Monday, July 29, 2013

Staying True to your Tone




I'm stoked to be back and super stoked to do so with this awesome and very popular pedal from our friends at Xotic Effects. I'm sure many of you have had experience with the "Tremendous Trio" that is the BB Preamp, AC Booster, and this here champ of a stompbox the RC Booster. The Reason behind these pedals success is simple - great tone! I have been fortunate to have had the chance to try just about every Xotic Effects pedal out there, and to this day I can honestly say I have not been disappointed. What makes these pedals such winners isn't a ton of bells and whistles, it's their simplicity and straight to the point control layout. Combine any of these pedals with a proper amp, your favorite guitar, and they will make your already cherished tone that much better. The RC Booster does exactly this and does it with it's own heavenly tonal touch. Let's take a closer look shall we? 

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RC Booster

  • Active Treble, Bass, Gain, and Volume controls allow for limitless tone shaping.
  • 20dB+ of transparent clean boost, with +- 15db 2 band active EQ.
  • Solution to sound degradation caused instrument cables and/or long effect chains.
  • True bypass for eliminating any signal interference when switched off.
  • Can be used with AC adaptor (optional) or 9V Battery.


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So what does the "RC" stand for you ask? It stands for "Real Clean", meaning this pedal will keep your sound pure and sweet. This isn't to say the RC Booster isn't capable of some gritty goodness cause it is. Whether it's boosting your already spanking clean tone to a higher level or taking that clean tone to the next plateau - the RC Booster will do it and do beautifully. On board this pedal you will find controls for Gain, Volume, Bass, and Treble. The gain on this pedal being splendid! The RC Booster makes it easy to boost your clean signals, boost those slightly gritty tube amp tones, or use it to straight out slam the front-end of any amp or already overdriven tone to get some even hairier tones, all with no problem. The volume control will keep your tone in it's original state from the lowest of settings to it's highest levels. You can dish out anywhere up to 20dB's of juice, and with it's bass and treble controls the RC Booster gives you the choice to either boost or tame your high and low frequencies, helping adapt this pedal to any room or venue. 


I went ahead and tested this pedal through everything from very clean tones, crunchy'n'grimy rhythms, and through allout overdriven tube amps. Each time was a gift. I began with a clean AC 15 based amp and a Stratocaster. I first set my amp to a punchy thick clean sound then carefully matched the pedal's character to the tone. I set the pedal with it's gain as low as possible, it's volume slightly hotter to the amp's output, and the treble and bass controls just a hint more pronounced than the amp's root tone. I played through some licks with the pedal off - then with it engaged. Engaged my tone stayed perfectly intact and came through with more power and attitude. The feeling of my tone while playing through the RC Booster is what stood out the most. I could feel my little amp thumping at my back, feet, and at the walls. Some boosters and overdrive pedals can deaden your sound, or even worse take it in a completely different direction. This pedal does not do this. What it does instead is enhances all the natural amp and guitar's character already existing in your sound. If your thing is big'n'boomy - it gets bigger and boomier. If you like that silky smooth spank - you get mucho more. And if you like slamming your favorite amp into ear drum slpitting goodness - this is the perfect pedal. The super spanky and bouncy Strat characteristics flowing from my guitar only became that much sweeter when stacked up with the RC Booster. I went from pickup setting to pickup setting and got great results each time. All across the guitar's settings the pedal was able to pull from them their very best. Rolling up the gain control the pedal began to heat up the amp's signal creating more grit and more grime. By tapering back the treble control and adding in some of the bass - the pedal was able to give my Stratocaster a warmer thicker tone. This worked nicely when playing through overdriven and high gain tones, making lead tones much more powerful. I also cranked my little 15 watt amp to a beautiful creamy crunch. I began using the RC Booster as a typical booster, but as I rolled up the pedal's volume and gain I started noticing I was able to get some very new and interesting sounds from my amp. The fully overdriven on it's own really only gets me so far, which is a perfect classic low/med driven sound. With the pedal boosting the signal I could get some really over the top grit. But one of my favorite tricks this pedal does well is it's ability to act as a buffer. For those of you who run long cables and lots of pedals you simply leave this pedal at the front of your chain with it's bass and treble controls at noon and wahlah! Overall the RC Booster is a great simple pedal perfect for pushing our tight, neat, transparent tones. If you're looking for something quick and simple to get the job done outright, go with this puppy, you won't be sorry.

