pedal issue 2017

Creative side-chaining functions come to life in a super-compact and powerful stomp.

Side chaining—the studio practice of ducking instrument volumes in sync with rhythmic elements—is a fixture in everything from dance music to fist-pumping stadium rock. It’s a clever way to add impact, animate ordinary rhythms, and make a straight-ahead track into a dance floor corker, which is no small currency in today’s pop music production climate. Side-chaining can be used for any instrument. But when it’s applied to guitar in the studio, it can sound like everything from tremolo to reverse reverb to heavy compression.

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A gated fuzz brims with unexpected complexity and surprising vintage voices.

Gated fuzz has a weird, polarizing reputation. Some players I know associate it unequivocally with macho stoner rock riffs and hyper-gain doom trips and cringe at its very mention. But I hear gated fuzz as a point on a continuum that originates with primitive, fizzy germanium fuzzes. There’s way more to gated fuzz than creating the sonic equivalent of orc armies on the march. And that’s why Way Huge’s Conquistador Fuzzstortion is such a kick. It’s just as happy dishing desert-rock riffage as it is churning up ’60s scuzz-punk leads or layering art rock textures in the studio. And while the gating is distinct, there’s just enough lingering harmonic content to make the pedal sound complex and even a little soft around the edges.

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An optical compressor that delivers subtlety and superb control.

Drawing inspiration from Universal Audio’s famous 1176 and Teletronix’s LA-2A, Mastro Valvola’s Millibar is an optical compressor with an exceptional range of control. And like the studio compressors that inspired it, it’s a highly functional unit with the ability to enliven lifeless tones, re-shape a guitar’s voice to fit in a mix, and focus squirrelly overdriven signals.

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