An untraditional take on a delay pedal with unprecedented functions.
Unique take on delay functions. New sounds to explore and inhabit. Deep details mean the Habit will hold your attention for a while.
Steep learning curve. Abstract functionality. Need to keep notes.
Chase Bliss Habit
Chase Bliss’ creations are driven by some of the most forward-thinking ideas in guitar-pedal design. Each unit is a unique device that reworks, not just tone, but how players engage with effects— almost like a hands-on art project. Look on their website and you see terms like “bottomless looper,” “instant ambience,” and “analog timeshifter” used as the descriptors for their knob- and switch-heavy stomps. Clearly, they’ve carved out their own niche outside convention.
Chase Bliss’ newest offering, the Habit, is equally esoteric. Described on their site as an Echo Collector, it could just as easily be classified as a delay-adjacent device as an echo pedal. Because while the basic elements of a delay live among the many features, the complicated digital architecture gives users access to something much more singular—and weirder.
There’s not much that is linear about the Habit. Much of the user experience feels abstract because the simplest controls don’t always act like regular delay functions. The level and repeats controls act as you’d expect. But instead of a delay-time control, the Habit is equipped with a size knob that reduces delay time without warping pitch. The Habit also offers sixty seconds of delay time, so if you add too much time between phrases you might be waiting a while for parts to come back around again. The space between repeats can also get super tiny, which opens up unexpected and bizarre rhythmic delay possibilities.
The modify knob controls six echo effects—stepped speed, stability, trimmer, smooth speed, filter, and dropper—which are accessed via combinations of two 3-way toggles. The spread control adds a secondary echo, which I used for multi-tap-style repeats. But longer settings open the potential for maximum weirding. The range of this knob is, like the size control, sixty seconds. So by cranking it, you might hear stuff you forgot you played. And if you haven’t cleared the memory—which is done by holding both footswitches—the Habit might regurgitate an idea with a different key, feel, or tone. Conceptual continuity or unintentional chaos? You decide!
Tone and function combinations in the Habit often feel infinite. But I found many highlights. Stepped speed, for example, turns the modify knob into a speed knob, with a zeroed setting at noon. I had fun switching modifiers and hearing how the other controls reacted, each of which was a unique experience. I also enjoyed hearing my ideas pile up on top of each other in collect mode, and I’m a sucker for dry-kill settings, so I can imagine plenty of uses for each function. In the Habit’s default auto mode, the scan knob will search the pedal’s memory and bring back ideas at random in glitched-out glory. But by switching the dip switch for “manual,” the scan becomes like a radio dial spinning through the last sixty seconds of your recorded history. I’d play some riffs for a minute or so, then take to the scan knob. By bouncing between those methods, I laid out an ambient auto- generated, minimalist sound journey. This was easily my favorite way of interacting with the Habit.
Switching the dip switch for “manual,” the scan becomes like a radio dial spinning through the last sixty seconds of your recorded history.
Like some of Chase Bliss’ other offerings, the Habit includes 16 tiny dip switches on its top panel. Each further modifies the pedals functions in a unique way, and using them almost feels like instant circuit-bending. Because of the size and delicate nature of these switches—and the precision they require—you won’t want to be changing them on the fly at a gig. (And if it’s strapped onto your pedalboard, you probably won’t have the option to anyway). But they enable you to shape sounds a high level of detail.
At its simplest, the Habit is a delay pedal that plays by its own ruled and lives in its own galaxy— somewhere alongside glitchy pedals like the Montreal Assembly Count to Five and Red Panda Tensor perhaps. Yet the Habit is totally unique.
Dialing up settings with precision isn’t easy. There is a lot of guesswork involved in finding your way back to sounds. And with 60-second delay time ranges, rhythmic interactions between size and spread are sometimes hard to configure with exactitude. Plus, with so many control possibilities, you might as well keep a notebook next to your pedalboard, which isn’t everyone’s idea of fun. But if you like the notion of taking the basic functions and sounds of tape delay and mangling them into new, unrecognizable forms that get you out of your safety zone, the Habit will keep you coming back.
This flashy, hard-to-find guitar looks great, but how does it sound?
