Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Top Finds of 2009 / OnoMATOpoeia

I knew from the second I first head of this company that the music world was going to be in for a real treat. For those of you not hip on Emma Electronic's pedals get out there and get your hands dirty, some of the best stompboxes you will ever play. These aren't pedals with just funny, catchy sounding names. Play any of the Emma pedals and you will quickly discover these boxes speak for themselves, producing rich, quality tones, and providing you with an endless amount of possibilities. I had a chance to try just about every one of the Emma pedals last year and was impressed by each and every one. Choosing a pedal to feature in our Top Finds was not easy, I must have gone back and fourth a dozen times. When the cloud of brilliant and massive tones cleared we were left with something we thought everyone would benefit from, an overdriver. But this isn't just any old overdriver pedal...

Emma Electronic
Aarhus, Denmark


* Level: Controls the output level of the pedal.
* Tone: Controls the overall clarity of the sound.
* Saturation: Capable of vintage/modern distortion tones.
* Gain: Controls the amount of drive.


The special qualities in this pedal lie in it's combination of unique controls. The controls may be labeled with everyday ordinary names, but I assure you they come with a bit of a surprise. The Onomatopoeia is built is a solid, heavy duty enclosure. It's simple artwork and design give it a sleek and cool look. From left to right the pedal's controls are Level, Tone, Saturation, and Gain. With these four controls the Onomatopoeia is capable of taking your amp from clean boost setting all the way to rich'n'thick, fully saturated distortion tones. The Level knob works to dial in the pedal's overall level, this knob alone has enough output to push your amp into a screaming, natural tube grit. When combined with the Gain control the Level knob becomes even more flexible. The Tone knob works to set the overall character of the pedal's sound, whether it be a clean or dirty setting. You will notice when rolling back the Tone knob into darker tone settings that you will not loose any of your sounds mojo. The Tone knob is sensitive to the slightest of touches and works great in all situations. Next we have the Saturation control which defines what your overdrive's vibe is going to sound like. It is well known that before the use of dirt boxes players would experiment with their amps by removing tubes to achieve their distortion tones. This is the purpose behind the Onomatopoeia's Saturation control. Turning the Saturation counter-clockwise produces a warmer, fluffier, vintage style drive. Turning it clockwise gets you a more modern sharper tone. Last we have the Gain knob, this controls the amount of dirt you want in your sound, it can go from clean to mean and everything in between. All of the pedal's controls work great together giving you a mountain of rock and roll tones.

We put the Onomatopoeia through two main settings, a classic bright'n'punchy American clean tone, and an overdriven British dirt tone. We tested the pedal behind and in front of other pedals, with different pickups, and different level settings. We started with a big/rich clean tone, dialing in lots of lows and mids, and just the right amount of treble. Once we had the setting we wanted we matched the pedal's output to the amp's and got to steppin'. I set the Tone right at the amp's sound, Saturation at noon, and Gain close to zero. Once engaged the pedal pushed the amp into a big/bright light overdrive. The sound had lots of clarity, a smooth layer of grit, and a beautiful attack. The lightest of picking would produce chiming, clean notes, and the harder I strummed the more intense the sound became. It was a great sounding blues tone, something like a spanky Texas SRV tone. To darken up the tone and give it a more classic rock feel I bumped the Level up a bit louder to help push the tubes, set the Tone just below 11'o'clock, Saturation at 9'o'clock, and Gain at noon. The Strat we had plugged in sounded wonderful with the Onomatopoeia. The overdrive had a medium level of aggression, and lots of bounce and warmth. Chords took well to this setting as well as single note runs and licks. From here we took it further, creating two extreme, and very cool sounding tones. First we maxed out the Gain, kicked the Tone knob back 10'o'clock, set the Saturation fully anti-clockwise, and Level at 3'o'clcok. This created a thunderous, classic rock lead tone. The combination of the Level control pushing the amp and maxed out Gain gave the amp a woofy, hairy, distortion sound. I was able to make the sound even warmer by rolling off some of the guitar's tone, and able to clean it up a tad by shaving off some volume. The next extreme setting we dialed in was a more modern tone. The pedal's Volume and Gain stayed the same, only we switched the Tone between 2-3'o'clock, and set the Saturation fully clockwise. The difference was uncanny, like we had two completely different stompboxes in front of us. This tone was meaner, edgier, and much sharper. The character of the distortion let me shake and manipulate notes into a bunch of wild shapes. This tone also made for a great lead tone and could easily be mellowed out by rolling down the guitar's volume. I was able to go from a warm, crunchy rhythm tone, to an all out screaming lead just by playing with the Strat's volume and tone. The Onomatopoeia proved to work wonders through a killer sounding clean tone. Definitely two thumbs up!

Now it was time for some already overdriven amp tones, tones with lots of grit'n'grime. We used two different amps and a couple different guitars. First setup was a Les Paul, 15 watt head, and a 2x10 cab. The amp was pushed as far as we could get it and pedal set the a blazing loud clean tone. We started with the Gain all the way down, both Tone and Saturation at noon, and Level close to 100%. The natural sound of the overdriven amp was beefy, warm, and thick. The Onomatopoeia was able to give the sound a bit more clarity, lots more hair, and a more defined tonal spectrum. This worked great for going from a rhythm's to lead's. Slowly we introduced the pedal's Gain control which gave the tone these great fuzzy, treble booster type sounds. At about 25% percent the Gain created at perfect blend of overdrive and distortion. The amp's natural grit was still very present and just behind you could hear the unique sound of the Onomatopoeia. Half way up the gain started creating these massive classic rock tones. Something that really impressed me was how well the pedal's drive would respond to playing no matter what level of gain I had coming out of it. Some pedals you get them loud and aggressive and there is no dynamics in the tone. With the Onomatopoeia the overdrive and distortion acts just like that of a tube amp's. Having the ability to change the character of the grit with the Saturation knob is a huge plus here. This means you get all the control over the dynamics you want and not have to be stuck to one sound. With this pedal you can use the same guitar to layer your guitar tracks, or use it for tons of different tones live. Dialing it in is quick and easy, there aren't a ton of knobs to worry about, and the quality of each sound is always right on point. Using this pedal with other boxes is also something you'll find comes in handy. You can use the Onomatopoeia to push other overdrivers, boosters, fuzz boxes, or add color to other effects. It never overpowers the root tone you have dialed in and can easily be controlled with just the lightest touch. Before we called it quits we broke out our Marshall and cranked it to some searing rock tones. First we set a nice, evenly balanced crunch tone, and used the pedal to push it further. The pedal worked just as nicely through our 100 watt badboy as it did through the rest of gear. I was able to dial in a dark'n'warm dirt tone and with the pedal push it into a bright'n'defined lead sound. Or I could do the opposite. The Onomatopoeia was capable of clean boosts, subtle overdrives, thick grit, lead tones, and everything in-between. The pedal can be used for modern or vintage style tones, which is always a plus. Then there's the magic is can work with both clean and dirty tones. All in all this ended up being one of the sweetest and most versatile overdrivers we've ever come across. I really hope you guys get a chance to explore this awesome company for yourselves, every one of their pedals kicks much ass. We will for sure be bringing you guys more from Emma in the near future so keep them eyes peeled.


For more info on Emma's cool line of pedals go to www.emmaelectronic.com or visit our friends at Godlyke Distribution at www.godlyke.com Remember yo can always click the logos in the sidebar for direct links. We will work at bringing you more from Emma real soon so hang tight. Peace!!


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