Revocation's Dave Davidson commissioned a signature stomp that unites boost, reverb, and delay. The PG Dunable Eidolon review.
Reverb, delay and boost in one box. Good sounds. Easy to use.
Minimal control options.
Ease of Use:
Sometimes the features that a stompbox omits are as significant as the ones it includes. That’s certainly the case with the Eidolon, a streamlined multi-effects pedal from guitar, amp, and effect builder Sasha Dunable.
The Eidolon (it’s a classical Greek word meaning a phantom incarnation of a real person) is a collaboration between Dunable and Boston-based metal guitarist Dave Davidson (Revocation, Gargoyl). According to Dunable, Davidson was tired of schlepping separate booster, reverb, and delay pedals to burnish his single-note solos. The Eidolon was conceived as a one-box solution.
The Eidolon employs the ubiquitous Spin FV-1 chip, also used in a large percentage of current reverb, delay, and modulation pedals. This chip permits deep and potentially unconventional programming, but Eidolon keeps it simple with just a few straight-ahead sounds and modest tone-shaping options. A single on/off footswitch activates all three effects, though you can control their levels independently.
You hear the delay effect isolated at the beginning of the demo clip. It’s an attractive faux-analog tone with strong low-pass filtering. Echoes start dark and get darker as on a bucket-brigade delay, though you don’t encounter the distinctive distortion of analog BBD chips. The tone is a fine choice for aggressive single-note solos. Lacking crisp treble frequencies, it sits tidily behind the dry signal without compromising rhythm or note attack. The controls are basic: delay time, delay feedback, and wet/dry mix. The mix maxes out at 50/50 wet/dry. The feedback range is also limited: maximum settings produce about a dozen repeats. (Sorry, noisemakers. There’s no way to spiral into self-oscillating feedback.) There’s a dedicated tap-tempo switch and a flashing LED to indicate the current delay time.
The delay has no tone-shaping tools other than a simple “mod” switch, which adds a chorus effect to the delays (as heard at 00:19 in the demo clip). You can’t adjust the modulation parameters, but it’s a nice sound that can add subtle thickening and animation behind the dry signal. (Is the mod switch mounted upside-down, though? The modulation appears when you move the switch away from the enclosure’s “MOD” label.)
Your Basic Boost
A single knob sets the level for a clean boost with a +20 dB range. It’s a quiet, uncolored circuit, but, of course, how “clean” the results are depends on your pickups and amp setting. At the demo clip’s 00:37 point, I play a short phrase with the Eidolon bypassed, and then I repeat the phrase with maximum boost engaged. With my vintage-output pickup and small Carr combo amp set to a crisp, clean tone, there’s enough juice to summon distortion.
Note that the boost pot can subtract as well as add. Unity gain resides at noon, and the level descends to silence when rotated counter-clockwise. You could conceivably use negative boost settings as a “clean up” effect for high-gain tones.
Two knobs regulate the reverb. One is a wet/dry mix. The other, labeled “color,” damps high frequencies while shortening the reverb time. There’s not much sonic variation, but the default settings feature the FV-1’s reverb at its best: smooth, naturalistic, and warm, as heard at 01:16 in the demo clip (with above-noon mix and color settings). The reverb, delay, and boost effects blend handsomely, especially at restrained settings.
The Eidolon lives in a standard BB-sized stompbox. The circuit board is tidy, populated by a mix of ICs and standard-sized through-hole components. Both switches employ click-less relays. The knob arrangement and color-coding make a simple control process even simpler. The Eidolon runs on standard 9V power supplies (adapter not included) and has no battery compartment.
There’s nothing tricky about the Eidolon. It’s a potent clean-booster with basic but effective delay and reverberation. With very specific and limited ranges in some controls and straightforward sounds, it’s probably not the best choice for sonic explorers. But the Eidolon aces its stated mission of boosting and fattening solo tones with a single foot tap. Like co-creator Dave Davidson, some players may find that this simple pedal replaces a trio of specialized stompboxes.
Sideman to the stars Pete Thorn shares his regimen for avoiding the pitfalls of touring.
