First Look: Way Huge Attack Vector
Phaser and envelope filter combine to make unconventional sounds that transcend both effects.
This pedal was designed to crank out an array of off-kilter sounds, twisting your riffs into crazy new forms. Bee stings, perfect for funky moods. Gloopy syrup to drench your low-string twanging. Fifty shades of rude behavior that’ll turn a pleasant cocktail party into a drunken brawl.
The Attack Vector Phaser & Envelope’s attitude is intended to work with electric bass as well as guitar. So if you’re looking for pedal that smiles politely and behaves appropriately, keep right on walking – you won’t find it here. But if you seek a kindred spirit and fellow troublemaker, the Way Huge Smalls Attack Vector Phaser & Envelope might just become your new best friend.
Strymon Zelzah Review
Crazy range from a digital phaser that also does chorus, flange, and deep compound modulations.
A deep digital pedal you can fearlessly use live. Intuitive controls. Easy to access flange and chorus sounds.
No presets or tap tempo available without MIDI or external footswitches.
The Electro-Harmonix Small Stone was my first weird pedal. Initially I gravitated to the Small Stone because it seemed so utterly immodest, but I soon came to treasure its more subdued settings and its ability to communicate a strange, mysterious melancholy.
Strymon’s new Zelzah, with its ultra-flexible controls and combinable 4- and 6-stage phasing modes, can generate many nuanced variations on these extremes and thousands of colors in between. It also generates immersive chorus and flange tones that make this a very powerful little waveform manipulator.
Purple Waves of Phase
Strymon has remained crafty about maximizing the utility and user-friendliness of their compact stompboxes. On the Zelzah, they use their now-familiar formula of six knobs, two footswitches, and two small toggle switches allocated to two primary functions. Much like Boss pedals, this uniformity in design inspires a certain confidence (at least among players that have previously used small Strymon pedals) that you can dive in and find your way through the forest without first spending a week with a manual. Because this is a Strymon, quality time with the manual is a good idea. There is deeper functionality to consider—particularly if you embrace its MIDI potential. But players keen to get on with creation can dive headlong into the Zelzah’s pleasures and get fast results.
The Zelzah is divided into a 4- and a 6-stage phaser section. The 4-stage phaser side is ostensibly the more streamlined of the two, with knobs for speed, depth, and mix. But the toggle functions makes things interesting fast. The classic voice does nice approximations of old-school analog phasers. But the addition of a barber pole phaser, which gives the aural illusion of phase cycles unwinding endlessly, helix-like, into space, opens up cool compositional possibilities and rhythmic phase effects. The envelope mode is awesome too, not least because it can be set to sit subtly in a mix. The speed and depth knobs double as range and sensitivity controls, and the modest-to-quacky range of effects is impressive.
The 6-stage side of the Zelzah is also simultaneously streamlined and full of surprises. The main attraction here, apart from the thick 6-stage phaser, is a voice switch that morphs between phase, flange, and chorus modes—all of which are excellent. There’s also a 3-position resonance switch that gives all three voices great mellow-to-extreme range.
While Zelzah’s MIDI functionality technically enables hundreds of presets, and you can hook up an expression pedal to effectively move between two preset sounds, you cannot store and recall presets on the unit itself. You’ll either need to delve into MIDI or use an external footswitch with which you can save a single preset. You’ll also need an external switch if you rely on tap tempo. Personally, I find the Zelzah’s basic controls intuitive enough that I don’t need presets or tap tempo much. Some habitual deep divers will, no doubt, be bummed.
Players keen to get on with creation can dive headlong into the Zelzah’s pleasures and get fast results.
The USB jack that enables MIDI connectivity is situated on the crown of the pedal. But there are also true stereo outs as well as a switch that moves the pedal from mono to stereo. Stereo operation is another joy well worth exploring in the Strymon. Just be prepared to allocate a whole week for spelunking these modulation depths.
Motion for Many Moods
The Zelzah’s possible modulation textures start to feel pretty limitless once you get acquainted with the controls—particularly because you can combine the 4-stage phaser with the 6-stage phaser, chorus, and flange.
