Sunday, October 17, 2010

Oct Monthly Pick / Strymon

What is it one thinks of when starting a new stompbox company? I'm sure quality and great sound are probably first on their list. Then next probably comes cool looks and innovation. With versatility, user friendliness, compact design, and a touch of vintage mojo never hurts. No? Is this not what most cats think about when building a new gear company? Well Strymon sure and the hell does. I will tell you - If there is one pedal company I have seen hit the market in the last couple years that has impressed me to the fullest it is these guys. My first encounter with a Strymon pedal gave me an endorphin rush that literally left me floored, satisfied, and wanting more. At first I could not figure out for the life of me how these cats had packed so much into such a standard sized box. It is quite clear that whoever the hell is in charge over at Strymon has definitely done their homework. And as the Strymon line continues and grows, it is quite clear that these guys are also writing the book for new and exciting ways to use effects.


  • Hand crafted dBucket algorithm for highly accurate reproduction of every stage of an analog bucket brigade chip
  • Super low noise, high performance A/D and D/A converters w/ 110dB signal to noise
  • High performance DSP stuffed into a compact form factor
  • 3 modulation types (chorus, muti-mode chorus, vibrato)
  • 3 dynamic modes (normal, ramp, envelope)
  • Controllable ramp speed | envelope sensitivity
  • Global tone control for the overall color of your modulation
  • Mix control for dialing in various modulation intensities
  • TRUE BYPASS (electromechanical relay switching)
  • Stereo input and output
  • Favorite footswitch for saving your favorite setting
  • Powered with a standard 9V center negative DC supply. Compatible with all major DC supply brands. Current consumption 200mA – (250mA recommended supply)
  • Premium analog front end and output section
  • No-nonsense user interface
  • Strong and lightweight blue anodized aluminum chassis
  • Crafted with love in the USA


At first glance I really thought this pedal was gonna kick my ass, leave me confused, and in a state of irritation. But after a couple minutes of turning knobs and flipping switches I learned this would not be the case. This along with the stunning quality in sound make this pedal on of the most attractive chorus/vibrato pedals I have ever laid hands on. The same day the pedal landed in our little studio I was able to use it in a gig later that night. Never had it been so easy for me to get the chorusing and vibrato effects that I wanted from a pedal. As a Monthly Pick I couldn't be prouder to have this pedal as one of the features. On board the face of the Ola you will find just about everything you'll ever need to get chorusing and vibrato effects from just about every era. Upon further experimentation I also discovered the Ola was capable of sounds all it's own, classifying it in a world all it's own. The pedal's layout consists of Speed, Mix, Depth, Tone, and Ramp/Env knobs. A Type switch that lets you choose between Chorus/Multi/or Vibrato modes, and a Mode switch that lets you choose between Normal/Envelope/or Ramp modes. There are also two footswitches, with one controlling the bypass and ramping, and the other there for you to switch in & out a favorite saved preset. On the back on the pedal you will find duel In's and Out's, giving you true stereo use for the ultimate in chorusing and vibrato effects. The magic that this pedal is able to wield with these controls is mind blowing! Through and through the Ola kicks out nothing but pro level sound effects. I was able to blend this pedal with tons of other effects, play it through many different of guitars, and able to stack it up with every amp I threw at it. Strymon has meticulously and immaculately gone over this pedal's design........... and it shows.

