A lush, lively stereo chorus with tasteful, varied presets and controls that range from the classic to the crazed.
Excellent presets and reactive controls produce a lush variety of lovely classic and crazed sounds. Solid construction.
Pricey. Black divot dial marking are hard to read.
VS Alchemy MkIII
Love it or hate it, the chorus pedal became an important part of rock’s soundscape in the ’80s. Happily, there’s a lot to love about VS Audio’s new Alchemy MkII, an analog stereo chorus with a half-dozen useful presets and a 4-dial setup that opens up plenty of modulation-shaping range.
With graphics that conjure a medium with her hands surrounding a crystal ball (which doubles as the bypass LED), the updated Alchemy pedal is handsome and sturdy. It’s got two smooth switches. The leftmost, labeled bypass, is on/off; the rightmost activates and shuttles between the device’s six presets and works as a tap tempo for the low frequency oscillator (LFO) that governs the pedal’s sweep. Tap tempo is a new feature in the MkII, along with smoother and more natural sounding modulation and an expanded delay range. Also, VS says the effect’s output is brighter, smoother, and warmer than in the first iteration. The input and stereo outs are solid, and a barrel adaptor feeds the Alchemy 9-volt power. Under the hood, there’s a tidy circuit board with a reissue 3207 BBD delay chip that helps produce everything from warm modulation to queasy detuned noise. Together it’s a rugged, appealing package.
The Alchemy MkII comes with six factory presets that sound so good and varied that players who aren’t interested in exploring outer reaches might be satisfied with them alone. By holding the bypass and preset switches down simultaneously, it’s also easy to edit those presets.
Six factory presets sound so good and varied that players who aren’t interested in exploring outer reaches might be satisfied with them alone.
I explored the Alchemy MkII with a two-amp setup featuring a Carr Vincent and Carr Telstar so I could enjoy the stereo spectrum. And exploring the presets in this configuration was a joy. The box’s lower LED changes color according to preset. Here’s what I heard for each color-coded setting. I also describe some of the virtual knob settings as they are described in the manual:
- Blue: Subtle speed with medium depth and zero delay, and an even split between the effect and guitar tone. Great for funky, crisp chords and licks, à la Jimmy Nolen and Al McKay.
- Green: Still subtle and funky, but with more depth and less speed.
- Red: Full-on speed with depth past the midpoint, zero delay, and the mix at 3 o’clock. It seems to thin the midrange when I play chords. But single notes take on a cool oscillating effect between amps and adding an overdrive generates compelling lead tones.
- Yellow: Entering Leslie territory, with fast oscillations just shy of SRV’s Vibratone sounds. The delay is cranked, the speed and mix are at about 3 o’clock, and the depth is off.
- White: Full-on Leslie-style tones. Lush with vibrato. My favorite. The mix is up all the way, delay half-way, speed at 3 o’clock, and depth at 1 o’clock. Playing chords and bending notes is a blast. Gorgeous oscillations!
In live mode, sans presets, the chorus options feel pretty endless. I explored a few go-to settings, like setting speed and depth at 3 o’clock for Nirvana or “Enter Sandman” tones, and slowly increasing the delay until it produced a sick, detuned quality. Elsewhere, with the speed at 11 o’clock, depth at noonish, and delay at 9 to 11 o’clock, I could approximate 12-string sounds.
At 300 bucks the Alchemy Mk II is pricey. But it is a well-built, rangeful stereo chorus with varied and thoughtful preset options that might be enough for many players. Controllability on the fly can be tricky. Dial positions are indicated by divots, rather than a contrasting white line, so it’s hard to see them in low light. Apart from that design oversight, the Alchemy is feast of rich, analog modulation sounds.
Deathcore dealer Stephen Rutishauser dishes bludgeoning riffs on Petrucci-approved sparkly 7- and 8-string stallions.
Death metal is a genre built on precision and power. Chelsea Grin’s articulate picking and gut-rattling riffs are its foundation. But thanks to a rotating cast of ripping guitarists (including Rig Rundown alumnus Jason Richardson), their five albums have shown subtle brick-and-mortar flair by incorporating elements of djent, metalcore, doom, black metal, and even post-hardcore. The current lead guitar chair has been filled by Stephen Rutishauser since 2015. His input has given their chaotic sound a more meticulous gnarl and complex rhythmic density that binds discord and darkened melodies.
Hours before Chelsea Grin’s rare club gig at Nashville’s the End, the gruesomely heavy guitarist invited PG’s Chris Kies onstage to talk gear. In this RR, the band’s face-melter details the sparkle-covered Petrucci signatures that he carries on tour and breaks down the dialed-in digital patches that color their brutal barrage.
[Brought to you by D’Addario dBud Earplugs.
