I was momentarily confused this morning when the Sweetwater Video alert popped up for the new Jackson Audio Asabi. The pedal looked identical to the now obviously former El Guapo - on the surface the only difference was the name change. Pricing of the unit stays at the exact same level as the El Guapo or $350/£350.
While delving a little further into the subject it became obvious that Brad Jackson and colleagues had lifted the functionality from the forthcoming Jackson Audio Modular Fuzz and ascribed the same system to the El Guapo replacement Asabi format. The Asabi is indeed very much the renamed Mateus Asato Signature Distortion + Overdrive Pedal.
By default there is no change really for the customer - as the Asabi to all intents and purposes works exactly the same as how the El Guapo did. In fact the only change is that the Distortion element has been lifted onto a swappable 18 pin mini plugin module card. By default you get the ’High Gain’ module installed - which I understand is exactly the same as the El Guapo’s JCM800 circuit. But you can also buy additional swap-in Modules to change out the Distortion circuit in the pedal. At launch there is just a single alternative Plugin Module available - ’Large Mouse’ which is of course Jackson Audio’s own flavour of ProCo Rat.
This modular concept is rare, but already exists in pedals like the BYOC Crown Jewel and Foxrox Dual and Mini ZIM. You can also refer to Tom Majeski’s Cooper FX Arcades which does similar things with digital circuits - courtesy of a surface-accessible slot. With all these others though you need to go through the inconvenience of opening up the pedal, removing the incumbent card and plugging in the new one. I have done this a lot with the BYOC Crown Jewel - so I’m very familiar with that process.
The benefit here is obviously in that your Distortion pedal can evolve and grow with your tastes - so that when you get bored by the current flavour - you simply swap it out to something new. The new Plugin Cards are circa $50 each - which makes having a variety of different distortion pedals as such a relatively low cost affair.
I’ve reached out to Brad for further input on additional Plugin Modules coming down the line, and an update of where he’s gotten to with the Modular Fuzz pedal - and when that is likely to see the light of day.
I personally already have a tonne of Rat style pedals - so this is all a nice to have for me currently rather than a must-do upgrade. I really like the core JCM800 / Brown Sound voicing and it’s my principal pedal for that role in my pedal-chain - so that will not change. It will of course be interesting to see what flavours are coming down the line - would be great to see something in the Rectifier / Diezel style of distortions.
For those who did not get the El Guapo yet - this additional level of versatility gives you even more reasons to buy into this format. For those who already have the El Guapo and intend to mostly use the JCM800 flavour - they need not be overly concerned. The El Guapo was always billed as JCM800 + Plexi - so that Plexi side of the pedal is pretty much fixed as such - with just the 6-knob controlled main / left-channel Distortion circuit being swappable. At least that’s my understanding - and I’m sure Brad will point out the errors if I’ve misspoken in any way.
For right now the Jackson Audio Asabi ($350) and Large Mouse Module ($50) are thus far only available at Sweetwater - while I’m sure that over time they will roll-out to the other Jackson Audio Dealers. Sweetwater though has them in stock for shipping out right now in any case.
Update! - Jackson Audio have listed the Asabi also on their website - so you can now get it from there too. Also pre-orders seem to have appeared on several dealer sites too now.