2023 Pedals and Processors Guide

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2023 Pedals and Processors Guide

Words by Mixdown Staff

Fresh from our latest edition of the print magazine, we're bringing you our top picks for pedals and processors in 2023.

Looking to purchase a new stomp box? Mixdown has you covered.

Fresh from our latest edition of the print magazine, these are our top picks for pedals and processors in 2023 – all bases covered! Happy shredding, shredders.

Read more gear reviews here.

Tech 21 Character Plus pedals

RRP: $699

SansAmp launched the original Character series in 2008, a range of eight pedals that offered tones which spanned decades of famous eras, amps and tones, and it’s now revisited with Tech 21 in the Character Plus series – again paying homage but this time to some of the most perfect pairings in history.

The Character Plus series features the Screaming Blonde Tube Screamer into Fender-style circuit, the Mop Top Liverpool, a Rangemaster Booster into Vox-style tone, the Fuzzy Brit, a Fuzz Face-style circuit into a Marshall-esque tone, and finally the English Muffy, a Big Muff design into a HiWatt-style ‘amp’ sound. The entire range has Character ‘A’ and Character ‘B’ volumes, and Drive A and Drive B controls, but the EQ and drive controls are where they deviate.

The three footswitches allow you to toggle between Channels A/B, engage the drive circuit or bypass entirely. All four pedals feature varying degrees of EQ and tone shaping, multiple drive options, as well as blends between the circuits, and both XLR and line outputs for sending the signal onto a DI and/or your amp!

For local enquiries, visit National Music.

Mooer Prime P1 Multi FX / Audio Interface

RRP: $379.00

The Mooer Prime P1 Multi FX / Audio Interface is, as its name suggests, an audio interface with Multi FX onboard for the musician on the go. The unit features ¼” input and output, as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack for monitoring. Multi-FX presets are available via the Mooer Prime App, which allows you to connect to the P1 before selecting, adjusting and tweaking your selection of tones.

The P1 itself features a single clickable knob on its face, easily adjustable once a tone is selected. Select from a multitude of drives, amps, cabinets and effects to shape your tone in the Prime App, or browse the Tone Library or Mixer. In addition to guitar sounds, you can play along with a Metronome or Drum Loop, and create Loops of up to 80 seconds of your own to layer and build upon.

The P1 is a total solution to writing, recording and jamming on the go, harnessing the power of the Prime app’s tones, and presenting it in a package as easy to use and travel with in the P1 Multi FX / Audio Interface.

For more information, visit Jade Music.

Fender Hammertone Chorus Pedal

RRP: $229

Add another layer of movement to your guitar or audio signal with this new Chorus pedal from Fender. Featuring controls for depth, rate, and level as you’d expect from a chorus pedal, this one goes further than that, adding type and tone switches to the mix. The type knob goes from a classic single voice chorus sound to two and four voice modes which are delayed even further from the original signal. When adding more voices to the sound, this pedal will automatically drop the level of the effect to make sure the volume coming out is consistent with what is already happening. Speaking of volume, the level control knob will let you adjust the ratio of dry and wet signals for low or high modulated outputs. Flicking the tone switch on will roll off some top end from the modulated chorus signal to create space for your dry signal to shine through. Utilising these two flick switches alongside changing depth and rate allows you to create subtle and slow-moving modulation effects as well as fast warbly tones within one compact stompbox. 

The Bottom Line: A dreamy modulation pedal with more controls than usual to add classic chorus tones and then some to your stompbox setup. 

For more info, visit Fender Music Australia.

Tone City Golden Plexi 2 Distortion Pedal

RRP: $119

You don’t have to do much looking around to know what the Golden Plexi 2 distortion from Tone City is paying homage to. The famed British amplifiers, colloquially known because of their plexiglass control panels, have been gigged, recorded and revered more than any other amp in rock ‘n’ roll history.

The Golden Plexi 2 is a revised version of the Golden Plexi distortion, with wider gain response, a mid bump and Volume and Tone controls. Even at low Gain settings, the mids become more present and forward, and a little push of Gain really helps push a solo out of the mix with a little extra bluesy bite. The Golden Plexi 2, much like the amplifiers that inspire it, manage to coax unbelievably clear sounds even at high gain settings, each string ringing through with clarity.

The Golden Plexi 2 distortion pedal is an affordable way to step into the world of that British sound, and even as your rig grows, its subtle drive and tone shaping will come in handy.

For more info visit EGM.

Markbass Compressore

RRP: $795

Compression is a super important effect for the instrument that anchors the whole band: the bass guitar. While drummers bash around and lead guitarists noodle endlessly, the bassist is responsible for holding down the groove and giving the music a stable, groovy pulse. To keep this consistent, compression helps to level out dynamics, ensuring your volume is as even as your timing.

