World Music Supply | ESP Ltd VIPER 256

Hey guys its Brian with World Music Supply here to bring you your usual dose of gear and guitar reviews. In today’s blog I got to check out some cool goodies from our friends over at ESP.  We here at WMS have a special place in our cumulative heart for ESP, they’re cool looking, they don’t cost an arm and a leg, and they sound great no matter what you throw at them, and when it comes to guitars you just cant do better than that. So lets get down to business with the center piece of today’s review, the Viper256.

ESP Ltd Viper 256 Electric Guitar See Thru Black Cherry

ESP Ltd Viper 256 Electric Guitar See Thru Black Cherry

The Viper256 comes in two rather attractive finishes, the see thru black cherry, and my personal favorite, black with gold hardware; you just can’t get classier than that. This guitar is a work horse, a solid chunk of Mahogany, 24 big easy playing frets on a fast Thin U shaped Mahogany neck, topped with a nice looking Ebony fretboard. The Tonepros TOM bridge is nice, straightforward, easy to intonate and get working. The part that I really loved about the 256 is the ESP designed LH-150 humbuckers, they have a bold sound with lots of midrange and lows, with just enough high end cut to get you through the mix, but not treble-y enough to cut your head off. The LH-150’s are also coil-tappable by pulling up on the tone-knob, which means you get rich, full sounding humbuckers, and with a flick of your wrist, you have sparkly, shimmering single coils, amazing.

ESP Ltd Viper 256 Electric Guitar Black

ESP Ltd Viper 256 Electric Guitar Black

Clean, this guitar sounded very big, it really has a ton of low end body to it, which I love in a guitar, the mids were thick, and really filled out the area you would expect a guitar to, and the highs were just cutting enough to really sculpt the sound out, not too bright, it left enough room for a band, but more than filled out all of the area a guitar should. With the single coils engaged, you of course notice a tiny drop in volume which I compensated for with a little help from my Electro Harmonix LPB-1. The tone was slinky, it had a lot of Tele style tones to it, but without the high end twang you typically get from a Fender scale length, bolt neck guitar. This meant it had a lot of jangly, almost acoustic sounding vibe, and I really dug the funky kind of bite I could get out of it.

Distorted, this guitar was down right animalistic! The distorted growl of the bridge pickup was very rich, and had a great lead and rhythm tone to it, without having to fiddle with the tone or volume knobs, and I didn’t even have to mess around with any pedals, the bridge pickup was so balanced sounding that it just did everything. The middle position was a tad bit more tame sounding, with a warmer low end, and a little less high end cut, and the neck position had very warm, very bluesy tones hidden in it. Shred work was easy, the shorter 24.75 scale length and the big frets on an ebony board made this guy super fast. The single coil tone had quite a bit of vibe to it; it had that clarity of a single coil with a lot less hum, and not as much treble response. I personally loved this guitar, it looks cool, it feels nice, it plays great, and the sounds it made were pure rock star. I would have to be crazy to not award the Viper 250 a solid 10 out of 10.

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World Music Supply | Winter NAMM Day 1 and 2

Hey guys, its Brian here again with World Music Supply. Today I get to talk about some really cool stuff from Winter NAMM 2013, sadly I can’t really discuss how it sounds or feels, as I didnt get to go due to school. Instead our resident Web Designer, and my Supervisor Mr. Danny Dunn got to go out to California to enjoy everything from hanging out with Rock Stars, checking out new gear, being wined and dined by our sales reps, and the best part (in my eyes) not having to deal with this sudden cold snap here in Indiana. Sure hanging out with rock stars is cool and all, but 70 degrees sounds pretty good when your shoveling snow just to get out of your driveway, but I digress. So here it is folks, some of the cool new stuff you can expect over the course of the next year!

and so it begins

and so it begins

So where to start? Who has come out with the coolest new stuff so far this year? Well while I highly doubt these will production models, that award easily goes to the folks over at ESP. ESP has a habit of coming out with some jaw dropping pieces of gear, usually covered in clever graphics, or in outlandish shapes. I’ve seen everything from a guitar carved like the grim reaper, to guitars sporting graphics that are more at home in a comic book or a tattoo parlor than on the face of a Strat.

The Angel Guitar from ESP, you really can't get much more elaborate than that

The Angel Guitar from ESP, you really can’t get much more elaborate than that

Their graphic work is just amazing.

Their graphic work is just amazing.

Next up are some cool pieces from our buddies over at Charvel, who (much to my excitement) have come out with some new San Dimas, and Pro Mod style guitars, and of course they have gorgeous looking single cuts coming out too, with some very out there looking colors, and bindings, not to mention the cool multi colored humbuckers. 

I want all of them!

I want all of them!

looking fancy

Takamine was there too, and they brought along some of the finest pieces of Japanese luthiery I have ever seen, which is saying something. Granted a few of their finer pieces were kept in glass cases, but from what I was told, these things sounded absolutely amazing, even over the noise of a packed convention hall, these guitars just sounded fantastic.

Just Stunning

Just Stunning

The attention to detail was just amazing

Just amazing Luthiery

Just amazing Luthiery

Ovation brought out a few new things, and a handful of their finer pieces to the show. The carbon fiber topped mandolin was cool, and the new front soundhole design on the guitar right next to it was neat, although the top wood of that guitar caught my eye a little more than the new soundhole design. They also brought out the new versions of the Yngwie Malmsteen Viper, which is a fantastic design, although I wish they would bring back the original Viper myself, this new one looks like it would be a little more comfortable on stage if you play at the speed of sound like Yngwie, less guitar to get in the way of your picking hand.

no one does Carbon Fiber quite like Ovation

no one does Carbon Fiber quite like Ovation

The new soundhole design is almost as eye catching as that Koa top

The new soundhole design is almost as eye catching as that Koa top

Say what you will, but I want that Kaki King model

Say what you will, but I want that Kaki King model

So handsome

So handsome

There was plenty more to see from the show floor, but alas, that will have to wait for Monday, when I can bring you everything from tonight, and Saturday. I’m as excited as you all no doubt are to see what else is being released, and I can’t wait to see what twists and turns are headed our way from California. But for the time being, I hope you guys enjoyed this little glimpse into the weird world that is Winter NAMM, and I cant wait to share the rest with you next week.

one last thing, I really want the Vincent Price guitar from ESP, it’s just perfect.
   

