Boss’ bucket brigade delay original returns having learned new tricks—and sounds glorious.
In their short production runs, Boss’ analog delays, the DM-2 and DM-3 were done in by digital competition within the Boss family: the DD-2 and DD-3. Had Boss merely revived the DM-2 it would have been cause for celebration. But the newest incarnation, the DM-2w Waza Craft, stretches the capabilities of the original with sonically scintillating results.
To start, Boss retained the basic functionality and delay parameters of the original DM-2, which are accessible in standard mode. Here, the DM-2 reminds you how fat and natural good analog delay can sound—and if you’ve been in the trenches with digital delay for a spell, the tones can be a revelation. Custom mode addresses the short (300 ms maximum) delay times that were perceived as shortcomings in the early ’80s by giving you an 800 ms ceiling. But custom mode is also just a touch clearer and brighter—and in a good way that doesn’t undo the delicious, dark essence of the analog repeats. Better still, it turns the simple control set into a beautifully expressive and sensitive tool for generating organically swelling self-oscillation and ringing overtones that complement those dark and softly tapering echoes. Beautiful!
Test gear:Fender Stratocaster, DeArmond JetStar, Fender Bassman, Vox AC10
An easy-to-use bass compressor that won’t put the squeeze on your wallet.
For many bassists, compression effects often fly below the radar. When it comes to carving out valuable pedalboard real estate, compressors don’t always make the cut. That’s a bit odd, given how compression is probably the most important processor of all when it’s time to track. But Seymour Duncan’s Studio Bass Compressor makes a strong case for clearing the necessary pedalboard space.
Basically, there are a four compressor types: optical, variable mu, VCA (voltage-controlled amplifier), and FET (field-effect transistor). Studio Bass is a VCA compressor, which puts it in the same universe as studio staples by the likes of Neve, SSL, and API.
Studio Bass boasts a sturdy build, compact footprint, and elegant design. Top-mounted I/O and power jacks leave elbow room for neighboring pedals, and the flared black knobs are easy to access and read. The pedal’s pots, switches, and jacks are all high-quality, and the package even comes with thin adhesive-foam strips for pedalboard mounting.
While some bass-compressor stompboxes provide maximum control via such parameters as ratio, slope, and threshold, Duncan opts for a simpler approach. Blend controls the wet/dry mix. Level sets the master output. Attack governs the compression speed, and compression controls the amount of squeeze. Additionally, a 3-position switch applies preset EQ curves to the bass’s dry signal: mid position adds a slight midrange boost, F is flat, and low provides an extra bump on the bottom.
I auditioned the Studio Bass between a Fender Jazz and a CEntrance AxePort Pro interface, recording the results into my DAW, Audacity. It was easy to get a wide range of compression effects by manipulating the attack and compression controls, from smooth, slow, and subtle to quick and squishy. The pedal tamed dynamic spikes while slapping, brought greater articulation to fingerstyle plucking, and lent a pleasing midrange punch to pickstyle playing. Dialing in a clean signal and working the blend knob harnessed the compressor’s polishing power while maintaining the desired degree of punch. And if you dial compression all the way down, the Studio Bass works as a slick boost pedal, governed by the level knob and colored by the 3-way EQ toggle.
The Studio Bass Compressor performs its namesake process at a reasonable price while adding such useful functions as EQ presets and a potent clean boost. Players who might balk at more complicated compressor pedals will probably find the Studio Bass’s to be simple and fun. Whether you’re new to compression or have used it for ages, consider kicking it with Studio Bass.
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A well built, intoxicating, and organic-sounding overdrive from the U.K.
Whether you trace its origins to Link Wray, the Kinks, or Atomic Rooster, riff rock was spawned from the sound of an amplifier driven to filthy extremes. Overdrive pedals were originally designed to replicate that tortured-amp sound. Like many great effects, these pedals often missed their intended mark, but sounded great nonetheless.
ThorpyFX, however, nails the sound of an amp at the verge of exploding. In fact, if someone were to ask me what my favorite new amplifier was, I might just choose the ThorpyFX Gunshot. You could call it “AC/DC in a box,” but that would be selling its tonal flexibility short.
The Gunshot is well made nearly to the point of being overbuilt. The enclosure recalls old, slope-front pedals by Sola Sound, Vox, and Colorsound, but with improvements like a recessed control panel and a heavy, laser-etched, stainless steel enclosure. I/O jacks are on the back panel—always good for conserving pedalboard space. Handsome purple chicken head knobs match the LED. It’s a striking package.
The first three controls—gain, tone, and volume—are self-explanatory. Meanwhile, a fourth control, caliber, sets the level of a secondary overdrive stage that cascades with the first drive section.
Dirty Zep and the Devil’s Kazoo
A PAF-loaded Les Paul seemed like a must for evaluating the Thorpy, but I also used an SG with P-90s and a Standard Telecaster. The first amp on deck was a Marshall JCM 800, paired with an old Sound City 4x10 cabinet. I set the Gunshot’s gain and calibre at noon. Power chords had exactly the combination of clang and beefy lows I’d hoped for, but on this particular amp I needed to dial back the pedal’s gain quite a bit.
Magic happened when I moved over to a 6V6-powered, blackface-flavored Carr Sportsman at the verge of breakup. As much as I love the Carr’s natural distortion when dimed, the added harmonic content and drive from the Thorpy had me cackling with delight. The combination was a joy for repetitive power progressions and classic blues-rock leads. The Telecaster and the Gunshot delivered spot-on early Zeppelin tones, and the SG’s neck pickup with the tone rolled back spat out funky/fuzzy “devil’s kazoo” tones.
Like a tube amp, the Gunshot is responsive to your guitar’s controls. I’ve always been bad about using the volume knob to add and subtract distortion, but the Thorpy’s responsiveness makes the practice especially rewarding.
Perhaps the most intoxicating aspect of the Gunshot sound is its complexity. At times it sounds like two amps running at once, thanks in part to the beautiful interactivity of the gain and calibre controls as they balance dirt, dimension, and space. There’s also a pronounced midrange bump that never seems to come at the expense of the treble or bass registers.
ThorpyFX has a winner on its hands with the Gunshot. It’s a little on the expensive side, but it cuts no corners. Frankly, I have no criticisms, though I wouldn’t recommend it if fat, rocking riffs aren’t your thing—or if you hate having a great time with a guitar.