A fantastically musical synth/octave pedal.

Describing an uncommon sensory experience sometimes demands unorthodox analogies. Take craft beer critics: They won’t hesitate to describe an India Pale Ale as bitter like a grapefruit, or green like the smell of grass, even if those things aren’t usually what you want out of your beer experience. So I don’t feel too bad about my own colorful descriptions for the sounds of the TWA Great Divide octaver/synth pedal—even if the image that comes to mind is a big fat, gooey, flame-roasted … marshmallow. Some may find the comparison unappetizing, but for experimental players—or rock players for whom no tone is fat enough—it’s the highest form of flattery. The Great Divide is one fat, sweet, and delicious sounding pedal.

The Start of Something Big
The first version of TWA’s all-analog Great Divide pedal debuted at the 2011 NAMM show. Despite strong interest from musicians, the TWA team went back to the drawing board—largely because the initial version would have cost $800 per unit. This 2.0 version sells for half that and is considerably more streamlined and easy to use.

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We compare pedalboard switching solutions from OneControl, Decibel Eleven, Musicom Lab & EC Pedals Custom Shop.

As long as guitarists have used effects, they’ve sought better ways to control them. In the digital era, that sometimes means playing through rackmounted multi-effectors. However, the current hunger for vintage tone and straightforward interactivity has prompted countless players to ditch rack systems in favor of pedalboards full of handpicked effects. Thanks to a new generation of pedal switchers, it is possible to have the best of both worlds: a custom pedalboard that can perform such digital tricks as storing presets and changing effect order.

Pedal switchers work by providing a number of effects loops (one loop = one send + one return). Each loop—which can contain one or more pedals—becomes its own switchable circuit that can be joined with other loops. For example, you might group your distortions into a single loop, your delays into another, or put each pedal into its own loop. The switchers let you save your favorite effect combinations as preset banks and recall them via footswitch.

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An exciting wah alternative in an innovative package at a great price.

A new Electro-Harmonix pedal usually means an exciting, if not radical, twist on tradition. So while I wasn’t exactly surprised by EHX’s attempt to reshape expression pedal effects with the new Talking Pedal formant filter (and the other pedals in the company’s Next Step line), I’m thrilled by the sounds it makes and the way it makes them. Wah pedals may not have changed much since the ’60s, but the Talking Pedal feels and sounds different.

Formant Speaks EHX is attempting to tackle the inherent shortcomings of traditional wah design via an expression pedal with no moving parts. The Talking Pedal resides in a super-rugged, unibody chassis that’s rounded on the bottom. Inside is a motion sensor like those found in smartphones. And in classic EHX “why not?” spirit, there’s also an adjustable fuzz circuit. It’s a simple yet powerful combination that yields remarkable results.

The sonic differences between a wah pedal and a formant filter pedal can be subtle or extreme. Both effects employ resonant filters, but formant filter typically sound more like human voices. They usually consist of multiple filters sweeping multiple frequencies, producing a more complex, voice-like sound.

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A superb volume pedal with many cool extras—including compatibility with vintage pedals and active pickups.

If you think volume pedals are boring and you’re considering skipping this review, think twice. Mission Engineering’s new VM-Pro buffered volume pedal packs in several handy features that may pay real dividends for guitarists—especially those with expansive or constantly evolving pedal boards.

With its all-metal chassis, high-quality red powdercoat finish, and an enclosure almost identical to that of a Dunlop Cry Baby wah pedal, the VM-Pro resembles other volume pedals on the market. Take a closer look, though, and you’ll find features that set this pedal apart.

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