That Gargoyle guitar stand is pretty wicked too

That Gargoyle guitar stand is pretty wicked too

World Music Supply | MXR Pedals

Hey guys, Brian here again with World Music Supply, and I’m back with another dose of gear and guitar reviews. Today might have been a slightly slower day, as we’re getting ready to head off to NAMM, and find some tasty new treats for all of you gear lovers, as such I didn’t have a ton of time to sit down and review something super complicated for you all, but what I did certainly have an appeal all their own. Today I got to look at two classics from our friends over at MXR. First up to bat today, is a personal favorite, the MXR Dyna-Comp.

MXR Dyna-Comp Guitar Compression Pedal

MXR Dyna-Comp Guitar Compression Pedal

The Dyna-Comp is one of the simplest, most straight forward compressors ever made. You get two knobs, output, and sensitivity. Output increases the over all volume and clean gain of the pedal, and the sensitivity allows you to adjust just how much squash you get out of this guy. Today we are going back to our normal test amp, the Marshall DSL40C, and with good reason, one of the first things I do when trying out a compressor, is to test and see if it can copy a trick I learned from watching old Paul Gilbert videos. The basic idea is to get a good sounding dirty tone from your amp, and set the output of the compressor low, and the sensitivity high.  This allows you to go from a growling distortion tone, to a bold, 80’s style clean with the touch of a button, and the MXR passed with flying colors.

The second thing I always try and do, is dial in a good country tone, which with its two knob simplicity, I was able to dial in a snappy chicken pickin’ tone lighting fast. Volume swells had a violin like quality now, as it deleted the attack. Finger picking had a very even, very clean quality, and the tone of the guitar was brightened up, and made far more present. I personally love the tone of the MXR, with its quick sudden squash, and its slightly brighter quality, that’s why I keep one on my board. I know it might seem biased, but with a pedal this simple, that does everything you could ever want from a compressor, the MXR Dyna-Comp earns itself a well earned 10 out of 10.

MXR M-103 Blue Box Distortion / Fuzz Pedal with Octaver

MXR M-103 Blue Box Distortion / Fuzz Pedal with Octaver

Next up is the MXR Blue Box. I always loved the name of the blue box, because in my minds eye it was named after the old gadget they used to “hack” telephones back in the 70’s to get free long distance, because they both make really computer-y sounding bleeps and boops. That is the best way to describe what the Blue Box does, it in all actuality is a complex Fuzz circuit, that creates a synth like lower octave below the guitar, which can be blended in to create glitchy computer noises.

Turning the pedal on, you are instantly greeted with a very thick, rich analog fuzz. If you have it set just about noon on both knobs you get almost Nintendo sounding growls, with a grumbly two octave bass line below your psychedelic fuzzed out guitar. Be careful as this second octave is old school analog, and as such can sometimes be a little glitchy, but in a good way, as it allows the pitch to waver between two points and sometimes seem to disappear altogether. It works better on single lines for this reason, but it can take smaller chords as well.

Sure as a stand alone Fuzz, it’s a smooth and rich, and its easily an A+ Fuzz. But as an effect, or a color pedal, the Blue Box is great, as it’s like having an old school keyboard instead of a guitar, and really whose music couldn’t use more glitchy vintage keyboard style tones? Its not everybodies bag of tricks, but it certainly deserves to be tried out by anyone who plays heavy music, and wants a Fuzz box that does more than usual, the MXR Blue box might just be your right choice. Solid 9 out of 10.

World Music Supply | Visual Sounds Guitar Pedals

Hey guys, Brian here again with World Music Supply, back to bring you another dose of Guitar and gear reviews. Today starts off a lot like last week ended, simply because today we are again reviewing some amazing stomp boxes, but this time around from our friends over at Visual Sounds.  I have been a big fan of Visual Sounds pedals ever since I got to play with a Jekyll and Hyde overdrive that a friend of mine owned, it was big and red, and it sounded amazing, also my friend said you could back a truck over the housing and it wouldn’t break. We never tested that last part, but I’ve seen Youtube videos that prove its true. However that is enough reminiscing, its on to the reviews!

Visual Sound GTDRIVE Garage Tone Drivetrain Overdrive Pedal

Visual Sound GTDRIVE Garage Tone Drivetrain Overdrive Pedal

First up is the Garage Tone Drivetrain Overdrive. The Drivetone was originally designed as the Reverend Drivetrain for Reverend Guitars, which has now grown overtime into this current model. For today’s reviews, I used a Bugera V22, and a Washburn RX12FRMB, both of which are quickly becoming two of my favorite pieces of gear. Setting the V22 to a pretty clean setting, that only started to show a bit of teeth when I really hit the guitar, I started the pedal on a pretty mild drive setting, with the treble and bass pretty close to 12 o’clock. The pedal reacted nicely to my pick attack, getting more subtle as I picked lighter, and becoming far crunchier as I dug into the strings, with a tone halfway between a Digitech Bad Monkey, and a Boss Blues Driver.

The Drivetrain kept this cool retro sounding distortion as I cranked up the gain, it just got a lot more raw sounding, and added a plethora of fun harmonics to my sound. Chords rung out with a big, arena rock style fullness, and single lines sung out with a throaty, late 70s style rock sound. I could go on and on about this pedal, but the truth of it is, it’s a trooper. Its got a tough metal housing, with sounds that could be useful for everyone from a country guitarist needing to liven up their solos a bit, a rock guitarist looking to get a fuller sound, or even a punk guitarist who just needs something a little less ragged sounding, this pedal can do it all. For all of that and more the Visual Sound Garage Tone Drivetrain earns itself a solid 9 out of 10, and the only reason it doesn’t score a 10 is because people wanting something a little more high gain might not find what they want with this guy.

