Here at Mixdown we wholeheartedly believe that there’s a pedal out there for every guitarist. A stompbox soul mate, if you will. That’s why we have fought tooth and nail – day in and day out – to put to together the most comprehensive, toe-tingling and tone rich pedal effects special for this month’s issue. From pummeling distortion that leaves you gasping for air, to the purest of sweet delays, our writers have sourced the cream of the crop. So go forth, find your perfect match, and head down to your local distributor.
T-REX REPLICATOR ANALOGUE TAPE ECHO
Effect: Echo | Expect To Pay: $1599 | Distributor: Amber Technology
Players looking for an authentic tape echo experience without the hassle, expense and upkeep of a vintage unit.
Tape echo units are prized for their lush repeats that come layered with a natural depth to them, and the Replicator has this in spades. Mesmerising tape modulation is on offer, as well as a pleasing lo-fi roll-off of the high and low frequencies that you’ll find in a digital counterpart. From classic slap-back echoes of the ‘50s to immersive psych effects, this will have you covered.
Tape is unpredictable, and that’s something that a digital recreation can never achieve. As tape wears thin, you’ll find more modulation introduced, as well as signal degradation in the echoes. Don’t worry, that’s what you want. Two expression inputs and tap tempo bring modern expectations to a vintage-inspired gem.
This is weighty and large, meaning you’ll have to make space for it on your board or run it as a standalone unit on top of your amp. Regardless, it’s built to last and comes with handy accessories to keep it in top condition.
If you don’t want to spend days trawling through online auction sites for a tape echo that will no doubt need restoration before you can even get a note out of it, the Replicator is for you. Its price will prohibit some, but every guitarist should experience playing through a tape echo at least once in their life.
BY JAMES DI FABRIZIO
ERNIE BALL EXPRESSION AMBIENT DELAY
Effect: Delay | Expect to Pay: $479 | Distibutor: CMC Music
Rock, blues and funk players.
The Ambient Delay is incredibly versatile and offers a useful, real world set of colours. The delay time and feedback rate offer everything from tape-style slap back to long, digital tails that are reminiscent of the MXR Carbon Copy without the low end roll off. This works well enough on its own, but take the time to dial in some lush, almost dusty reverb and you’ll find yourself adrift in a sea of warm textures.
The Expression Series seeks to do the job of two or three pedals at a time with an eye on spatial economy, which is increasingly at a premium for a lot of players. Herein lies the crowning glory of the design. While they might not lay every possible option at your feet, they are doing enough heavy lifting to earn their place on the board.
The metallic chassis of the pedal is very impressive and sturdy. The reduced size compared to Ernie Ball’s regular volume pedals is also a welcome addition, ensuring that the pedal doesn’t take up a lot of real estate on your board.
Smooth, unbridled sweeping, clever application of a clever idea all housed in a snazzy looking casing.
BY LUKE SHIELDS
ERNIE BALL TAP TEMPO
Effect: Delay | Expect To Pay: $54.95 | Distributor: CMC Music
RECOMMENDED FOR: Delay pedal users
VERSATILITY: I mean, it’s sort of a one trick pony, but that’s all it needs to be.
USABILITY: Simplicity is absolutely the order of the day here. It’s not chock-a-block full of features but nor should it be. It is here to do the bidding of the effect to which it has been assigned and do so to the best of its ability.
CONSTRUCTION: The housing is die-cast, heavy duty and small enough that no sacrifice need be made to the gods of pedal board real estate.
OVERALL: In short Ernie Ball’s Tap is the Kif Kroker to your Zapp Brannigan; the silent yet faithful second in command without whom the whole fleet would fall apart. The kind of ironclad build quality you’ve come to expect from its makers that approaches its vocation with a quiet dignity, leaving you free to do all the grandstanding you desire.
BY LUKE SHIELDS
Effect: Reverb | Expect to Pay: $309 | Distibutor: Gladesville Guitar Factory
RECOMMENDED FOR: For every guitarist who has yet to find the right reverb for their sound, this is another one to add to the collection. Great for blues and soul, or a little jazz and exploratory noodling. This would make a great addition to just about any pedalboard.
VERSATILITY: This is a very big sounding reverb, without sounding too washy. As you start to turn it up, it simply seems to fill the space with more lush tone rather than getting in the way of the dry signal, as can often be the case with many amp reverb units. A subtle amount of pre-delay gives it a very organic, yet almost ethereal tone.
USABILITY: It’s really simple to work with. The mix control runs between the dry and wet sound, the tone adds some extra shimmer to the reverb itself, and the depth control brings more reverb and a longer decay into the mix as you push it.
CONSTRUCTION: Neunaber pedals are made so well, it feels like it could take all the punishment you could imagine. Plus, the silent switch has a great springy, yet firm action.
OVERALL: There are plenty of reverb pedals out there that just don’t excite me, but the team at Neunaber seem to have got it right with the wet reverb. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you pull it back a little, I am sure you’ll find a very usable tone to suit your sound.
BY ROB GEE
CARL MARTIN RED REPEAT 2016 EDITION
Effect: Delay | Expect to Pay : $299 | Distributor: Innovative Music
Rock, country, pop, funk and much more.
The Red Repeat is a seriously tasty sounding echo/delay unit. Warm repeats for everything from slap back to bigger ambient sounds give you plenty of scope, and the tap tempo and modulation features add to the sonic possibilities.
