What do you do when you have three super-popular stomp boxes in your product line? Combine them into one pedal, of course. Fortunately, Electro-Harmonix didn’t just slap any old pedals together; they combined an octaver, a flange/chorus, and a reverb.
The Electro-Harmonix Epitome pedal consists of the Micro POG, Stereo Electric Mistress, and the Holy Grail Plus. All three are top-notch pedals on their own. When combined, they produce a product that is a dangerous little gem.
Each effect has its own dedicated on/off foot switch. So, it is literally three stomp-boxes in one. But the interplay between the effects is what adds up to a “fourth” member of the party that is hard to describe. This is because there really is more than just the “sum of the parts” here. Twisting / turning / tinkering produces some incredible results. What really impresses me is the stereo in; this way you can process two simultaneous channels, which really comes in handy. Your rig is, in-fact, stereo before it hits this pedal.
The polyphonic tracking of the Micro POG is surprisingly good. When combined with the chorus or flanger effects, the range of possibilities is quite impressive. According to the Electro-Harmonix web site, the “shimmer” setting “…transforms the Grail into a digital delay.”
If you take a look at the videos here, you will see that there is a ton of fun sounds here. From 12-string to a rotating leslie, there are quite a few combinations here that are really a joy. I think the Octaver is where you will find most of your oddball effects. But when you combine that with some “flerb,” or kick in the “shimmer” effect, things start to really take off.
Electro-Harmonix has combined three top-quality digital effects into one package. Although the world of electric guitar effects seems dominated by desktop or amp-based digital modeling units, some folks still prefer the context of a floor-based stomp box with big ‘ol knobs. If you are a member of that group, this is one pedal that will keep you up all night tweaking and tinkering.
An incredible palate of overdrive sounds in one little pedal
One of the aspects that seems to be particularly high on the list of priorities for guitarists is how to achieve the perfect driven sound. There are so many overdrive / distortion pedals out there. You could spend all day and night just trying them all out to see which one sounds best. Although guitars, amps and even pickups are often candidates for “Best of the Best” ranking among guitarists, the overdrive pedal seems to hold a special place in our hearts as a critical component to our sound and an item that we keep ourselves in constant “Search” more for.
I think the reason for this is that while 100% clean guitar is a thing of great beauty for certain styles of music, a certain amount of drive or saturation is desirable in most situations. If for no other reason, the power-tube compression, the warmth and thickness, all aspects of saturation are generally a positive thing when it comes to guitar. Keeping in mind, this all sounds best when in the hands of a qualified professional. Loud / Overdriven guitar is alot like a really fast sports car; anyone can get in and drive, but only someone who knows what they are doing can get us home alive!
Part of the mystique is also that middle-ground overdrive that is so elusive. “Alot of Overdrive” is a very easy sound to get as long as it’s a decent pedal. But that “in-Between” sound is not easy. Just a little drive, but not too much. When you think of players such as Stevie Ray Vaughan, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Robbie Robertson or Albert Collins, what you have is a tone that is not really distorted, but it is big, warm, and somehow a little “Pushed”. Regardless of what you may think of their technique, these guitarists, and many others, have a tone that is 100% identifiable and deceptively difficult to emulate.
The “Holy Grail” of overdrive pedals is alot like a surfer who seeks the perfect wave; we desperately seek it, but hope that we never find it. Bad news folks, I think I may have found it. The Fulltone OCD is one hell of a little pedal. Granted, there are other ones out there that offer an actual 12AX7 tube, and pretty serious tone-shaping (for example, the Radial Tonebone), the OCD is just an incredibly simple little pedal that sounds great anytime anywhere.
I’ve been using an OCD exclusively for three years now and this little sucker has never let me down. It plays well with all types of amps; Marshall, Fender, Boogie. In-fact, I’ve plugged this thing into a few solid-state amps and been pleasantly surprised.
My only regret is that I have not made it my business to get one of the proprietary Fulltone AC wall-warts (negative center pin, so you gotta either use theirs, or know how to convert one of the BOSS adapters). From what I understand the OCD can handle anything from 9-18 volts. And, the more voltage you use, the more headroom you get.
I think my love affair with this pedal is mostly driven by the balance of tone vs. “No fuss no muss”. The drive it gives you is about as transparent as they get, yet it’s just a little 1 pound little thang, solid as a rock, minimal controls, and it plays well with all the other kids on your pedal board. If you are looking for a really transparent overdrive that sounds great through just about any amp, give the Fulltone OCD a try. I’m very sure you will be impressed with this pedal.
While inspired by a metal player, this Pedal provides an all-around affordable Chorus effect
I don’t particuarly listen to zakk wylde or know much about him (other than the obvious), but this pedal which bears his moniker / band name, is pretty good.