Visual Sound V2SOH Son of Hyde Distortion

Visual Sound V2SOH Son of Hyde Distortion

Next up is the solution for those people whose lust for gain couldn’t be satiated by the Drivetrain. I’m talking about the V2 Son of Hyde. Basically the Son of Hyde is the amazing Distortion channel that I loved so much from the Jekyll & Hyde and puts it in a stand alone stomp box. The Son of Hyde is just as straight ahead as the Drivetrain, just Drive, Treble, Mid and Volume, as well as a bright switch. Yes there isn’t a bass knob, which struck me as odd, but the bass is controlled easily enough with the bright switch, which shifts the whole sound around and gives it a brighter overall feeling.

On lower gain settings, this pedal was fairly tame, it gave me a nice, smooth, almost violin like sustain, with lots of rich harmonics and none of that typical distortion edginess. Turning up the drive a bit, gave me a huge sound, with tons of raw power. The low end was massive and playing huge chunky power chords resulted in an amazing wall of fury. Solos soared out with heavily compressed sizzle, and chords sustained almost indefinitely. Big metal saturation was always on tap, and shred head approved leads were fluid and amazingly easy to achieve. The Son of Hyde might be only half of the standard package, but this pedal to the metal style stomp box does its job, and it does it well, earning it an easy 10 out of 10.

Visual Sound Route 66 American Overdrive

Visual Sound Route 66 American Overdrive

Next up is easily one of the smartest double pedal designs I’ve seen in years, the Visual Sounds Route 66 All American Overdrive. There is no better way to describe this pedal than all American, the tones locked inside of this pedal go from Detroit, to Boston, to Tennessee to Texas, and they cover all of the biggest, boldest rock and roll and raunchy country tones of the past fifty years. The amazing simplicity that this pedal brings to a rig, with its amazing sounding overdrive paired with an equally amazing sounding compressor. The overdrive side starts with the three standard Tube Screamer style control knobs, Gain, Tone and Volume but also an added bass boost to help thicken up the grind.  The compressor side, has the standard comp and gain controls, sort of like an MXR but paired with that, is a tone control which can be turned on and off as need be to help shape and control the overall sound.

While this seems simple enough, this pedal has some amazing sounds hidden away in it. From twangy Brad Paisley style cluck, to Journey style soaring leads, this pedal has it all, crammed neatly into one nearly indestructible aluminum housing. Most guitarists could be perfectly happy with either side of this double pedal, but put together, this little double pedal is just amazing, heck I’m pretty sure most country players could live the rest of their musical lives with just this pedal, a Fender 65 Deluxe and a fat Telecaster. Chords had a bold semi clean, semi dirty tone to them with the gain down low, and when you cranked the gain up, they had a very Marshally crunch to them that kept the clarity of the note but added the beefy power of an overdrive. Single notes lasted forever with an intensity that just can’t be matched. Playing complex chords was simple, and no matter the setting, the notes very rarely lost their clarity or their character.

I honestly think myself, and hundreds of other guitarists could easily replace a good number of pedals with this one double box, and our sounds would benefit immensely from it, this reason alone earns the Route 66 a solid 10 out of 10.

World Music Supply | TC Electronic Guitar Pedals

Hey guys this is Brian with World Music Supply again, here to bring you your usual dose of gear and guitar reviews. In today’s blog I got to do something I haven’t gotten to review in a while, good ol’ pedals. I personally love the simplistic fun that comes from having a couple of pedals on the floor in front of you,  being able to press a button and have that instant gratification of a brand new sound, just cant be beat. Today I get to take a look at two of the best, by our good friends over at TC Electronics and first up to bat is the Vortex Flanger.

TC Electronic Vortex Flanger Guitar Effects Pedal

TC Electronic Vortex Flanger Guitar Effects Pedal

Flanger pedals to me are sort of touch and go, some are really good when they’re slow, but when you ramp them up they sound like cheesy ray gun sounds off of a child’s toy, and by the same rule, some pedals sound really good and swirly at high speeds, but sound like a sea sick roller coaster at slower speeds. Some are way too 3D, and some are too flat. Call me picky, but this is an issue that has kept a dedicated flanger pedal off of my main board for years. In steps the Vortex though, and my world was changed. The pedal only has four simple controls, and at first glance it doesn’t seem anything special, delay, feedback, depth and speed, with a toggle to switch from standard flanger, to a simulated tape flange, and if need be over to a tone print, which allows you to download artist presets into the pedal, letting you really nail the tones of some of your favorite artists, and once you step on it the whole illusion of simplicity goes right out the window! this whole illusion of simplicity goes right out the window!

I tested this pedal with a Squier Classic Vibe 50’s Telecaster and two Mustang IIs, so I could run in stereo. I picked a cleaner twin reverb style sound, and got to work. I started out with a pretty standard slow sweep, mid depth, medium feedback setting, with the delay time backed off to keep it from sounding too metallic, something almost akin to a early Van Halen flange tone. The wave form was pleasing, not too dramatic, and not to subtle with just that perfect amount of rise and fall. It wasn’t too hard to dial in a good sound, some flangers take a while to really find their sweet spot, but with the Vortex I didn’t have any difficulty at all finding a good sound.

A slightly faster setting, with the delay cranked for a more metallic, almost ring mod style sound, with a slightly deeper depth setting, and the speed at 12 o’clock, and the feedback a little below half way worked wonders on slower passages as it added a bit of movement to the sound that would otherwise be lacking. It made the sound fatter, and the stereo field really helped to make the effect almost otherworldly. Cranking the speed almost all the way up, and keeping the depth a little lower to keep it from having too much of an almost out of tune vibrato to it, I found the tones useful and almost Leslie like in a certain light.

Overall the Vortex Flanger is one of the best, if not the best Flanger I have ever used. Because of its amazing sound, and incredible flexibility though this pedal easily deserves a 10 out of 10, I just wish it didn’t cost so much.