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For more info on the RC Booster or Xotic Effects go to www.xotic.us or click the Xotic logo in our links section. Stay tuned for some more on Xotic and it's current line of effects.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Analog War Cry is Back!!!!

Hello kids,

The long long wait is over. I will be posting reviews and featuring cool new gear companies once again, full time. I'm done recording for a while and will be focusing my time at bringing you guys the best gear I can hunt down. If you have any companies you'd like me to look into please shoot me an email with the name and link to the site. Stay tuned for a couple delayed posts which should have gone up a while back, again I apologize to you all and I hope to have everyone back reading and writing in.

-Alfie

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Top Finds of 2011/ Tone Blue Custom FX

Hello my dearest of readers. First let me say Happy New Year and I hope everyone had a great Christmas. I'm sure many of you got yourselves and got from your loved ones some pretty cool gear. Last year was an another amazing year for unique and marvalous music equupment, and I'm sure this year will be just as good if not better. I wanted to start this new year with some of my favorite finds of 2011, and this first feature I know you guys will absolutely love!


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Every time I think nothing more can be done to the overdrive pedal comes along a stompbox  that turns my thinking in the opposite direction. Ladies and gents - let me introduce you to Tone Blue Custom FX. This my friends is a pedal company with some very impressive original and modified builds. On the TBCFX website you will come across everything from boosters, trems, verbs, loopers, fuzz's, to comps, chorus's, wah's, power supplies, and a handful of cool upgraded familiars. It's quite obvious these guys know what they're doing by the extensive and beautiful collection of stompboxes that they offer. Thank god for cool companies like these!

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 Mighty Drive


My first encounter with the mighty world of TBCFX came to me in the form of a versatile little black box by the name of the Mighty Drive. Simple this pedal may be with it's Gain, Volume, Treble, Middle, and Bass controls - but I assure you it owns within it more than just one sweet spot giving you a wide range of useful and inspiring tones. For me it was the Mighty Drive's simple and straight to the point control layout that sold me from the start. The pedal's circuit itself being designed so well makes it one of the easiest dirt boxes to dial in and tweak, and one that works with many different setups and styles of music. For the hardcore tone purist guitar slinger this pedal will be an absolute dream come true.