What I like right away is the high and low filter cut controls. It still amazes me that this is not standard on Chorus guitar pedals (why?). The dual outputs for stero spread is a no-brainer and good. It is built with analog bucket brigade technology, which was a technique developed in the late ’60’s that is quite popular amongst tone-snobs. The Level / Rate / Depth controls require no explanation and provide plenty of control for your effects-shaping needs. Like all MXR / Dunlop guitar effects pedals, this one is built like a brick “you know what” house. If you are looking for a sturdy, tweakable guitar chorus pedal that is under $100, check this one out.
If you are in the market for a truly amazing, world-class Fuzz pedal, look no further, the Fulltone ’69 is your baby
Of all the Fuzz pedals I have tried, the Fulltone ’69 is really the king. An incredibly transparent pedal with a top-shelf fuzz that can be easily rolled-back for great tonal variations.
Contour is key
The knob labeled “Contour” is where the real fun starts. It is kind of a combination mid-range / thickness control. Needless to say, when turned down, the fuzz is a bit thinner as is the overall tone. This is helpful if you want Fuzz without all the “Woof” When you increase the Contour level, the Fuzz get’s thicker and has more body. This also adds to the random harmonics and general squeaks that are likely to come out of your guitar. If you experiment by using less drive and more Contour (or vice verse) there are some seriously fun sounds to be found.
Like most of Mike Fuller’s pedals, the ’69 is totally transparent. It just adds amazingly complex Fuzz to whatever you put into the pedal. On the other end of the pipe is your original tone, just with lots and lots of cream dripping from it. When the pedal is disengaged, the “True Bypass” claim is bolstered by an un-fettered and decidedly pure tone.
Could be used as an overdrive
What I love about this pedal is that in nearly every possible tonal variation, you can simply roll back your guitar’s volume and you get a great overdrive sound. Every time I fire this pedal up, I am reminded of how incredibly sensitive it is to dynamics. This Fuzz is never “Out of control”, and doubles as a fun overdrive.
Not made any more
As of this article’s publication date, Mike Fuller is still not making these pedals any more. The reason is that he uses only hand-picked Germanium transistors and no one is making them to his satisfaction any more. Keep an eye on his website though, he states than when he can get his hands on another batch of transistors, he’ll make some more ’69 pedals.
There are many many great Fuzz pedals out there. I’m sure there are a few I still have not tried yet, and are worthy of such a review. When I find ‘m, I’ll surely write about ’em. In the meantime, if you need a great Fuzz, but the ’69 from Fulltone. Ask questions later.
There are wah pedals, and then there are great wah pedals. Sure, you can save up and buy one of the vintage classics, but you will need to save a lot and when you drop it (or spill bong water on it, or your pup poops on it, etc…) you will cry. Or… you could save yourself the drama and run out to buy the Fulltone Clyde Deluxe Wah.
Lemmie tell ya man, this is one damm great wah. I know that was not the most eloquent sentence but it just ain’t that deep, the Clyde deluxe kicks major hiney. What I love love love about this wah so much is the 10-step variable input level control. With this little baby you can really get the signal level just where you want it. This is the kind of thing that always drove me nuts with older wah pedals; too hot, too cold,ugghhh… but with the Clyde Deluxe way, the porridge is just right. Next up in line for the the “Coolest Control” prize is the 3-way mode switch. There are three settings. “Shaft” is the most classic wah tone and when you engage it, Richard Roundtree personally jumps out of no where and yells “hands up sucka!…” (this will startle you at first, but it really adds a three dimensional aspect to your sound). “Jimi” is the setting inspired by a really famous guitar player from the sixties… can’t remember his last name, but he played at some really big concert where it rained, and he is involved with Voodoo or some kind of purplish haze, and he was apparently the greatest rock guitarist of all time….. or something like that. The “Whacked” setting is…. totally whacked… really nuts and fun.
The overall construction of this pedal is as if you are going to war; Solid has hell. This wah cannot be broken. True bypass ensures that your signal is 999999.9999% pure at all times and the indicator light will always let you know what is going on. I can’t recommend this way enough. It’s got a deep throaty growl that is tops. if you are looking for a great way pedal that offers some flexibility and superb construction, grab the Fulltone Clyde Delux… now about that “Jimi” guy from the sixties….. what was his last name? : – )
There is a good reason why the MXR Phase 100 is still around!
Maybe you have an MXR Phase 90, maybe you are thinking of buying one, or maybe you are considering an upgrade. Either way the MXR Phase 100 M-107 is a great alternative to the Phase 90 if you want a bit more control to the overall shape of the wet signal. As the older cousin of the MXR Phase 90, the Phase 100 offers the same great tone but a few more features. The biggest difference is the notch control that lets you select the wave pattern. In conjunction with the speed control, you can dial in the exact phase sound that you want. There are four wave pattern selections and of course the speed control is completely variable. The MXR Phase 100 takes up considerably more real-estate on your pedal board, but that is the price of being able to have a more fine-tuned control over the effect. The biggest difference between this re-issue and the original is that you can use the Dunlop ECB003 AC Power Supply instead of a 9-volt battery.