TC Electronic Shaker Vibrato Guitar Effects Pedal

TC Electronic Shaker Vibrato Guitar Effects Pedal

Next up is a fun, and slightly unusual pedal, the Shaker Vibrato. Typically us guitarists tend to get tremolo and vibrato confused, thanks to the late Leo Fenders misnomer when labeling the vibrato system on his Stratocaster guitar as a tremolo, and the tremolo circuit on his amps as vibrato, luckily most pedals are unaffected by this labeling issue that has plagued the guitar industry for years. When I first unboxed this pedal however, I thought it was going to be a tremolo pedal, just labeled wrong to appeal to us guitarists, but I plugged the Shaker in, and I got what sounded like the Vibrato effect on my old Yamaha B6B electric organ, just a lot better quality, I was down right excited.

An honest to goodness Vibrato is a hard find for guitarists; Keyboardists have had it for decades in one form or another, but to find a good sounding vibrato for the guitar, that’s almost impossible. This one works a lot like a good combo organ vibrato circuit too, and as I have been playing organ for years thanks to the spinet style Yamaha that used to be in our family room as a kid, I have thirsted for this effect on a guitar for years.

you have a few basic controls that work very well at replicating this age old effect, a speed knob that adjusts the length from the top and bottom of the vibrato, a depth that determines how wide the vibrato travels from top to bottom (at its peak its almost going a whole step up and down, which creates a fun sea sick feeling) a rise time that imitates the rising of a Leslie speaker when you kick it on, and a global tone control that adjusts how bright or dark your overall tone is. At slower speeds, and still using a clean Mustang II, this pedal added a very retro, very jazzy character to my playing. Big jazzy chords had a shimmering quality, which gave them a much different voice, something my ears weren’t used to when it comes to guitar.

Switching to a distorted setting, this pedal gave me a very strange, almost mid 90s metal sound, with that sickly rhythmic wobble that only a few pedals can really do correctly. I honestly adore this pedal, to have a pedal that really nails this many great sounds. For the ability to sound like everything from a shimmering jazzy swirl, a wobbly rhythmic tool, and even a guitar that has been strapped in to a tilt-o-whirl at top speeds, the Shaker Vibrato earns itself a solid 10 out of 10.

World Music Supply | Electro Harmonix Big Muff Pi

Hey guys it’s Brian from World Music Supply again, here to bring you the your usual dose of guitar and gear reviews, and today I get to serve up a personal favorite, the Electro Harmonix Big Muff. Why the Big Muff? Well that is a simple answer, it is iconic. Possibly one of the most famous, and most widely used stomp boxes in the world, it has graced the stage in one form or another with artists like Jimi Hendrix, David Gilmour, Carlos Santana, to bands like Dinosaur Jr., Smashing Pumpkins, and Mudhoney. The list goes on and on, because the sound of this simple circuit, is so powerful, and clear, that a majority of distortion pedals in today’s market are modeled on it or one of its decedents.

The Electro Harmonix USA Big Muff Pi Fuzz Pedal

The Electro Harmonix USA Big Muff Pi Fuzz Pedal

Today I’m going to review a few of these decedents, as well as the one that started it all, the Big Muff Pi. The Pi was produced both here in the U.S as well as a factory in Russia, and both pedals are distinct from one another, with the USA model having that raunchy high end grit, and the Russian variant having a warmer, more mid range aimed bite. The pedal produced by EHX nowadays is very reminiscent of the original USA version. The controls are simple, with just a volume a tone and a “sustain” knob, which is like a gain control. The sound has a very bold, and in your face quality to it, with a lot of that vintage, late 60’s style fuzz style grind to it, which is fantastic at taking your lead lines and really letting them fly out of the mix over top of everything else.

I also love the not so subtle glitching it can do, thanks to its hyper compressed signal path. This translates into grainy static like sounds that get kicked out when your strings start to ring out sympathetically. When used right, this pedal can provide you with long, harmonically rich, violin like sustain. For its lifetime of service to the music world, its definitively legendary sound, and its road worthy construction, the original Big Muff Pi earns itself a solid 10 out of 10.

The Electro Harmonix Big Muff Tone Wicker Fuzz Pedal

The Electro Harmonix Big Muff Tone Wicker Fuzz Pedal

Next up is the Big Muff Pi with Tone Wicker, which is a sort of super modded version of the Big Muff. The differences include a tone switch, and a wicker switch, which might sound strange, but just follow along. The sound without either of the switches engaged is a lot like the standard Pi, with a little bit more saturation, and a slightly warmer sound. The tone switch, when engaged, actually bypasses the tone control in the pedal, which results in a shorter signal path, slightly more volume, and a more transparent overall sound.

This meant that you could play bigger chords, without your guitar sounding harmonically muddy, or glitchy. The addition of the tone switch meant that I could use the Pi as a type of slightly over the top overdrive, or a full on distortion pedal, with far less of that characteristic glitching that was present in the standard Pi. The Wicker switch is a type of top boost control, which accentuates the upper harmonics of the signal, which helps to kick your tone way out of the mix, without sacrificing your low end.

The Big Muff Pi with Tone Wicker is certainly a amazing pedal, taking everything we loved about the standard box, and adding two very useful, and very cool mods to the overall package, and for that the Big Muff Pi with Tone Wicker earns itself a 10 out of 10. Last up for the day, is the Micro Metal Muff, which is a little bit more Pedal board friendly version of EHX’s Metal Muff.

The Electro Harmonix Micro Metal Muff Distortion Pedal

The Electro Harmonix Micro Metal Muff Distortion Pedal

The Metal Muff was designed to be a straight ahead metal machine, with tons of gain and saturation on tap. The sound of this thing can only be described as monstrous! Using this pedal with a down tuned guitar, I was able to get some serious girth, even from a bone dry amp, this pedal transformed even a crystal clear Fender, into a roaring metal stack. The controls are as simple as ever, and the Micro size really helps to to take up less of your board, without sacrificing any control. For what it is, which is a little, Metal crazed version of the Big Muff, the Micro Metal Muff does its job fantastically, and it definitely deserves a 10 out of 10 rating.

