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Early Summer Pedal-Chain State of the Union - the Final Formation?

12 Degrees of SaturationAmbient EffectsAnasoundsBearfoot FXBig Muff Style FuzzBitcrushing and Lo-FiBlues Driver Style OverdriveBoostBoost and OverdriveBossBrown Sound DistortionBufferBuild Your Own CloneBYOCChase Bliss AudioChorus and VibratoCompressorDelayDelay WorkstationDemon PedalsDigital DelayDigital ReverbDigiTechDistortionDouble TrackingDr ScientistDriveDual-DriveDumble Style OverdriveEchoverbEmpress EffectsEnvelope Filter and Auto WahEQEventideFeaturedFlangerFuzzFuzz Face Style FuzzFuzz-Drive and FuzzstortionGermanium FuzzGlitchGranular DelayGuitar AccessoriesGuitar Synth and SequencerHarmonizerJackson AudioJHS PedalsKeyztoneKlone and Transparent OverdriveLo-Fi DelayLooperMarshall Style DistortionMenatoneMeris EffectsMetal DistortionMI EffectsModulated FuzzModulationModulation WorkstationMulti-DriveMu-TronNoise GateOCD Style OverdriveOctave FuzzOctaverOddball ModulationOpAmp FuzzOverdrivePhaserPitchPitch-ShiftingPlate ReverbRack Style ReverbRat Style FuzzRed Panda EffectsReverbReverb WorkstationREVV AmplificationRotary SpeakerShimmer ReverbSilicon FuzzSlicer and StutterSource AudioSpaceman EffectsSpacey ReverbSpring ReverbStrymonTape DelayTC ElectronicToneQuestTremoloTrue North PedalsTubescreamer Style OverdriveUni-Vibe and VibeUtilityVox Style DistortionWah and Fixed WahWampler+-
2019GPXSKSignalChainMKV700-min.jpg

This is one of those moments that I feel that my celebrated Pedal-Chain has reached another milestone of ’peak performance’. There are a number of new releases here - and probably all the big ones I was expecting this year - bar the Chase Bliss Audio / Benson Amps Automatone MKII PreAmp - which is due in the Autumn now - and still pending final pricing, but will probably take up the top spot on Slot #14 eventually. Also - my long-awaited Beetronics Swarm Harmonizing PLL Style Fuzz is inbound to me currently - and that will surely be taking up rotation on slot #19 when it arrives sometime next week once it has cleared customs. While the last major component in place - my first Meris pedal - the Hedra arrived just today - the very last day of May!

 

So my new additions for 2019 include the following baker’s dozen:

  • #01 Keyztone EXchanger Pickup Enhancer / Remodeler
  • #03 Meris Hedra 3 Voice Rhythmic Pitch Shifter
  • #05 Anasounds Crankled Bitoun Octave Fuzz
  • #09 Jackson Audio Broken Arrow Programmable Overdrive + Boost
  • #12 Demon Pedals Kondo Shifuku D-Style Drive
  • #14 BYOC Crown Jewel Multi-Drive with Clean Blend Mod
  • #19 Demon Pedals Parvati Russian Muff Style Fuzz
  • #22 Menatone The King. Marshall Style All-rounder Drive/Distortion
  • #26 REVV G4 High Gain Distortion
  • #33 JHS Unicorn Uni-Vibe
  • #34 Red Panda Particle 2 Granular Delay
  • #36 Empress Effects Zoia Modular Synthesizer, Sequencer and Multi-Effects Unit
  • #37 Strymon Volante Stereo Magnetic Echo Machine

I feel I’ve landed at the final ideal configuration for me now - in having those 5 analogue modulations - with the Uni-Vibe flavour rounding off that section nicely - I really need that tap-tempo! I’m still fully getting to grips with the huge potential of the Zoia - and obviously the Hedra has just arrived - so that will take a wee while to get used to. While, the Particle 2 is also fairly new to me and I’m still figuring out my favourite settings on that. Otherwise everything else here is really intuitive and beautiful sounding as well as beautifully versatile and practical.

 

I really recommend everyone should get a BYOC Crown Jewel - at the very least just to get a handle on how all the different overdrives and distortions are generated - soft and hard clipping, different ’Q’ levels and with different types of boost. In fact the only thing really missing here is presets - and possibly 3 or 4 flavours of built-in boost - like the Jackson Audio Broken Arrow has. The Crown Jewel’s modular boost system is cool in many ways - but for someone like me I would prefer 4 locked-in but easily switchable flavours - including Fuzz!

 

As well as being the ideal layout arrangement in terms of types of pedal per sequential slot, I feel that we have near enough every ideal pedal for my own needs now in place. Of course I have accumulated a significant Tone Library by now and several of those slots get a significant amount of rotation, while I believe that what’s in place right now is about as good as it can get - there’s not a weak link amongst these, and several have no other equivalent. I feel from now on changes to the pedal-chain will be a touch slower and will largely just be the ongoing steady rotation of pedals from the Tone Library - along with a few new additions - for variety and spice as much as anything else. There are so many different flavours of all these different effects - that it’s always a matter of finding the one that feels, sounds and plays best to your own preferences - and within your own overall criteria - whether price, footprint or other key ownership factors.

 

The numbers overview always makes interesting reading - with the 40 pedals split across 24 brands / builders - and currently Chase Bliss Audio still leading the charge for me:

  • Chase Bliss Audio = 5
  • Boss = 3
  • Jackson Audio = 3
  • Strymon = 3
  • Demon Pedals =2
  • Empress Effects = 2
  • MI Effects = 2
  • REVV = 2
  • TC Electronic = 2
  • Anasounds = 1
  • Bearfoot FX = 1
  • BYOC = 1
  • DigiTech = 1
  • Dr Scientist = 1
  • Eventide = 1
  • JHS Pedals = 1
  • Keyztone = 1
  • Menatone = 1
  • Meris = 1
  • Mu-Tron = 1
  • Red Panda = 1
  • Source Audio = 1
  • Spaceman Effects = 1
  • True North Pedals = 1
  • Wampler = 1

 

Pedals are listed by # slot with key Active / Primary Pedal, rotation understudies, then wishlist and potential acquisitions. This ToneQuest still has some distance to go:


Slot #01 : Pickup Enhancer / Remodeler : Keyztone EXchanger

Even though I have coil-split / coil-tap switching on my main guitar/s - it is not nearly as pronounced or as effective as the Keyztone EXchanger. I've done an in-depth feature on this which is really what encouraged me to acquire this - you get 8 different pickup modes - covering most bases here or the key Fender and Gibson style pickups with modern and piezo variants thrown in too for good measure. As I mentioned in the review - you're not going to get exact replications of the original inspirations, but what you do get is very much in the ballpark of those tone families. This is a fairly unique pedal with no direct alternatives really - it's perfect for those wanting to keep to just one guitar as much as possible.

 

Rotation :

  • N/A

Further Acquisitions / Wishlist / Alternatives :

  • N/A

Slot #02 : Whammy! / Synth : DigiTech Whammy Ricochet

I acquired the TC Electronic Brainwaves Pitch Shifter earlier this year to essentially replace this pedal in the main and offer me more options and versatility - but found the operation of that not as pleasant as I had hoped, nor were the pitched notes nearly as mellifluous as desired and they don't compare well with say the EHX Pitchfork. So I'm back with the Ricochet which just does one Tom Morello sort of thing for me - but does it really well - which is why the Ricochet has returned! Note that I occasionally rotate in the Ditto Mini on this slot - particularly when I'm trying out new pedal settings and I need a loop to play with!

 

Rotation :

  • TC Electronic Brainwaves Pitch Shifter
  • TC Electronic Quintessence Harmonizer
  • TC Electronic Sub 'N' Up
  • DigiTech Dirty Robot Analog Synth
  • DigiTech The Drop Polyphonic Drop-Tune
  • Dr Scientist BitQuest
  • Pigtronix Mothership 2 Analog Synth
  • TC Electronic Ditto Mini

Further Acquisitions / Wishlist / Alternatives :

  • DigiTech FreqOut Natural Feedback Creator
  • Electro-Harmonix Pitchfork Pitch Shifter
  • Source Audio C4 4-Voice Guitar Synth
  • Subdecay Octave Theory

Slot #03 : Octaver / Pitch-Shifter - Meris Hedra 3 Voice Rhythmic Pitch Shifter

I had the analogue Mu-Tron Octavider Sub Octave + Ring Modulator on this slot for the longest time. When the Meris Hedra appeared - I knew that I absolutely wanted it, and that it could totally own this slot with it's amazing combination of pitch shifting and delay / sort of arpeggiation even. The Hedra should allow me to do all the basics alongside some fantastic next level pitch sequencing. It's a stereo pedal - so I'm thinking I will also deploy it in slot #34 at times, but for now the Hedra owns Slot #03 and becomes the first Meris pedal in my Tone Library. I have a feeling it will be joined by its sibling the Mercury 7 Reverb in the not too distant future!