The beginning of my Mighty Drive experiment started with a Les Paul Standard and 22 Watt Blackface amplifier. I began with a simple dry tone, no verb, and all of the amp's controls straight at noon. I began by setting the pedal's gain to a mild mellow setting. The pedal's eq stack I tried to match as close to the amp so I could get the most transparent boost possible. The Mighty Drive's volume I took to about 50%, which gave me an awesome amount of natural gritty yumminess. Right from the get-go the pedal worked beautifully as a booster and mild overdrive. The tones I got in it's mild overdrive settings reminded me of some of my favorite classic tube amps. The quality of the tone was rich, thick, and pleasing to the ear. I was able to convert the low watt amp into a grimy rock and blues machine. With the Les Paul's humbuckers thrown into the mix everything came together perfectly. I was able to go from bridge pickup to neck pickup and get a great balance of punchy highs and fat lows. The character of the pedal's sound came through with flying colors. As I went up into higher overdrive territories I began noticing the dirt getting tighter and fatter, making it sit in the mix beautifully and easy to work with. Cranking the 22 watt amp into a big and loud natural overdrive and stacking the Mighty Drive on top of it did a few cool things. First I used the pedal's volume to push the amp into a wonderful dirtier overdrive. Making it work more as a lead and distortion machine. With the pedal's middle and treble controls I was able to dial in tones that sliced through and punched with lots and lots of attitude. Rolling back the mids gave me some really cool heavy distortion tones. Along with the low watt Blackface amplifier I also plugged it into a 4x10 60 watt Hot Rod Deville with Jensen Blackbirds and Tornado's. Each of the 10" speakers in my Deville are 100 watters giving them lots of headroom which is perfect for a great sounding overdrive pedal. The Mighty Drive seemed to work like magic with this amp. I was able to crank in the pure tone of the pedal's mojo with just the amp's pure clean tone blended in. This brought out all of the pedal's feel and character. The big bouncing creamy sound of the alnico speakers mixed with the cutting edge sound of the neodymium magnets created absolute heaven. I plugged in a handful of guitars into this pedal and amp to see just what types of sounds I would get and to see if the Mighty Drive would work well with each pick and guitar style. I used a JR style guitar with a single Lollar P90, Les Paul with hand wound humbuckers, a Strat with top notch 60's style single coils, and a Tele with a classic style bucker in the neck and broadcaster style pickup in the bridge. It seemed as if the Mighty Drive were made for each guitar, pickup, and amplifier that I paired it up with. Each of the guitars' tonal styles came through and were accented by the Mighty Drive's unique and special circuit. In light settings the pedal pushed the amp's clean signal to give me more juice and more oomph. Using the pedal as an overdriver turned the amp into a rock and roll monster that worked for all typed of musical styles, including classic, blues, alternative, country, and punk. Cranking the pedal's gain to full blast, setting the volume at around 70%, then taking the eq stack and setting it to push the amp's highs/lows/ and mids made for a great experience. Strumming the strings I could feel lots of harmonics and sweet balance. The pedal sang with smooth and creamy overdrive/distortion. Last I did try this pedal with some other stompboxes, checking to see for noise or any other unpleasant ticks. I was very happy with the outcome. It it these types of pedals that a pedal junky like myself looks forward into running into to. In the end my experience with TBCFX was nothing short of amazing. The Mighty Drive was one that didn't take much effort to dial in nor did it eat away at any of my guitar's, amp's, or pickup's characteristics. I will say this - I am looking forward to see what more magic lies in store inside the Tone Blue Custom FX collection.

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For more info on FBCFX go to www.toneblue.com/tbcfx/ Make sure to stay tuned for more features from Tone Blue Custom FX to come in the near future. Remember.... Let'em hear you scream!!!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Xotic Nite at NAMM


Prosound Communications Inc Presents
XOTiC NiTE @ NAMM
KIRK FLETCHER, ERIC GALES, with Special Guest from Japan YUYA KOMOGUCHI


Monday January 23, 2012 Doors at 7:30PM
Tickets: $10 at the door
Lighthouse Cafe
Address: 30 Pier Avenue, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254, Phone: (310) 376-983

Out of this World


All you drooling right now continue to keep on drooling - cause this pedal sounds as good as it looks! I'd like to introduce to those of you who aren't familiar with Analog Alien to one of the coolest pedal companies I have ever come across. I will tell you - I have been one lucky son of a bitch to have run across these cats. There are a lot of people building pedals out there today, and many of those people very talented. We have come across a stompbox revolution of sorts. A time where tone is everything again, and where what you play and say are two different things. Music is once again making a come back in a beautiful way - thanks to all the wonderful gear that is out there to motivate and inspire us. It is cool little companies like Analog Alien that sit in the front lines making sure we have the weapons needed for the battle. This is what happens when a couple of dedicated tone hungry cats get together to make a pedal. I bring your the...

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Fuzz Bubble-45

 Specs:
  •  PETE SIDE
  • Out: controls effected output level
  • Year 66'-77': controls gain amount sent to pedal's OD circuit
  • Tone: this switch helps roll back lower frequencies
  • JIMI SIDE
  • In: controls amount of signal coming into the pedal
  • Out: controls effect output level
  • Haze: controls fuzz intensity
  • Tone: functions identically to Pete side circuit
  •  Bypass Switch: switches pedal On/Off
  • Effect: switches between Pete and Jimi sides
  • Power: runs on either single 9Volt battery or 9V adapter
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The first time I saw this pedal was one of those moments when I said to myself; "Holy crap, now that's a pedal!". Boy was I right. This is baby is built extremely well, was designed to be user friendly so you can get the tones you want quickly, and ships with a very cool mini lunchbox which it is stored in! This is a two channel stompbox which lets you choose between a Pete side (overdrive/distortion) and a Jimi side (distortion/fuzz). What more can you ask for? The Fuzz Bubble-45 is the pedal for that classic rock tone addicted player. For those of you who dig those marvelous 60's-70's tube amps. For those who listen and grew up with those insanely great sounding rock gods of yesteryear.