The 4-stage classic mode is easy to navigate and awash with nice phase colors. The slow and mellow tones are great. So are the fast and intense ones. You hear a lot of detail in these modulations, too, thanks to the pedal’s super-low noise. The potential of the barber pole phaser piqued my interest most. Most barber settings have a frequency-narrowing effect that lends the phase a little more focus, which in turn makes the phase cycle feel more intense. I found a bunch of cool ways to use the tick-tock sway of some of these patterns as rhythmic underpinnings for riffs. And when using the barber pole in compound 4- and 6-stage phaser sounds, you can tune in cool whistling overtones on top. Phasers may be almost intrinsically psychedelic, but the barber pole effect genuinely tweaks your sense of space and time a little more intensely.
The envelope mode, meanwhile, is a riff factory. It twists simple licks in the same way any envelope filter would. But here, the breadth of phase sounds, the ability to keep the effect subdued, and the contouring effect of the phase waveforms take the Zelzah’s version to more malleable and mellow places.
Six-stage phase sounds are generally more intense than 4-stage tones. And with the variable resonance switch available to ramp up the weirdness, you’ll probably want to stop here for your most freakish phase experiences. Even with the resonance switch off, most 6-stage voices feature a detectable whooshiness. And, at mild and high resonances and deeper depth settings, things get ultra-chewy.
The nice chorus and flange effects on the 6-stage side can be made very mellow with the resonance off, but can also assume weird and intense personalities at high resonance and depth settings. They are a fantastic addition to the killer phaser sounds that make Zelzah a practical one-stop modulation shop.
If you’re on the fence between keeping your phase classy and subtle and indulging your wildest modulation urges, Zelzah can accommodate wild fluctuations between those extremes. The compound modulations are an endless well of unusual sounds. And the very rich chorus tones and flanger—and the ease with which you can summon and shape them—make the Zelzah a very fair deal, even if the $349 price initially gives pause.
First Look: Strymon Zelzah Multidimensional Phaser
Rig Rundown: Goose
See these jam-happy ganders soar with one guitar each and a stockpile of Strymons. Plus, why Rick Mitarotonda embraces random changes to pedal settings.
“Are you guys with the band?” A pleasant passerby asked while we were loading out camera gear near the Goose tour bus parked outside Nashville’s Brooklyn Bowl.
“No, we’re just here to do an interview.” I responded.
“Oh man, tell the band that last night’s concert was uh-mazing,” exclaimed the joyous fan. “We’ll be talking about it for years to come.”
And with that sort of impassioned, infectious positivity, Goose is following the freeform footsteps of the Grateful Dead, Phish, Dave Matthews Band, and Umphrey’s McGee—where polished, recorded albums are secondary to improvisation-rich, snowflake-unique performances that illicit exchanges like that above. (Adding to their jam-band credit, they livestream most shows, and guitarist Peter Anspach mixes the band’s gigs for release shortly afterwards.)
Formed in 2014, the quintet currently includes: Peter Anspach (guitar, keys, vocals), Jeff Arevalo (percussion, vocals), Ben Atkind (drums), Rick Mitarotonda (guitar, lead vocals), and Trevor Weekz (bass). The Northeast-based crew has released two albums (2016’s Moon Cabin and 2021’s Shenanigans Nite Club), an EP (2020’s Night Lights), and Dripfieldis on the horizon, for release on June 24.
However, the recorded songs are just guideposts and mile markers. It is all about the live experience. The band often performs two sets, without an opener, and keeps fans on their toes with natural, symbiotic excursions and unlikely, progressive covers. The first evening of their sold-out, two-night run in Nashville saw them flex their musical adeptness and vocabulary with covers of Wes Montgomery (“Switchin’”) and Steppenwolf (“Magic Carpet Ride”).
Their word-of-mouth growth has elevated them to cross several milestones in 2022. They sold out their first arena (Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut) and followed that with sell-outs at the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre and historic Radio City Music Hall. So you can plan on seeing these birds fly high for years to come.
Before Goose’s second sold-out show in Nashville, PG was invited onstage to catalog their current setups. In this Rundown, guitarists Peter Anspach and Rick Mitarotonda show off their all-night 6-string costars, detail the pedals that help them warp space and time for organic odysseys, and Mitarotonda explains how a looper helps him from hitting mental walls and getting cornered in redundant guitar-playing boxes.
