august 2015

Unknown Mortal Orchestra guitarist Ruban Nielson likes to keep the kids guessing, so he includes a few mysterious handmade pedals on his board.
Photo by Annie Atlasman

This tinkering guitarist’s philosophy is to sound unique by building his own gear.

In 2010, ex-Mint Chicks guitarist Ruban Nielson posted new music online under the moniker “Unknown Mortal Orchestra.” He didn’t know what to expect. After years fronting the somewhat-punk Mint Chicks, Nielson, a New Zealand native, relocated to Portland, Oregon, and worked nine-to-five. Music making was something he did at night after work as a hobby.

That changed fast.

Read MoreShow less

Mike Matthews serves up intense, photocell-driven Uni-Vibe-style modulation at an accessible price.

Electro-Harmonix has built some amazing and affordable phasers, flangers, chorus and vibrato pedals over the years. But the Good Vibes is the company’s first accessibly-priced, photocell-driven Uni-Vibe-style modulation pedal.

Like so many great EHX pedals, Good Vibes is designed for probing the outer reaches of an effect’s potential. There’s an expression-pedal jack (why doesn’t every ’Vibe-inspired pedal have one?), and the switch for assigning it to speed or intensity is right there with the volume, intensity, speed, and chorus/vibrato controls. That simple design gesture significantly enhances the pedal’s real-world utility and expressive potential.

Read MoreShow less