Near the start of this week we saw several leading pedal builder brands go all mysterious on us posting an encircled (B) logo ident accompanied by the hashtag #BLACKEDXOUT on various social media. Many thought this to mean some sort of limited or black edition pedals for the Black Friday ’sales’, while I wrongly guessed it implied a Black Friday Sales boycott.
This afternoon all was revealed when 17 Brands together released all-black stealth-like enclosures for one or a few (Walrus Audio) of their existing pedals - that’s some pretty phenomenal coordination there (wonder who coordinated all of this?). There are no mods here beyond the very unique enclosure colourways - with each type here typically limited to a run of 100 units (Spaceman Effects = 50).
I’ve pictured / listed the pedals in alphabetical order by brand - and have tweaked the pedals a smidge to make their details more visible at this size. The majority here are matt black with gloss black accents - although Meris reverses that duality, and JHS and Land Devices / Farm Pedals appear to have embossed their enclosures.
The 17 Brands and their BLACKED OUT pedals are as follows:
This first interesting take-away here is that the 100 Chase Bliss Audio MOODs sold out super quickly, while there seems to be plenty of stock for the others here still available. I personally own 6 of the original versions of these pedals already:
Of the remaining 13, I have just two on my rolling wishlist - the Meris Mercury 7, and Walrus Audio SLÖ Reverb. I’m not sure this enclosure technique fully suits every design here - some look overly confusing and distracting for those reasons, while many here just look a lot better IMO in their original livery.
My 3 favourite looking ones here that really suit this treatment are the JHS Cheese Ball, Devices / Farm Pedals No Masters Fuzz, and the Meris Mercury 7 Reverb. Pretty much all the others I much prefer in their original livery - in fact most by a significant margin. I also don’t understand why Brian chose the Tumnus Deluxe again - he’s only just done a Pumpkin Halloween version of that which is mostly black, and the Spaceman Polaris is already mostly black, and perfectly pretty in its original enclosure - those two don’t really make much sense.
And even though the Meris has aesthetic qualities about it I feel this colourway renders the Pitch Vector legends somewhat illegible - and I actually really like the original blue version. I feel where you already have a strong tonal graphic design - as is the case with all the Walrus Audio pedal originals and original ZVEX Vertical Fuzz Factory - those tones and colours are such integral parts of the graphics - that they just don’t look quite right for me in this guise - same goes for the OBNE Minim to a degree, while the Red Panda Tensor actually comes out kind of alright.
For UK-based customers you are paying additional delivery charges of between £26 and £40 - and then customs/import charges on top of the sum of that - which makes this unattractive for UK buyers - unless they are prepared to pay a premium for a limited and unique design that really appeals to their own sensibilities.
When the announcement first shot up I was overcome with a degree of pre-purchase GAS anxiety - but on further reflection - I already have most of what I would want in this selection - and really - apart from the JHS Cheese Ball - I pretty much prefer the standard enclosures over these versions. I know a lot of players like monotone or monochrome pedalboards or even pedals all in a common theme - while in my pedal chain of 41 pedals - it actually helps that most pedals are distinguishable by colour. The Black Stealth approach also impacts on the usability on a number of these, making control markings and legends difficult or even impossible to pick out.
I feel there is certainly an audience for this - but I also feel that in several cases - you need to do more to adapt the design to the new paradigm - several of these don’t work particularly well for me. Actually the EarthQuaker Westwood is another that is pretty decent in this colourway - but like I said - this selection does come with a few drawbacks.
For those though that don’t yet have any of these - a custom edition is a great time to hit the trigger. I have acquired several long-term wishlist pedals when they hit on a limited edition run that I liked the look of. As with sales - only get something you were already down to acquire but just needed that extra incentive. This has obviously been a bumper year for Chase Bliss Audio - and it’s heartening to see just how well their MOOD pedal is selling - surely that must be getting on for their all-time bestseller by now.
I will keep tabs on this Reverb.com Selection for the next few days - to see how quickly these others take to sell their 100 edition pedals - I would not be at all surprised if the JHS Cheese Ball was the next one to go.
Most of the pedals featured here have been covered on this site before.
So somewhat contrary to predictions, but not necessarily unexpected - the Walrus Audio SLÖ is the second pedal to be SOLD OUT!
So beyond the MOOD and SLÖ everything is still running at '10+ in stock' - apart from the Old Blood Noise Endeavors - Minim BLACKED OUT edition - which is currently down to just 7 units. This revision of the Datachoir / OBNE Rever collaboration looks like it will be the next to be sold out - things are getting exciting again!
So Blacked Out watch continues - and as predicted - Old Blood Noise Endeavors - Minim BLACKED OUT edition joins the MOOD and SLÖ in being SOLD OUT. All other pedals are still at '10+ in stock'.
One of my favourite looking designs here is finally close to selling out - JHS Cheese Ball BLACKED OUT Edition looks likely next to go with units down to 9 remaining copies, all other remaining ones still at 10+.
At last my favourite design here is SOLD OUT as the JHS Cheese Ball BLACKED OUT edition now joins the CBA MOOD, Walrus Audio SLÖ and OBNE Minim in having fully delivered its run. All others are still on '10+ in stock' as of now - so tricky to discern who will be next!
So this may well be my final update here - I've been tracking these for over a week now. The Meris Mercury 7 BLACKED OUT edition is down to 8 units - so that looks like it's the next to go. All the others are still at '10+ units in stock'.
I wonder whether this was a step too far in 'Limited Editions' stakes this year, and if other consumers like me have become fatigued by the barrage of limited editions we've had this year - some of which turned out not to be limited really. Possibly manufacturers have done this to death now, and consumers are just unwilling to participate any more? We'll soon see as 2020 springs around!
OK - so I think this is definitely my final update here - it's been near enough a fortnight since these were first launched and the Meris Mercury 7 BLACKED OUT edition becomes only the 5th of this selection to be Sold Out. I dare say overall the builders would be a little disappointed with just how slowly some of these pedals shifted - but there were obviously mitigating factors here. I'm certainly suffering Limited Edition fatigue / burn-out - and I dare say a few other individuals have been touched by the same - which is a major reason for the somewhat slow uptake here ...