(PETE)
Getting a great sound of this was as easy as plugging it into a decent tube amp and guitar. I went with my semi-hollow body Hagstrom Viking and modified Hot Rod Deville. The handwound humbuckers and 4x10 Jensen's seemed to take to the pedal like a hand and glove. I began by setting the amp to a big warm clean tone, with all of it's controls set at around 7 and reverb circuit turned completely down. I started with the Pete side, setting it's Out knob to 50% , Year knob at 67', and it's Tone switch in the left position. Once engaged the pedal pushed out a very smooth'n'cruncy natural sounding classic rock dirt tone. The sound had lots of defined grit which made each string come through with spectacular delivery. This tone was perfect for an get-go all around rock tone. I played some of my favorite classic, blues, and alternative rock tones and got nothing but magic. Chords especially sounded good, along with double stops and string bends. The big'n'beefy overdrive produced by the Pete side reminded me of my favorite golden era rock tones. As I went up on the Year knob and added more gain the pedal continued to give me more mojo and inspiration. One thing which I really dug about the Pete side was how well it owrked with my guitar's volume. Using my guitar's volume knob I was able to control not only the amount of grit, but also the feel, response, and character of my tone. I next flipped the Tone switch to the right side and like an atomic bomb my pickups pushed out more low-end muscle. My riffs sounded bigger and stronger, and chords even beefier and dirtier. The Tone switch I imagine would be the perfect little feature for either cutting through a mix or adding more body to an overall band's sound. In both positions the Fuzz Bubble-45's Tone switch was able to keep it's definition and smooth feel. Switching the pedal up to year 77' really made a difference not only in the amount of gain, but how it all worked with your pick attack and overall sound. Here I got more aggressive overdrive tones which really became more like distortion. But unlike modern distortion the Fuzz Bubble-45 is able to maintain a very velvety creamy classic feel. Along with the semi-hollow body I also played this pedal with a Strat, a Tele, and a Les Paul (of course). Each one of the guitars created it's own special collection of rock tones, making this one of the most user friendly circuits I've ever used.

(JIMI)
Switching over to the Jimi side was an entirely different ballpark. Here I got a wide variety of very useful fuzz tones. I began by plugging into my partner's Les Paul and 7/15 watt amplifier. Now, on it's own this amp of mine has always produced some pretty sweet rock tones. It has been one of my favorite amps to plug fuzz boxes into and one of the best recording amps I've ever used. The Fuzz Bubble-45's Jimi circuit quickly and beautifully produced some of the best classic fuzz tones I've come across. I began with both the In and Out ch in the knobs at around noon, the Haze knob at around 15%, and the Tone switch in the left position. The pedal kicked out rockin' good subtle yet powerful fuzz tone that made my little amp sound much bigger than it actually is. Sliding up and down the neck playing blues and rock licks felt and sounded like something from another time. I was able to hear, and better yet feel, a big stack of harmonics and string ringing goodness. The softer I plucked the strings, the less the pedal growled. The harder I smacked down on the strings, the more the tone came to life and the more it knocked out big'n'bad fuzz. With the In knob I was able to tame and mellow out the sound of the fuzz, making it easy to tailor to whatever style of music I was playing. As well as the In knob working nicely, my guitar's volume knob gave me even more control and let me tap into even more crazy good rock tones. Some vintage fuzz boxes when doing this do one of two things; #1. They either become too thin and brittle, or #2. Just waste away the entire feel and vibe of the fuzz effect. The Jimi circuit I assure does non of these things. With my Strat I was able to use the pedal to dial in the biggest and meanest sounding fuzz tone, and by rolling down the guitar's volume able to get back to my jangly signature Strat sound. I was able to get some super cool feedback effects and strange ambiances just by holding the guitar in the right direction or playing the strings in a certain fashion. All you psychedelic rock monsters will appreciate and dig the hell out of this pedal. There's nothing better than blasting down in a rad collection of single note fuzz riffs. This pedal lets you beef up your licks or make them cut like razors. With the Tone switch giving you even more variety to choose from. I also played the Strat and Fuzz Bubble-45 through a Super Lead, which indeed was something to write home about. I will just say this - Everyone in the lockout studios was quite jealous that day. I had the walls ringing and shaking as if they were about to come down. I dialed in the Super Lead to a killer natural ovedrive, and stacked on top of it the fury of the Jimi side. If you've heard the best Marshall and fuzz tones combined you have an idea of what I was able to dial in. I found it easy to match both sides so that switching back and fourth was cinch. I know I get frustrated trying to find the right combination of overdrive and fuzz to bring out on gigs. With this pedal you get the best of both worlds all in one very cool looking box. All in all you can't go wring with this pedal, and I in fact found nothing I disliked about how it sounded or worked. The guys over at Analog Alien definitely own a special gift that lives in a few. I would kill to see what else crept into their minds, what else they'd be pushed to build.


