypass, available with classic or witch finger graphics
- Authentic Davies knobs, including the “fingernail”
- 9V center negative power supply required
- Dimensions: 3.63 x 1.50 x 1.88 in
Witch Finger (always on NVMBR Gain) demo
All October Audio pedals are assembled in Richmond, VA, and available for purchase directly through the online shop. Street price is $109 for NVMBR Gain footswitch versions and $89 for the always-on device.
For more information, please visit octoberaudio.com.