At the end of the day, you’ve got that same classic plush, swishy phase swoop that can be heard on many classic rock albums such as Van Halen I (“I’m the one” & “Eruption”) and Some Girls by the Rolling Stones (“Beast of Burden”).The key to these great tones is that each guitarist knows just how much to use and when to use it. When used poorly, you get that obvious cyclical pattern that cries out: “Hi, I’m a phase shifter pedal, and the person using me didn’t take the time to get a good mix, he just turned it on and started playing…” Yuk! When implanted nicely in your signal path, the MXR Phase 100 can push your tone in just the right way so that it is enveloped in a molasses that the listener will not be able to detect, but they know somehow that you just sound great. This pedal is a lot of fun to play with: putting the MXR Phase 100 before or after key effects such as delay an yield some pretty other-worldly sounds. However you choose to do it, the Phase 100 is a great phase shifter guitar pedal that does not require a degree in quantum mechanics to operate. Wave pattern, speed, indication light, selector switch, that’s it. No fuss, no muss, just great phase.
MXR’s new ’78 Bad Ass is a dammed good distortion pedal that offers true bypass and a warm sound, at a very reasonable price.
OK, this thing is pretty good. The kicker is that it retails for under $100. At that price range, true bypass and warm analog distortion is definitely a feature set that should impress anyone. Of course this is all very subjective. You have to factor in your setup, taste, and playing style. That said, all things considered, it’s a strong pedal. I’m not too sure what the ’78 stands for. I guess I don’t really care, but I am curious.
The feature set is pretty standard stuff: Drive, Tone, Level. Done. There is a “Crunch” button that pretty much just gives you a noticeable amount of increased drive. There is good interplay between drive and level. You can get a kind of “plexi” drive with the level way up and the drive down a bit. This setting offers more headroom and clarity, yet less of the juice. For a more saturated sound, do the opposite: more drive and less level.
Anyone who knows anything is aware that with the exception of those early ’80s plastic jobbies, MXR pedals are built like howitzers; stomp on ’em all you want, they hold up just fine. This company can certainly sit back on its heels and coast a bit as they are one of the bigger names and have a solid reputation. But, they are smart, they keep up with the times and have just released a new distortion pedal that for its price range, is pretty dammed solid.
Starting with the TS-808, these little green monsters known as “tube screamers” have been gracing the pedal boards of guitarists for more than 30 years. Over the years, the shade of green and look have the pedal has morphed a bit, but the popularity has never waned.
I remember these pedals being quite popular back in the late ’70s, but I think most would agree that it was Stevie Ray Vaughan who played a pretty big role in the TS9’s surge in popularity. Eric Johnson was also a fan and known to use one to a large degree. What’s amazing is that over all these years, and through all the re-issues, the overall design has never really changed. This is most likely due to the fact that Ibanez had no reason to fix what was not broken. Many guitarists love the Tube Screamer, and many have loved it just the way it is.
That said, there have been some popular mods. The most well known mod is the Keeley Modded Tube Screamer. Highlights of this mod are enhanced bass and additional drive. There have been some dark days though. In the mid 80’s, there was the “Master” or “L” series, known for cheap plastic construction, sub- standard POTS and substantial changes to the design. Some recent highlights are the TS-808 reissue, which satisfied the yearning from those who missed the originals, and the TS9DX Turbo, which offered substantially more drive and four “Modes”.
In the end, this pedal has stood the test of time because for most, it sounds great. It may not be some people’s cup of tea, but many guitarists found the tone they were looking for in this pedal.
Looking for that lush 3-D sound of a Chorus Pedal? Here are the best high-end, mid-priced and budget models.
One of the most popular guitar effects of all time, chorus is often used to fatten-up the sound and give it more of a “3-D” feel. Some of the most popular guitar tones of all time have involved smart use of Chorus (reference just about any song by the Police, Andy Summers really knew how to use Chorus wisely). Even in the budget arena, thick and creamy sounds can be generated when using a chorus pedal in true stereo. Below is a list of the most popular guitar chorus effects pedals separated by price range.
High-End / Boutique Chorus Pedals
TC Electronic Stereo Chorus/Flanger Pedal
A high-end / boutique chorus pedal with that also doubles as a flange or pitch modulator.
Best / Coolest Feature: A gain control that will have a big affect on the overall voice of the affected sound. There is also a built in power supply for AC operation (very very cool).