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For more info on the Fuzz Bubble-45 or Analog Alien go to www.analogalien.com You ill find some cool info on the history and making of this pedal. There are also some pretty cool vids out there for those of you that want some audio of this monster. Use our Youtube search engine to hunt down some oft hose vids. We will be sure to keep you guys posted if more comes out of this unique and talented pedal company.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Treat Yourself to Something Reeeaaal Nice




 Next on our list of killer pedals is a little number from the talented and amazing people of Aguilar Amplification. Last year I had a chance to try out a bunch of these pedals on bass guitar and was blown away by the quality in tone and wide range of sounds I was able to get. It didn't end on bass guitar either... no sir. I in fact also plugged some of these pedals into a bunch of my guitars and guitar amps and the outcome was nothing short of amazing. I also had a chance to meet the good folks from Aguilar at NAMM last year which really tuned me into what they're doing and the direction they are headed in. Let me just say this: Go out and try these pedals - you will not be sorry and very glad you did.


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TLC Compressor


Specs:
  • Threshold Control: variable from -30 to -10dBu
  • Slope Control: variable from 2:1 to infinity
  • Attack Control: variable from 10ms to 100ms
  • Level Control: -infinity to -3dBu
  • Low Distortion: (<0.2%)
  • Gig-saver Bypass: signal passes even if your battery dies
  • Power: 9 volt battery or optional universal power supply
  • Enclosure: heavy-duty steel construction
  • Battery Life: 100 hours
  • Inputs: one 1/4 jack
  • Outputs: one 1/4 jack
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How about that for a gem of a compression pedal? Here is an area where us musicians cannot afford to skimp out on. Compression when used the wrong way can be the killer of all tones. So where does one go when in need of some proper quality compression? Well, the TLC Compressor is a beautiful place to start, and a beautiful place to end. This powerhouse of a pedal is capable of giving your bass tones (and guitar) all the spank, thump, boom, bang, and bottom you will ever need. The control layout on this pedal is genius! And each one of it's controls capable of so so much. With the guitar it works equally as good. This is a pedal that does not discriminate and loves to play well with others (pedals). The TLC Compressor (just like our last Aguilar review) kick much ass. The one word that comes to mind is quality - quality - quality. Make sure to run back in our archive for more Aguilar reviews. 