The Big Muff Pi, might have a funny name, and a unique sound, but it has definitely cemented its place in the pantheon of guitar effects. Because even if the standard model isn’t really your thing, there are so many variants and mods of it, that there is definitely one to suit anyone’s tastes. while most distortion pedals will do the job, and some may even sound almost as good as the Muff,  most of them don’t have the history of service behind them quite like that funny named pedal from Electro Harmonix.

World Music Supply | Boss Distortion Pedals

Hi guys, Brian from World Music Supply here to talk to you guys about some cool, classic pedals from our friends over at Boss. I picked to do a basic run through of their Distortion pedals, as their line is possibly the most iconic in the industry, as many of us started our pedal boards with one of their little fuzz boxes. For the better part of thirty five years, Boss has been building and designing inexpensive, great sounding stomp boxes, that have shaped the sounds of millions of guitarists world wide. It could be argued that their most iconic was the DS1, our first pedal in today’s review.

The Boss DS1 Distortion Guitar Pedal

The Boss DS1 Distortion Guitar Pedal

The Boss DS1 came along at a time when effect pedals just didn’t play as great a role as they do today, sure people could buy a few little boxes, but these were often bulky, battery powered, and often broke down. This in large part was due to the lesser availability of compact circuitry, electrical know how, and quality of components that were available over all. My favorite example of this haphazard approach to guitar effects, is by far the DeArmond Trem-Trol, which used a small canister of mercury that would swish back and forth while the canister rotated, to create a very primitive tremolo effect. Sure it got the job done, but by todays standards, this sounds down right barbaric. In comes Boss, with their simple straight forward design, tiny little pedals, and amazing sounds.

The DS-1 has a very distinctive sound, with a lot of cut, grind, and a slight fizziness to it that helps lift it up and out of the mix. This pedal can do everything from classic rock grunt, with an almost KISS like edge to them, backing the controls back a bit, you would not be surprised at all that Joe Satriani used to use one of these as his primary means of distortion. The cool little yellow pedal doesn’t have a ton of versatility, it really was designed to take the place of the overdrive channel on an amp, taking a single channel amp, and allowing it to overdrive at much lower volumes. But that doesn’t matter, the DS-1 is Iconic, with a sound that has shaped literally millions of guitarists world wide, and you can’t allow this pedals lack of versatility to stand in the way of its massive, iconic sound. The DS-1 gets a solid 10 out of 10, because without it, who knows what modern rock would sound like.

The Boss SD1B Super Overdrive Guitar Pedal

The Boss SD1B Super Overdrive Guitar Pedal

Next up is the SD-1B the Super Overdrive, which is a warmer, more realistic sounding alternative to the DS-1 which more accurately emulates the sound of an overdriven tube amp. The tone is smooth and warm, with a slight graininess to it that really makes it feel like you really are playing an amp that is just grinding apart at the seams. The SD-1B, while not as iconic as the DS-1, certainly has its own place in the guitar pedal history books, listening to its classic rock style tones, with its simple, but far more versatile controls when compared to the DS-1. The tone of the SD-1B has a very blues rock sound, with a tone that sounds as close to Joe Satriani’s Ice 9 tone as you can get without buying his Ice 9 overdrive pedal. This pedal can go from that glassy, smooth blues drive, to very big, Marshall style crunch. While not as important to the history of the electric guitar as the DS-1, the SD-1B certainly earned itself a place in the history books, as well as a solid 9 out of 10.

The Boss MD2 Mega Distortion Guitar Pedal

The Boss MD2 Mega Distortion Guitar Pedal

Third up on today’s list is a pedal that is very near and dear to me, the MD2 which was my very first distortion pedal, and my second pedal over all, next to a cheap no name chorus pedal. These two little boxes helped me figure out who I wanted to be as a guitarist. I bought the little red distortion pedal, mainly because it said “MEGA” on it, and I thought it looked, and sounded cooler than its yellow and orange brethren. The big, 80’s distortion tones that this little pedal generates were perfect for the junky early 90’s metal and grunge that I cut my teeth on in those early days. This pedal emulates the sound of a heavily distorted amplifier quite well, with all of the hard square wave style clipping that you tend to get from a rectifier equipped amplifier, but with a lot more lower end than you would expect.

The pedal can do some “lower” gain settings, that could easily cover some Zepplin or ZZ top tunes, but what it really does best, is straight ahead thrash metal, and grungy rock. Now, this pedal is by no means a game changer, and by now it might just seem like another little buzz box, but this pedal made me feel like my little knock off Stratocaster, and my tiny solid state amp were really capable of being a rock star, and when you’re fourteen years old, you just can’t beat that. While it doesn’t cover as much sonic ground as the last two pedals, the MD2 does score itself a respectable 8 out of 10.

The Boss ML2 Metal Core Guitar Distortion Pedal

The Boss ML2 Metal Core Guitar Distortion Pedal

Second to last on today’s list, is the ML2, which is designed for people who tune down, and dig in deep. This pedal has virtually no versatility, no matter what this is going to sound heavy and distorted, this pedal is designed to play metal, it doesn’t matter if its thrash, hard core, speed, you need to sound as distorted as possible, this is the pedal for you. With all of the low end this pedal has on tap, you might end up competing with your bass player in that territory, so you will want to fine tune this once you take it back to the band to practice, I’ve known plenty of guys who find the “right” sound, and then get just eaten alive at practice because their sound just cant pull itself up and out of everyone else’s frequencies.

The ML2 might need a noise suppressor before it, just so you aren’t annoyed by all of the hum that a pedal with this much gain on tap can create, but at the end of the day, this pedal alone does its job of being aggressive, angry, and brutal. The ML2 might not be very versatile, but for people who need this much gain on tap, it will be more than versatile enough. If you don’t play metal, this probably won’t be your go to guy, but if you tune down, and want to be as heavy as possible, this is probably the pedal for you. A solid 9 out of 10.

