I had hoped to do regular monthly updates on how the various NAMM-announced pedal releases and other newer additions were impacting my own pedal-chain choices. Yet we all know how this year has gone - obviously impacted by numerous delays brought on by the Social Distancing required to counter the spread of Coronavirus / Covid-19.
Because of parts supply and resourcing issues, most 2020 NAMM pedals have been delayed to some degree. When there is uncertainty as to when the next paycheque is coming in, obviously that is going to affect the sale of pedals - both direct and through the dealer networks.
Owner-run and staffed pedal builders are much less likely to be impacted as are typically more automated facilities. Yet while people are needing to prioritise just basic survival - pedal sales will no doubt largely take a back seat. In fact it’s not clear on what will be happening with a number of pedal releases which were due end of this month or during April. I would assume there would be some degree of postponement, as the vast majority of gear stores are closed down now, and some have even suspended warehouse activities. Also, in times of economic uncertainty people tend to sit on and pool their resources until a better day comes along. Many of those dealers simply aren’t buying in new stock until the situation starts improving.
For my own situation, the shift in emphasis is on survival, my day-job is obviously significantly impacted by Coronavirus, and I will need to be very careful with my own dwindling resources. To which ends my pedal acquisitions will go on hiatus for a while. I still have a few earlier orders coming through the system and due to land at some stage in April, and I’ve made a commitment to Jackson Audio to be onboard for their Golden Boy Joey Landreth Signature Overdrive Launch - whenever that happens.
I will still be doing my insights and reviews, while practical experiences and examples will be fewer and farther between. I also don’t wish to extend my risk profile during these times, and minimising all form of contacts - including receiving deliveries is probably a good thing.
On the above visual therefore we have colour-coded indications as to what is happening on each slot. Orange indicates forthcoming release for which I’ve still to make/complete an order. The high price of the Chase Bliss Automatone MKII will likely mean that’s put on extended hiatus for me - as it really doesn’t make sense in these current times to be expending quite so many resources outside the basics of survival.
In any case Orange means yet to order, Yellow means incoming, and Green means already landed. Some of these slots have already seen some movement - #16 in particular which had the JHS PG-14 Distortion for a while, but where I’ve since moved on again.
So what we have here are my usual musings on likely forthcoming pedal-chain changes, while I cannot ascertain when exactly a number of these will occur. It does seem too that international deliveries are very seriously impacted by Coronavirus and everything is taking a lot lot longer to be delivered and clear customs etc. I would advise all to exercise due caution and patience by all means.
My current incumbent here is the fantastic Mu-Tron Micro-Tron III which of course I still love and will retain for rotation, but I fancy a change, and in my recent Filter Head-to-Head Feature, you will note that I came out once more overwhelmingly in favour of the Dr Scientist Dusk - which should be properly materialising any day soon. Production examples have been sent out for demo purposes already, and we should see these filtering through to stores in a week or two - which for me means Joe's Pedals - nothing referenced there yet!
Currently occupied by the superb Jackson Audio Broken Arrow - so I will be rotating in mostly like-for-like here. It's currently unclear just when the Joey Landreth Signature Golden Boy will be release - sharing the same format as the Broken Arrow, but with a warmer Blues Breaker style circuit. I've made a commitment to Brad Jackson to support him on this launch, and this will likely be the last of the pedals I get in for a while. Obviously the Coronavirus situation is very fluid, and Brad and his team need to decide when is the best time to launch this pedal and how. Some pedal-makers are directing buyers to their dealer network, but when a lot of those are not adding to their inventory there will need to be an option to go direct. I am awaiting further instructions on this one and will advise when I know more myself.
Currently in my pedal chain these are 2 slots which I use for trialling and testing any number of dirt style pedals - so the amount of rotation on here is enormous and typically changes several times a week. The two slots would need to be combined into 1 to accommodate the larger format of the Chase Bliss Audio / Benson Automatone PreAmp MKII. While right now I cannot really justify its acquisitions within the current circumstances - so it's a pedal I definitely want and will be getting - just not sure exactly when.
So this slot has been pretty unassailable for the longest time - with the all-round champion Bearfoot FX Emerald Green Distortion Machine ruling the roost here - and it is still a magnificent pedal. But I swore that if Brian Mena / Menatone ever made a Vertical Edition of his own superb Top Boost in a Can pedal - then that would surely go in on the slot. In fact I had only been negotiating with Brian over his recent also much requested by me - Vertical Edition Fish Factory, and mentioned in passing that I would also love it if he did a vertical TBIAC. He informed me that he was actually working on exactly such a pedal, and a dual-footswitch King of the Britains. So of course I had to have all 3. They are all enroute to me currently but seem to be taking an age even just getting out of the USA. I've noted that customs and local postal deliveries here have slowed down incredibly this year - so I'm not expecting the Menatone Trifecat to land here until late April really - anytime before that would be a bonus, but it seems things are taking a good 2 weeks to clear customs here alone! Note that video is of predecessor!
