Denmark is a country which is known for punching above its weight - particularly in the field of exports - with a number of globally renown brands in several categories - including Bang and Olufsen, Ecco shoes, Georg Jensen jewellery, LEGO, The Republic of Fritz Hansen furniture (Arne Jacobsen etc.) and Stelton homewares. So it’s no surprise really that so many of its pedal brands are well-known too - particularly of course TC Electronic - which is one of the overall Big 4 along with Boss, Electro-Harmonix and MXR/Jim Dunlop.
I would say Carl Martin, TC Electronic and T-Rex Effects are all top tier here - with Cioks, Emma Electronic, Lunastone and Reuss pretty well known while both Nordvang Custom and Vulcan Mulciber are fairly new to me. I had fun selecting which pedal to choose to represent each brand - obviously for the last two mentioned there was no choice as they’re sort of single product companies. For each of the others there were various pedals I could have gone with. TC Electronic in particular has numerous strong performers - while it’s bread-and-butter products are the Ditto Loopers and Polytune Tuners. For TC I decided that while the field of Tuners is still pretty divided - in the world of the mini Looper - the Ditto is still the gold standard - and pretty much anyone and everyone has one of those.
I think you could very easily get away with just owning and using Danish-made pedals - they really have pretty much everything covered here! In terms of ownership - the only pedal I have in the above montage is the Mini Ditto - although I have a few of the new compact Carl Martins on my wishlist, along with some Reuss fuzzes and the cool industrial looking Vulcan Mulciber Argo Navis Fuzz.
Pedals/Brands are listed alphabetically:
Carl Martin was starting to look a little old fashioned at one stage - with its many big box solutions failing to compete with many of the more innovative brands. Just as well then that they introduced a beautiful new enclosure design in 2016 for their compact pedal range. The chamfered-edge design with rounded corners is a modern masterpiece and beautifully underlines Danish design heritage here - and Carl Martin have been steadily rolling out new pedals in this format - with the Panama Overdrive/Distortion and Purple Moon Vintage Fuzz 'n Vibe my two favourites to date. I can see via various resources that there are further exciting innovations coming down the line which should serve the brand really well into the future. I've always been a big fan of the DC Drive too, but likeliest acquisition here for meis the pictured Purple Moon Fuzz n' Vibe.
I feel Cioks is one of the major power supply brands out there, although sometimes overlooked - it's obviously the supplier of choice for the highly demanding Eventide devices. Cioks' new DC7/Eventide PowerMax with 7 configurable ports each switchable between 9, 12, 15 and 18 Volts and providing 660, 500, 400 and 330 mA of currently respectively is probably the new gold standard for adaptable isolated power supply. There are only 3 brands really that operate at this level as far as I'm concerned - Cioks, Strymon and Yankee - with Strymon probably the one best suited to my needs currently - if Cioks could just squeeze in a couple more ports on the DC7 it would be perfect. Of course you have the slightly less adaptable but still very smart Cioks 4 and Cioks 8 units, and then the slightly ridiculously over-sized anniversary edition Ciokolate. Right now the Strymon Zuma is my preferred choice as it suits my particular setup - while for pedalboards etc. the DC7 would most likely be the perfect choice.
Emma E packs in a lot of variety into a range of just 8 all medium-enclosure pedals - various boosts, drives, distortions, fuzzes, utilities and delay. I've always had a preference for more compact enclosures - but Spaceman Effects in particular got me to be more accepting of medium enclosure. I always sort of associate Emma Electronic and Caroline Guitar Co together as they are similarly sized and have several similarities to me really. But when you have just a single footswitch and 4 knobs - I sort of feel that you could get away with a more compact enclosure. Having all your pedals in this form factor will obviously take up significantly more real estate, and with modern pedalboards accommodating ever greater numbers of 'flavours' it does not always make sense to produce your pedals entirely in slightly over-sized enclosures - particularly as things are still trending towards more compact formats, and a number of the boutique brands have launched fantastic mini pedal equivalents also - so certainly something to consider. Generally though the Emma Electronic circuits sound great, and several of these pedals have appeared in different category roundups on this site - in particular the Okto-Nøjs Sub-Octave Fuzz.