Round #1 (Bass Guitar)
My first experiment with the Aguilar TLC consisted of a P Bass and a Ampeg SVT. I dialed in a simple signature snappy P Bass tone, with lots of rounded corners and plenty of punch. I began with some subtle settings, tightening up the overall sound and getting more definition. The TLC quickly dished out more clarity making things sound sweeter and richer. I started first with a medium low level and ended up cranking the amp just about full blast. At low to medium settings the pedal accented all of the bass guitar's and amp's magic and mojo. Then once cranked things really became noticeable. My experience with most compression pedals has been they don't hang in there when in comes down to gigging or recording. Either they become too noisy or they just can't cut it. This is why studio compressors are so praised and so useful. The TLC was more than able to hold it's own. One very nice thing about this puppy, something I really dug, was it's low noise output. This is probably the one thing that turns me off to most comp pedals. With this pedal I was able to blast my bass amp and thump away at my bass guitar's strings like a madman. In the end the pedal stayed chill and quiet. I got no unwanted hissing or white noise. But more importantly was how quiet the pedal was when I wasn't playing. Here is where this pedal comes in handy for those of you looking for a proper gigging compressor. I also plugged the TLC into a higher output bass which worked equally as good. What I liked about playing this pedal through the higher output bass pickups was how well it helped roll off the high end sounds and jagged corners. This brought a lighter fluffier attack to my overall tone which made things sit much nicer when jamming with other instruments. I did also gig with this pedal, and on stage the pedal did more than it's job, falling beautifully into the mix and standing out just enough to accompany the guitar, bass drum, and vocals. Setting the compression to the club's room was cake! On the other side of the spectrum, in more extreme settings, the TLC also did a great job. The pedal's threshold takes care of a huge range of sounds and tones which helps you achieve just any sound or musical style you're going for.

Round # 2 (Electric Guitar)
For me finding a good compression pedal to team up with my guitars seems to something I've always had lots of trouble with. Really there has only been a handful of comp pedals that I've enjoyed. The TLC quickly became one of the few. I broke out my trusty bucker equipped Tele and my buddy's Princeton Reverb. The goal was to dial in a solid plunky country tone with plenty of meat and potatoes. I help back on the amp's reverb and rolled the eq straight up the middle. With a little meddling of the TLC's controls I was able to quickly get the sound I wanted. The guitar sang out lots of spanky goodness making each string sound like it's own thing. I was able to hear every little nuance and accent I played. My chords sounded off with lush clear projection, which made everything sound absolutely beautiful! Smoothness was the name of the game when playing through this pedal. The Tele jangled and chimed through the amp's big'n'bright tone. I was able to get plenty of sustain from my playing without any of the unwanted extreme sappy sounds. The TLC maintained my pick attack and left my guitar's natural character intact. While playing around the guitar I began fooling around with other pedals, such as overdrivers and distortion pedals. With overdrivers the pedal added a chunky ring to the overall sound that made things sound bigger and badder. I noticed my lows became rounder and warmer, with the highs becoming clearer and easier on the ear. I also got beautiful string balance that cut right through like a razor. In minimum compression settings the pedal gave the guitar's sound that hint of juice that helps bring one's tone to life. By adding in some of the pedal's level control I was able to naturally bring the amp's tubs into some pretty sweet gritty overdrive. This sound worked nicely for craning down on some classic country rock chord play. Blues and funk also sounded quite nice. I ran through some sweet licks and rifs and was able to hear every note with absolute authority. There is no doubt on my mind this pedal can hang with al types of music styles. Anyone hunting for a killer all around comp box would do themselves proper by grabbing one of these.

Some compressors squash your tone much too much, or just bloom and rise in the wrong ways. Something we're all too familiar with. The TLC's control layout made things very easy and user friendly. It took a bit of playing with the TLC's controls but once I began trusting my ears everything fell into place. This is what I tell my readers when the write in asking how to use compression, just trust those ears. Another great use I got out of this pedal was recording with it. I was able to get these very balanced, steady, and defined bass and guitar tones which were very easy to work with when mixing. The TLC is also very transparent, and instead of adding color to your tone - it brings what is already there to life.The magic in this pedal all comes from it's control layout and the quality of it's sound. This is what makes this little baby stand out from many others. Aguilar Amplification really did some number when designing this pedal and it shows right off the bat once you plug in and play.

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For more info on Aguilar Amplification go to www.aguilaramp.com Make sure to also check out Aguilar's awesome amps, pickups, preamps, and cabs. We will be featuring more and more of Aguilar's gear in the near future so make sure to keep them eyes peeled. Hit up our Youtube search engine to hunt down some cool Aguilar pedal vids!