So there you are, sitting in from of your digital recorder, trying to work out an overdub. Problem is, you keep going back to the same stock phrases. The same thing happens at practice when, while running through your band’s newest song, you suddenly realize you’re falling back on all your old, familiar tricks.
We all fall into creative ruts once in a while, and while opinions on the cause may vary, everyone seems to agree that nothing breaks you out of a funk like a cool new toy. And while that ’68 Strat in the store window could certainly get you excited again, the right effect could actually improve or expand your playing style, and it wouldn’t cost you nearly as much. Read more
When considering which overdrive pedals belong on the Mount Rushmore of guitar gear, we here at Gear-Vault took one major consideration into account, which is tone. Let’s face it – overdrive is overdrive, and has been since studio musician Grady Martin continued playing despite a faulty pre-amp circuit in the console of a Nashville recording studio in 1961. The nuances of distortion, and opinions about its place in music, have been fine-tuned ever since. This list leans toward pedals that the average musician can afford – the exotic special effects pedals that so few serious artists ever really use anyway are excluded. This list is intended to let you know which pedals might be best for your sound, with the number of pedals sold not having too much influence on their ranking. One caveat for all: None of the following pedals come with earplugs, the use of which is strongly encouraged for the proper use of these smoking guns. In reverse order: Read more
During the late Sixties and early Seventies, it seems like everything related to music was literally huge: amp stacks, stack heel platform shoes, rock star mustaches and hairstyles, crotch padding and, especially, effect pedals. Stomp boxes were the size of shoe boxes, and the average pedal board was so big that it took two roadies to haul one from the back of a Chevy van to the stage of the Cow Palace or Winter land. Of course, that all changed later in the decade as microchips replaced the transistors and cherry bomb-sized components in primitive effect circuits, and soon after, the size of the average pedal shrunk significantly.
Fender’s latest Classic Series pedal reissues bring back in their full glory four of the company’s big-honkin’ stomp boxes from the Golden Era of effects: the sensibly named Volume, Volume-Tone, Fuzz-Wah and Read more
Too often engineers and producers tell worried guitar players, “We’ll fix it in the mix,” or, “I know it sounds a little funny now, but we’ll sprinkle some fairy dust on it and it’ll sound killer.” Statements such as these are, in my humble opinion, a crock. There are many things you can do to a bad guitar sound—you can flange it, EQ it, play backwards or bury it in reverb—but 99 percent of the time you’ll just end up with a bad guitar sound that’s been flanged, EQed, played backwards and buried in reverb. Read more
In the beautiful city of New York, the Big Muff, which acts as a guitar pedal that can distort fuzz sounds, became very well-known. The Muff was created, introduced and manufactured by Electro-Harmonic Company (EHX) together with its sister company, the Russian Sovtek. Primarily the Big Muff was used for electric guitars but later bass guitars also were able to make use of such a powerful yet tiny machine. The Big Muff guitar pedal was invented by Mike Matthews and introduced in the early 1970s. Carlos Santana and David Glamour were the two artists who first used this guitar pedal. Read more
The art of competing in a modern industrial world is constantly changing, and constantly getting more difficult. Each year, companies give it their all and toss their eggs in a basket, hoping it will pan out for them and be the next big thing. Line6 sits at the table with the big guys when it comes to innovation and the forefront of effect technology, but just how well does their flagship unit, the POD HD PRO, stack up?
Construction and Controls
This thing is sturdy, to say the least. It’s all metal construction gives a nice comfort to any of us who put our equipment through the paces, and expecting it to keep chugging along. The face of the unit has a nice tactile control system, reducing the menu-surfing to a much better level, and giving more direct control over things like drive, volume, and EQ. Other controls are a mic preamp, an XLR input for vocal effects, and a brightly lit LCD screen, displaying signal chain, effect options, and user presets.
There isn’t much the HD PRO can’t handle as far as inputs and outputs in a guitar setting. The unit offers a standard guitar in and headphone jack out front, but turn the unit around, and now we’re really talking. In back, you are given the option of sending the dry signal out for later processing, connecting other mic preamps through the line input section, adding your own effects in the FX stereo loop, or using the HD PRO directly with your computer via a usb port.
The HD PRO’s undeniable strength is its amp modeling. The vast array of amps and tones available is eye-popping, and the sounds that can be achieved are even better. From thick, crunchy tube drive, to airy, light acoustic tones, clearly there is quite a lot left to the imagination here, to play and create with as you please.