Brought to you by D’Addario XPND Pedalboard.
Suhr Is Pretty
Goose guitarist Peter Anspach has always loved humbuckers, but he felt the huskier tones on ’bucker-equipped guitars had a few shortcomings—primarily lacking the 2- and 4-position squawk of an S-style instrument. The solution was switching to this Suhr Mateus Asato Signature Classic that threads the needle with an Asato Custom Humbucker and a pair of ML Standard single-coils. He rocks D’Addario Classic Celluloid picks (1.0 mm), NYXLs (.010 –.046), and Original Fuzz straps.
The Backup Beauty
Sitting close by in the bullpen is this Fender American Vintage ’62 Stratocaster that pulls its weight as a backup.
A Reliable Deluxe
“It’s just so full, clean, and reliable, and that’s what you need on the road. I can’t emphasize its reliability enough,” says Anspach of his Fender ’64 Custom Deluxe Reverb. “I have a ’70s silver-panel Deluxe Reverb at home that gets blown out of the water by this one.” He plugs his guitar into the normal channel, while putting his clavinet into the bright channel.
Peter’s Pedal Playground
Quickly glancing at Anspach’s pedalboard, you see that he has his feet in the analog and digital worlds. The industry standbys include a Moog Moogerfooger MF-101 Lowpass Filter, Electro-Harmonix Small Stone phase shifter, Keeley Compressor Plus, Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer (with Analog Man mod), and an Analog Man King of Tone. The modern juggernauts include a trio of Chase Bliss boxes (Dark World, Tonal Recall, and Mood) and a pair of Strymon stomps (TimeLine and Flint). A Dunlop Cry Baby Classic GCB95F sits in the lower righthand corner and a TC Electronic Polytune 2 Mini keeps his guitars in check. Underneath is a Strymon Zuma to power his noisemakers.
One for the Birds!
During his formative guitar-playing years, Rick Mitarotonda’s father took him to the House of Guitars in Rochester, New York. He tried a bunch of instruments that day, but the cream of the crop for 13-year-old Rick was a PRS. And ever since he’s been partial to the birds. His main ride for some time has been this PRS Hollowbody II Piezo. The hollowbody features PRS’ 58/15 LT (low turn) humbuckers that work alongside the LR Baggs/PRS proprietary piezo electronics. And similar to his guitar mate, Mitarotonda employs D’Addario NYXLs (.010 –.046).
Bird of a Feather Flock Together
Rick’s 6-string insurance plan is in the shape of another PRS Hollowbody II Piezo, but this one technically still belongs to Anspach, who has settled into his Strat-osphere.
Blast Off With Boogie
Rick has been plugging into Mesa/Boogie combos for 10-plus years. He started his journey with the smaller Express 5:25 Plus 1x12 combo with EL84s. He’s since graduated to the Express 5:50 with 6L6s. He’s stayed loyal to the brand because he enjoys how the amps naturally compress his guitar sound.
Mitarotonda has some serious pedal power at his feet. The first board on his far right is dedicated to vocals. He has a TC Helicon Play Electric vocal effects processor that integrates and is controlled by the TC Helicon Switch-3. (The Play adds an octave-up harmony. The three buttons on the Switch-3 toggle engage hardtune, delay, and reverb for his vocals.)
Moving left, we have his first board for guitar. He has a Dunlop Cry Baby 535Q wah and DigiTech Whammy at his disposal before hitting a Lovepedal Eternity Fuse. Then he goes into a Mu-Tron Micro-Tron IV envelope filter, Strymon OB.1 compressor and clean boost, and a MXR Carbon Copy Deluxe. The top-right corner holds a TC Electronic Polytune. Strapped to the bottom is a Truetone 1 Spot power supply.
The third and final board has a MXR Analog Chorus. And then things get serious with a 5-pack of Strymons that include a Deco tape saturation and doubletracker, El Capistan dTape Echo, TimeLine, Flint tremolo/reverb, and a NightSky time-warped reverberator. Off the board to the left is a TC Electronic Ditto X4 that Rick leans on to peel open new textures to help him get out of his head during improvisational parts and see his instrument with a fresh lens.