december 2017

Tap tempo is king in a multi-voiced digital delay with creative echo-shaping controls.

Recorded with Schroeder Chopper TL and Wooly Coats Spanky MKII
Clip 1 - Lo-fi mode, eighth-note repeats
Clip 2 - Slapback mode, eighth-note repeats

Delay has evolved so much and become so functionally varied that whole user factions with independent value systems now exist. There’s the slapback set, the ambient adventurers, analog adherents that like it dirty, and digital surgeons that prize pristine clean sounds. With a raft of modulation textures, filters, and colors ranging from filthy to squeaky clean, Walrus’ ARP-87 addresses the needs of many of these groups. But it seems especially geared toward a unique breed of delay user known as the tap-tempo control freak—so much so that the pedal disposes of a time knob entirely and relies exclusively on a tap tempo switch and a subdivision knob to determine repeat rates.

Space Ranger Switches On
The ARP-87’s 6-knob array isn’t crazily unconventional, but it may throw trad-minded, 3-knob analog delay fans a curveball or two if they dive right in without referencing the manual. Apart from level and repeats, and perhaps the ratio knob, which enables selection of subdivisions, the individual controls declare their intent rather obliquely. They are, however, pretty easy to figure out on the fly. Dampen is a tone control, which is useful for taking the sheen off the digital delay or brightening the “analog” voice. X increases modulation intensity in slapback, analog, and digital modes, and adjusts filter width in lo-fi mode. Program enables switching between those four algorithms. The switches themselves have no detents, which can make adjustments tricky in the dark. Here again, though, the options are manageable enough in number to sort in the heat of performance.

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Bogner's beastliest amp is made miniature—and still slays.

Excellent sounds in a portable and very affordably priced package.

A footswitchable clean channel and onboard reverb would make it perfect.

$329

Bogner Ecstasy Mini
bogneramplification.com

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The original Bogner Ecstasy, released in 1992, is iconic in heavy rock circles. Though it was popularized and preferred by rock and metal artists (Steve Vai and Brad Whitford were among famous users), its ability to move from heavy Brit distortion to Fender-like near-clean tones made it appealing beyond hard-edged circles. Even notorious tone scientist Eric Johnson was enamored with its capabilities.

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Rig Rundown: IDLES

See how chaotic co-pilots Mark Bowen and Lee Kiernan bring five pedalboards to mutilate, mangle, and mask their guitars into bass, synth, hip-hop beats, raging elephant sounds, and whatever “genk” is.

Do you hear that thunder? That’s the sound of strength in numbers. Specifically, it's the sound of four 100-watt stacks. (Actually, one is a 200-watt bass tube head.) IDLES’ guitarists Mark Bowen and Lee Kiernan finally have the firepower to match their fury. (Original members singer/lyricist Joe Talbot, drummer Jon Beavis, and bassist Adam Devonshire fill out the band. Kiernan took over for guitarist Andy Stewart after 2015 EP Meat was released.)

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