This is where things get a bit cheeky. Once again, Line6 gets close to a climactic group of effects, but misses the mark on a few things. For starters, the idea of a visual effect chain right in front of you is revolutionary, and a great concept that can be utilized to the greatest extent, if one puts in the time to program and set everything up in advance. Even with a great display however, it seems that there are just way too many effect packed into one box, and to control and manipulate them all is no easy task, despite the more hands-on approach taken on the control system. As with the previous POD HD 300, 400, and 500 units, all of the effect sculpting is done through menus, and is accessed by 1 or 2 knobs. Furthermore, the more digital and processed effects are not very responsive to the player, and the guitar signal itself. With the more digital effects, the guitar acts as more of a midi guitar, with the effects not using the guitar’s signal at all, but rather listening to what notes you are playing, and producing a sound of its own based on the pitch. With these flaws though, there is still room to work with creating new tones, starting from scratch and making something all your own.
I was a little put off by the rackmount idea; in as much as that it does not come with an included footswitch, although there are rear ports to accommodate one. Without a footswitch, the idea of playing out live with the HD PRO seems all but impossible. The HD PRO would probably fit in better in a studio setting, tone creating and shaping, and as the middle man in a recording project.
All in all, I would have to say the POD HD PRO is an effective piece of gear, but is better left to a studio setting, or small gigs, unless you have a footswitch to operate it with. The tones are phenomenal, and the effects are interesting, but the price seems a bit high at $699.99. Overall, a good, reliable piece of gear that can open countless doors to the unknown of guitar tone.
Line 6 POD HD PRO Review
Line 6 POD HD PRO Video Review
Two years ago, TC introduced polyphonic tuning to the world and since then guitarists everywhere have welcomed this next-generation way of tuning with open arms. Now TC reveals the world’s smallest polyphonic tuner: PolyTune Mini that will fit on any pedal board. Sometimes size actually does matter and in such cases, PolyTune Mini is the perfect solution as no other pedal tuner in the world will take up so little space, which means more room for other pedals. Read more
The Mustang Floor shares its name with Fender’s range of Mustang digital modelling amps, and is similarly packed full of digital effects and amp models. The unit also connects to a computer via USB for direct recording and preset editing. Read the press release below for full details. Read more
Pigtronix is not your typical guitar effects maker. Starting with the original Envelope Phaser, Pigtronix pedals have been anything but conventional. According to David Koltai, president of Pigtronix, “With companies like BOSS and Dunlop to compete with, it seemed crazy to come out of the gate as a startup trying to compete on their terms.” That’s why Koltai and long-time friend Brian Bethke teamed up to form Pigtronix. They decided to focus exclusively on effects pedals that were unlike anything on the market.
Unique effects such as an envelope-controlled phase shifter, a parallel-distortion box, an ADSR dynamics generator, and a freakishly accurate pitch-tracking mono synth quickly made Pigtronix pedals popular among modern creative musicians. Driven by a never-ending quest to discover new kinds of effects, Koltai still turns to customer feedback for future design concepts. Andy Summers, Vernon Reid, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jack White, Adrian Belew, Bootsy Collins, Weezer, The Roots, Primus, and other artists have been instrumental in establishing Pigtronix as a top-level effects maker, both as customers and as sources of critical feedback.
In fact, legendary rocker Frank Marino encouraged Pigtronix’s development of the Philosopher’s Tone. The Philosopher’s Tone – arguably the cornerstone of the Pigtronix lineup – is one of the most popular compression/sustain pedals ever made, renowned for its near-infinite sustain. Likewise, the brilliant NYC guitarist Craig Brodhead introduced Koltai to the idea of using the “Golden Ratio” as the basis of the rhythmic delay lines in the instantly musical Echolution delay pedal. Read more
Buying a pedal that offers multiple exciting sounds and finding that you can’t save any of them is frustrating. Consistently re-creating onstage all of its cool effects is virtually impossible, forcing some players to buy multiple identical units, each set for a single sound.
Fortunately, Electro-Harmonix–purveyors of some of the coolest sounds ever–introduced its first programmable pedal a few years ago. Since then, they have been churning out amazing effects, like Ring Thing and POG2, capable of a wide range of usable tones, storable as nine presets. The latest addition is the Stereo Talking Machine, a vocal formant filter that offers wah, auto-wah, envelope filter, and talk box effects. Read more