I guess the first sound that impressed me from this box was the tasty and flavorful vintage Uni-Vibe sound that I was able to dial in. And not only was I able to pull killer Uni-Vibe tones from this pedal, I was also able to control the effect's speed just like the original. This is all possible thanks to the Ola's ramping option. For this sound I found a blaring Marshall Super Lead tone was the perfect companion. It made for a spectacular canvas for which to paint on with the Ola's dreamy vintage-like sound. To get this classic vibe sound I simply set the speed to where I wanted it to max out at, rolled the Mix/Depth/and Tone just behind noon, the Type to vibrato, and Mode to ramp. Then with the Ramp Speed knob I set how quickly or slowly I wanted to effect to ramp up. To get the effect to ramp up like a Uni-Vibe all you do hold down the Bypass footswitch and you're in! Once engaged the Ola in no way shape or form did it mess or warp my root tone into something of it's own. Instead it accented it and brought it to life with a round and fluffy feel. It's tuff to explain exactly what this pedal does for your tone, it's something you feel more than hear. Which of course is the best type of effect in my opinion. It is like a tone facelift! It gives your sound these subtle and luscious curves that make you feel like your swimming in rock'n'roll heaven. The ramping effect of this pedal really makes this a special and unique modern stompbox. I could dial in as wild or laid back an effect as I wanted and the pedal's ramping feature would work it nicely each time. It also sounded great with both little or a lot of grit. To get the Ola's effect to react more aggressively I rolled in a bit more of the Mix and Depth. This let the pedal's sound swim in & out of my guitar's tone with a more dramatic effect. For fuzz boxes this is perfect! The guitar I was using at this time was my single Lollar P90 equipped Junior copy. The P90's aggressive and gritty rich tone blended perfectly with the Ola's projection. Then just for kicks I plugged in my Strat with Chevalier Hendrix tribute pickups (the 1967 pickups). The combo of the Ola, Super Lead, and Chevalier 1967 pickups got me the closest to a proper Hendrix vibrato dirty tone that I have ever dialed in. It was like finding one of those holy grail tones that one comes across when blending a certain collection of products together. This led me to use the Chevalier equipped Strat for a lot of the demoing I did with this pedal. Next I experimented with more dreamy clean tone'd chorusing sounds. For this we broke out two different amps - First a Twin Reverb, and then my modified Hot Rod Deville. I wanted to see how the pedal would react to both a vintage and modern Fender clean tone. I switched from the ramping effect and went into Normal mode, and switched to Chorus. The first setting I worked with was simple, with every control at noon. I started with some big'n'rich chords, picking out each string to make the effect bounce a little smoother. Again the pedal blew my mind and took me directly into space. Some chorus pedals not matter where you set them, whether it be a mellow or harsh chorus effect, just sound too cartoonish and rubbery. This can make your tone sound awful and can ruin even the best of your chops. With this pedal you won't have that problem. Like I mentioned earlier, there is this special rich and forgiving tone that pumps through each effect you dial in that makes everything you play sound fantastic. Something else that also sounded fantastic was stacking on a bit of delay, both analog and digital. I was able to get these amazing tape delay effects, Memory Man sounds, and some completely original out of this world sound effects. To cover more of the modern side of things I used the Multi function with both the Ramp and Normal modes. This produced crisper much more complex chorusing tones that stayed intact at all levels. This setting worked great for controlling the warping and pitch shifting that happens from high depth settings. Here I was able to get these killer universal chorusing sounds by dialing in the speed and depth just passed noon, tone slightly warm, and mix at about 2'o'clock. Blending this in with a lead tone brought every note I played to life and gave the guitar a special vibe that just made me want to play it. Then was the Envelope mode, where the Ramp/Env knob comes back into play. Here the Ola lets you dial in these awesome sounding chorusing effects that you can control with the dynamics of your playing! The possibilities are endless. For the riffing monster this is the perfect tool because of how it adapts to your every move. Lay back and listen as the chorus sits right behind your tone. Then start to kick things in and watch as the pedal becomes more aggressive. It is absolutely beautiful! And still it gets better. Having true stereo as an option on this puppy really gets things cookin'. If you've never heard what a chorus or vibe effect sounds like through a stereo setup it is time you wake up and smell the stompbox. With the Ola pedal, stereo use is even cooler because of all the options and sound quality that it owns. And in between all of these fantastic sounds that I dialed in lives a hundred more possibilities. It don't matter if you're looking for CE-1 or CE-2 soudns, Uni-Vibe tones, experimental, or studio quality chorusing effects. This monkey has them all. So go out, grab one, and listen as every piece of equipment you stack this pedal up with becomes the perfect candidate for the Ola's beautiful collection of colors.


For more info on Strymon go to To read up on some info on Strymon's dBucket technology click the highlighted section on the features section. Make sure to stay tuned for more from this one of a kind company. We will sure as hell work our butts off to bring you more very soon. Dig it!!!