The Boss FZ5 Fuzz Pedal

The Boss FZ5 Fuzz Pedal

Last up for today’s giant run down of fuzz boxes, is a box designed to recreate the pedals that gave the term “Fuzz” to them in the first place, is the Boss FZ5. Designed to recreate the very first commercially available guitar pedal, the Maestro FZ-1A, the big gritty smily face pedal, the Fuzz Face, and lastly the pedal that one Jimi Hendrix made world famous, the Roger Mayer Octavia.
The Maestro is probably most well known for making the almost trumpet like sounds at the beginning of the Rolling Stones “Satisfaction”, the pedal worked a lot like much later Fuzz pedals, by driving the signal all the way into a near perfect square wave, and was almost monophonic as a result of how it actually clipped the signal. This setting was cool, and very retro sounding, but like its name sake a little annoying, as it was pretty much monophonic.

Next up was the Fuzz face setting, which was a lot more friendly to modern playing styles, as it still can play full chords, and clean up quite a bit when you roll your volume back. It’s very clear why so many guitarists have one of these pedals on their board, they just do a great job at sounding great. Lastly is the Octavia, which takes one of the artifacts of the Fuzz circuitry and boosts it, making it very noticeable, which is the fact that this pedal kicks an octave tone up into the same volume range of your unaffected guitar tone. This results in a very cool effect, that really does remind you of Jimi at Woodstock. This pedal is a must for anyone who covers any band that was big before the mid 70s, and for anyone who wants to emulate the sound of those early rockstars. The FZ5 scores a solid 10 out of 10.

World Music Supply | Delay Pedal Face Off

HI, Brian from World Music Supply here again to bring you your usual dose of guitar and gear reviews. For today’s blog, I got the chance to review two of the best delay pedals on the market today, the famous Line 6 DL4, and the up and coming VOX delay lab. Outwardly these two pedals share a lot of similar features, they have four buttons, five knobs, tap tembo buttons, tons of blinking LEDs, an expression pedal input, and more delay modes than you can shake a stick at. However when you plug them in, and really get to know them, you realize these are two wildly different beasts.

The Line 6 DL4 Delay Modeler Pedal

The Line 6 DL4 Delay Modeler Pedal

The Line 6 DL4 is probably one of the, if not the most used delay pedal on the market delay, I mean its honestly astounding how many famous guitarists carry one, two or even three of these in their rigs. Plugging one into the effects loop of our resident test amp, the Randall RT503H, it is clear why, this guy does just about everything. The tube echo tones were warm, and sensitive, giving me a very “Gilmour” like warmth and body. The tape sounds were appropriately realistic, and warbly, which I was able to control with the Tweak, and Tweez knobs. The Lo-Fi sounds were cool, and very early 80s sounding, with tons of mid range garble and garbage that was degraded, and just delightful to use, if you wanted to sound like your delay was running through a glitched out, or circuit bent pedal, although I’m sure that’s the point of adding a lo-fi setting.

The digital sounds were all crisp and pristine, with tons of delay time on hand. The stereo and ping pong were very spacious and useful, the latter of which was great for doing Brian May esc Brighton Rock style harmonies when you set it just right. The reverse delay was interesting, although a little weird to use. The rhythmic delay had a fun, U2 like feel to it that I honestly could just use for everything if I really felt the need to. Lastly lets not forget the looper function on this bad boy, as I was able to use it as just a simple phrase looper, and play lead over a rhythm part, or I could use it to build up whole songs, and beats by just drumming on the guitar, playing some bass lines with an octave pedal, and within minutes have a decent souding four piece band all from one little stomp box.

The DL4 is famous for a reason, it has seen countless stages for a reason, because it gets the job done and it doesn’t make a fuss about it. I’ve personally owned one of these for years, and I can tell you, they are amazingly road worthy; they are built like a tank. For what it is, the DL4 goes above and beyond the call of duty, and as such the DL4 receives a solid 10 out of 10.

The VOX DelayLab Delay Pedal Processor

The VOX DelayLab Delay Pedal Processor

Next up is the newcomer, the VOX delay lab, which has everything from artist and song presets to strange pitch shifting delay settings. The Delay Lab has a lot of very out there sounds in it, and it honestly feels like a slightly more out there version of the DL4, with filter sweep delays, pitch shift delays, and plenty of other song specific delay tones rather than delays that will be used on many songs, the Delay Lab feels like something you might base riffs and solos around.

Sure all of the “normal” delay sounds are there, with bucket brigade tones that are warm and fat sounding, and as someone who owns a vintage BBD equipped pedal, it is atleast as accurate as the DL4 at recreating the soft and spacious effect of a BBD pedal. The tape echoes are warbly and appropriately vintage feeling, great for everything from Pink Floyd to Elvis. The Tube tones are warm and wide sounding, with added harmonic content to the delay sound, and the digital tones are bright and punchy.

This pedal takes a quick left turn when you start really delving into it, and especially when you add the expression pedal. My favorite by far was the pitch shifter delay, as I was able to make crazy Star Trek noises, with sweeping atonal, almost ring modulator sounds. The second in line on the favorite list has to be the reverse delay, as it was very psychedelic sounding, with an almost sitar like quallity to it. For all of its weirdness, the VOX is still a great run of the mill delay pedal, but if you’re looking for a weird out there, signature type of sound to build yourself around, the VOX just might be it, which is why it receives a well earned 10 out of 10.

 The VOX has a sound all its own, and a much more vintage vibe to it than the DL4, and while they have many of the same style of tones to them, they do each have their own personality and power. The Delay Lab is made to be a center piece, with tones that stand out, but also tones that are very standard on a pedal like this. For all of its power and dexterity, the Delay Lab can be a bit daunting to someone who just wants a “normal” delay pedal. The DL4 is the ultimate standard delay pedal, as it does everything you could ever want one to do, stores three different mains sounds, and if you’re anything like me, this pedal will probably remain on all night, just switching through a preset here or there, or tapping the tap tempo button once in a while, it’s a great pedal, and its clear why its so famous. The trusted friend, with everything you could ever need, or the new one with tons of weird out there sounds that you are just excited to get to try out, it might just pay off to have both on your board.