 

Rotation :

  • Mu-Tron Octavider Sub-Octaver and Ring Modulator
  • MI Effects Pollyanna Octaver
  • Dr Scientist BitQuest
  • TC Electronic Sub 'N' Up

Further Acquisitions / Wishlist / Alternatives :

  • Electro-Harmonix Nano-POG Matthews Effects Mod
  • Matthews Effects The Chemist Atomic Modulator V2

Slot #04 : Envelope Filter / Auto-Wah : Mu-Tron Micro-Tron III Envelope Filter

This has become a pretty much permanent fixture in the pedal-chain and I can't really see anything shifting it - a beautiful sounding and functioning analogue Envelope Filter / Auto-Wah - much more to my liking than using a conventional treadle / rocker type!

 

Rotation :

  • Dunlop Cry Baby Mini 535Q Wah
  • Dunlop Cry Baby Mini Wah
  • Dunlop CSP030 CryBaby Q-Zone Fixed Wahs

Further Acquisitions / Wishlist / Alternatives :

  • Magnetic Effects Double Feature V1 with Switch Wah-Fuzz
  • Pigtronix Resotron Tracking Filter
  • Shift Line A+ Prism-9 Filter Pad Pedal

Slot #05 : Typically Germanium Fuzz / Fuzz Face / Tone Bender : Anasounds Crankled Bitoun Octave Fuzz

The Anasounds Crankled Bitoun is simply my favourite octave fuzz to date - it just sounds immense, thick and richly textured in its beautiful combination of two stellar fuzz circuits. Obviously with 120+ fuzzes in my Tone Library there is a fair bit of rotation that happens on this slot in particular, but this is definitely one of my all-time favourites! Funnily enough even with all those fuzzes in the collection already - there are still a few more that I need to get - including the DanDrive Secret Weapon Fuzz I saw on today's That Pedal Show!

 

Rotation (Top 10 or so) :

  • Spaceman Effects Sputnik I
  • Paul Trombetta Bone Machine GTX
  • Cusack Music Germanium Screamer Fuzz
  • Anarchy Audio Baa Bzz Fuzz
  • Bearfoot FX Candiru Germanium Fuzz
  • ProAnalog Devices MKIV Vintage Fuzz
  • Crazy Tube Circuits Constellation Fuzz
  • Chase Tone '68 Red Velvet Fuzz
  • Big Joe Freakshow Germanium Fuzz
  • Basic Audio Scarab Deluxe
  • SolidGoldFX Rosie CS Copper Germanium Fuzz / If 6 was 9 Copper Germanium Fuzz / Germanium Imperial Fuzz
  • Side Effects Woolly Mammoth 7 Clone
  • Zvex Vertical Fuzz Factory Germanium
  • PLBR Effects Pizza Crusher Fuzz
  • Red Witch Fuzz God III
  • Sitek Pandora Fuzz
  • SSD Devices Eva Fuzz
  • Tate FX Raise the Dead Fuzz (Lime Scream)
  • Danelectro Eisenhower Octave Fuzz
  • Magnetic Effects Germanium Buzzkill Fuzz
  • Blackout Effectors Blunderbuss / Fubär Fuzz
  • Mid Valley FX Secret Weapon Fuzz
  • JPTR FX Gainsaw Fuzzstortion

Further Acquisitions / Wishlist / Alternatives :

  • Analog.Man NKT275 Red Dot Sun Face Fuzz
  • Basic Audio Orpheum Germanium Fuzz
  • DanDrive Pedal Secret Weapon Fuzz (Zonk!)
  • Blackhawk Amps Svarog Germanium Fuzz
  • EarthQuaker Devices Erupter Fuzz
  • King Tone Germanium MiniFuzz
  • Menatone Germanium Law Bender Fuzz
  • Monsterpiece MKI Fuzz
  • Spaceman Effects Gemini III Dual Fuzz Blender

Slot #06 : Always-On Boost : Jackson Audio Prism Boost + Buffer + EQ + Overdrive + PreAmp

Slot #06 : Always-On Boost : Jackson Audio Prism Boost + Buffer + EQ + Overdrive + PreAmp

I've had this since it first came out - to replace my still well-loved Alchemy-Modded Xotic EP Mini Booster - this is another one of my pretty much permanent slot residents - there's nothing else really that offers this combination of functionality - so it's likely to stay this way for a while. I've said before that I would like 3-band EQ on this pedal, and also more of what Jackson Audio have done with the Bloom and Broken Arrow - in terms of smart footswitchable control - which I actually did a mock up on for their future guidance - per the above visual!

 

Rotation :

  • Xotic EP Mini Booster Alchemy Mod

Further Acquisitions / Wishlist / Alternatives :

  • Chase Bliss Audio Condor Analog EQ/PreAmp/Filter
  • ThorpyFX Team Medic Boost/Buffer/EQ/PreAmp

Slot #07 : Compressor : Jackson Audio Bloom Compressor + EQ + Blooming Boost

However impressive the Prism is/was, it was the Bloom that really showed what Jackson Audio was capable of - with really clever dual-footswitch activation of different modes in a most ingenious manner with really smart multi-colour LEDs too. This is still probably the most functionally capable Compressor pedal of its type - although there may be others you could argue sound better in specific applications. That said - this combination of Compressor, EQ and Boost is another one of my essential pedals - it just really delivers on that functionality! Totally amazing build quality too!

 

Rotation :

  • Wampler Mini Ego Compressor

Further Acquisitions / Wishlist / Alternatives :

  • DryBell Unit67 Compressor/EQ/Boost
  • Origin Effects Cali76 Compact Deluxe
  • ThorpyFX The Fat General Parallel Compressor V2

Slot #08 : Tone Enhancer / Harmonic Boost : Spaceman Effects Mercury IV Germanium Harmonic Boost

For a long time I was seeking out a compact Spaceman Mercury III - now long since discontinued and fetching silly prices. I was resolved on getting one as I always considered its successor a little on the large side, but after a trial I discovered that the Mercury IV was simply an unmissable tone component within my signal chain - it's almost on all the time for me - and near enough makes every drive effect and fuzz pedal sound better! I also occasionally rotate in my Tube Screamers on this slot - which explains the below rotation, and I would also place any Treble Boosters here when I wanted to rotate those in.

 

Rotation :

  • Foxpedal The City V2 Overdrive (TS808)
  • JHS Bonsai Multi-Overdrive (TS808)

Further Acquisitions / Wishlist / Alternatives :

  • Danelectro The Breakdown PreAmp
  • Expresso FX Germanium Boost (Treble Booster)
  • Highwind Amplification Direwolf Overdrive (TS808)
  • Ibanez/Vemuram TSV808 Tube Screamer Overdrive Pro
  • JAM Pedals Rooster OC44 Germanium Frequency Booster (Treble Booster)
  • JHS Pedals Clover PreAmp/EQ (Boss FA-1 FET Amplifier)
  • KHDK Ghoul Screamer Overdrive (TS808)
  • Knight Audio Technologies Brian May Classic All-Era Treble Booster
  • Laney Amps / Black Country Customs Tony Iommi Signature Boost (Treble Booster)
  • Nobels ODR-1 Overdrive
  • PLBR Effects Floral Green (TS808)

Slot #09 : Transparent / Neutral / Light-Medium Overdrive / Klone : Jackson Audio Broken Arrow Programmable Overdrive + Boost

The new Jackson Audio Broken Arrow is a total game-changer in the Overdrive + Boost stakes - with 4 different flavours of each accessed via dual footswitches - as well as the really smart dual-press Gain Cycle - which steps up the gain in 25% increments of whatever your Gain dial is set to. You get a Tube Screamer, DS-1, Timmy and Vintage Marshall sort of Plexi all in the same pedal - with 4 different flavours of Boost - including Treble Booster, Mid Booster and Full Frequency Booster - and it sounds amazing every which way - this is the ultimate Low-to-Mid-Gain Overdrive as far as I'm concerned.

 

Rotation :

  • Matthews Effects Architect V3 Overdrive + Boost (Klone)
  • Decibelics Golden Horse Overdrive (Klone)
  • Wampler Tumnus Deluxe (Klone)
  • Anasounds Cerberus Custom Overdrive/PreAmp
  • Foxpedal Kingdon Combo V2 (Klone)
  • Greer Amps Lightspeed Low Gain Overdrive
  • Paul Cochrane Timmy Overdrive

Further Acquisitions / Wishlist / Alternatives :

  • J Rockett Steve Stevens Rockaway Archer EQ/Drive (Klone)
  • Magnetic Effect Sändare V2 Dynamic Overdrive
  • Mentatone Red Snapper Overdrive
  • VFE Merman Overdrive (Klone)

Slot #10 : Mid Gain Overdrive / Blues Breaker / Harmonic Overdrive : Wampler Pantheon Overdrive

I was so pleased with the Wampler Pantheon when it first came out (Brian's best to date as far as I'm concerned) that I unanimously declared it by far the best of the Blues Breaker style pedals out there. While you also have the equally amazing Snouse Electric BlackBox 2 and Analog.Man Prince and King of Tone - the latter of which I also have and really love - I often use any 2 of these 3 in the pedal-chain at the same time. Also my version of the BlackBox is not quite the latest - and a newer version has one additional toggle switch - so will probably update to that at some stage. Besides the Blues Breaker style I also deploy Harmonic Overdrives on this slot - the Aphelion and Wessex, and I still need to add the third of that trio - the Greer Amps Southland - I'm just waiting to catch one of those at a decent price - but it will be added at some stage no doubt. I've also been meaning to add the ThorpyFX Peacekeeper for a while so that will also likely happen pretty soon!