The longest featured pedal on this slot has been the Dr Scientist The Elements, followed by the True North Tweed Drive and then Aleks K Maple Leaf Royal Drive. I thought this would be a great slot for the recent JHS Paul Gilbert Signature PG-14 Distortion - and while it has Parametric Mids and sounds pretty great, I did not find it as great as any of the other previous rotation incumbents. In fact I had been looking for a more permanent slot for the quite superb Sinvertek N5 Plus PreAmp/Distortion - and it has settled nicely into place here. Funnily enough though I am actually using it with a low a gain setting - which is somewhat contrary to its position in the chain. This pedal is still woefully under the radar for most players and should be making much more of splash out there - it's beautifully engineered and delivers a vast range of rich and dynamic amp-like tones!
This slot has been categorically 'owned' by the current incumbent, the quite superb MI Effects Super Crunch Box V2 - I do though have the brand new dual-footswitch Menatone King of the Britains incoming - so that will surely settle down for a rotation or two, before the Jackson Audio El Guapo arrives later in the year. The MI Effects Super Crunch Box has been such an essential pedal for me - that it will undoubtedly be in regular rotation here too - it's nice to have options though! As this new format is brand new, I've used the demo of the Menatone The King pedal which I also have and which provides some suitable tone references for the newer release!
This slot was last occupied by the KMA Audio Dead Stag, the Beetronics Swarm before that, and the Demon Pedals Parvati before that - in fact this is one of the most regularly rotated slots, but I'm really enjoying the super-saturated tones of EQD's Sunn O))) Life Pedal V2 - which is a sort of hybrid, boosted Rat with Upper Octave. Some people have been saying this has been way over-hyped, but I for one really like it - it produces some really satisfying sustaining tones. At some stage too I will get in an Abominable Pedals Hail Satan Muff-style Fuzztortion for rotation here - but not exactly sure when that is likely to happen.
The Dr Scientist Frazz Dazzler largely pretty much owns this slot, while the brand new and recently arrived ThorpyFX Field Marshal (Lovetone Big Cheese V2) has taken up residence for a while now. Latterly I will also be considering the Jackson Audio Modular Fuzz for this slot, while the Field Marshal should have an extended run at least until that arrives. I so love the Frazz Dazzler still that said pedal will undoubtedly be rotated in regularly too - so we could have a sort of 3-way carousel for this slot eventually! In fact I forgot one more likely candidate here which is the forthcoming Danelectro 3699 Octave Fuzz - based on the Foxx Tone Machine - that will likely be added and rotated in at some stage too.
There have been a number of pedals in rotation on this slot - including the Mini Xotic SL-Drive for the longest time, and most recently the quite superb Sitek Wuffy Distortion - which of course I still love and will be rotating back in regularly. While right now the slot is being occupied by ThorpyFX's brand new The Bunker (Lovetone Brown Source V2) which sounds suitably impressive on this slot, and fits in just perfectly with my loosely assigned genre-type.
In recent times this has largely been occupied by the REVV G3, but also most recently the Keeley Twilight-Zone Edition of the Boss Metal Zone. I so love the Redbeard Effects Red Mist though (Slot #26) that I felt its brand new partner - which only just arrived yesterday would suitable sit on this slot. I was also considering the acquisition of the the Blackhawk Amps Balrog V3 High Gain Distortion and Lichtlaerm Gehenna High Gain Distortion at some stage - and either or both of those may appear for a rotation at some point later in the year. For now the Honey Badger is taking over the slot. Generally the rotation carousel for this pedal is pretty extensive and this slot sees a lot of changes over the year.
My only Analog Chorus for years has been the excellent Chase Bliss Audio Warped Vinyl MKII but I fancied a change and am so glad with the choice I made. You may already have read my glowing review of my experience of the VS Audio Alchemy Chorus which is just one of the most ingeniously usable choruses yet devised. Because it has a delay component to it, it gives you all those phasey-style chorus tones too - like the Boss/Roland Dimension C/D. In fact I am so enjoying the Alchemy that it is likely to remain in place for quite some time yet.
I've already waxed lyrical numerous times over my favourite all-time Analog Flanger. I just rely find it quite magical in use - on both clean and overdrive/distorted tones - it just sounds consistently amazing regardless of what you throw at it, and it pairs beautifully too with my new VS Audio Alchemy Chorus. My default settings on the Camoflange are just right so I can use it pretty much universally across all my key sounds.