World Music Supply | Electro Harmonix

Hey guys Brian from World Music Supply here again, sorry about my absence on Monday, I was feeling a tad under the weather, but I’m back now and ready to bring you all a healthy dose of guitar and gear reviews. In today’s review, I got the chance to look at some more interesting pedals from our friends over at Electro Harmonix. Electro Harmonix is famous the world over for such treats as the Big Muff Pi, the Small Stone, the Small clone, and the Electric Mistress, but Electro Harmonix is also famous for making such weird pedals as the Talking Machine, the v256 Vocoder, and who could forget the famous P.O.G with its giant church organ tones.

Its these radical experiments that I find so amazing about Electro Harmonix, that while they could easily live off their stable of famous stomp boxes, they continue to invent and create more and more powerful little treasures, that take your sound from ordinary to extraordinary time and time again. In today’s rundown, I get to look at the Freeze Sound Retainer, the Ring Thing Ring Modulator, but before those two I want to start with one of the simplest ideas for a pedal ever, that could not have been executed any better, the Hum Debugger.

The Electro Harmonix HumDebugger Hum cancelling pedal

The Electro Harmonix HumDebugger Hum cancelling pedal

The idea was simple, get rid of the 60 cycle hum that always accompanies guitar signals, especially when that guitar is equipped with single coils. Long time readers of the blog will know that I am a big fan of telecasters, and have toured and recorded with them extensively. The problem was on bigger stages, the sound of the hum from the lights was amazingly annoying, and I always had to roll the volume on the guitar all the way off inbetween songs, and when recording, I had to stand as far away as possible from the computers just to get rid of that annoying hiss. Enter the Hum Debugger, a pedal that does exactly what it says it does. From my understanding, this pedal actually analyses the signal and removes the white noise behind the main note, without actually effecting the fundamental tone of the guitar. This is not a notch filter, or a EQ that scoops out the 60HZ frequency, this pedal just deletes the hum, but leaves everything else intact.

I’m not super sure how it works, but I know that since it’s found its way onto my pedal board, it has not moved, Its almost always on, even when I’m playing a guitar with humbuckers, putting the Debugger on the normal setting leaves me with a clean tone free of any unwanted noise. This pedal was designed to do one job, and it does that job with flying colors. The Hum Debugger gets a very well deserved 10 out of 10 for solving the problem of single coils once and for all.

The Electro Harmonix Ring Thing

The Electro Harmonix Ring Thing

Next up is a pedal that is a little more complex, the Ring Thing. The Ring Thing is a ring modulator, which uses a separate frequency to modulate the active frequency of the guitar or what ever you choose to run through the pedal. This results in rather alien sounding harmonies, strange sounding atonal clanging, and occasional Doctor Who sounding monster noises; in fact the famous Dalek Voice was produced by a ring modulator. The Ring Thing however also features an amazingly realistic pitch shifter, cool tremolo effects, chorus style sounds and you can even tune the pedal to the guitar in real time by the simple press of a foot swich, meaning all of those strange harmonies can now always be in tune with your guitar.

The Ring Thing takes a bit of getting used to, even more so than a typical ring modular thanks to the inclusion of all the extra bells and whistles. After about an hour or so of tweaking though, and a fair amount of time trolling forums and youtube for videos, I was able to make my guitar do everything from a very convincing impersonations of a baritone guitar, use it as a whammy pedal, make warbly leslie like sounds, and of course, make crazy worlds colliding, chain saw grinding, alien talking sounds that just make the sound a ring modulator so distinctive. The moving harmonies are really cool, even though their sound is very different and a tad atonal sounding to those not used to hearing them.

As far as ring modulators go, the Ring Thing is leaps and bounds above the rest, and it can easily fill the space of a chorus pedal, a tremolo, a pitch shifter, or even a whammy pedal. At the end of the day, this pedal is a great jack of all tradesv to have in your pedal board, just incase you need a tone that is a little out there, or a little less then usual. The Ring Thing easily deserves its score of 10 out of 10, and I strongly suggest any guitarist, keyboardist, bassist, or just anyone who loves experimenting with sounds to get their hands on this pedal as soon as possible.

The Electro Harmonix Freeze Sound Retainer Pedal

The Electro Harmonix Freeze Sound Retainer Pedal

Last up in today’s list is the Freeze Sound Retainer, which is exactly what it sounds like, it freezes the sound in place. This is strange, and difficult to learn to use in a really musical way, as most people online and in person will just strum a chord, step on it, and solo over it, but there is so much more to this. Using it in conjunction with a number of other pedals, and yet again searching through forums, and of course Electro Harmonix youtube channel, I quickly saw the power that this pedal possesses. The ability for a guitarist to create large walls of sound, and cool synth sounding pads is increased dramatically. The importance of this, is probably more visible to guitarists who either are the only guitarist in a band, or the only real chordal instrument in a band, as it allows you to cover far more musical territory than a lone strummed guitar. Using this in conjunction with a P.O.G allowed me to sound like a real organist, with one hand holding down chords, while another was playing lead lines, but all I was doing was holding the chords with the Freeze, and playing melody while it was frozen.

I was able to create large dramatic, and almost ethereal sounding sound-scapes, which were musical but subtle, which I can image would be a god send for anyone who always had to rely on multiple delay effects to achieve these kind of walls of sound. For what it does, and for the creativity it can lead to, the Freeze Sound Retainer earns itself a 9 out of 10, only because many want a pedal that just does something, rather than helping them do more creative things. If you really invest some time in the Freeze Sound Retainer however, you will find this an amazing addition to your sound.

