Usually I limit these roundups to the 9 best from each brand - but I felt that the visual for that was a little gappy because of the different enclosure sizes! So in an effort to balance out the visual better I upped the limit to 11 - which allowed my to do a couple more interesting things with the listing.
These listings are based on a mix of my own personal favourites and more widely considered best pedal ambassadors for those ranges. For a lot of selections here there was an either or choice for each slot and I drew a best fit line through all those variables.
I often view pedal ranges from a perspective of my own preferences and wishlist - which of these I love and have or intend to get. In fact I’ve only relatively recently got into picking off EarthQuaker pedals - with 5 acquisitions to date - including 2 in this listing - the Black Ash MKIII Tone Bender Style Fuzz and Sunn O))) Life Pedal V2 Octave Fuzztortion!
Those I have on my wishlist share some from this listing, and some from my earlier ’9 Favourite EarthQuaker Fuzzes’ piece. I will be adding an Acupulco Gold, Afterneath V3, Rainbow Machine V2 Polyphonic Pitch Mesmerizer and Talons High Gain Overdrive/Distortion at some stage in the future.
I’m not really in the market for any Delay+Reverb units although that is an area EarthQuaker specialises in - I just have other preferences in those categories - so it means no Avalanche Run or Dispatch Master for me - no matter how great they sound - and these two are often listed as players’ favourite EarthQuaker pedals.
I deliberated for the longest time too over whether to go with just the classic Hoof Fuzz or the more extended Hoof Reaper - which allies that with the Tone Reaper and an Octave function - for ultimate Fuzz versatility. In the end I settled on the Hoof Reaper as it delivers more bells or whistles - while I find the enclosure rather too large for my own preferences - I would much prefer this as a BB sized offering. The same kind of goes for the Palisades - which is actually the world’s most feature-rich Tube Screamer style pedal as far as I’m aware - with so much tone-shaping ability - but again in that larger 3 footswitch enclosure. I am hoping that with use of more clever digital control layers and multi-function footswitches that EarthQuaker can produce something in a more manageable / pedalboard-friendly format in the future.
The Spatial Delivery was one of the first Earthquaker Devices I put only one of my wishlists - but I have gone with different propositions in its stead over the years - and in this area I definitely fancy the forthcoming Dr Scientist Dusk pedal which covers more territory.
All but 3 of these are still generally available - the Black Ash and Life Pedal V2 were part of limited editions, while the Talons High Gain Overdrive was discontinued a couple of years ago or so. As I mentioned previously - for some of these slots there were alternative candidates which I deliberated on, but decided in the end to favour these specific 11.
I will provide further details and rationale for each as below and include an Honourable Mentions Listing of near misses which were just pipped at the post as such :
EarthQuaker's full-on single-knob distortion is a bona fide singular Model T classic - which can be well gauged by just how many clones and replicas it has out there. I first caught YouTuber Nick Jaffe championing this and soon added it to my wishlist - alongside the Erupter and Spatial Delivery - those are probably 3 of my longest standing wishlist items. I have a few variations of Model T style pedals in the collection to date - but have still to hit the trigger on this one - must be fairly imminent by now. Even though one is a distortion and the other 2 are fuzzes - I deliberated for a while as to which single-knob EQD classic should feature in this listing - between the aforementioned Acapulco and Erupter, but also the much loved yet discontinued EQD Speaker Cranker.
I have only just recently reviewed this one - which sprung from a 'nice-to-have' to a must-have based on the recent update which adds 9 new modes to the pedal. This to me is just a fantastic Quirky Ambient Spice pedal not dissimilar to the Chase Bliss Dark World or Walrus Audio SLÖ. I feel I might have this in the collection just ahead of the other two mentioned as I would use each in the same way and in the same slot - at the end of my mono effects chain - and just before the stereo effects kick in. I explained to a reader on the blog that my main sort of always-on Reverb will become the forthcoming EHX Oceans 12, where I would look to supplement that with the Eventide H9 Max which is also a permanent feature of my pedal-chain - while the Ambient Spice Reverb pedals would be rotated on the mostly currently Chase Bliss Audio / Glitch pedal slot - currently occupied in turn by the Chase Bliss Blooper, Generation Loss and MOOD. As always, EQD has some format alternatives for the Afterneath in the guise of the Leviathan and Transmisser Reverbs - where I personally have a significant preference for the Afterneath!
