Thursday, January 28, 2010

Top Finds of 2009 / BMF Effects

Los Angeles as far back as I can remember has always been quite generous when it comes to supplying us with great guitar shops. It doesn't matter if you live down by the beach or up towards hollywood or downtown, LA has got it covered. It was in one of these shops that I first came across the BMF Effects line. Right there in my favorite shop's display case was a handful of simple looking guitar pedals I had never seen before. I looked over at the cat behind the counter as if to ask "How are these?" He gave me a nod as if to say "Oh yeah, very very nice." I pulled out the first BMF pedal, then the next, and so on and so fourth. One after the other they all blew me away. Then the shop clerk says "You ain't seen nothing yet, check out this prototype that BMF just sent us..." I took the pedal, grabbed a Custom Les Paul off the wall, plugged into a kickass amp, and let her rip. The most lovely rock distortion I could have ever dreamed of flew out from the amp and punctured my soul. I went home that day and emailed BMF Effects letting them know just how impressed I was with their gear. Later that night Scott Kiraly (builder/owner of BMF Effects) introduced himself and thanked me for my kind words. A few weeks later there's a package at my door, and what do you think that package was? That's right, the same magical distortion box that had knocked me on my ass back at the shop. Only now it was no longer a prototype, now that pedal had a name.

BMF Effects
Hermosa Beach, CA
Builder: Scott Kiraly
Years in the Game: 6

The Great Wide Open

This simple little stompbox is by far one of the most exciting effect pedals I have come across not just in the last year, but in my entire life. Looking at The Great Wide Open you wouldn't think there'd be much to it, or that it'd be capable of much at all. This is exactly what makes this guitar pedal so freakin' cool. The tones possible from this pedal will not only stun you, but turn your amplifier into a rich, harmonically charged raging box of grit and distortion. I don't know what kind of wizardry Scott Kiraly pulled to put together such a great sounding pedal, but whatever combination of components he did use they most cfertainly are the right ones. The Great Wide Open consists of a solo Volume knob, a true bypass footswitch, LED, and a heavy-duty enclosure sporting a killer looking yellow finish. "So how does this pedal work? ", you must be wondering. The Great Wide Open's single knob works by adding a beautifully balanced, thick'n'gritty rock distortion to your amp's root tone, all without eating away any it's natural character or feel. The eq projection all the way across the tone spectrum perfectly meshes together to create a full, even, and lush distortion sound. This eliminates the need for any bass, mids, or treble controls on this pedal which leaves all the tone shaping in your amp and guitar. The level of distortion that the Great Wide Open produces is fairly strong, living somewhere between a high overdrive and mid sized distortion tone. The pedal's sound can be used for both rhythm guitar or lead work, and can easily be manipulated by your guitar or other booster/dirt pedals. My favorite way to work this pedal was on it's own and using the guitar's volume to bring things down or blow them back up. All in all not one application we threw at this pedal sounded bad. It dug every pickup combo we played it through, and sounded swell with high, mid, and low watt amplifiers.

