Origin Effects, Fender + more: our top five music gear releases of the week
19.11.2020

Origin Effects, Fender + more: our top five music gear releases of the week

Words by Will Brewster

Missed everything that's gone on in the gear world this week? Never fear - we've got you covered.

For this week’s round-up, we’ve got an amazing new stompbox from the folks at Origin Effects and a new signature Fender for Brad Paisley (with a sneaky secret), plus new gear from Keeley Electronics, Korg, and a really odd new microphone called the Periscope. Ready? Let’s get it!

1. Origin Effects MAGMA57 Amp Vibrato/Drive

Origin Effects are deemed as one of the best boutique stompbox brands going, with units such as the Cali76 compressor and RevivalDrive often being enshrined in the Holy Pantheon of pedals for many a player.

Today, the brand roll out with yet another mammoth launch in the form of the MAGMA57: a drive and vibrato pedal inspired by the coveted Magnatone 213, 260 and 460 stereo amps of yore. This dual-sided pedal offers both ‘lush, shimmering vibrato’ and an overdrive sound that promises everything from ‘warm, jazzy clean tones to full-on swirling psychedelia’, and man, does it sound a treat.

With controls for Vibrato, Vibrato Speed and Vibrato Intensity as well as Drive Volume, Tone and Multi to interact with the Vibrato as well as a Blend switch to flip between three other modulation and drive types, there’s a lot of versatility on offer with the MAGMA57. Hear how it sounds below, and make sure to get your order in ASAP – there’s no way these things are hanging around for dessert.

2. Fender Brad Paisley Signature Esquire

Everybody’s favourite cowboy, the one and only Brad Paisley, has linked up with Fender again for another signature guitar – this time, a sweet road-worn Esquire. Featuring a custom paulownia body with a spruce top and back, the Brad Paisley Signature Esquire delivers acoustic-like resonance and a killer tone, while a classic maple V neck profile and 9.5″ fretboard radius stay true to the profile of the original ’50s Esquire without making it too tough on your wrist.

Upon first impression, it looks like Paisley’s Esquire plays host to a single Fender ’64 Tele pickup in the bridge position – but wait, there’s more! A Seymour Duncan Secret Agent single-coil, recently designed alongside Brad himself, sits beneath the pickguard in the neck position, allowing players to tap into the creamy neck pickup tones of a standard Telecaster while retaining the vintage vibe that the Esquire brings to the table.

Elsewhere, Brad Paisley’s Signature Esquire features brass saddles and a steel bridge for that classic workhorse vibe, while a paisley pickguard also adorns the body to tie back in with the player. Hear it in action below.

3. Keeley Electronics Hydra Stereo Reverb/Tremolo

Robert Keeley is back at it again with the Hydra: a twin-headed terror that combines a hi-fi Reverb and stereo Tremolo into a snug little stompbox for the effects savvy pundit.

Billed as a ‘perfect companion’ to the Eccos Delay/Looper, the Hydra comprises three different reverb algorithms – spring, plate and room – as well as three tremolo modes – harmonic, vibrato and sine wave – to dish up a wide array of lush, shimmery sounds. Users can even tweak the order of the Reverb and Tremolo chain to experiment with effect ordering, and there’s even an infinite repeat mode for the Reverb side for all your ambient needs.

The Hydra also offers secondary knob functions for each control to unlock an even greater array of tones, as well as three preset slots and capability for tap-tempo and expression pedal inputs. Check it out below – if you’re looking for an alternative to the Strymon Flint with a bit more of a unique flavour to it, we’d put our money on this one.

4. Korg SQ-64 Polyphonic Sequencer 

Korg have been going HAM on the product release front over the last few weeks, and this one’s right up there with the best of them. The SQ-64 acts as a mighty upgrade to the Korg SQ-1, and seeks to rise to the challenge of Arturia and their Beatstep series, delivering a powerful hardware sequencer that seeks to be the best mate of any modular synth user.

As its name implies, the SQ-64 is a polyphonic, four-track 64 step sequencer; a number that’s also matched by the amount of buttons adorned on the front of the unit for inputting step data and playing chords or melodies. The unit features CV outputs for pitch, gate, modulation and trigger outs for drums, as well as MIDI and USB connectivity, while the Shift button unlocks a swathe of performance controls for muting, reversing, changing time divisions and randomising your tracks.

On top of all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a hardware sequencer of this ilk, the Korg SQ-64 features an OLED screen with four assignable encoders, as well as an arpeggiator, chord memory, scales and loop points, as well as a Control mode to make it function as a MIDI controller. It seems like a pretty serious piece of kit, and we can’t wait to see it in action.

5. Scope Labs Periscope Microphone 

Now, this is a bit of an odd one, but we simply can’t not report on it. Scope Labs, a recently minted manufacturer from Finland, has debuted the Periscope, a bizarre steampunk-inspired omni-directional condenser microphone with a full-frequency capsule and an inbuilt compressor – the first microphone of its kind to ever boast such functionality.

While it may look like a bit of an oddity, the Periscope certainly isn’t a novelty: the solid aluminium body took the Scope Labs team two years to design and has been tested to withstand even the most extreme conditions, while the copper sleeve of the microphone also provides 100% shielding and grounding from interferences.

Further to that, the Periscope even boasts its fair share of notable users, with both The Chemical Brothers and Butch Vig singing its praises on the Scope Labs website. If you’re on the hunt for a weird and whacky microphone that’ll deliver a character unlike anything else in your studio mic locker – or if you’re just a huge sucker for anything steampunk – this might be the one for you.

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