As easy as tap tempo and bypass for on and off. You can dial in modulation settings with the mini controls, and the tone control for the repeats is a great feature, meaning you can get super old school squelch on the delays and keep your original input tone untouched.
This 2016 revised edition is much more streamlined and modern looking. Similar aesthetics are used, but the overall unit looks cleaner and perhaps more pro. Plus they’ve squashed more features into a smaller casing – win.
Carl Martin has always had a solid reputation, but is sometimes overlooked in favour of other brands. I’d make that a thing of the past and check out the RR2016 if you’re after analogue sounding delay with tap tempo.
BY NICK BROWN
LINE 6 DL4 DELAY MODELER
Effect: Delay | Expect to Pay: $549.99 | Distributor: Yamaha Music Australia
Literally anyone – this pedal is an absolute go-to.
With its 12 different delay modes, the Line 6 DL4 provides guitarists with an easy solution for just about any delay sound. While the looping function is definitely outdated with its limited 14 second record time, the DL4 still offers a diverse sound bank of tones for any user across a multitude of genres.
The simplistic controls of the DL4 allow users to easily shape the tone and timbre of their delay on the fly with absolute ease. The tweak and tweez knobs really enhance the usability of the DL4, giving guitarists extra control over the tone, resolution, and modulation of the different delay modes to unlock the full potential of the DL4.
Boasting four footswitches for different modes and tap tempo, and housed in a quirky green chassis, the rugged design of the DL4 proves testament to its enduring popularity. However, the major letdown of the DL4 is the monstrous size and weight of the pedal. While its dimensions are certainly necessary to house the goodies inside, you can’t help but wonder if the DL4 could redesign the slanted edges of the unit to allow for it to work better on a pedalboard.
While Line 6 could definitely redesign the DL4 for a new generation of guitarists, the widespread use and increased second-hand demand of the pedal proves that no update is necessary, cementing the Line 6 DL4 as a modern classic for guitarists worldwide.
BY WILL BREWSTER
HARTKE HC33 BASS CHORUS
Effect: Chorus | Expect to Pay: $139 | Distributor: Electric Factory
Woozy voyagers on the low-frequency ocean of tone.
Chorus, as an effect, is almost by definition one of the least versatile. It either is or it isn’t there to a point, but one thing a few chorus circuits criminally skip over is the idea of subtlety. The combination of depth (how wild the night was) and blend (how much you remember of it) keeps this idea in check by allowing you to find your way to swerve city while dialling some sensibility in over the top.
In addition to being able to blend in clean signal over the top of the heady sheen of a pretty classic chorus sound, the speed dial wanes from long, sleepy arcs to caffeine-quick warble.
What more do you need from your construction than tried and true die-cast steel? It is sturdy as a mountain goat and almost indestructible. The bubble-gum purple is a delicious touch.
While chorus on bass isn’t to everyone’s taste, it can certainly be an asset in the tonal toolkit. For things like thickening up a sound without driving a preamp any harder, the amount of subtlety Hartke’s HC33 has on offer puts it out in front of the rest of the pack.
BY LUKE SHIELDS
MARSHALL RG-1 REGENERATOR
Effect: Modulation | Expect To Pay: $189 | Distributor: Electric Factory
RECOMMENDED FOR: When you are looking for a little something to add modulated wash to your sound, without delving into the depths of some of the more complex digital pedals, this is a great addition to any pedal board that is able to fit one more pedal.
VERSATILITY: You get a variety of modulation effects on the RG-1 including chorus, flanger, phaser and vibe. Most of these can be abused and can certainly sound pretty wild when overworked, but with a ‘less is more’ attitude, this pedal can give your sound a lot of depth and character.
USABILITY: The only downside is that with a range of nice effects on board, you really have to settle for one and leave it that way, otherwise you are bending over to adjust settings and modes every time you want to change sounds.
CONSTRUCTION: Like all pedals in this range from Marshall, this one is heavy, solid and built like a tank. The controls are all lowered from the main casing so you can’t kick them, although they seem tough enough to take it nonetheless.
OVERALL: Just when you think the old Marshall pedals have been left behind, they continue to turn up and remind us of why many of us bought them to begin with. The RG-1 Regenerator lives up to its name in that regard. It’s a great little pedal when used with a little bit of self-control.
BY ROB GEE
Effect: Chorus/Vibrato | Expect to Pay: $299 | Distributor: Gladesville Guitar Factory
RECOMMENDED FOR: This is a pedal that will attract a range of guitar players. It’s ideal for blues, rock and spacey prog sounds, as well as just about everything in between. If you’re not happy with the vibrato in your amp, or it simply doen’t have one, this will fix that.
VERSATILITY: This is a very gentle sounding pedal that starts with a chorus-like sound when running a narrow width to the modulation, which stretches out to become more of a vibrato sound at the furthest extreme. It is somewhere in the middle that you’ll find the sound that is right for you.
USABILITY: With four simple controls, it is very easy to dial in a sound with the Callisto. It is also very easy to abuse these controls and push it to some settings that you’ll probably never use outside of an acid space jazz solo project. That said, it doesn’t take long to find a workable sound.
CONSTRUCTION: It’s fairly solid in a compact metal chassis that will take some punishment. The switch feels like it will take any amount of engagement and the connections are smooth but firm. The recessed power connection might require some attention to your connector if using some bulky power supply cables.
OVERALL: It works very nicely in an almost unnoticeable manner; you often forget you are using it until you turn it off and suddenly notice the lacking. A good vibrato and chorus that can achieve classy results when used correctly.
BY ROB GEE