In a recent interview I believe Mr EQD - one Jamie Stillman picked out this as his favourite all-time EarthQuaker pedal - alongside old classics like the Hoof Fuzz, and newer delights such as the Data Corrupter LLP Style Harmonizer/Fuzz. The Avalanche is the first of the newer digital platform format - which has also been utilised by the fairly recent Pyramids Flanger - which was high on the wishlist for a while and very imminent - before I decided I really preferred those sort of modulations to be fully analog. The Avalanche Run V2 is a fantastic combination of Reverb and Delay - a sort of Senior / Deluxe version of a Dispatch Master. q.v. While of the larger size enclosures we also have another Delay + Reverb pedal (different emphasis) in the guise of the 3-footswitch Disaster Transport SR. These are all really great sounding and handy devices, while I probably prefer the GFI Specular Tempus and Source Audio Collider in this dual channel Delay + Reverb area.
This was the first EQD pedal I made a concerted effect to track down - after I overlooked it when it initially came out on release. It took me three attempts and several months of patient waiting to pin down a very decent second-hand one in pristine condition - and at the right price. For a while these were hovering up at silly prices but have come down since. I have several MKIII style Tone Benders - and this all-Silicon affair is right up there, possibly not quite as upper echelon to my PigDog JuJu - but near enough - and it has that lovely sustaining saturation largely just the same. I was somewhat surprised on the choice of transistors here (2N3903) which are really quite commonly available - so not sure why this batch is necessarily limited. In any case - a great TBIII-style fuzz. I compared it to the earlier Tone Reaper version which I believe is a Germanium transistor affair - but for some reason I prefer the Black Ash Circuit - it just has a more pleasant and more evenly balanced tonality for me ears - while the Tone Reaper is slightly more gritty and edgy. I also seem to prefer the Park Sound Fuzz to the Tone Reaper too - both of those are also based on MKIII Tone Benders.
This is one of Stefan Fast's (PedalZone) all-time favourite pedals - and pretty much solidly affixed to his board - a very simple but really elegant combined Reverb and Delay with just 4 controls - Mix, Reverb, Time and Repeats. For lots of players this is their always-on ambient / atmospheric pedal - and it has a knack of always sounding absolutely correctly balanced and never overly dominating - almost regardless of what you throw at it. In my stereo rig all my delays need to be stereo - bar glitch / granular and pitch-shifting delays - I also really like the idea of tap tempo which is absent here - so this is a pedal which is very unlikely to hit my collection although it is loved by legions of fans - obviously with standard mono boards.
I had the longest deliberation here on whether to include the solo Hoof Fuzz, or the combined Hoof and Tone Reaper with added Octave effect which we see here. In the end I went for the more feature-rich / capable and versatile pedal - which I've decided that in this incarnation it is a little too large for my own preferences - to which ends I have the solo Hoof Fuzz for myself. I also did head-to-heads with the all-Silicon Cloven Hoof Fuzz - which is also part of a an alternative Silicon variation of Hoof Reaper. The Cloven Hoof is a higher gain all-silicon version which misses out on the beautiful balance and low-end push of its original sibling - and instead is somewhat more strident, thin and bass-cut - which some seem to prefer, but which for me is not nearly as elegant as the Hybrid Germanium + Silicon original. I really hope Jamie does a more compact BB version of this at some stage in the future.
I've only just noted that this King of the Tube Screamers has been recently discontinued - while there are some examples still in retail - including at least one at Scan.co.uk. I'm not aware of any Tube Screamer that has more tone-shaping options than this one - albeit the Jackson Audio Broken Arrow would be my preferred choice for an ultimate multi-clipping Tube Screamer. Here though you get dual channels with multiple voicing and clipping options and with added Boost. I guess when the EQD range moved to 3 Tube Screamers after the recent launch of the Plumes Small Signal Shredder - someone decided that there wasn't enough room for all 3 of them, so just the Junior Palisades - AKA Dunes and the Plumes remain. Each one of those is tuned somewhat differently - while the Dunes has a little more tone-shaping to it with 3 knobs and 3 toggle-switches versus the Plumes 3+1. I already have plenty of great Tube Screamers in the collection and don't think I need to add any more at the moment.