Recently, my son and I have discovered a passion for sports-card collecting. I remember being a young lad and riding my bike down to the corner store, where I chased my dream of completing the entire set of 1985 Topps football cards. This summer, we’ve been going through my old card collection, and he and I have been visiting local card shows and conventions. If you haven’t collected cards since the ’80s, you’re in for a surprise. There are a multitude of different card makers and different series within each yearly run, plus some hard-to-find variations. It’s mind-boggling. We’ve been really digging a particular Topps baseball set because it’s modeled after the 1952 card design—you know I love vintage—and every pack has a chance, albeit slim, of including a low-numbered Mickey Mantle card. This card is super rare, but every time we open a pack there is this thrill that just makes me smile.
This got me thinking about when I was really heavily into finding weird, rare guitars. I would often turn up stuff I’d never seen before, but I was consistently looking for a particularly elusive Teisco. Just as rare as that Mickey Mantle card, the Teisco Spectrum 5 was nearly impossible to find. And man, did I try. Then I got a phone call one day from a friendly Texan who would contact me occasionally when he happened upon cool gear. Well, he had found the impossible for me. My example was used and abused but all still there in that Lake-Placid-blue glory. Teisco did produce these in red and white, but blue is more common. In fact, in all my years of searching, I’ve never seen a vintage Spectrum in white.
There are all sorts of features I like about this guitar, such as the “parachute” fretboard inlays, German carve, triple binding, and 4x2 headstock design.
Introduced around late 1966, the Spectrum 5 was a seriously ambitious guitar that carried a whopping retail price of $375 in the 1967 Bennett Brothers (aka Blue Book) catalog. That price kept this guitar out of reach of most players, and that’s probably why it’s so hard to find today, but these were sold through both catalogs and department stores.
The Spectrum 5 was one of the first designs built by Kawai after they bought Teisco and moved production to Hamamatsu, Japan. The catalogs spoke of a durable finish using seven coats of lacquer and a strong, thin neck made of laminated ebony, the wood also featured on the fretboard. My example has a maple neck with a rosewood board, so … variations!
The intricate electronics were a first for Teisco. Aside from the single volume and tone knobs, the Spectrum 5 has push switches that allow for different sound combinations. Each pickup is a single-coil that is “split”—there are two jacks to play in stereo, using two amps. Basically, the bass strings go to one amp, and the treble strings through another. The tremolo bridge was also a brand-new endeavor, and the model’s tremolo cover is as rare and sought-after as the guitar itself.
Teisco built the Spectrum 5 into the early 1970s with a few different variations, and the retail prices dipped way down into the mid $100s. There are all sorts of features I like, such as the “parachute” fretboard inlays, the German carve, triple binding, and the 4x2 headstock design. These guitars are a joy to play and sling around because they are light and balanced. I never liked their sound, though. To my ears, they sound thin—it’s a total garage tone. The pickups need a serious kick via a pedal booster, overdrive, or a cranked amp.
The Spectrum 5 is a fitting name because of the five brightly colored switches, which are really weird. The combinations are hard to explain because they are preset tone options. For example, on the red switch, it takes a treble coil from bridge and a bass coil from the middle. I think it’s a big reason why these guitars don’t sound very good—everything is preset and almost all the combinations are weird. And you can only use one switch at a time. They’re spring-loaded, so when you push down one switch another pops up.
If you do dig the tone, then you’ll probably find plenty to like in those controls. I enjoy having it around as a piece of art … like a rare card.
A uniquely shaped take on a classy style semi-hollow guitar that adds punchy attitude and tone without the complications of feedback.
The PRO930 Features:
- A pair of GFS “Fat Pat” Alnico pickups with the proprietary Kwikplug System, which allows for instant pickups changes with no soldering.
- All PRO930 Guitars feature a multi-ply, all maple laminated construction.
- A solid maple center block running the length of the body.
- All of the groovy goodness of a Semi-Hollow guitar, minus the F-Holes for a warmer, fuller sound with more resistance to feedback than a typical semi-hollow model.
- 22 nickel silver hand-polished frets on a solid walnut fingerboard.
- Coil taps for both pickups.
The Xaviere PRO930 guitars are designed at Guitarfetish’s headquarters in Sarasota, FL, and have a retail price of $799 but may be ordered directly from the Guitarfetish.com website for a street price of $349.
For more information, please visit guitarfetish.com.