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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+-

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 ...

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16 of the Best Fuzzy-Drive Pedals

AnalogWise PedalsBasic AudioCaroline Guitar CompanyChase Bliss AudioCrazy Tube CircuitsCusack MusicDemon PedalsEmpress EffectsFulltone EffectsFuzzFuzz-Drive and FuzzstortionHudson ElectronicsMad Professor EffectsMythos PedalsPettyjohn ElectronicsSkreddy PedalsStomp Under FootThroBakTrue North Pedals+-

It turns out that I’m quite the fan of drive pedals which occupy the space where overdrive and fuzz overlap beautifully. I have gravitated towards such sounds almost subconsciously ever since I got back into guitar. And while there are various fuzz pedals - particularly of the Germanium variety that can be tuned down to those sorts of tones, I’m referring more here to pedals whose very core character straddles both overdrive and fuzz - sometimes on the more fuzzy-drive end as I call...

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4 of the Best 2 Channel High Gain Distortion Pedals

Brown Sound DistortionDistortionDriveDual-DriveEmpress EffectsFriedman EffectsKSR AmplificationMarshall Style DistortionMetal DistortionMulti-DriveSuhr+-

When I did my Stackable Overdrive + Distortion Pedals feature at the start of the year my intentions were always to do a follow-up with Distortion + Distortion Pedals, and the recent release of the KSR Ceres makes it opportune to do this now. For my former article I could have included a few others in the overview - I just selected the 4 most similar, while for this new one I actually struggled to find even the 4 included within the same category. And of those 4 the Suhr Eclipse is kind of ...

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The Empress Zoia Lands April 15th! - or rather starts shipping then actually

BoostBoost and OverdriveChorus and VibratoCompressorDelayDigital DelayDigital ReverbDistortionDown-TunerDriveEmpress EffectsEQFlangerFuzzGuitar Synth and SequencerHarmonizerLooperModulationModulation WorkstationNoise GateOctaverOddball FuzzOddball ModulationOverdrivePhaserPitchPitch-ShiftingPlate ReverbReverbRing ModulationTremoloUtilityVolumeWah and Fixed Wah+-

Now definitively defined as a Pedal-format Modular Synthesizer, Sequencer and Multi-Effects unit. The control interface consists of a small OLED screen accompanied by a grid of 40 (5x8) 7-coloured LED backlit soft-touch buttons, 4 further control buttons for Secondary Functions, and a large Menu scroll dial. There are 3 footswitches to activate live playback and scroll through presets.


Essentially you have a building-block interface-led hybrid-modular-synthesiser where you chain ...

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Pedal Chain 2019 Future Plans, Acquisitions and Alternative Arrangements

12 Degrees of SaturationAleks K ProductionAutomatoneBearfoot FXBeetronics FXBenson AmpsBig Muff Style FuzzBlues Driver Style OverdriveBoostBoost and OverdriveBossBrown Sound DistortionBufferChase Bliss AudioChorus and VibratoCompressorDecibelicsDelayDelay WorkstationDemon PedalsDigital DelayDigital ReverbDistortionDr ScientistDriveDrolo EffectsDual-DriveDumble Style OverdriveEmpress EffectsEnvelope Filter and Auto WahEQEventideFlangerFuzzFuzz Face Style FuzzFuzz-Drive and FuzzstortionGermanium FuzzGlitchGranular DelayGuitar Synth and SequencerHarmonizerJackson AudioKlone and Transparent OverdriveLooperMarshall Style DistortionMeris EffectsMetal DistortionMI EffectsModulated FuzzModulationModulation WorkstationMulti-DriveMu-TronOCD Style OverdriveOctaverOddball DelayOddball FuzzOscillating FuzzOverdrivePedalboard and Pedal-ChainPhaserPitchPitch-ShiftingPladask ElektriskRack Style ReverbRat Style FuzzRed Witch EffectsReverbReverb WorkstationREVV AmplificationShimmer ReverbSilicon FuzzSource AudioSpaceman EffectsSpacey ReverbStrymonTape DelayTC ElectronicThorpyFXTone Bender Style FuzzToneQuestTremoloTrue North PedalsTubescreamer Style OverdriveUtilityVox Style DistortionWah and Fixed WahWampler+-

So it’s that usual post NAMM-haze time where I figure out the longer-term impact of NAMM, and how those new products will affect the layout, order and composition of my now sort of 40-slot pedal-chain. As noted several times - this was indeed a bumper year for really innovative and highly appealing new pedals - and I will look to accommodate a number of those as they materialise in the forthcoming months.