Actually my all-time favourite Tremolo the Chase Bliss Audio Gravitas is still currently in place as the delivery of the Anasounds Ages Harmonic Tremolo still hasn't taken place. It was due to be dispatched on March 18th, but indications are that there are some quite significant delays in production here - meaning I don't expect to receive this one until quite late in April really. I understand fully the difficulties and challenges all pedal-makers are needing to come to terms with - so I'm not actively chasing my outstanding pedals - but I will check in on Alex Ernandez and his team if I don't hear from them within say another week or two. Understandably levels of communication seem to have dropped somewhat for many companies since the onset of Social Distancing. I'm really looking forward to getting this one in.
Actually even though the Blooper is pictured, and I was lucky enough to have been in on the initial Kickstarter run, the Blooper still isn't getting too much time on this slot as I'm still playing around with the CBA Mood and Generation Loss here. I will no doubt get better stuck into the Blooper later in the year. I also have a mind to get in a few textural reverbs in on the rotation for this slot. I still haven't got around to getting the CBA Dark World or Walrus Audio SLÖ - while the forthcoming EQD Afterneath V3 is likely to be the first acquisition in this area. I also need to get the Mini Banana Effects Mandala Glitch Pedal for rotation on this slot - so there will be quite a flurry of activity here this year in theory - once Covid-19 settles down of course.
This is another pedal I've loved from the start - I really need to do a follow-up post of my use of it, but I get lost in it for days at a time and forget what my original mission was. This is still the world's leading Multi-Modulation pedal as far as I'm concerned - although I do quite like the Wampler Terraform too. There should also have been a firmware update by now which I've not heard about. Possibly Covid-19 had impacted on that too. But really looking forward to getting in the additional Rotary and Arpeggiator modes which are supposed to be part of the new updates.
Some of you may have read my recent-ish article where I announced that the EHX Oceans 12 would be my next Reverb Workstation. It's not that I've fallen out of love with my Source Audio Ventris - I just fancy a change really - and feel a little more comfortable with the more user-friendly fully surfaced control topology of the forthcoming Oceans 12. I still retain the Ventris, Boss RV-500 and Strymon BigSky for rotation - so we will see what settles down here by the end of the year. Longer term I have announced the forthcoming GFI Specular Tempus V2 - which is actually quite far off from materialising - and probably still a good year from release - but we shall see on that front too!
Last year I swapped out nearly half the slots with significant rotational selections - many of which have become semi-permanent fixtures. Some of the pedals I thought were unassailable have still yielded their place however temporary for newer releases. The proper test really will be what remains in place at the end of the year or whether the previous incumbent or something else returns to position.
As things stand there are still a number of pedals waiting on release - all those indicated in orange have yet to be officially released, and despite indications about the Oceans 12 being at the end of this month - the fact that it still is not appealing on the Andertons store makes that somewhat unlikely.
I feel that pedals that haven't already been released will face some significant delays because of Covid-19 for the variety of reasons already highlighted. This might not include the Dr Scientist Dusk as the builds are being done by Husband and Wife Team - Ryan and Tanya Clarke and are mostly on schedule as far as I'm aware - but there is no sign yet on the Joe's Pedals Store. I don't expect to see the Jackson Audio Golden Boy, Chase Bliss Audio Automatone PreAmp MKII and EHX Oceans 12 that imminently.
Talking of Jackson Audio - it has 3 pedals on its release schedule that I'm interested in - the aforementioned Joey Landreth Golden Boy Overdrive + Boost, Modular Fuzz, and El Guapo JCM800 Style Distortion + Boost. I'm looking to land all those when they materialise - while those releases are expected to be staggered through the year, and we don't know what impact the Coronavirus is fully likely to have.
I have only relatively recently received the 3 new ThropyFX productions - including the Redbeard Effect Honey Badger Sub-Octave Fuzz - so am still in the process of putting those through their paces. And I'm waiting for my new Menatone Vertical Dual-Footswitch Trifecta to land - consisting of Fish Factory, The King of Britains, and the Top Boos in a Can!
The Anasounds Ages Harmonic Tremolo has still to materialise - but I'm hoping it will land in a week or two - in any case I won't chase up Alex Ernandez for a while yet.
So the next likeliest arrival after that is the Golden Boy - whenever Brad Jackson sees fit to release that. And then either the Dr Scientist Dusk or EHX Oceans 12, while I will likely but off the Automatone PreAmp til a little later. This all obviously all depends on how long it takes to tame the Coronavirus, and how long after that the economy gets back to normal.
So in the meantime it's a matter of making the best of what you have - and please stay safe and as sane as you can manage. And please try to observe the 2 metre rule at all time. If you need to communicate with someone - by all means send me an email to email@example.com and we can have a dialogue - whatever it takes to keep you going!