 

Rotation :

  • Snouse Electric Company BlackBox 2 Overdrive External Switch Mod (Blues Breaker)
  • Spaceman Aphelion Harmonic Overdrive
  • Bogner Wessex Harmonic Overdrive

Further Acquisitions / Wishlist / Alternatives :

  • Analog.Man Prince of Tone (Blues Breaker)
  • Greer Amps Southland Harmonic Overdrive
  • Snouse Electric Company BlackBox Overdrive 2 Stage Pro Mod (Blues Breaker)
  • ThorpyFX Peacekeeper V2 Overdrive
  • Tsakalis Six Boost, Overdrive & Distortion (Blues Breaker + Timmy)
  • VFE Blues King Overdrive

Slot #11 : Mid Gain Overdrive / Blues Driver : Boss BD-2 Blues Driver Keeley Freak Fuzz + Phat Mod

I still have a lot of love for my Keeley Freak Fuzz Modded Blues Driver - it still hold sway as one of my best loved drive tones - even though in some ways it's quite close to the Marshall-style, yet there is just a little flavour of something else here - a hint of fuzz - which makes it unique. I use it by default normally in Phat Mod mode, but do also occasionally switch in the Freak Fuzz Mod too - this is just a fantastic pedal - I doubt I will ever shift it from the top spot here!

 

Rotation :

  • Boss/JHS JB-2 Angry Driver
  • Keeley Retro Super Germanium Phat Mod

Further Acquisitions / Wishlist / Alternatives :

  • N/A

Slot #12 : Mid Gain Overdrive / Fuzzy-Drive / Dumble : Demon Pedals Kondo-Shifuku D-Style Overdrive

I'm not sure exactly how it happened, but slot #12 has become a major rotational slot with lots of different flavours - in particular fuzzy-drive varieties. My current favourite here is also my favourite Dumble ODS style voicing to date - the Demon Pedals Kondo Shifuku - which holds onto this slot for the most part. I recently did a feature on Fuzzy-Drive pedals - and most of those get rotated in on this slot too. So this is in effect a combination of Dumble, Expandora, Fuzzy-Drive, Harmonic Percolators, HiWatt, OCD, Power Boost, Trainwreck Express, and Sunn Model T style pedals for the most part!

 

Rotation (Top 10 or so) :

  • Custom Tones Ethos TWE-1 PreAmp/Overdrive (Trainwreck Express)
  • Cusack Music Germanium Screamer Fuzz
  • Hamstead Odyssey Intergalactic Driver
  • Fulltone OCD Overdrive
  • Analogwise Germanium Pocket Rocket Fuzz-Drive
  • Mythos Golden Fleece Fuzz-Drive
  • Stomp Under Foot Dirt Preacher
  • Skreddy Pedals Hybrid Fuzz Driver
  • Skreddy Pedals Lunar Module Mini Deluxe
  • BYOC Overdrive 2 Mosfet Mod
  • Side Effects Il Mostro Multi-Drive - Boost/Drive/Distortion
  • Wampler Euphoria Overdrive (Dumble)
  • Mad Professor Simble Overdrive (Dumble) / Amber Overdrive / Golden Cello Overdrive / Sweet Honey Deluxe Overdrive
  • Coda Effects Black Hole Drive/Distortion (Sunn Model T)
  • Bearfoot FX Model Hs Overdrive (HiWatt/Dumble)
  • Basic Audio Futureman Overdrive (Power Boost)
  • Crazy Tube Circuits Starlight Liquid Fuzz Distortion
  • Sizzorfite Studio Acalpulco Clone (Sunn Model T)

Further Acquisitions / Wishlist / Alternatives :

  • Aleks K Maple Leaf Royal Drive
  • Bixonic Expandora 2000R Fuzz/Distortion
  • Caroline Guitar Company Hawaiian Pizza Fuzz/Drive (Dumble-ish)
  • Crowther Hot Cake Overdrive
  • Earthquaker Devices Acapulco Gold (Sunn Model T)
  • Fredric Effects Utility Percolator (Harmonic Percolator)
  • Fulltone Plimsoul Drive
  • JDM Pedals Little Steamer Percolator (Harmonic Percolator)
  • JHS Kilt V1/V2 Distortion+Boost (Expandora 2000R)
  • J Rockett Melody EQ/Drive (Dumble)
  • Menatone Dumbstruck Overdrive (Dumble)
  • Menatone MenaWatt Drive (HiWatt)
  • Menatone Wreck'T Drive (Trainwreck Express)
  • OneControl Golden Acorn Overdrive Special Mini
  • Paradox Effects Terran Re-Voicing Low-End Overdrive
  • Pettyjohn Electronics Fuze Fuzz-Distortion / Fuzzstortion
  • ThroBak Overdrive Boost V1 (Power Boost)
  • True North Rocky Mountain Fuzz
  • Zander Circuitry Terra Firma Power Amp Distortion (Sunn Model T)

Slot #13 : Multi-Drive - Boost/Drive/Distortion : Strymon Riverside Multistage Drive

I really don't use this pedal as much as I should but it is still an essential tone component in my signal chain - actually mostly used as a relatively mellow stackable boost, while the second / favourite function voice is set to a sort of a sleek 80's style high gain distortion / Hair Metal Tone! This is a really underrated Multi-Drive which I under-appreciated when I first got it as I was using it wrong, and hadn't fully appreciated what its best applications were. This is a beautiful JFET-powered Amp-like boost, overdrive and distortion - that has a gorgeous voice all of its own. The Strymon DSP means that it's relatively smooth - in that you don't get those gnarly artefacts and harmonics that you would expect to get if you really cranked your tube amp to its fullest degree.

 

Rotation :

  • N/A

Further Acquisitions / Wishlist / Alternatives :

  • N/A

Slot #14 : Multi-Drive / Larger Enclosures - Fuzz/Drive/Distortion : BYOC Crown Jewel Multi-Drive with Clean Blend

 

 

#14 is very much my larger form factor slot - by the nature of where is appear in my Pedal-Chain - and how easy it is to accommodate over-sized enclosures. The three pedals currently which get the most rotation here are the Crown Jewel, King of Tone and RevivalDrive - depending on prevailing mood really. Of late - the fantastic all-rounder BYOC Crown Jewel has sort of take ownership of this slot by its nature of being able to replicate pretty much every style of drive pedal out there - via its various dials and switches. I really recommend the Crown Jewel for all pedal fans as it really teaches you about clipping types, EQ and gain stages - you get to understand how your core drive pedals really work on a basic circuit component level. I still feel that there are some improvements that could be made here - presets and selectable different onboard boost styles for instance - but currently there is nothing really like this out there - it's just fantastic to use and so versatile. Longer term it's likely that the Chase Bliss Audio / Benson Amps Automatone MKII PreAmp will be fighting off all-comers for this slot - but we've still to see pricing and availability on that unit - which is now expected in the Autumn!

 

Rotation (Top 10 or so) :

  • Analog.Man King of Tone JHS 4-Star Mod
  • Origin Effects RevivalDrive Custom
  • Empress Multidrive
  • Truetone Jekyll & Hyde Multidrive
  • Beetronics Royal Jelly Overdrive/Fuzz
  • Hudson Electronics Dual Broadcast Germanium Pre-Amp
  • Hudson Electronics Sidecard Germanium Clipping Overdrive
  • Old Blood Noise Endeavors Alpha Haunt Fuzz
  • Rainger FX Dr Freakenstein Fuzz
  • Spaceman Effects Polaris Resonant Overdrive
  • Suhr Galaxy Eclipse Multi-Drive
  • Demon Pedals Ganapati Drive + Boost
  • Electronic Audio Experiments Dude Incredible Harmonic Percolator + IVP
  • Elektron Analog Drive

Further Acquisitions / Wishlist / Alternatives :

  • Chase Bliss Audio / Benson Amps Automatone PreAmp MKII
  • Electrofoods Ultd. Pigpile Hamonic Porkolating Fuzz
  • Rainger FX Dr Freakenstein Chop Fuzz
  • Surprise Sound Lab HVO High Voltage Overdrive
  • Wampler Fuzztration Octave Fuzz

Slot #15 : Top Boosted Distortion / Vox / HiWatt : Bearfoot FX Emerald Green Distortion Machine

The Boosted Vox Brian May style tone is one of my favourite distortion sounds and I will always have one of those flavours in the chain - usually this amazingly dynamic Emerald Green, sometimes the Origin Effects RevivalDrive, and often both! The only pedal acquisition mistake I've made recently was in acquiring the Massive Unity 1964 TAE PreAmp - which was supposedly a replacement for the excellent sounding ThunderTomate T.A.E. Dani Gomez AC30 Signature pedal - but I failed to do the proper due diligence here - and the pedal has failed to live up to expectations - I will now try to track down one of the ThunderTomate originals. Other than that this slot features other Boosted Amp style pedals - like the Who's HiWatt setup and Black Sabbath's / Tony Iommi's Laney setup.