I happened to be doing some tone hunting for my band's next recording session when the Great Wide Open first arrived on our doorstep. If you only knew the mess of stompboxes, cables, and mic techniques that I was tangled in, it was like looking down on a sonic labyrinth. The gear created a maze made up of different colored dirt pedals, different styles and lengths of guitar cables, and every guitar we had. Everything leading to an amp in just about every room I thought would give me a good sound. If you've ever worked in the recording studio environment you know how much of a pain in the ass working out guitar tones can be. My partner says "Why don't we take a break and play around with this new pedal. It might even help us out with our little project here." I tell you, it was like one of those moments in rock & roll history that you hear about, where some killer piece of gear magically appears and saves the day. I took the Great Wide Open out of it's box and plugged it into the only amp still in the room, a '65 Deluxe Reverb reissue that was on loan to us from a good buddy. The first guitar to put the Great Wide Open through it's paces was a great sounding stock Les Paul Studio. The only thing besides the Great Wide Open, guitar, and Deluxe Reverb were a pair of coily Bullet Cables from Core One. I started with the guitar's rhythm pickup, plugged into the amp's Normal channel with everything set at 7, and dialed the Great Wide Open straight up the middle. I smashed down on a handful of huge sounding rock chords, and next thing you know an epic distortion sound came tumbling out of the speakers. I wanted to cry, literally wanted to weep like a little baby. The dirt tone had power, character, and most importantly a wonderful feel. The sound was spot-on exactly what I was looking for and hearing in my crazy head. The Les Paul and Deluxe Reverb alone already sounded pretty damn good. Without the pedal engaged I could easily get some naturally pushed thick/rich tube grit. Stepping down on the pedal in conjunction with the Les Paul and it's pickups was an entirely new beast though. The lows bellowed like ghosts, mids rang out like engines, and highs sliced through the air to let the distortion cut through clearly and evenly. It's as if Scott took a great sounding tube amp, dialed it in to the hottest sounding dirt tone he could think of, and somehow took it and shoved it into a little yellow box. Everything about the pedal's sound played and felt right, just like a overdriven vacuum tube. It doesn't end there though, there's more to the Great Wide Open than just a great sounding tone. The pedal has a character all it's own which separates it from other stompboxes. This is called a signature sound, something not easily achieved. This is a distortion pedal strictly for the tone purist, tone hunter, and tone hound. The more I played the better the sound got. I think it's safe to say this pedal works beautifully with humbuckers, I couldn't have gotten a bad sound if I tried. Another guitar that got to taste the Great Wide Open's fury was a Strat we had put together ourselves. For this we switched into the amplifier's other channel to have the option of using some reverb and vibrato. I dialed in a cleaner a tone, shaved off some treble, bumped up the bass, and flipped the reverb up to 3/4. I had the perfect signature blackface clean tone, a perfect starting point for a great sounding dirt box. Just like expected the sound of the Great Wide Open through the single coils was equally as exciting. All of the richness, chime, and bounce of the amp's natural sound, mixed in and blended with the pedal's distortion to create an explosion of rock and roll heaven. I was getting tones perfect for cutting through any mix, tones that bloomed with animation, and tones that made blues licks shake your spine and tickle your bones. The distortion had the same amount of grit'n'grime through the single coil as they did through humbuckers, only with an entirely different feel. I was able to play with the same intensity and attitude, only with a much more stinging and biting sound. I was getting this almost cocked wah color to the tone when playing up at the higher frets, maybe it's just the natural touch of my playing but I definitely heard it loud and clear. Even when playing softly and picking lightly the Great Wide Open delivers a strong amount grit. I was getting the same clarity I would have gotten from a clean tone only with a nice dose of overdrive and distortion. In the hour or so that had passed since I plugged in the Great Wide Open, I had more distortion tones than I needed to get started with our recording session. I mean it was all too easy, all I needed to do to get a good sound out of the pedal was turn it up. There was one sound in particular that really got my blood pumping, a sound that has become one of my main guitar tones. It wasn't a sound played through humbuckers or Strat single coils though... P90's was the starting point for this tone. It was by pure mistake that I came across this sound too, I had left certain things on when I went to step on the Great Wide Open. I had a A/B box that was switching In & Out two different amps. One amp being a Super Lead and the other being a dingy little Silvertone 1482 amp that we like to use in small closets and isolation cabs. The Silvertone has two channels, one labeled Microphone, the other Instruments. The amp's secret weapon and what gives it it's unique sound is it's cool sounding tremolo circuit. I went to step on the Great Wide Open when I heard what sounded like the most insane Robin Trower sound. At first I couldn't figure out what the hell was doing what, you have to remember I had a sea of gear laid out on the floor. The pedal's distortion along with the crushed sound of the little amp being in a iso-cab created this enormous sound. The tremolo from the amp pumped the Great Wide Open's furious sound in and out, making this monstrous breathing effects that sat perfectly through our monitors. I had the sound I wanted, and all it took was this one-knob little wonder. I can't imagine anyone not digging this pedal, not pros, bedroom rockers, or working players. It's just one of those pedals that creates a sound for everyone and every type of music. BMF Effects has landed way up on my favorite pedal companies of all time and it's all because of this little yellow box. Analog War Cry has more from this awesome company coming in the next few weeks so I suggest you keep an eye out and check out what we have coming up. Scott also has a new pedal in the works, a low to med gain overdriver called "El Jefe". We will make sure to try and bring some more news on this pedal and anything else BMF has in store. For now the name of the game is called the Great Wide Open, and oh what a tasty game it is.


For more info on BMF Effects go to There is a bunch of info on where you guys can find their pedals and audio/video demos as well. Analog War Cry does have a some more killer sounding features from this stunning pedal company in the near future so please stay tuned.

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