Sunday, April 5, 2009

Two beauties from Denmark

In the midst of all that is going on with the underground pedal building scene, there are a handful of cats in the mainstream circle who have kept things real fresh, and real real. There is I'm sure not one of you that has not heard of T-Rex Engineering's effects pedals, and for good reason too. What once was a small unknown company from Denmark has grown into a worldwide, heavily respected powerhouse of stompbox building madness. T-Rex's success has landed there pedals worldwide, become the favorite sellers of many shops, and have been seen on many famous pedalboards. They have recently taken on producing the all mighty Gristle pedals of Tim Jauernig and guitar player Greg Koch, which will now be known as the T-Rex Gristle Line, I can think of no better company to take on the job. T-Rex has also introduced at Winter NAMM the Tonebug series of effects, first to hit the streets will be the Tonebug Overdrive and Tonebug Reverb, but the focus of this article/review is not on the new Gristle Line or Tonebug Series, which we are all more than ready for. I am here to bring to the plate two classics in the making, the Viper vibe pedal, and the ever expansive Tremonti Phaser. So sit back and get schooled on two wondeful tone shaping tools.

vibe pedal

When it comes to vibe pedals you better make sure you're playing the right one or the crowd, your tone, and the tape will all suffer. A killer sounding vibe pedal will work wonders for your tone, it's subtle frequency floats in and around your sound like no other effect and opens up both clean and dirty tones. When I first came across the T-Rex Viper I was pleased to find all the classic voicing effects I have had the pleasure of listening to throughout Rock and Rolls history. It's three knobs and mode button deliver and endless collection of sweet and lush swirls, getting lost in it's delivery is very easy. The Depth knob controls the overall effect, the range starts way down in an almost non-existent whisper, and goes all the way up to an in your face frequency of peaks and lows, without ever overpowering or weakening your base sound. The Speed knob...well it controls the speed of the effect. It's ramp is easy to control and even more important easy to dial in. The Level knob controls the Viper's output, combined with the right set of stompboxes you can get some killer sounding gritty vibe tones. The Mode button bounces between the two classic settings of a rotating speaker effect, and signature vibrato tone, both of which we all know so well, and the perfect combo for any musical type. Finally we have the Trim dial which is located on the back of the pedal, to me this being the secret weapon of the Viper. The Trim dial lets you shape the face of the vibe effect, pull out a small flat head screwdriver and create your own signature vibe tone, it's wonderful. Like many of the vintage vibe effects we have grown to love, the Viper holds that sound that works so well with both blues and rock, but the difference here is it's ability to open up whole new worlds of musical layers. I play lots of psychedelic influenced rock music and found many many ways to layer, expand, and experiment. One thing I must point out before I forget is the Viper does not run on the standard 9 volts, instead it runs on 12 volts which keeps the effect cleaner, more pronounced, and very defined. When you plug into the Viper you will definitely hear how upfront it's bite can get. One thing is for certain, you will not find yourself becoming easily bored with this pedal, The Viper owns an ocean of useful and magical tones.

Tremonti Phaser

phase shifter
Welcome to the next level of phase shifting, all in all...this pedal says more than the average bear. I have to be honest with you guys, I've never been much of a fan of the phase shifting effect, one side of it being how difficult it is to inject it into a song, the other side of it being how hard it is to find a good sounding pedal. Even the vintage stuff has never impressed me much, I know saying this can seem like blasphemy to some people, but hey, that's been my experience. A lot has changed though in the last few years, and with the open minds that builders carry these things have been looking good for the phase shifter. One example of this being the Tremonti Phase Shifter, if you've plugged into one you know what I'm talking about, if you haven't then you have something to look forward to. The first run in with the Tremonti pedal was in a local shop, it only took me a few minuted to decide this was a phase shifter I could live with. There was one thing that really stood out and probably the main reason this pedal won me over, I clearly heard lots of Pink Floyd out of it. Swirling, swooshing, and flying is the name of the game here folks. All of it's controls behave and respond exactly how you would imagine them to, what you hear in your head you can easily dial in. When using it with clean and overdrive tones the effect rose and fell in all the right places, playing it through distortion and metal tones would satisfy any shredder or old school rock and roll head. With stereo outs, 4/8 stage phasing, the traditional controls of Depth, Rate, and Level this covers lots of ground, throw in the mighty Bite knob and you have not only an extremely versatile pedal but a phase shifter with balls. If your thing is the vintage low-fi thing you will easily find it in this pedal, if you prefer the more modern hi-fi phase effect you will also fond it here. One thing the pedal did and did very well was blend in with other effects to help create new textures, whenever I can find a pedal that plays well with others it is most definitely a big +. I thought finding the words to explain this pedal would prove harder than it has, which is always a sign of being blown away, of discovering something new, and expanding your mind. There isn't much to be said about the Tremonti because this is one of those pedals that talks the talk and walks more than the walk. When it comes down to it it's simple, just take it from me, from someone who had been hunting for the right phase shifter for a long long time. Plug it in and let the 60's, 70's, and all the modern madness you can handle flow right through.

For more info on T-Rex Engineering you can visit their website at or click the T-Rex logo in our links.

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