 

Rotation :

  • Bearfoot FX Model Hs (HiWatt / Dumble)
  • Catalinbread Galileo Drive (Vox)
  • Suhr Shiba Drive ReLoaded Mini

Further Acquisitions / Wishlist / Alternatives :

  • Catalinbread RAH Drive (HiWatt)
  • Catalinbread Sabra Cadabra Distortion (Laney)
  • Menatone MenaWatt Drive (HiWatt)
  • Menatone Top Boost In A Can (Vox)
  • ThunderTomate T.A.E. Dani Gomez AC30 Signature (Vox)

Slot #16 : Amp-like Distortion / Fender-Styles / Tweed : True North Pedals Tweed Drive

I am still liking the True North Tweed Drive to such an extent that it's likely to hold onto this slot for a while longer - but I think The Elements may come back into effect again later in the year as it's had quite a hiatus now, and it's versatility and amazing core tone really deserves some more air-time again. Other than that there are still a few more varieties to mix up on this slot - and I feel I may very well have a Neunaber Neuron in place here too by the end of the year!

 

Rotation :

  • Dr Scientist The Elements
  • Bearfoot FX Sparkling Yellow OD3
  • Mad Professor Little Tweedy Drive
  • Sinvertek N5 PreAmp
  • Sinvertek No.5 Distortion
  • Subdecay Vector Multidrive

Further Acquisitions / Wishlist / Alternatives :

  • Menatone Dirty B Overdrive (Fender Blonde + Brown Face etc.)
  • Neunaber Neuron Gain Intelligence Programmable PreAmp, Compressor, Noise Gate & Cab Simulator
  • Umbrella Company Hitchhike Drive (Tweed)
  • Zvex '59 Sound Tweed Drive

SLot #17 : Marshall JCM800 Style Distortion / EVH / Brown Sound : MI Effects Super Crunch Box V2

The JCM800 / EVH / Brown Sound is another one of my favourite essential distortion tones, and my preferred pedal for those purposes is still the fantastic MI Effects Super Crunch Box V2 - although some players do find it a little tricky to dial in, but it gets me exactly the degree of sizzle I'm looking for. There's obviously very healthy competition for this slot - and I aim to further bolster this section of my Tone Library ongoingly, albeit not really a pressing cause - this will depend very much on taking advantage of advantageous pricing.

 

Rotation :

  • Bogner Burnley Distortion
  • Boss/JHS JB2 Angry Driver
  • Suhr Riot Distortion
  • Lawrence Petross Design Eighty 7 PreAmp
  • Wampler Pinnacle Distortion
  • Mad Professor #1 Distortion

Further Acquisitions / Wishlist / Alternatives :

  • Carl Martin Panama British Hot Modded Overdrive
  • Dawner Prince RedRox Distortion
  • JHS @ Andy Timmons+ Distortion
  • Suhr Riot Drive Mini
  • Wampler Pinnacle Deluxe Distortion

Slot #18 : Multi-Drive / Fuzzy-Drive : Chase Bliss Audio Brothers Analog Gain Stage

This is another essential pedal for me and very unique for its type - balancing 2 x 3 voicings per Channel - Boost, Overdrive and Fuzz - for that perfect blend of Fuzz, Drive and Fuzzy-Drive that I love so much. It's functionally very similar to the Strymon Sunset - but each has their own unique flavours which justifies the inclusion of both in my chain as such. This has been a permanent fixture since I acquired it, and I would use it in conjunction with the Automatone MKII PreAmp if and when I get that. I've also been considering the Chase Bliss Condor for the longest time too - as a sometime rotation alternative here - although I'm still not 100% sure how much use I would get out of that.

 

Rotation :

  • N/A

Further Acquisitions / Wishlist / Alternatives :

  • Chase Bliss Audio Condor Analog EQ/PreAmp/Filter

Slot #19 : Silicon & OpAmp Fuzz / Big Muff / Octave Fuzz : Demon Pedals Parvati Russian Muff Style Fuzz

My 2 principal Fuzz Slots - #5 and this #19 see the most rotation of any in this pedal-chain - with a huge number and variety of stellar fuzz varieties. This is the mainly Silicon and Big Muff slot, but it sees a wide mix really - with the Parvati's huge versatility giving it an extended residency for now. It will be pushed aside by the incoming Beetronics Swarm, but then it's probably time for the Ayahuasca to get another airing - and I'm loving the more mellow tones of the Bogner Oxford - but also the Toneczar Vault and Wren and Cuff De La Riva - I'm really spoiled for choice here!

 

Rotation (Top 10 or so) :

  • Abracadabra Audio Ayahuasca Trem-Fuzz
  • Beetronics Swarm Harmonizer PLL Fuzz
  • Beetronics Octahive Octave Fuzz
  • JHS Muffuletta Multi-Muff Fuzz
  • Black Arts Toneworks Son of Pharaoh Fuzz
  • Bogner Oxford Fuzz
  • Boss FZ-2 Hyper Fuzz
  • ShiftLine Termofuzz
  • ThorpyFX Fallout Cloud Fuzz
  • Toneczar Vault High Gain Fuzz
  • Wren and Cuff De La Riva BM-20 Fuzz
  • Magnetic Effects White Atom V2 Fuzz
  • Skreddy Pedals Hybrid Fuzz Driver
  • Spaceman Effects Titan II Fuzz
  • Spaceman Effects Nebula Fuzz/Octave Blender
  • Basic Audio Alter-Destiny Fuzz
  • SolidGoldFX 76 Octave Fuzz
  • Supro Fuzz 18V
  • Jacques Bat Fuzz
  • Coda Effects Dolmen Fuzz
  • Mid-Fi Electronics Clari(not) Vibrato Fuzz

Further Acquisitions / Wishlist / Alternatives :

  • Amptweaker Tight Fuzz Jr
  • Animal Factory Animal 1 Chemical Burn Octave Fuzz / Baron Samedi Fuzz
  • Basic Audio Spooky Tooth
  • Basic Audio Zippy Fuzz
  • Blackhawk Amps Svarog Germanium Fuzz
  • Caroline Guitar Company Shigeharu Octave Fuzz
  • Defects Tracked Variable Octa-Fuzz
  • DOD Carcosa Fuzz
  • EarthQuaker Devices Data Corrupter Harmonizer Fuzz
  • EarthQuaker Devices Erupter Fuzz
  • JPTR FX Super Weirdo Glitch Fuzz
  • King Tone Octaland MiniFuzz
  • PLBR Effects Maritimus Fuzz
  • Skreddy 1971 / Mayo Fuzz
  • Stone Deaf Fig Fumb Fuzz
  • ThorpyFX Veteran Si Fuzz V2
  • True North Rocky Mountain Fuzz
  • Valhbruch Octavia
  • VFE Pedals Fuzz Duo
  • Vemuram Oz / Vemuram Josh Smith Myriad Fuzz
  • Zander Circuitry American Geek High Gain Muff Fuzz

Slot #20 : Rat / Glitch / Velcro / Doom Fuzz : Dr Scientist Frazz Dazzler Fuzzstortion

The ProCo Rat / LM308 OpAmp Distortion/Fuzzstortion and derivatives is another of my all-time favourite pedal tones - and I've amassed a growing Tone Library of such pedals. This slot also covers Glitchy Fuzz, Velcro and Doom on sometime rotation - but to be fair the Frazz Dazzler is pretty much another permanent resident so these others often only get an airing on another slot!