Well, that time is upon me again. I'm headed out on the road! I'm actually writing this in a New York hotel room, and tonight I'll be on a plane to the U.K. to start a run of 30-plus theater dates with the Classic Rock Show, an extravaganza of rock classics played by a top-notch band. I've really had to woodshed these songs and it's going to be a blast to perform them.
The upsides of touring are many. Of course, it's awesome to make a living doing what we love, but the pitfalls can be numerous as well. This month, I'd like to give you some pointers on how to avoid those pitfalls so you can stay happy and healthy on tour!
Keep your chops together. You'll certainly be getting plenty of playing time at gigs and soundchecks, but I find it's also beneficial to maintain a practice and/or writing routine outside of the shows. I always bring my laptop and UA Apollo Twin desktop recording interface, which allows me to record, mix, and practice guitar easily and virtually anywhere. The UA plug-in amp models sound great, and I can even route the output to my laptop speakers. Instant practice amp! And if I come up with a cool song idea, I can quickly lay it down in my DAW.
Fun tip: Carry a couple 1/4"-to-RCA cables with you when traveling, and try running the outputs from your interface into your hotel room TV's aux input. It'll probably be louder and fuller sounding than your laptop speakers. Of course, you can also carry a portable speaker on the road, like the little Fender Newport I use for this purpose. I have a Bose SoundLink Mini as well, but the 1/8" input adds some latency to the signal.
Want an even simpler practice setup? My other fave hotel room companions are mini amps such as the Blackstar Fly 3 and NUX Mighty Lite BT. They're both under $100 and make instant jamming so much fun. No laptop required. They're great for warming up backstage as well. I'm also really excited about the new Boss Waza-Air wireless headphone amp—which has amp simulation and effects built in—where your guitar signal gets to the headphones via a wireless transmitter. It's another no-brainer for a portable practice rig!
The most important thing is keeping a guitar readily available—out of the case or gig bag at all times. Just having it sitting out in a hotel or dressing room definitely makes me pick mine up more.
Eating right. I discovered about eight years ago that I'm seriously gluten intolerant. Simply being aware of this and sticking to a pretty strict gluten-free diet has really helped my health. Eating catering, restaurant food, or, even worse, fast food on a daily basis can catch up with you quickly. I wish I'd started eating right much sooner, but better late than never, right?
The Yelp app is quite handy when I'm on tour, because I can easily research and seek out healthy food that works for me. And I suggest avoiding late-night tour-bus snacking binges! When traveling on a moving bus that rocks to and fro, they've never led to anything but acid reflux for me. It goes without saying, but also try and keep the intoxicating substances to a minimum. Alcohol really does us no favors, and I'm always trying to be honest with myself about only drinking in moderation.
Sleep. Getting proper sleep is so important, and it can be a real challenge whether you are flying, traveling by bus, or in a van. Eyeshades and earplugs are two things I always carry with me, without fail. Melatonin can be very helpful when you are trying to reset to a new time zone. There's no easy fix for jet lag, but getting lots of sunshine during the day and eating at regular meal times can help your body clock reset. Short naps are okay, but keep them under 30 minutes or you are not napping—you're sleeping. And it'll just take you longer to adjust fully. If you can make it until 10:30 or 11:00 p.m. before sleeping, that's perfect. If you go past that time and stay up too late, you'll have trouble getting any sleep at all.
Exercise. Last but not least, getting regular exercise can really help both your body and your mind. Many hotels have gyms and/or pools, and I highly suggest making use of them. It's amazing what 30 minutes on a treadmill does for my mood by getting those endorphins going, which helps me stay mentally focused, even, and stable.
By the time you read this, our current tour should be just about wrapping up. If you're headed out to play some gigs sometime soon, stay safe out there and remember what a privilege it is to travel and play music. We are lucky to be doing this. Until next month, I wish you great tone!
Looking for a Gilmour-esque flanger? Here's a compact and buttery-sounding take on the Pink Floyd legend's Animals-era modulation machine. The PG Retro-Sonic Flanger review.
Open, spacious, and rich modulation waves. Excellent quality. Useful level control. 18-volt option.
Could use a touch more top-end sparkle.
Ease of Use:
Fair or not, a lot of ’80s guitar music remains maligned for reliance on chorus. But a lot of what is perceived as chorus on records from that period is really its more flamboyantly weird cousin, the flanger. And some of the most famous and foundational explorations of those tones actually date back to the mid-late ’70s and one very revered flanger in particular, the original 18V Electro-Harmonix Electric Mistress.
