Apart from one off larger pedals - like the new Origin Effects RevivalDrive, I feel that most of the pedal innovation is occurring at the Mini and Compact pedal sizes. The current ’shrinking’ trend is seeing several classic pedals being brought down to smaller enclosures. In the Mini pedal genre, I feel Xotic and Wampler have a lot to do with the increase in premium quality Mini pedals. Xotic via its trifecta of EP Booster, SL Drive and SP Compressor - of which I have all three in their Alchemy Audio modded variety - with external toggles in place of internal dip-switches.
Wampler has had just incredible success with its two main mini pedals - the Mini Ego Compressor, and Mini Tumnus - both of which you see on lots of pro boards. Then we also see a number of the more budget-but-quality category pedals - like the Mooer Trelicopter and E-Lady, which also appear on a number of boards. MXR is also building up its Mini range with excellent Phase 95, Dyna Comp and Sugar Drive pedals. Pigtronix is also increasingly active in the Mini sector with around half a dozen quality offerings so far. We also have Malekko active in a similar ways, and then dedicated Mini boutique pedal-makers like F-Pedals and OneControl - the latter of which is tied into Björn Juhl of BJFE, Bearfoot FX and Mad Professor fame. Oh and new entrants like Suhr - with its cool Mini Riot pedal.
The main contenders for me are of course ’King of Mini Pedals - Mooer’ and smart engineers TC Electronic which have the most viable options overall. Of these 120 pedals, Mooer accounts for 34, One Control 11, and TC Electronic for 10 as my top most considered. Let me not forget to mention Ibanez and Xvive too which both have some really smart pedals, especially Xvive’s Stereo Looper, Stereo Tremolo, and BBD Memory Man style Echoman Delay made with the same Xvive BBD chips as power EHX’s current Memory Man pedals.
Even though the Mini pedals don’t have the depth of features or necessarily the richness and complexity of tone that the larger pedals can deliver - they are very adept in certain key categories. These include Boost, Compressor, Fuzz and Tuners. I am particularly a fan of Mini Compressors and Fuzzes, while in fact I have 4 Mini pedals still active in my chain - in order of their appearance - TC Electronic PolyTune 2 Mini Noir, TC Electronic Ditto Mini Looper, Wampler Mini Ego Compressor, and Xotix SL Drive Distortion.
I am in fact just a little suprised that more boutique manufacturers are not following Xotic’s and Wampler’s lead - both of which have had a runaway success with their mini versions. Obviously necessary engineering compromises in mini-circuit design can limit which types of pedals are successful at the mini format, but I feel that there is plenty of scope here for pedal-makers to take advantage of. It’s nice to see companies like Suhr taking the leap - and hopefully more will follow suit.
In my 3 key pedal trends for 2018 article, I spoke of the ever increasing number of pedals seen on the average pedalboard - which is why players are increasingly turning to Xotic’s and Wampler’s mini pedals where space is of a premium. If there is no significant advantage at the larger pedal size - then it’s a no-brainer to go for a mini edition.
Currently, most of my focus is on the slightly larger ’Compact / Regular’ form factor, but I do keep a keen eye on Mini Fuzz and Compressor pedals in particular.
This is the area where I have most of my Mini Pedals - Fuzz and Overdrives largely. As before, pedals outlined in blue are still under consideration, green means ’green-lit’ for acquisition, and no outline means already in the collection. I am still on the hunt for certain Mini Fuzzes mostly - pedals that I will definitely acquire at some stage include the new EWS Little Brute Drive II, Ibanez 850 Mini Fuzz, JHS Foot Fuzz, KHDK Mini Ghoul Jr, Mooer Rage Machine, Mythos Pedals Golden Fleece Fuzz-Drive, OneControl Golden Acorn ODS, Pigtronix Octava Micro Octave Fuzz, RaingerFX Dr Freakenstein Dwarf Bleep Fuzz, Suhr Mini Riot, and Zvex Mini Fuzzolo.
I typically rely on larger pedals for my Modulation needs, and in fact have just 2 pedals in this listing - the Mooer Trelicopter Tremolo, and MXR Phase 95 Mini Phaser. Green-lit for acqusition are the Ibanez Mini Chorus, Mooer E-Lady Flanger, Mooer Mooergan Organ Simulator (discontinued - hard to get), Mooer Soul Shiver Phase/Vibe, and the really clever Xvive Undulator Stereo Tremolo.
For my own needs, I use larger Stereo Delay and Reverb workstation pedals, while all of these listed here are mono. Nevertheless, the Ibanez Mini Analog Delay is an excellent alternative to the Boss DW-2w at a fraction of that size. I would also like to acquire a Wampler Mini Faux Spring Reverb, and the Xvive Echoman Delay - replicating the EHX Memory Man sound in a much smaller format, and with the same current BBD chips. Although I have made no determination as to how I might make use of them! Note that the listing order is somewhat strange here - I put the slightly larger minis at the end - for context, but also because alphabetically they would have upset the many dual pairings you see in the visual.
This is another really useful area for Mini Pedals - I still really rate Tuners and Compressors in the Mini format - you can also get some cool simple bitcrushers and loopers - like the stereo output Xvive Duet Looper. For most everything else you get more features and typically better output at a larger enclosure size.
If you use a single amp / mono rig, then Mini pedals can be very handy throughout your pedalboard and pedal-chain. If like me however you use a full stereo rig, then you have to be very careful about pedal placement, as the last 6 pedals in my chain are full stereo - and I can't just drop in a tiny mono pedal for extra flavour.
As I said at the start, pedal engineering is becoming every more innovative - probably at its height in the Compact format enclosure in the various Chase Bliss Audio pedals, and 5 x dual concentric dial controls of Pigtronix's Mothership 2 and Ringmaster pedals. The typical mini pedal nowadays has 2 or 3 dials, While Donner's new PreAmp Mini pedals have 6 dials and a button.
You obviously cannot fit on more than a single footswitch at the Mini size, and 6 dials plus a button or toggle or two are probably as much as you will get out of this real-estate. But I do think there will be plenty of more clever and better sounding Mini pedals coming through.
The recent reinforcement that MXR and Wampler are continuing further down the Mini route with further new releases in that format - with considerable successes in that area are further indicators, and companies like are Suhr taking note and launching their very own Mini Riot. In fact I was surprised it took so long for anyone to bring out a challenger pedal to Wampler's runaway Mini Tumnus success. MXR is the first to step up with its Sugar Drive - but surely other pedal-makers can see that there is a market out there for high quality boutique mini-pedals in the sort of £120-£170 price ballpark and dollar equivalent.
Most pedal-makers tend to have mini boost and compressor pedals out already, the next phase will see many of the key fuzz pedals being adapted for mini standard, alongside classic simply overdrive and distortion tones. The Wampler Mini Tumnus, Xotic SL Drive and Suhr Riot are all really excellent dirt pedals in their own right, it would be churlish to think there can't be others of that sort of quality.
So while for mini I'm mostly only interested in Compression and Fuzz, I will continue to keep an eye on the little guys as they often provide something pretty unique and cool - in fact like the Mythos Golden Fleece Fuzz-Drive.