 

Rotation (Top 10 or so) :

  • ProCo Rat2 JHS Pack Rat Mod (NE5534)
  • ProCo Rat2 Kinnatone White Ikebe Mischief Mod (LM308N)
  • 1981 Inventions DRV (Rat)
  • Animals Pedal Tioga Road Cycling Distortion (Rat)
  • Basic Audio Shore Birds (Rat)
  • Catalinbread Katzenkonig Fuzz (Rat + Tone Bender)
  • Foxpedal Wrath V2 (Rat)
  • Magnetic Effects Lone Robot Fuzzstortion (Rat)
  • ThorpyFX Warthog Distortion (Rat)
  • VFE Alpha Dog (Rat)
  • Mooer Mini Black Secret Distortion (Rat)
  • Greenhouse Pedals Sludgehammer Fuzz (Doom)
  • Occvlt Amethyst Dope Fuzz (Doom)
  • Toneczar Vault High Gain Fuzz (Doom)
  • Anarchy Audio Deadwoods Fuzzstortion (HM-2/Shim-Ei)
  • Old Blood Noise Endeavors Haunt Fuzz (Velcro)
  • Spaceman Spacerocket Intermodulation Fuzz
  • Subdecay Harmonic Antagonizer (Trem-Fuzz)

Further Acquisitions / Wishlist / Alternatives :

  • A.I.B. Custom Effects Hexed Fuzz (Doom)
  • Big Tone Music Brewery Classic Distortion (Rat)
  • Blackhawk Amps Valhalla High Gain Fuzz
  • BYOC Mighty Mouse (Rat)
  • Caroline Guitar Company Wave Cannon MKII SuperDistorter (Rat)
  • Earthbound Audio Iron Pig (Rat)
  • Electro-Harmonix Flatiron Fuzz/Distortion JHS Mod (TBC) (Rat)
  • JAM Pedals Rattler (Rat)
  • Lone Wolf Audio Plague Doctor (Rat)
  • Stomp Under Foot Skinner Box (Rat)
  • Walrus Audio Iron Horse Distortion V2 (Rat)

Slot #21 : Multi-Drive / Boost / Distortion : Strymon Sunset Dual Drive

I funnily enough snapped this one up before the Chase Bliss Audio Brothers - both are functionally very similar - 3 different voices per the 2 Channels - which you can blend in series or parallel. I thought I would use this more than the Brothers - but it's been the other way around really - those Fuzz voicings on the Brothers have made the difference. I should really use this a little more than I do - like its brother the Riverside - I tend to use one of the Channels as a Treble Boost and another as a pretty sweet high gain distortion.

 

Rotation :

  • N/A

Further Acquisitions / Wishlist / Alternatives :

  • 6 Degrees FX Amplitude Eleven
  • Keeley D&M Drive

Slot #22 : Crunchy Distortion / Marshall Plexi-Style / Plexstortion / Jubilee : Menatone The King. Drive/Distortion

I had the Alchemy Modded Xotic Effects SL Drive on this slot for the longest time - I had considered updating it with the Catalinbread Dirty Little Secret at some stage - that was until I came across the quite superb Menatone The King - probably the most complete Marshall style all-rounder in this enclosure format. It covers all the different Marshall-styles quite superbly - even though I do prefer the Pantheon and King of Tone for subtler Blues Breaker flavours, and the MI Effects Super Crunch Box V2 for JCM800 - for Plexi-style tones though The King. is just superb!

 

Rotation :

  • Alexander Pedals Hot Pink Drive
  • Alexander Pedals Jubilee Silver Overdrive
  • Friedman Dirty Shirley Overdrive
  • Thorpy FX Gunshot V2 Overdrive
  • Wampler Plextortion
  • Wampler Sovereign Distortion
  • Xotic Effects Alchemy Audio Modded SL Drive

Further Acquisitions / Wishlist / Alternatives :

  • Amptweaker TightRock Jr
  • Bogner Ecstasy Blue Mini Drive
  • Catalinbread Dirty Little Secret Drive
  • Himmelstrutz Fetto Nord 70+ Drive/Distortion
  • Lawrence Petross Design Seventy 4 PreAmp
  • Mad Professor Loud'N Proud 'Marshall in a box' + Boost/Fuzz
  • OneControl Jubilee Red Amp-in-a-Box Mini
  • Pettyjohn Electronics Gold Overdrive
  • REVV G2 Crunch Drive/Distortion
  • Zvex Box of Rock Vertical

Slot #23 : Modern Heavy / Metal Distortion / Mid-Pushed : REVV G3 Distortion

This is essentially my 'Modern' Metal distortion or that Tight sort of Mid-Pushed tone that is all the rage nowadays. The longest serving pedals on this slot are the Friedman BE-OD - since pushed out by the REVV G3. I really love both G3 and G4 pedals - they are totally different voicings - the G3 is more of that pushed mids modern tone, while the G4 is closer to a Mesa Rectifier or Diezel VH4 in tonal profile - they both sound tremendous to me and I generally use them form vastly different things - but they are my compact Metal pedal pairing of choice right now. I have lots of options for rotation on this slot - and I've also been intending to get the Metal Zone Waza since it arrived - but other priorities have conspired to get in the way. I feel the G3 is still the strongest candidate for the slot at the moment - although the Abasi Pathos and Metal Zone Waza offer pretty stiff competition.

 

Rotation (Top 10 or so) :

  • Abasi Concepts Pathos Overdrive (Wampler)
  • AMT Electronics R2 PreAmp (Rectifier)
  • Anarchy Audio Deadwoods Fuzzstortion (HM-2/Shin-Ei)
  • Boss MT-2 Keeley Twilight Zone Modded Metal Zone
  • Decibelics Angry Swede Mini (HM-2)
  • DOD Boneshaker Distortion
  • Friedman BE-OD Distortion
  • Keeley Filaments High Gain Distortion
  • Lone Wolf Audio F.O.A.D. Distortion
  • Weehbo Bastard Low End Distortion
  • Wampler Dracarys Distortion
  • XIX Tech HMD-1 Distortion (HM-2)

Further Acquisitions / Wishlist / Alternatives :

  • Aleks K Production Red Scorpion Mega Distortion V2
  • Blackhawk Amps Balrog High Gain Distortion
  • Boss MZ-2 Digital Metalizer
  • Boss ML-2 Metal Core Distortion
  • Boss MT-2w Metal Zone Waza Craft Edition

Slot #24 : Dual Channel Metal Multi-Drive : Empress Heavy Dual-Channel High-Gain Distortion

Another one of my perennial favourites here - which should really need dedicated Lo and Hi frequency knobs per channel - but somehow works really brilliantly regardless. This is just a fantastically versatile dual high gain distortion - and while it did take me a wee while to learn how to get the best out of it - it's now long since become a firm favourite. Of other potential contenders here - I'm most interested in the KRS Ceres - I'm not looking for any imminent acquisitions here, but that may very well be the next larger format metal pedal addition. I've also been wanting the original larger format Bogner Ecstasy Red for a while - just waiting to hit the perfect combination of price and condition for that one on Reverb.com!

 

Rotation :

  • Suhr Galaxy Eclipse Dual Channel Multi-Drive / Distortion

Further Acquisitions / Wishlist / Alternatives :

  • Bogner Ecstacy Red Distortion
  • Friedman BE-OD Deluxe 2 Channel Distortion PreAmp
  • KSR Amps Ceres 3 Channel PreAmp

Slot #25 : Punchy Metal Distortion : MI Effects Megalith Delta Distortion + Boost

The Megalith Delta is such an underrated and often under-the radar Metal pedal - I find it often my favourite flavour of metal - with the fantastic EQ Shift and Contour Controls opening up so much versatility - to go with the 3-band EQ - even thought the Boost pedal isn't really up to much - the rest of the pedal though is pretty stellar. Of later I've considered augmenting this slot with the Horizon Effects Apex PreAmp for which I've heard some exceptional demos recently. I'm in no hurry to add options here - but it is likely I will look to acquire an Apex PreAmp at some stage - probably one for next year though!

 

Rotation :

  • N/A

Further Acquisitions / Wishlist / Alternatives :

  • Horizon Effects Apex PreAmp
  • MESA/Boogie Throttle Box EQ Distortion

Slot #26 : Vintage / Full Frequency Extreme Metal Distortion : REVV G4 Distortion

The G4 was a really pleasant surprise so soon after the G3, and mine arrived well before the end of January which was another surprise. I was looking to down-size this part of the pedal-chain as the incumbent - the Diezel VH4-2 suffered from a rather extended footprint. I down-sized initially to the Wampler Triple-Wreck which I really like too, but then along came the REVV G4 - which kind of pips both of those - and at the smaller size. Obviously it does not have the Diezel's 2-Channel versatility, or the Triple-Wreck's Boost, but all-round it provides just as satisfying a tone - and in some ways more so. This is quite different to the G3, and you set them up somewhat differently - some say G4 for rhythm and G3 for leads, but for me these are just wholly different signature tones - the G3 is mid-pushed, focused, tight and modern, while the G4 has a much more vintage type of feel to it - thicker, rawer, looser and actually more brutal - I really enjoy both flavours immensely and feel they make for an excellent pairing in my rig. In terms of further acquisitions - I really must get an Amptweaker Tight Metal before long - will probably start with the Junior and see where that gets me - I've also had my sights on the Turkish RockFabrik Mind Abuse for a while - so may pull the trigger on that some day soon too - but I'm in no rush to rotate the G4 out yet - I'm really enjoying it at the moment in fact.