The Compressore is a simply laid-out pedal that provides a little colour via a tube, giving cleaner saturation rather than all-out grit. Besides Volume and Gain controls, the compression circuit features Threshold and Ratio controls, as well as Attack and Release to really allow control over how the compressor affects your sound. The Compressore has a yellow indicator to communicate the amount of compression, while a blue indicator notifies you that it’s engaged, and when it’s not, the signal passes seamlessly from input to output thanks to the ‘real true bypass’ circuit.

THE LOWDOWN: The Compressore is a robust, true bypass compressor pedal, allowing you to control and tame your tone with four controls for compression, as well as Volume and Gain. It’s powered by a clean ECC81 tube that imparts a little tubey-sound without adding grit or dirt.

For more information, visit CMC Music.

Tone City Wild Fire distortion pedal

RRP: $119

The Wild Fire distortion pedal from Tone City doesn’t pull punches. It’s as much a British style drive as it is a robust boost for low gain tones. Controlled primarily by a Gain knob in the centre of the pedal, the Wild Fire moves from ‘low-watt’ style gain to all-out distortion, with the additional clipping switch offering a different circuit for an overall shift from high/low gain.

The three knob layout will have a lot of players feeling at home, the Volume adjusting overall output and the Tone acting as a high end roll off before the Gain takes over. The Clip switch changes the way your sound clips as it moves through the circuit, allowing the Wild Fire to create a huge array of tones.

The Wild Fire is a great option as a boost for solos, adding a little clarity and grit, or as a clean boost to push your tone just a fraction to help it cut through the mix. It’s a re-imagined pedal with a tried and true design, all with Tone City’s own unique footprint.

For more info, visit EGM.

Ernie Ball VP Junior Tuner

RRP: $839

Pedalboard real-estate is a constant battle, not to mention the draw from multiple pedals on your power supply, combining more fun, creative sounds with utility pedals like tuners and volume pedals. Ernie Ball aims to alleviate a little of this with their Ernie Ball VP Junior Tuner, a practically sized volume pedal with a tuner inbuilt to save space and maximise the efficiency of your pedalboard.

The Ernie Ball VP Junior Tuner combines the well-used VP volume pedal with a tuner inbuilt onto the tread of the pedal itself. Accepting 9-18V of power and drawing just 150mA, the Ernie Ball VP Junior Tuner is a rugged volume pedal with a durable PVC coated Kevlar cord that controls the volume. The tuner is chromatic and the display is a traditional needle style tuner, with frequencies from 432Hz to 447Hz available with a few taps of the screen. Volume is displayed incrementally as you rock back and forth on the tread of the pedal, pulling volume right back to zero engaging the display into tuner mode automatically.

THE LOWDOWN: The Ernie Ball VP Junior Tuner is Ernie Ball’s tried and true VP Junior volume pedal with an inbuilt tuner and display on the tread. It saves spaces on your board, as well as only requiring the power of one pedal.

For more information, head to CMC Music.

Tone City Blues Man Overdrive Pedal

RRP $119.00

The Blues Man Overdrive Pedal from Tone City is a transparent, blues breakin’ overdrive. It features three knobs for Volume, Tone and Gain, and is all housed with a small, pedalboard friendly enclosure.

The Tone knob slowly rolls off the highs, providing warm, gritty sounds when dimed. The Volume pushes your master volume out of the pedal, while the Gain clips your tone within the circuit itself.

The Blues Man has particularly healthy headroom, allowing you to drive it hard without your sound fuzzing out or becoming unintelligible. The dynamic sensitivity is super impressive, responding well to varied playing and picking, while also balancing out your tone on the whole. The Blues Man provides clarity overall, shaping and sculpting your tone while also balancing out your playing like a compressor would, while filling the high end with rich harmonics.

The Blues Man works well as your main drive tone, a subtle clean boost – or both. At this price you can afford to buy a couple anyway!

For more info, visit EGM.

Mark Vintage Pre

RRP: $1095

In a world where digital amplification is becoming the norm, MarkBass continue to enable players to harness the sonic and harmonic magic that comes from real tubes in an amplifier. The Markbass Vintage Pre is a medium sized preamp pedal, powered by a 12AX7 tube, classily encased in the centre of the pedal so you can see it while it powers and shapes your tone.

The Mark Vintage Pre has an on/off control, boost and drive (with multiple distortion types available), four band EQ with an additional one knob mid-scoop control, as well as drive blend, gain and independent drive controls. It has an onboard effects loop, line out via XLR with a ground lift, and finally the digital out via RCA or optical is what really elevates the Mark Vintage Pre into a league of its own.

THE LOWDOWN: The Mark Vintage Pre pedal is a tube-powered preamp pedal with both analogue and digital outputs, onboard effects loop and as many tone shaping and gain controls as you could need. It’s powered by a 12AX7 tube, with four band EQ and/or a single knob mid scoop control.

For more information visit CMC Music.