As I hinted in my last pedal-chain overview - while 2018 was very evidently...

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4 of the Best Stackable Overdrive + Distortion Multidrive Pedals

BoostBoost and OverdriveBrown Sound DistortionDistortionDriveDual-DriveEmpress EffectsJHS PedalsKlone and Transparent OverdriveMarshall Style DistortionMulti-DriveOverdriveTruetoneTubescreamer Style OverdriveWampler+-

There are in essence 3 types of dual footswitch drive pedals - Drive + Boost, Dual Channel Individual/Independent, and Dual Channel Stackable. I’m really enjoying combining the two channels of my King of Tone pedal, which is what inspired this article. The 4 pedals featured here both allow you to stack the two ’channels’ together, as well as typically have extended control over the distortion side in particular. The Empress Multidrive differs from the others here by stacking ...

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2019 Pedal-Chain Musings and Experiments

Analog.ManAnarchy AudioBig Muff Style FuzzBlues Driver Style OverdriveBoostBoost and OverdriveBossChase Bliss AudioChorus and VibratoCoda EffectsDecibelicsDelayDistortionDouble TrackingDriveEarthQuaker DevicesEmpress EffectsFlangerFuzzGlitchMetal DistortionModulationModulation WorkstationOverdrivePedalboard and Pedal-ChainPhaserPladask ElektriskREVV AmplificationTC ElectronicToneQuestTremoloTrue North PedalsUni-Vibe and VibeZvex+-

At the end of 2018 / beginning of 2019 - I start thinking ahead for the year and considering what pedals I would like to swap-out or rotate-in on my pedal-chain. The long-awaited Empress Effects Zoia did not materialise in 2018, and is now expected as one of the major Winter NAMM launches - I see that as being one of two larger (monetary) acquisitions in the year - along with the Line 6 HX Stomp. I kind of did not figure out the HX Stomp until fairly recently really, where I have deemed it to ...

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Best of Mini, Compact, Medium and Large High Gain / Metal Style Distortion Pedals

DistortionEmpress EffectsKeeley EngineeringMetal DistortionMooerRockfabrik Effects+-

I will preface this article by stating that I’ve split the High Gain Distortion into two categories - High Gain and Extreme High Gain - where the latter has a more pronounced and slightly tighter punchy mid-range gain structure typically. With these pedals though and their many settings you can largely get the same degree and type of distortion within both groups - so it really does depend very much on how you dial things in - as an example the Rock Fabrik’s Mind Abuse has 3 ...

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Best of Mini, Compact, Medium and Large OCD Style / Crunchy Overdrive Pedals

Boost and OverdriveEmpress EffectsHamstead SoundworksMooerOCD Style OverdriveT-Rex Effects+-

Your immediate reaction to the above visual may well be - where’s the bleedin’ Fulltone OCD in all of this - well that’s all part of the narrative - as follows. When I got into guitar again a few years back, there were all manner of overdrives and drives that were deemed to be essential for any serious electric guitar player - and I took to acquiring and comparing those - which led to my ’12 Degrees of Saturation’ Methodology.


Much of this was just ...

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12 of the Best Medium and Large High Gain / Metal style Distortion Pedals

AmptweakerBogner AmplificationBrown Sound DistortionDiezel AmplificationDistortionDual-DriveEmpress EffectsEVH ElectronicsEVH GearHorizon DevicesMarshall Style DistortionMESA/BoogieMetal DistortionMI EffectsMulti-DriveRockfabrik EffectsSeymour DuncanWampler+-

Not unusually for me, but pretty much all of these that I don’t have yet are on my wishlist, and I’m still deciding on what order to acquire those in and which ’I need’ the most! My current big metal pedal trio consists of the excellent Diezel VH4-2, Empress Heavy and MI Effects Megalith Delta - I set the Diezel at the most extreme gain, then the Megalith Delta, and then the two voicings of the Empress Heavy. Each of these is a dual drive so there are myriad options here...

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Stefan Karlsson
Stefan Karlsson
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