World Music Supply | Danelectro Pedals

Hey everyone, Brian from World Music Supply here again to deliver your usual dose of guitar and gear reviews. In today’s blog I get to take a look at some neat pedals from our friends over at Danelectro. Danelectro is probably most well known by guitar enthusiasts for their lipstick pickup equipped instruments from the 60’s and 70’s, with their masonite bodies, and their cases with the cool little built in amp. My generation however probably knows them most for their cool little FAB pedals from the early 2000’s which sold for next to nothing and didn’t sound half bad to boot.

Today I’m going to cover some of their more retro styled effects, which includes their Spring King Reverb, the Reel Echo Delay, and the Free Speech Talk Box. So lets kick things off with the Spring King Reverb, which is the only real spring reverb I’ve ever seen packaged as a guitar pedal. Inside the Spring King are three actual springs, inside of a real reverb tank, and a short slap back delay circuit that is designed to help boost the depth and realism of the three springs.

The Danelectro DSR-1 Spring King Reverb Pedal

The Danelectro DSR-1 Spring King Reverb Pedal

The resulting tone is perfect for that 60’s surf rock sound, with the cool smooth swampy tone that has made spring reverb such an endearing effect over the years. You do have to have some knowledge about how to use this pedal or else you can run into some problems, first and foremost, is this is a spring reverb, and it can vibrate sympathetically at times, so make sure you keep some room between it and the amplifier. Second off is, you have to place this correctly in your chain, or have to deal with terrible sounding clatter, for example, if you are the type of guitarist who just runs all of their effects into the front end of their amp, and then uses their amp for distortion, you will hate this pedal. This pedal acts like a typical reverb, meaning that you probably will have to place it in the effects loop of your amp, or make sure you place your distortion pedals before the Spring King.

However, when used correctly, this is one powerful piece of equipment, and the verb it creates easily bests any emulation I’ve ever heard from a pedal, because you just can’t recreate that organic sound of a real spring reverb. For the vintage vibe, and tone that you get from this pedal, the Spring King earns itself a deserved  9 out of 10, only because a real spring reverb might be a little finicky for some guitarists.

The Danelectro DTE-1 Reel Echo Pedal

The Danelectro DTE-1 Reel Echo Pedal

Next up is the Reel Echo which is designed to emulate the sound of a real vintage tape echo like an echoplex or a Roland Space echo. As a guitarist who has actually gotten to play with a real tape machine before, I can attest that the tone and saturation of the tape adds a very warm edge to their sound. Granted the unit I got to play belonged to my old highschool, and it looked like someone had made it out of spare boom box parts, the sound was still there. The only problem was, that the tape had a tendency to snap, corrode, or start warbling uncontrollably. I know that even top of the line machines had this problem, as I’ve gotten to talk to plenty of guitarists who had gone as far as to tour with tape delays in their rigs, and had to hear the horror stories ranging from the tape warbling so bad that they sounded out of tune, all the way to once when one of these machines motors seized up, and the unit itself caught fire half way through a song.

As you can tell, its no wonder that when the Bucket Brigade circuit came out, and delays suddenly were transistor based rather than tape based, that almost every guitarist swapped out their giant tape machines, for a tiny stomp box. However, over the years the want for the smooth tone of tape has never wavered, but the problem of finding tape for these old machines, to the fact that these machines break down consistently, has kept many guitarists from finding the tone they crave. Enter the Reel Echo, which is as close as you really can get to the sound of a reel to reel echo machine.

 The controls are simple and intuitive allowing you many of the same controls and features you would find on a real tape machine, there is of course mix and repeat, which function like a typical delay pedal, but there is also the lo-fi knob which allows you to adjust how much high end is filtered out with each repeat, as well as switches that allow you to mimic the sound of either tube or solid state delay, and whether the simulated tape creates that signature wow and flutter. This effect is really accurate sounding, with all of the same warm response I could expect, and the slider that you use to adjust the rate of the delay is pretty cool to use too. The sound on sound feature took some getting used to, but after you know how to use it, its easy to figure out when and how to use it.

Overall the Reel Echo is a great solution for guitarists who are looking for a sound that not many other pedals can satisfy, and despite a few draw backs, like the sheer size of this pedal, and the fact that changing the rate doesnt cause it to pitch shift, this pedal is still an amazing sounding effect, loaded to the brim with vintage vibe, and its because of these reasons, that the Reel Echo gets a solid 8 out of 10.

The Danelectro DTB-1 Free Speech Talk Box Pedal

The Danelectro DTB-1 Free Speech Talk Box Pedal

Last up on today’s list is the Free Speech talk box, which is a really cool little pedal, although it definitely takes some getting used to. I’ve only used a talk box once before this review, and was really confused how it worked, first off, it needed an entirely seperate amplifier to function, and even then, the sound was rather quiet and it was difficult to make it work the way I wanted it to. The Free Speech tries to fix a lot of the problems that I had with talk boxes, and it does a pretty good job of that.

 First and foremost it needs to be mentioned that this pedal does come with a tiny set of microphones that clip onto the tube, the problem with microphones like this, is they tend to feedback at anything more than bedroom volume, meaning they are great for studio work, but not so much when it comes to the stage. For my test, I decided instead to use a proper microphone, and use an A/B box to split the line and run the pedal direct into a P.A. This set up worked amazingly, and the problem with feeding back dropped substantially, its also important to note that you typically have to turn down the “growl” knob which acts like a built in Fuzz circuit, as having this running in conjunction with another distortion pedal, or running into a distorted amp is just looking for trouble.

After you get used to how the pedal works, its easy to get everything from “living on a prayer” style wah noises, Frampton style singing guitar, to even weird ELO robot talking sounds. Sure the effect sounds rather gimmicky, but that’s what it’s designed to do. The power that this pedal contains is amazing, and though it takes a good deal of getting used to, it really is worth it once you have the hang of it. For it’s ability to reproduce an effect that once cost many guitarists an arm and a leg, the Free Speech talk box earns itself a 10 out of 10, because really, who doesn’t want to be able to make their guitar sing?