Sunday, August 22, 2010

Proceed with Caution

Every time I think I've seen it all come across a company like this, and absolutely blows my mind. As more and more time goes by and effects become a much more common and popular source of inspiration. We begin to find new ways to be heard. But coming up with those new ideas is only the beginning of it all. We still need the tools to get the job done. This is exactly the mission behind Tonebutcher's creative designs. Anyone who's been playing around with effects pedals long enough knows that creating some strange and beautiful sound, tone, or effect usually comes from some happy accident. Now we have a handful of pedals to help us along on this journey. Pedals to give us the spark needed to tap into our wild child. Tonebutcher baby.

Blood Brother
envelope filter


Just look at this thing! Everything about this pedal screams coolness, madness, and 100% pedal addict. There are times when the looks of a pedal really don't do it justice, when it's just hype and god knows what else. This is not one of those pedals. Other than the footswitch you will not find one thing on this pedal that it has in common with other effects. The knobs, LED, battery compartments, enclosure, and most important it's sound, are all it's own. Believe you me, I have played and reviewed some pretty interesting envelope filters in my day, but this thing stands alone. The Blood Brother sports a toggle switch that flips from an auto wah setting to a strange arpeggiator effect. The left knob controls the auto wah setting, and is used for the effect's amount/attack. The right knob controls the arpeggiator setting and is used to dial in the speed that it travels in. Two 9V batteries power this sucker up and get it flying into outer space. Other than that you just plug in and go.


:::Round 1:::

The Blood Brother from the second I plugged it in had me sold. I dug that it reacted to each kind of pickup in it's own special way, I dug how pronounced each effect was, and I really dug that it's actually two effects in one! I began with the pedal's control rolled off all the way and slowly worked my way up, first trough a clean tone. With the knob at low settings the envelope filter take a much harder punch to get it to open. This is nice for high output instruments or heavy handed cats. For guitar I found the BB started working it's magic right at around 15% wet. The sound was still not easily manipulated but did just enough to give you a huge yowling sound. I worked the knob up a little higher and began getting this thick, syrupy, envelope filter tone that seemed to seep out of my speakers. The sound didn't loose it's muster through reverb or delay pedals either. The first guitar I tried it through was my single P90 equipped Junior copy. Just like you'd expect from a nice sounding P90 the bite and aggression came through in the Blood Brother's sound. It was weird. The pedal's effect was really present, rich, and strong. Yet it didn't completely take over everything you blended it with. How Tonebutcher achieved this with a envelope filter is beyond me. At around 50% the auto wah effect really began to sing. This was an ideal setting for a universal envelope filter sound. I could easily control the effect with this setting and it sounded great with all types of styles. The key is to work your pick attack behind an effect like this. If you give too much you get too much. But if you give just enough you get just the right amount of mojo to create some cool sounds. I dig using envelope filter with a kickass fat sounding fuzz pedal. I like t run these style effect before my dirt pedals, but a cool trick for getting a mellow auto wah sound is to reverse the order. It makes your fuzz work through the effect giving you some interesting choices to play with. The Blood Brother definitely worked nicely in both applications. To a more intense effect from the pedal I took it from 75% and up. Here the pedal went way beyond the normal envelope filter, creating some wacky and out of this world effects that really sparked my imagination. Yet even in it's wilder settings I was quite surprised at how nice this pedal sounded, and it did this with very few controls. Many envelope filters give you sensitivity, decay, attack, and intensity controls. This can be helpful, but at times it can also be your downfall, at least it's been mine in the past. Once I start thinking too much about how to set up an effect it's all over. Then having tons of controls, buttons, and switches never helps the situation. This pedal with it's one control per channel does what it does and it does it beautifully. Even with the envelope filter opened full blast I was able to get sounds I could play with. I found higher settings worked best with neck pickups and bass guitars. Also playing the Blood Brother in it's auto wah mode, cranked all the way through a lap steel and delay sounded pretty damn cool. I think this is exactly the idea behind these peals, to hit with the traditional effects if needed, and be able to take you way past them for experimentation and freaking out. I dig it.


:::Round 2:::

This was a setting that completely through me of guard. When I got the Blood Brother I wasn't even aware that it was capable of creating such sounds. Arpeggiators are something that I have been on the hunt for for quite some time. This is definitely a smart move on Tonebutcher's part. This is an effect that many cats are always on the move for, and Lord knows getting a decent sounding one is either not easy, expensive, or impossible. If only you knew the things I have had to do to get this type of effect. Let me share with you; First I take a phaser set at a medium speed and set very wet, next a square wave tremolo at the desired rate, and last a wah pedal to shift up and down on the frequency. Lots of work! This pedal makes all of that a cinch, and it gives you another entirely differently effect to play with too. What the Blood Brother does exactly in this setting is create a sequence of bleeps, bloops, and morphs, that fly out of the pedal in a smooth and creamy flavor. The right control sets the speed of the effect while your guitar triggers it. Oh, and guitar isn't the only instrument this effect works great with either, no no. Guitar is only the beginning. I found the Blood Brother's arpeggiator mode worked nicely through both clean and dirty amp tones, and it did it's thing a bit differently with different style pickups. I always dig a pedal that adapts to all pickups, this is why I always mention this. Some pedals you play them and they sound the same no matter what you play them through. Not cool. Through a nice and clean blackface type tone effect rolled out clearly, bubbly, and bouncy. Every little ooop, weeep, and ahhhp could be heard perfectly. Through overdriven tones the effects the effect pretty much came off the same way only it blended with the dirt to create a much more aggressive version of itself. This was how easy it was to get some use out of this pedal. I was able to get a sound I used in my band the day I got the pedal. I had been dreaming up this certain sound for months, trying different ways to get it (like I mentioned above it wasn't easy). One flick of the strings with the knob up at noon and I was home free! A slow/medium tempoed bouncing effect that jumped in and out with different flavors came speaking from the pedal. I had taken the pedal to band practice, and the second I struck the strings everyone looked at each other. I know that may sound cheesy but that's the way it went down my brothers and sisters. After that the experimenting just went wild and I was able to find endless ways to use the pedal. With delay I was able to create these skipping arpeggiated echoes that faded away like some fantasy sound. With fuzz the effect took on an entirely different vibe, sounding more like a robot coming to destroy the earth than a pedal. Throwing some reverb on this piece made things all spooky and gave me a haunting breathy sound that I'd never heard before. Then there was combining it with other envelope filter type pedals, tremolos, and phasers, to get some of theee most random special effects ever. Bass guitar is a beast with both of this pedal's settings, but in this setting I found it to be even more insane. Rhodes keyboards creating some magic with, lap steels, and even harp's. But the absolute best way to use this pedal was as a soundscape device. To add layers, accents, and highlights to my music. Hitting the strings only once every couple bars creating a trippy, psychedelic sound that grooved super duper hard. There really isn't all that much difficult about the effect it creates in this setting, it's actually quite the opposite. The mojo lies behind the tone and feel of the effect. Tonebutcher is on to a good thing with it's styled out, freakazoid stompboxes. I mean just imagine; extreme effects that you can actually use. Very cool if you ask me. These are pedals that are handmade here in good ol Cali, in Costa Mesa if I'm correct. And if you look on the Tonebutcher website you'll see a bunch more cool pedals just like the Blood Brother. This tells me these cats are imaginative, innovative, and insane!


For more info on Tonebutcher go to or click the direct link on our sidebar. Make sure and mention Analog War Cry with any Tonebutcher order and they will wave shipping fees and provide you with a kickass Tonebutcher t-shirt. Look out for more info on both Tonebutcher and our Analog War Cry special.

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