 

Rotation :

  • Wampler Tripe-Wreck Distortion
  • Diezel VH4-2 PreAmp

Further Acquisitions / Wishlist / Alternatives :

  • Amptweaker Tight Metal Jr/Pro Distortion
  • Diezel Herbert PreAmp
  • MESA Engineering Throttle Box Distortion
  • RockFabrik Mind Abuse Distortion

Slot #27 : Noise Gate : Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor Alchemy Audio Modded

Where I am right now I don't see me ever changing this - the Alchemy Audio modded version just works so perfectly for me that I could not see how anything else would improve on this - it would really have to be a dual-line version just like this - where you can send one part of the signal straight through, while your noisier distortion pedals obviously get filtered! I've considered getting a Fortin Zuul for some reason - although I could not use it in the same way - would really need to stick some further routing in place. The mosts obvious direct replacement is the TC Electronic Sentry - which has Presets as such via its TonePrint function - but I'm really in no hurry to change - the Modded Boss has worked flawlessly for me for all this time - and if anything ever went wrong - I would probably look first to Johnny Balmer of Alchemy Audio for a replacement!

 

Rotation :

  • N/A

Further Acquisitions / Wishlist / Alternatives :

  • TC Electronic Sentry

Slot #28 : Post-EQ : Boss GE-7 Equalizer Alchemy Audio Modded

The Alchemy Modded Boss GE-7 Equalizer has been another essential workhorse for me - coming immediately after the Distortion Section and Noise Gate - to restore, enhance and augment what might otherwise have been lost within the signal path. Obviously I have a fairly extreme Pedal-Chain with 40 slots - which means that you would most definitely loose detail along the way - in particular higher frequencies. The EQ in this position is largely to re-adjust the core signal - to restore whatever texture and timbre may have been filtered out by all those patch cables and the Noise Gate. And it just works amazingly well for me! Note that I do also on occasion adjust fairly significantly to change the core voicing - but most of the time this is just a subtle signal enhancer/restorer! I've toyed with the idea of deploying a Parametric EQ here - but really like the visual cues afforded by those handy sliders - if someone would only make a 7-band Parametric Grpahic Equalizer with Q-Values etc. in a relatively compact enclosure - then I would probably snap that up too.

 

Rotation :

  • N/A

Further Acquisitions / Wishlist / Alternatives :

  • Chase Bliss Audio Condor Analog EQ/PreAmp/Filter
  • Wampler EQuator Parametric EQ
  • WMD Utility Parametric EQ

Slot #29 : Analog Chorus/Vibrato : Chase Bliss Audio Warped Vinyl II Analog Chorus/Vibrato

I've heard several people report that the MKII version isn't bright enough for them - which is why they've switched to the newer HiFi variety which has a Lag Knob in place of the former's somewhat essential Volume Knob. I still really like the MKII variety - which seems to go plenty bright enough for me. Joel significantly tweaked the output for the HiFi version, but I'm one of many who is partial to the MKII. I love all my stand-alone analogue modulations to have tap-tempo - for easier control, and there are few better or as feature rich as these Chase Bliss Audio examples - where use of the dip-switches etc. is obviously optional! So the Warped Vinyl really give me everything I would want out of a Chorus - both for use with Clean tones and Distortion. I have though been considering augmenting this slot for a while with at least a couple of Boss Waza classics - the CE-2w and DC-2w in particular. And I also really like the Paradox Effects Futura Multiparametric Envelope Chorus.

 

Rotation :

  • TC Electronic The Dreamscape Chorus/Flanger/Vibrato

Further Acquisitions / Wishlist / Alternatives :

  • Boss CE-2w Chorus Waza Craft
  • Boss DC-2w Dimension C Waza Craft Spatial Enhancer / Chorus
  • Chase Bliss Audio Warped Vinyl HiFi
  • JHS The Emperor V2 Chorus/Vibrato
  • Neunaber Inspire Tri-Chorus Plus
  • Paradox Effects Futura Multiparametric Envelope Chorus

Slot #30 : Analog Flanger : Chase Bliss Audio Spectre Analog TZ Flanger

I've stated that I was surprised and disappointed when this model was discontinued - as it's still my favourite Flanger type - with all that wonderful extended Chase Bliss feature set we've all come to expect. I had considered for a while swapping this for the relatively recent EQD Pyramids - which is Stereo - but I decided in the end that I was happier keeping with the compact analogue format. What the future brings one never knows, but I've no need or immediate intentions to update or augment my current superior Flanger trio!

 

Rotation :

  • A/DA PBF Flanger
  • Boss BF-2 Flanger Alchemy Mod

Further Acquisitions / Wishlist / Alternatives :

  • Alexander Pedals F.13 NEO Series Flanger
  • EarthQuaker Devices Pyramids Stereo Flanging Device
  • OBNE Flat Light Textural Flange Shifter

Slot #31 : Analog Tremolo : Chase Bliss Audio Gravitas Analog Tremolo

This is still my favourite Tremolo - just ahead of the Stone Deaf FX Tremotron, but the brand new Walrus Audio Monument V2 Compact is hot on their heels with a smart feature set of its own. I've always been a fan of Tremolos and probably have a couple of more to add to this Section at some stage - for rotation duties - I still feel that as things are, the Gravitas will remain my favourite Tree for quite a while longer.

 

Rotation :

  • Stone Deaf Tremotron
  • Boss TR-2 Alchemy Mod
  • Mooer Mini Trelicopter Tremolo

Further Acquisitions / Wishlist / Alternatives :

  • Mastro Valvola LFO
  • Subdecay Tremcoder Stereo Tremolo Sequencer
  • Strymon Flint
  • Swindler Effects Red Mountain Stereo Tremolo
  • Walrus Audio Monument Harmonic Tremolo V2 Compact

Slot #32 : Analog Phaser : Chase Biss Audio Wombtone II Analog Phaser

The Wombtone completes my Chase Bliss Analog Modulation Section - another superb example of its type. There are actually lots of different Phaser sub-categories which are not at all equal - some are superb at the subtle watery vibe stuff while others excel with the more whooshy distortion-honed type of phase-shifting. The Zvex Vibrophase is definitely in the latter category, while the Wombtone is more of an all-rounder - but to be fair which I use mostly within my EVH tonal family and derivatives. My quartet here serves me admirable and I have no need for others - even though there are still some which catch the eye!

 

Rotation :

  • Zvex Vibrophase
  • Alexander Pedals La Calavera
  • Boss PH-1R Phaser

Further Acquisitions / Wishlist / Alternatives :

  • OBNE Dweller Phase Repeater
  • Skreddy Pedals Swirl 1960' Vibey Phase Shifter
  • Spaceman Effects Explorer Deluxe

Slot #33 : Analog Uni-Vibe : JHS Unicorn V2

If only Chase Bliss had a Uni-Vibe of their own - that would perfectly complete the full set of my Analogue Modulations. As is though I need to turn to JHS Pedals - the only company which produces a tap-tempo analog Uni-Vibe - certainly at this form factor. Even though it has relatively simple controls and just Depth and a Mode toggle to effect tone-shaping - it nevertheless has a surprisingly extended range of tones - and it sounds quite fantastic to my ears. This is a proper 'bulb' style Uni-Vibe and it's worth every penny! I still sort of hope Joel will add one of his own one day, but I'm more than happy with the Unicorn in the meantime! I intend to rotate a few more swirly effects on this slot - but those changes are still pending acquisitions - like the Korora Spira for instance!

 

Rotation :

  • DigiTech Ventura Vibe

Further Acquisitions / Wishlist / Alternatives :

  • Carl Martin Purple Moon Vintage Fuzz 'n' Vibe
  • Dawner Prince Viberator Stereo
  • DryBell Vibe Machine 2
  • Korora Audio Spira Shepard Tone Effect

Slot #34 : Glitch / Ambient Textures : Red Panda Particle 2 Granular Delay

I will soon be doing my final post on Glitch pedals for a while - I've come to learn that the current crop are desperately in need of onboard presets - which only the Red Panda Particle 2 currently fulfils. Most of these pedals have a tonne of dials and switches and it takes an age to dial in your favourite tones and it's nigh on impossible to replicate those easily a second or third time around. When you spend that much time tweaking settings you really need a facility to be able to save and recall those for later use - which just isn't the case now. As a result of this and bar the Particle 2 - these pedals are really only good for studio tweakery - and one setting per session - where some of these have 16 or more algorithms to get used to all with different parameter values and sensitivities. I still like these glitch pedals to a degree - including my most recent acquisition - the TomKat Cloudy, but I don't expect those to get too much rotation in the future - they're perfect if you have half a day or a day to spare, but for a quick 30 minute session - they're really just too tricky a proposition. These are all digital pedals really to the most degree and could do with display screens and presets for sure. I was considering the Cooper FX Moment Machine Pitch Shifter for a while - but I've gone with the marginally simpler to operate and more compact Meris Hedra instead. So this is obviously an area that is still developing and evolving - but I will likely take a hiatus now and dip in again when things have suitably evolved. There's also of course the Empress Zoia - which has limitless 'Glitch' possibilities - although that too is a developing project which still needs some finessing and optimising. I've also determined that I will use this slot for some of the mono Ambient and Time-based effects I can't deploy within the stereo part of the chain - this includes pedals like the Chase Bliss Dark World and Walrus Audio Slö Reverbs - which I still intend to get some day. As a side note the TomKat Cloudy is sort of on pre-order / made to order and will likely take a good 6-10 weeks to arrive here.

