Each year I like to do a comparison of where my current thinking is ahead of the Winter NAMM Show versus shortly after I have witnessed all the new innovations for the year and I have finalised my annual target list. The Chain already features several pedals that will be properly featured at NAMM for the first time - and I’m still waiting for Pete Thorne’s demo video of the Sinvertek N5+ Drive so I can publish my findings on that excellent pedal.
My most recent new arrival is my recently crowned best of 2019 Pedal - the GFI Sytem Synesthesia Dual Channel Modulation Workstation. I’ve only had the pedal for about a week - but I’m really enjoying the genius smart functions onboard and how they interact with the display-screen. In using the Synesthesia I’ve decided that my ideal next Reverb pedal would be the hopefully not too distant GFI Specular Tempus V2 in the same sort of genius format as the Synesthesia. Yes it has a learning curve, but its interface is really so innovative and actually pretty intuitive once you get used to it - it’s just like learning a new relatively simple instrument and coordinating your long and short presses and your push and twists in particular!
So I’m probably not as excited as I should be by the Chase Bliss Audio / Meris Automatone CXM 1978 which looks to be a pretty fantastic proposition itself - but cannot provide the added layers that GFI delivers - so unlikely to be an acquisition this year even if I relent and go for it. I’ve already decided that I will be getting the first Automatone - the Benson Amps collaborated PreAmp II - and because of its size - it will take over current slots #14 and #15 - so some significant re-jigging will likely be required.
There are a number of pedals I’ve already decided on acquiring and have sort of assigned slot numbers to them - the JHS PG-14 Paul Gilbert Signature Distortion can go in at #17, and the new Redbeard Effects Honey Badger Octave Fuzz is good to feature on slot #24. Thorpy also has a couple of stellar releases to be properly introduced at NAMM - his most recent Dan Coggins collaborations and based on evolutions of a couple of legendary Lovetone pedals - i.e. the Field Marshall Fuzz (Big Cheese) and Bunker Drive (Brown Source) - I will need to figure out how and where to best accommodate those. I actually almost forgot about the EQD Life Pedal V2 which I am waiting for Andertons to deliver still - was supposed to be this week, and will go in on slot #20 for a rotation,
Even though there are promising Delay pedals being launched I’ve really not had my Strymon Volante and Boss DD-200 combination going for that long - so will probably stick with those for a while. I will likely introduce some changes to my analog modulations - probably including a Boss DC-2W and one or more Choruses, but otherwise undecided. I really have plenty of drive and fuzz pedals already - even though I have an active wishlist with further examples of those, but those are really not a priority.
All in all I’m really very happy with where the Chain is at the moment - of course it will chop and change over 2020 as I need to review and try out a variety of pedals still, but I feel all those pedals in position are probably the strongest candidates for each of their slots, and in most cases I have a number of almost equally stellar alternatives already - some of which I rotate in fairly regularly.
It will be interesting to see how the new pedal releases shape up to my trends predictions and whether we have any specific patterns of major effects types this year. Of course Gamechanger Audio continues to plough its own path - their new reverb is just as impressive as the CXM 1978, but I fear its shape is even less pedal-chain or pedalboard friendly. With my chain of 40/41 pedals - size/footprint really does matter, and I had to do some significant re-jigging to accommodate some of the newer pedals - It’s just not practical in most areas to go much beyond the size of what already sits there - each of these pedals gets regular use nonetheless, and I would not want it any other way!
Would love to know which NAMM pedals are impressing you, and whether they will influence you to make changes in the coming year. I’m hoping for a slightly less tumultuous year than 2019 - where near enough half my pedal-chain was swapped over!