Man Meets Machine
“I love these guitars [Music Man JP13s] for a lot of reasons,” admits Rutishauser. “They have a bite no other guitar can achieve. I think that’s just the conglomerate of everything they put into it. It’s piercing, with a crisp, throaty midrange. It’s just a total machine.” All of his JP13s are loaded with DiMarzio-designed, Petrucci-endorsed Illuminator humbuckers. The JP13s handle all songs in drop-A and drop-G tunings. He landed on this particular iteration of the John Petrucci signature because of its tonewood pairings: basswood body, mahogany tone block, maple top, mahogany neck, and rosewood fretboard. His drop-A guitars take Ernie Ball Ernie Ball 2621 7-String Regular Slinky Cobalts (.010–.056) and his drop-G guitars (like the one above) take Ernie Ball 2615 7-String Skinny Top Heavy Bottom Slinky Cobalts (.010–.062).
This delicious Music Man JP13 is finished in root beer sparkle. This one is an anomaly as it has a JP13 body matched with a JP15 neck. The difference is more than a number, as the 15 model shifted to a roasted-bird’s-eye-maple neck and fretboard. He notes the varied ingredients provide less spark in his pinch harmonics, but Rutishauser does enjoy how it brightens up his palm-muted chugs.
The Boom Stick
Rutishauser’s choice for his main 8-string, which handles drop-B jams, is this Aristides 080. The unique thing about this beast is that it contains no wood and is made completely of resin-based Arium. It features a 27" scale length, MEC Electronics, and Lundgren M8 humbuckers. Plus, its C-shaped multi-scale neck (26.5"-28") starts at 2.17" wide and spreads to 2.75" at the 12th fret. The Richlite fretboard has a compound (14"-19") radius and is fitted with 24 Jescar medium-jumbo, stainless steel frets. It’s laced with Ernie Ball 8-String Slinkys (.010–.074).
A Black Hole
The 080s magnificent galaxy-sparkle finish gives way to a clear back piece that shows off the blackened Arium construction at its nucleus.
This champagne-sparkle JP13 handles any required 7-string backup duties.
Light and Mighty
Both Rutishauser and bassist David Flinn rely on Fractal Audio juggernauts. Stephen plugs into the Axe-Fx II XL+, while Flinn runs into the original Axe-Fx Ultra. Rutishauser’s principal tone is based on the FAS Brutals. He intensifies that setting with putting a drive into the Brutals and parametric EQ after it. He’ll occasionally patch in a reverb, delay, and modulation at the end of his chain, but ahead of the EQ. The laptop runs Cubase for the guitar track, click track, 808 bass drops, and left-right stereo tracks.
Racked and Ready
Focusrite’s Clarett+ 8Pre interface controls their inputs. A Radial SW8 Auto-Switcher wrangles all backing tracks out of Cubase. Sennheiser EM 300 G3 wireless units cover both the stringed instruments and the band’s in-ear monitors. At the bottom rests a Behringer X32 Rack, which routes and regulates the band’s in-ear monitors.
Week #4 is here! You could WIN pedals from one of SIX great brands... including a whole new pedal lineup from Pigtronix!
The Dept. 10 pedals combine modern versatility with real tube-driven tones, using an ECC83 triode preamp tube running at 250V at the heart of each pedal. The Dual Drive and Dual Distortion are powerful tube effects, preamps, and audio interfaces, and the Dept 10 Boost is a flexible tube boost, eq, and overdrive.
A JAM pedals favorite for a lot of guitar, bass and keyboard players, the WaterFall is serving as a mainstay on boards of such greats as John Scofield, Nels Cline, Steve Lukather, Anthony Jackson and John Mesdeski for many years now, and has established itself as one of the best analog chorus/vibrato pedals in the market.
It features BBD chips faithful reproductions of the Panasonic MN3207, 2 toggle-switches, the first to select between chorus and vibrato modes, and the other to switch to a “wetter” effect resulting in a deeper, more contemporary sounding chorus, or a more intense, deranged vibrato sound! Max out the Depth and Speed controls to get Leslie-speaker type effects!
Pedaltrain Classic 2 Pedalboard w/ Tour Case installed with BTPA interface panel for input, output, send, return, and power. Power cable included + BTPA High Definition Straight to right angle instrument cable.
One Control Honeybee Overdrive 4K Mini and Mini Custom Versions.
For the 20th anniversary of the original BJFe Honeybee Overdrive, Björn Juhl has now brought the sound of his classic low-gain overdrive to the One Control Mini pedal platform, featuring both the classic Honeybee warm syrupy texture with Modern/Vintage Switch and a special new Custom version, with enhanced gain and a hot crimson finish. Gold finish is classic, Crimson finish is the high gain variant.
One of the most popular customer requests from the original Honeybee OD was for enhanced treble response. While many guitarists love the original “Nature” knob, Björn has equipped the new HBOD4k Mini with both Bass and Treble controls. This new design will enable players to dial the pedal in more easily with a wider range of amplifiers.
After the original run of 200 BJFe Honeybees, Björn started to change the original circuit in response to requests from guitarists worldwide. You can have both flavors of the Honeybee OD with the 4K Mini – simply flip the switch on the side between Vintage/Modern and experience the original sound of both Honeybee circuits in our Mini size enclosure to allow the HBOD4K Mini to fit on any pedalboard setup.
Vidami Blue is a revolutionary multi-modal tool that gives you hands-free control of today’s most popular music production, performance and education technology.
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