That the 18V Mistress is so commonly mistaken for chorus says much about its subtle to surreal range. But its god-like status (and preposterous prices) among vintage flangers is largely attributable to David Gilmour, who embraced the pedal around the 1977’s Animals tour. (Check out the widely circulated and highly regarded Oakland 1977 Pink Floyd bootleg on YouTube to dig the most unsubtle Mistress tones on “Pigs (Three Different Ones)” and “Dogs.”) Andy Summers also used the pedal to swishier, more-chorusy effect on “Walking on the Moon” and a load of other Police jams from the period.
Retro-Sonic’s Flanger is a very deliberate stab at authentically duplicating the sound, functionality, and range of that first EHX flanger. But apart from being a convincing stand-in for the original (it can even be run at an O.G.-style 18 volts), it’s also a forgiving, flexible, and fun flange unit that’s easy to add into any tone recipe for mellow and garish applications alike.
The Retro-Sonic is refreshingly no-frills. Simple green-and-black graphics hint at the livery of the original, but the primary focus is on functional authenticity. Rate, range (depth), and color (resonance) retain the same idiosyncratic names that appear on the EHX unit. Retro-Sonic even included the relatively little-used filter switch, which turns the LFO off, freezes the modulation, and removes the rate control—enabling cool out-of-phase, filtered, and ring modulated tones that can be shaped with the range and color controls. Though typically underutilized, it’s a very effective and useful feature, depending on your tastes, and capable of generating many bizarre, clanging textures that take lead melodies and chords to uncommon places.
The big improvement over the original is the added level control, which compensates for the volume drop in original EHX units, but can also provide a considerable dB bump if you want flanged sections to ride high in an instrument mix. And while Retro-Sonic also made the Flanger operable at 18 volts, I did not hear worlds of difference save for a little less compression. More keen-eared flange mavens may well find these slight differences invaluable.
Waves of Gratification
If you had to pick a single attribute that most obviously separates the Retro-Sonic from other compact flangers, it’s open space. There’s just a little more air and blue sky between those waves of modulation—even at aggressive settings that can leave lesser flangers sounding strangled and claustrophobic.
I don’t have an original 18V Electric Mistress. It’s been ages since I tried one, and the blasphemous truth is that I don’t recall the experience as especially extraordinary. Comparisons out there in the videosphere between vintage EHX units and this unit tend to find the Retro-Sonic comparatively dark by a hair. That said, the Retro-Sonic is discernably brighter, more transparent and more oxygenated than the flangers I use (most of which are solid-performing, mass-produced units). It sparkles at most settings when Fender single-coils are upstream. This recipe was especially delicious when I set up the Retro-Sonic for chorusy, rotary-speaker-like application or wilder lead sounds with heavy resonance and depth settings. And in these tone environments, sharper single-coil peaks work with the Retro-Sonic’s extra air and space like a spark in a combustion chamber. Humbuckers, predictably, take up a little more harmonic space between waves and slightly blunt harmonic peaks, creating a washier, foggier effect. But the Retro-Sonic’s superior airiness is that much more reason to consider it as a best-possible pairing for humbucker players, and there are scads of very satisfying tones that can be generated from thicker guitar input—especially if you like beds of molasses-y, liquid flange as underpinning for song verses or rhythm parts. And if you don’t love peaky flange tones, humbuckers can smooth over some of the Retro-Sonic’s combustible edge—particularly with big amps and Brit-flavored amplifiers.
At just less than 200 bucks, the Retro-Sonic isn’t at the “affordable” end of the effect spectrum, but it’s fairly priced when you consider the care that went into conjuring these perceptibly more spacious and inviting flange textures. If flanging is a primary effect or if you plan to use it extensively with fuzz or humbucking pickups, the Retro-Sonic’s low noise, high-headroom, and aerated waves of modulation, make the extra expense well worth it. If you use flanging infrequently or primarily with clean tones, you may be okay with an inexpensive alternative that delivers approximate results for less. Outside considerations of price, however, the Retro-Sonic Flanger is a blast to use and a very satisfying and authentic way to experience ’70s-style flange flavor.