 

Rotation :

  • TomKat Pedals Cloudy Granular Synthesis / Multi-Effect
  • Pladask Elektrisk Fabrikat Granular Synthesizer / Sample Playback
  • Drolo Molecular Disruptor V3 Multi-Effects Processor
  • The King of Gear Mini Glitch
  • Montreal Assembly Count to Five Granular Delay
  • MWFX Judder Stutter Machine

Further Acquisitions / Wishlist / Alternatives :

  • Chase Bliss Audio Blooper Modulated Granular Looper
  • Chase Bliss Audio Dark World Dual Channel Reverb
  • Chase Bliss Audio Thermae Pitch-Shifting Delay
  • Drolo Stamme[n] (Stutter) Tap-Tempo Sample/Looper
  • Hexe Guitar Electronics reVOLVER DX Granular Delay/Stutter
  • Rainger FX Drone Rainger Dual Drones Delay
  • Walrus Audio Slö Multi Texture Reverb

Slot #35 : Stereo Double Tracker : TC Electronic Mimiq Doubler Stereo Double Tracker

This is total fairy dust for stereo rigs - I've said so many times before. This pedal is just magic and I feel it's TC Electronic's best pedal to-date - I certainly can't be without it - it livens up the output no end - gives it more dynamics and depth and is sort of the equivalent of going to high definition Dolby Atmosphere multi-channel fully-immersive surround sound at a single button press - things go from fairly normal to wholly vibrant and alive - a really special pedal if deployed correctly! Note that I place it before my ping-pong effects as the stereo doubling can mess those up if it comes at the end of the chain for instance.

 

Rotation :

  • N/A

Further Acquisitions / Wishlist / Alternatives :

  • N/A

Slot #36 : Stereo Multi-Effect / Multi-Modulation : Empress Effects Zoia Modular Synthesizer, Sequencer and Multi-Effects Unit

I've still to get fully up-to-speed with this fantastically capable pedal, but I'm also biding time in waiting for a few of the glitches to be cleared up and some of the key routines to be better compiled and optimised. There are already a number of great patches out there - but the CPU still hovers too close to 100% for too much of the time. I know how things work from our own SaaS company - where first you create the feature set, then you give it more depth, then you refine and optimise. I decided that I wanted to be part of the Zoia journey from the start - but knew also that their would be glitches and teething trouble for a significant part of the first year of service. Once the pedal reaches critical mass - it will become totally essential - and I foresee Empress releasing specific user-focused patches on pre-formatted memory cards - so Guitar Players for instance could choose from a library of ready-made effects - much like you can with the Drolo Molecular Disruptor Modules. The Zoia replaces the Boss MD-500, which win turn took over duties from the Strymon Mobius - I still of course retain those for rotation duties, while I've also been toying with getting a Line 6 HX Stomp at some stage - to use mainly as a Digital Multi-Effects Processor or principally Multi-Modulation Workstation as is the intention for this slot.

 

Rotation :

  • Boss MD-500 Dual Enginer Multi-Modulation Workstation
  • Strymon Mobius Modulation Workstation

Further Acquisitions / Wishlist / Alternatives :

  • Keeley Super Mod Workstation
  • Line 6 Helix HX Stomp Multi-FX Processor
  • Wampler Terraform Modulation Workstation

Slot #37 : Stereo Delay Workstation : Strymon Volante Stereo Magnetic Echo Machine

The hype on this one is alas true - this is the most feature-rich and fun of all the Magnetic / Tape Style delays currently available. It's the very tape delay that I had always been actively seeking - i.e. something like the Dawner Prince Boonar Tape Delay - but with stereo output and a few extra tricks up its sleeve. The only let down here really is the presets - yes you get 8, but you can only access one at a time via footswitches and to select a different one of the 8 is really clunky - I'm not sure why Strymon did not preserve the dual-press bank up/down functionality you get on its other workstation type pedals. Other than that - this is just the most intuitive and fun to use - and even the hidden / secondary features make clear sense - the learning curve here is quite shallow, while total mastery of the pedal may take a little longer. In rotating out the Empress EchoSystem I felt it necessary to add the Red Panda Particle 2 to give me some more unusual delay effects which the EchoSystem obviously has in abundance.

 

Rotation :

  • Empress EchoSystem Dual Engine Delay Workstation
  • Strymon TimeLine Delay Workstation

Further Acquisitions / Wishlist / Alternatives :

  • Boss DD-500 Stereo Dual Engine Delay Workstation
  • Meris Polymoon Super-Modulated Delay
  • Source Audio Nemesis Delay Workstation

Slot #38 : Stereo Multi-Effect / Multi-Modulation : Eventide H9 Max Multi-Effects Processor + Barn3 OX9 Enclosure

I actually put off acquisition of this pedal for the longest time as I did not like the pedal's onboard control topology / interface/ switching - while it does have an excellent mobile app though. The functional control issue is actually beautifully resolved by the really clever Barn3 OX9 snap-on enclosure - in fact I use one of Barn3's mini Tesla switches also in conjunction with that for full control over the Leslie / Rotary effect which has ended up as my main use of this pedal bizarrely - I intended it more for some of its smart Reverb, Harmonizer and Pitch-Shifting algorithms - but with the EchoSystem gone - this pedal covers a lot of ground now - mainly though as an auxiliary pedal - for occasional duty for more specialist effects rather than one of the key mostly on types. I've still to adjust my Rotary settings to Josh Smith's template - but I have those settings written down for sometime implementation. For its size and format - with the Barn3 add-ons this is an excellent all-rounder pedal. I still think the onboard controls and screen could be improved, but with the additions I have in place it's actually a great pedal now - and has no absolute equivalent - although the Line 6 HX Stomp's and Empress Zoia overlap significantly here. This is a keeper as far as I'm concern - especially for its relatively compact footprint.

 

Rotation :

  • N/A

Further Acquisitions / Wishlist / Alternatives :

  • N/A

Slot #39 : Stereo Reverb Workstation : Source Audio Ventris Dual Engine Reverb Workstation

I still feel this is about the best stereo all-rounder reverb you can currently get - in terms of mix of feature set and usability. Only the Boss RV-500 matches it in the simultaneous dual stereo effect stakes - but the menu system on the Boss - particularly how the footswitches are controlled took me a really long time to get the hang of. The Ventris has a much quicker learning curve and I feel it's the right one for me of the current crop - I still have excellent understudies to fall back on when I need to. I'm planning almost definitely to get the Meris Mercury 7 here for sometime rotation - I don't think it will oust the Ventris from its Principal spot, but the Mercury 7 does the spacey shimmery modulations beautifully well. So that will probably be the next addition here, followed by the GFI System Specular Tempus - which I have also been after for a while.

 

Rotation :

  • Boss RV-500 Dual Engine Reverb Workstation
  • Strymon BigSky Reverb Workstation

Further Acquisitions / Wishlist / Alternatives :

  • GFI System Specular Tempus Delay+Reverb Workstation
  • Meris Mercury 7 Ambient Reverb

Slot #40 : Stereo Looper : TC Electronics Ditto X2 Stereo Looper

On further review, this is the one the slot I'm not 100% happy with - I'm just not inspired here! I like the functionality and form factor in the main - the medium vertical enclosure with dual footswitches and stereo in and out is spot on - but at this size I feel there should be something smarter about this pedal, something more to it - the functionality is really just very basic and pedestrian. At one stage I was thinking I needed a Stereo DigiTech Trio+ (which does not yet exist) - but what I'm looking for probably sits in-between the Ditto X2 and an imaginary Stereo Trio+. I've been looking in every direction - comparing the EHX 720 and the Joyo D-Seed II - but neither of those are really ideal either. I am so hoping that Meris does something cool in this area soon - I feel they are the most likely candidates to shake this area up in the form factor I want - or possibly Source Audio will step up to the plate on this. In any case I feel there is a real opportunity be had here.

 

Rotation :

  • N/A

Further Acquisitions / Wishlist / Alternatives :

  • Electro-Harmonix 720 Stereo Looper
  • Joyo D-Seed II Dual Channel Stereo Digital Delay & Looper

Final Thoughts and Wishlist Priorities - How to Manage Too Many Moving Targets!

I mention a couple of times in this piece how important it is to have something that inspires you to play. For me the inspiration needs to happen across the whole chain and through every individual pedal within that. It's not necessarily about what general consensus says is the best for each category slot - it's which pedal is best for you and fits best with your own idiosyncrasies. I obviously have a preference for versatile compact pedals - but will utilise minis or vertical medium enclosures where necessary - generally though I don't like over-sized enclosures, certainly not for individual effects. My exception is for what I call multi-effect workshop pedals - modulation, delay and reverb, also dual channel drives and the like - there I feel all the features onboard justify the format. But generally within a slot / type I will look for the best marriage of feature-set, tone and footprint - there are other criteria too here on the practical side - power requirements, placement order, connectivity, control topology etc. presets and preset recall - all of those go into the equation.