I featured this fairly recently in my piece on Lo-fi Modulation Pedals. This is a fairly unique device - with pitch-warping as a primary element and with some degree of chorusing as a secondary ingredient - which all swirls up and mixes together via 6 control knobs - Primary (Volume of Polyphonic Harmony) | Pitch (Frequency of Polyphonic Pitched Harmony) | Secondary (<12 Octave Down/=12 Chorus/>12 Chorus Up) | Magic (Regeneration/Aliasing/Feedback) | Tone (Treble roll-off) | Tracking (Lag time between Wet and Dry Signal). The pedal had dual footswitches - Activate and Magic - where the second footswitch sends the 'Magic'/ Feedback parameter into overload - similar to how a Havoc switch typically works on a Caroline Guitar Co. pedal. This is a delicate sort of Fuzz Factory type pedal with 6 highly sensitive interactive dials which you need to tweak in tandem for some truly weird and wonderful chorusey pitch-warping effects - this pedal is really one for properly experimental players and can be frustrating if you don't have the patience to dial it in properly - capable of some fantastic tones and textures though if you persevere.
I've been intrigued by this Envelope Filter since I first heard demos, and this featured quite high on my active acquisition/wishlist some years ago, but is somewhat less critical to me now as over the years I've acquired different pedals to cover envelope filtering duties - and in compact standalone form factor - the forthcoming Dr Scientist Dusk will likely be the leading contender. Nevertheless this relatively simple pedal can sound tremendous with just 4 controls - Range, Resonance and Filter knobs, and a 3-way Mode selector - Up | Sample & Hold | Down. At a different time this was more of a priority for me - but I've gone a different way since, and like I said - I would likely be getting the Dr Scientist Dusk instead - while that is likely to be somewhat dearer.
Sadly now discontinued, this remains nonetheless one of EQD's most feature-rich and versatile drive pedals. It is not entirely uniquely described as a High Gain Overdrive - Greer Amps uses the same descriptive for its Supa Cobra Overdrive - meaning a high degree of break-up saturation rather than the fully high-gain distortion saturation that most associate the 'high-gain' term with. There aren't many drive pedals with 3-Band EQ + Presence - particularly in the compact form factor - so this is a relative rarity. Tonally it has quite a dense, dark, richly percolating breakup character with plenty of tone-shaping on-tap, while the character steadily leans towards the dark-side of things. This pedal is a sort of secret weapon still for several players, and it's one of the ones on my EQD acquisition wishlist. I'll see if I can track one down in decent nick and for just the right price!
This was actually the first ever EQD pedal I ordered, albeit my 3rd attempt at a Black Ash arrived a touch sooner. This is essentially a 3-way clipping Rat-style distortion with green-ringer style octave-up circuit and boost. You get some truly amazing saturated sustaining drone sounds here - with the output frequencies having that lovely textural warble to them - and when used in conjunction with the Octave element everything ramps up another level. The controls / legends could probably have been named for somewhat easier recall - as it is the core Rat circuit is controlled by the Amplitude (Volume), Filter (Hi-Cut) and Distortion knobs - as expected for most Rat-style pedals. The Octave is activated by the Magnitude footswitch and controlled by Magnitude (Level) and Octave (Depth/Intensity) knobs - with the Clip rotary knob controlling clipping options - OpAmp / Asymmetrical / Symmetrical. I really love the output of this pedal - it's not a typical Rat at all, even though I sort of file it with all my Rat pedals - it is though well worthy the hype for most, and a much more practical variety than the original over-sized limited edition varieties.
There are so many pedals to EQD's range (past and present) that there was no way we were going to fit in every one of the more essential ones into the above highlights. At one time I would likely have included the Data Corrupter and Pyramids ones above, while I've since evolved my thinking and prefer rather more compact PLL types and wholly analog flangers.
In fact the few pedals not covered above that still ride high on my acquisition/wishlist are the Erupter and Park Fuzzes - while I also have a soft spot for the Arpanoid, Gray Channel Distortion and Spires Dual Fuzz! :
EarthQuaker Devices is for sure one of the very best of the boutique pedal brands - with a huge range of interesting pedals - albeit a lot more discontinued now than I had first thought. There are so many pedals out there overall - that pretty much no one can follow all of them across all the salient brands.
Everyone has commitments and priorities, and is exposed to different things. For whatever reason I arrived quite late to Earthquaker Devices - but have liked everything I have encountered thus far - although there are probably other brands which do things closer to my overall preferences - multi-mode dual-footswitch compact enclosure pedals for instance. EQD still hasn't got to the dual-footswitch compact pedal stage yet, and moreover I personally find some of these pedals a little over-large! :
That said, I have acquired 5 to date:
And have 9 more on my fairly imminent acquisition wishlist :
As to which of these pedals you will like for yourself - that's largely down to your own playing preferences. I do though feel that the EQD signature flagship pedals are likely the trio of Afterneath Reverb, Hoof Fuzz, and Dispatch Master Reverb & Delay. It was the Hoof Fuzz after all that pretty much put Jamie Stillman on the map in the first place!