Steen Grøntved intriguingly claims to have perfected the overdrive circuit to produce a more natural breakup which he calls 'TrueOverDrive'. All his drive pedals are built around this circuit methodology, and one has to say that regardless of the marketing nature of such statements, that his pedals do genuinely sound great. The first of these pedals I came across was the Soren Andersen signature Three Stage Rocket with three footswitches - essentially dual overdrive plus boost, or more specifically 2 gain stage settings each with their own gain control. I had considered for a while making this pedal (actually available in standard and Midi configuration) my main choice here, but in the end decided that I probably preferred the crunchy drive of the slightly smaller 'Wise Guy'. As I see it the Wise Guy is a more open sort of Marshall crunch, while the Big Fella - described as 'Modern Rock' is slightly more compressed, darker and tighter focused. In any case in this instance I prefer things a little looser and more open! There is also an impressive range of compact enclosure pedals which started with the TrueOverDrive 1 and 2, but has grown to accommodate further drives, distortions, fuzzes and a delay more recently.
Eirik Stordrange of Living Room Gear Demos introduced me to this Nordvang No.1 superior Klone - although that introduction came a little later than the coverage I have so far given over to Klon Centaur style pedals. Of course my current favourite in that area is the Mini Golden Horse from Decibelics, but at the full larger enclosure size the competition is probably between the newer version of the ProAnalog Devices Manticore and this one - I would need to deliberate heavily which version to go for as they both sound really great and each has its own advantages. At the medium enclosure size I would go for the JHS Modded Klon KTR just ahead of the Decibelics Little Big Klone, for compact it would still be the Tumnus Deluxe - and for mini of course the Golden Hose as mentioned. There are obviously a myriad more options in this area, but these are my favourites to date.
Reuss Effects is a woefully overlooked brand which almost singularly provides Denmark with its acceptable Fuzz quotient! There are some fantastic Drives, Distortions and Fuzzes in particular in the range which are not really getting the coverage they should - and I will admit I'm culpable in overlooking Reuss too on occasion. I included them in my Maestro Fuzz roundup, but probably should have referenced them more all-round. They so dome fantastic signature artist pedals too, while my pickup the bunch is the super smart combine of Klone and Rat circuit in one pedal - the aptly named Swiss Army Knife - which you can stack too.
You will no doubt have noticed that T-Rex has gone through something of a reset of late - having been first declared bankrupt and then being bought out and restored again by original founders Sebastian Jensen and Lars Dah. I feel a couple of factors may have impacted here - the time and money involved in developing the Replicator Tape Delay pedals and bringing them to market, as well as a failure to compete on the bread-and-butter power-supply side where T-Rex have been slow to respond to newer marketplace challengers like Cioks, Friedman and Strymon. My one T-Rex pedal I've acquired to date has been the Goliath FuelTank power supply - which is actually a really clean source of current, while the device itself hums slightly when on - so I will likely swap that for another Strymon Zuma at some stage. T-Rex recently relaunched 3 of their all time classic pedals as vintage Danish hand-made reproductions - the Alberta Overdrive, Mudhoney Distortion and Tremster Tremolo. While they probably could have done more with a modernisation to their range - more along the lines of what Carl Martin has been doing recently. The other T-Rex pedal I've come closest to owning is the fantastic Møller II Overdrive + Boost - while the jewels in the crown and Albatrosses most likely are the Replicator/Junior Replicator Tape Delays. I included the Junior as the featured pedal as the almost twice as larger full-size replicator would have taken up to much relative space in the above composite. I feel T-Rex really need to engineer the full features of the original Replicator into the Junior format - as most players can't easily accommodate a briefcase-size pedal into their touring pedalboard!:
TC Electronic is and pretty much always has been the preeminent Danish Effects brand - back to its earlier days of rack effects, Nova series and SCF Stereo Chorus Flanger. Of late it's been moving more and more into studio production gear, while its recent acquisition by Behringer/MusicGroup/MusicTribe has muddied the waters somewhat as well as tarnished its customer relations reputation - particularly with the recent loss of 'the friendly face of TC Electronic' AKA 'Pedal Jesus' Tore Mogensen. Tore's rather nervous replacement Lars possibly needs some more time to warm up properly, but the severe drop in customer rapport - inferior website experience, lack of transparency etc. will probably be more damaging longer term. Obviously the might of Behringer's manufacturing arm allows for things to be made quicker, more efficiently and cheaper - which we saw resulted in the admittedly pretty great new Brainwaves Polyphonic Pitch Shifter - but I still feel Tore would have fine-tuned it better/further before release, as it's not nearly as 'clean' as it should be when compared to the EHX Pitchfork. For me TC Electronic is my second most owned brand after Boss, and alongside Wampler, and I totally love their Mimiq Doubler effect - which could have been my featured choice here, but I decided that either one of its Loopers or Tuners was the more ideal choice here, and I of course settled on the best loved of all mini loopers - the Mini Ditto! I still feel that some serious work is required to rebalance TC Electronic - they have a cheaper sort of 'B' line of pedals - largely a Behringer effects re-housing exercise - but these used to be rightly separated out in the listing, and now they are just all jumbled together - which would be a little like Toyota throwing its mass market cars onto the Lexus website. So I feel that while TC Electronic right now is something of a shadow of its former self - it can still be restored to its previous prowess. It needs its own better laid-out website more like the one of old - and the different pedal lines need to be more distinctly separated or made wholly uniform. There are still many great pedals in the range - and much here I would still recommend, but I can see many of the old supporters/distributors of this brand are moving away as it's not quite as strong as it used to be despite or mainly because of the Behringer acquisition.
And so we have the wildcard entry here - intriguingly named Vulcan Mulciber whose original industrial looking and really cool Argonaut Ring Modulator / Harmonic Perculator Fuzz has been discontinued, but evolved into the more compact, simpler medium enclosure Argonaut Jr or Argo Navis as featured here. Most know I'm a fuzz fanatic, and I like all flavours - including the weird ones. I'm really waiting for Zvex to release the Mastotron in Vertical Format - in the meantime though the Argo Navis gets me bang into that territory - with plenty more tonal variations besides. This won't be a particularly imminent acquisition, but it's definitely on the wishlist!
Of the big 3 here I feel Carl Martin is definitely on the right track now, while both T-Rex and TC Electronic have some significant rebuilding to do - although the latter has several cash cows to fall back on. Of those two the transition for TC Electronic should be the easier one - as it's offerings are generally more contemporary and universally appealing - it just depends on the cult of the personality of owner Uli Behringer now and how that will continue to cast shade or light on the various acquired brands.
I believe both Cioks and Lunastone are in the ascendancy here alongside newcomer and relative unknown Nordvang, and Emma Electronics seems to be fairly stable at the moment - but could do with more of a push. Another brand that needs to work on raising its profile is Reuss - which has some really decent offerings, but is flying too much under the radar nowadays. Vulcan Mulciber will likely always remain something of an outlier - which is cool with me too.
In terms of acquisitions here - I probably still have a few TC Electronics on my wishlist - alongside a few of the new Carl Martins - while I need to research Reuss a little further to decide if any of those can add to my already considerable collection of fuzzes.
Generally I feel that the outlook for Danish pedal builders is very positive - while several obviously need work in key areas. I also feel that only TC Electronic here have really mastered the art of marketing/social media - and the others need to be stronger in those areas to see their brands grow significantly.
Note that I had originally intended to do a best of Scandinavia roundup, but Denmark was so strong it warranted its own feature - I will next to a sort of 'Best of the Rest of Scandinavia' - covering Finland, Norway and Sweden - before I move along to more general features again.