 

Half a year later I'm still on the tail end of my FuzzQuest - I'm very close to a stage where I feel I have near enough every key type covered - and I really mean all those varieties - currently that selection numbers over 120 devices - with possibly around 10 or 20 more to go until critical mass is reached.

 

As noted elsewhere, I've called and end to the Glitch quest - those pedals are so badly in need of presets that using them regularly currently is just too counter-productive. At the same time the Empress Zoia has recently had a 'Granular' module added, and together with its Random function element and various control parameters and all of the already brilliant existing modules - there now exists an incredible platform for creating Glitch style effects - I'm sure more features will be added there too - the Zoia may just become the best Glitch pedal as one of its key strengths.

 

I am also still continuing down my 12 degrees of saturation path - always evolving and refining, and will have another updated take on that later in the year. In terms of the Title of this article - the Formation in question is the sequence of different slots or the overall arrangement - with the Uni-Vibe sort of replacing where the Rotary used to be, and the Eventide H9 taking over rotary duties - a la Josh Smith. There are still a few pedals I need to get 100% fully up to speed with - and these include my brand new Meris Hedra, the Red Panda Particle 2, and very much the Empress Zoia of course.

 

I can't recommend the BYOC Crown Jewel enough - it is the ultimate in versatile Multi-Drive - and in using it, you will become a lot more knowledgeable about how overdrives and distortions work and how those tones are generated - it's a genius pedal really that could do with just a couple of practical additions - some more likely to happen than others, a version of this with a digital top-level control layer featuring presets and selectable boost types would just be perfection!

 

Looking at the chain right now there are no areas of weakness really any more - every pedal does a stellar job - while I'm still seeking out the perfect pedal for slot #40. Forthcoming changes include an incoming DanDrive Secret Weapon Fuzz - which will probably take up an extended rotation in slot #5, and my Beetronics Swarm should be here next week for a stint in slot #19. I'm also considering rotating in a Korora Audio Spira at Slot #33, and a Meris Mercury 7 for a residency on slot #39. Generally though and besides the heavy rotation slots - most of what you currently see here will remain the Primary pedals for each slot for the foreseeable future.

 

As for my extensive Wishlist and Future Acquisitions - I typically track around 200 moving targets at one time across Reverb.com, Ebay and various pedal groups and retailers - split by 3 levels of priority - Primary, Secondary and 'Nice to Haves'. Generally I focus on the Primaries, but if a pedal in a lower priority category gets listed at an appealing price - then that will likely be elevated up the list and can lead to a more immediate acquisition - depending on a series of fairly fluid criteria - such as rarity, frequency of appearance for sale, condition, location/delivery and degree of discount. Timing is always of the essence - as some pedals you need to nail down immediately or someone else will snap them up, while others can linger a while - so you need not rush your acquisition - and waiting a month or two may see the price come down further. So it's very much a grey science which often eventually has to lead to snap decisions - where occasionally you might pay too much to secure a particular pedal - but one like that - colourway and condition might not come around again for a while or ever - so generally if you snooze you loose! I've missed a few along the way - even with all my alerts systems active - if you're engaged in other activity when a great opportunity presents itself you will of course likely miss out - but it's not happened to me too often - in any case I like to get on with my life and do stuff rather than have my attentions permanently fixed on a retail space - while I do spend quite a lot of time on Reverb.com nevertheless.

 

Here below are the current Primary and Secondary lists you can extrapolate from all of the above which pedals therefore fall into the 'Nice to Have' category - these are both actually relatively loosely defined and shift and change all the time as my appetites for certain pedals wax and wane accordingly over a longer timespan. In general though usually around 2/3ds of the Primary category get acquired in the end with between 1/5th and 1/3rd of the secondary - these are obviously very fluid actions and prone to changes on a daily basis as new opportunities ongoingly present themselves!

 

Primary (Descending Order)

  • DanDrive Austin Pride Fuzz (Cesar Diaz Texas Square Face)
  • DanDrive Secret Weapon Fuzz (Zonk Machine)
  • Chase Bliss Audio / Benson Amps Automatone PreAmp MKII
  • True North Rocky Mountain Fuzz
  • Danelectro The Breakdown Boost/Overdrive
  • Expresso FX Germanium VC7005 Fuzz
  • Aleks K Maple Leaf Royal Drive
  • Aleks K Red Scorpion V2 High Gain Distortion
  • ThorpyFX Peacekeeper Low Gain Overdrive
  • Boss DC-2w Dimension C Waza Craft
  • Boss MT-2w Metal Zone Waza Craft
  • Source Audio C4 4-Voice Guitar Synth
  • Subdecay Octave Theory
  • Subdecay Tremcoder Stereo Tremolo Sequencer
  • Tsakalis Six Boost, Overdrive & Distortion (Blues Breaker + Timmy)
  • Greer Amps Southland Harmonic Overdrive
  • Bixonic Expandora 2000R / JHS Kilt Overdrive
  • Wampler Fuzztration Octave Fuzz
  • Neunaber Neuron Gain Intelligence Programmable PreAmp, Compressor, Noise Gate & Cab Simulator
  • Lawrence Petross Design Seventy 4 PreAmp
  • Menatone Dumbstruck Overdrive (Dumble)
  • Menatone Germanium Law Bender Fuzz
  • Basic Audio Zippy Fuzz
  • Skreddy Pedals Mayo Fuzz
  • Korora Audio Spira Shepard Tone Effect
  • Meris Mercury 7 Ambient Reverb
  • Defects Tracked Variable Octa-Fuzz
  • Supro Drive
  • Knight Audio Technologies Brian May Classic All-Era Treble Booster
  • Laney Amps / Black Country Customs Tony Iommi Signature Boost (Treble Booster)

Secondary (Alphabetical Order)

  • Amptweaker Tight Metal Jr
  • Analog.Man NKT275 Red Dot Sun Face Fuzz
  • Analog.Man Prince of Tone (Blues Breaker)
  • Basic Audio Orpheum Germanium Fuzz
  • Basic Audio Spooky Tooth Fuzz
  • Blackhawk Amps Balrog High Gain Distortion
  • Blackhawk Amps Svarog Germanium Fuzz
  • Blackhawk Amps Valhalla High Gain Fuzz
  • Bogner Ecstasy Blue Drive Mini
  • Bogner Ecstacy Red Distortion
  • Boss MZ-2 Digital Metalizer
  • Boss ML-2 Metal Core Distortion
  • Chase Bliss Audio Condor Analog EQ/PreAmp/Filter
  • Chase Bliss Audio Dark World Dual Channel Reverb
  • Dawner Prince RedRox Distortion
  • Defects Tracked Variable Octa-Fuzz
  • DigiTech FreqOut Natural Feedback Creator
  • EarthQuaker Devices Erupter Fuzz
  • Electrofoods Ultd. Pigpile Hamonic Porkolating Fuzz
  • Fredric Effects Utility Percolator (Harmonic Percolator)
  • GFI System Specular Tempus Delay+Reverb Workstation
  • Himmelstrutz Fetto Nord 70+ Drive/Distortion
  • Horizon Effects Apex PreAmp
  • JHS Pedals Clover PreAmp/EQ (Boss FA-1 FET Amplifier)
  • King Tone Germanium MiniFuzz
  • KSR Amps Ceres 3 Channel PreAmp
  • Line 6 Helix HX Stomp Multi-FX Processor
  • Magnetic Effects Double Feature V1 with Switch Wah-Fuzz
  • Magnetic Effect Sändare V2 Dynamic Overdrive
  • Menatone Dirty B Overdrive (Fender Blonde + Brown Face etc.)
  • Menatone MenaWatt Drive (HiWatt)
  • Mentatone Red Snapper Overdrive
  • Menatone Wreck'T Drive (Trainwreck Express
  • Monsterpiece MKI Fuzz
  • Paradox Effects Futura Multiparametric Envelope Chorus
  • Paradox Effects Terran Re-Voicing Low-End Overdrive
  • Pettyjohn Electronics Fuze Fuzz-Distortion / Fuzzstortion
  • Pigtronix Resotron Tracking Filter
  • PLBR Effects Floral Green (TS808)
  • PLBR Effects Maritimus Fuzz
  • RockFabrik Mind Abuse Distortion
  • Shift Line A+ Prism-9 Filter Pad Pedal
  • Snouse Electric Company BlackBox Overdrive 2 Stage Pro Mod (Blues Breaker)
  • Spaceman Effects Gemini III Dual Fuzz Blender
  • Surprise Sound Lab HVO High Voltage Overdrive
  • Umbrella Company Hitchhike Drive (Tweed)
  • VFE Blues King Overdrive
  • VFE Merman Overdrive (Klone)
  • Walrus Audio Slö Multi Texture Reverb
  • Wampler Terraform Modulation Workstation
  • Zander Circuitry Terra Firma Power Amp Distortion (Sunn Model T)
  • Zvex '59 Sound Tweed Drive
  • Zvex Box of Rock Vertical
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Stefan Karlsson
Stefan Karlsson
Guitar Pedal X
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