Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mar: Monthly Pick / Backbeat Electric

We've had some awesome luck here at AWC hunting down and discovering a ton of killer sounding tone tools. Our first year saw many innovative, revolutionary, and one-of-a-kind music gadgets. Along with the pedal boom also came many many builders producing their take on vintage voiced effects pedals. If there's one thing we can never go wrong on it's a great classic rock sounding fuzz box, overdriver, or distortion pedal. One of the golden finds for us this last year and what we've chosen as our March Monthly Pick is Backbeat Electric. A German handmade effects pedal company with a collection of mind blowing stompboxes that are more than capable of delivering a rockin' good time. The focus of the Backbeat Electric team does seem to be on the vintage vibe side of things, which they have masterfully recreated, but it doesn't end there. You will find yourself easily capable of dialing in both classic and modern rock tones with these pedals, and at the same time find yourself in a sea of high quality dirt tones. With the touch of class and style that Backbeat Electric has thrown into the mix, you will also find yourself owning one of the coolest looking stompboxes to land your pedalboard.


Backbeat Electric


* Anti-Slide Bottom Plate
* Heavy-Duty Aluminum Case
* Stained Fireland Cherry Tree Side Walls
* 9v DC Jack w/Battery Off Switch
* Sliding Drawer 9v Battery Compartment
* Handbuilt in Germany
* High Quality Components
* True Bypass Circuit


Ladies and gents, let me introduce you to the mighty mighty X-Bender from Backbeat Electric. This three knob, user friendly, and built to last stompbox was capable of some of the loveliest rock tones I've ever had the pleasure of rocking out to. The X-Bender's control layout is simple, Volume, Tone, and Sustain. There are In and Out jacks, a true bypass switch, and it can run off of it's 9v DC jack or a single 9v battery. It's anti-slide bottom plate keeps the pedal in it's place, a sliding battery compartment makes swapping 9 volts easy as pie, and when using the 9v DC jack an On/Off battery switch saves your battery power. The X-Bender is built with high quality components and it sports true bypass switching. You all know I am a huge fan of the fuzz pedal world and can never get enough of these bad boys. I am also tuff on a lot of the madness that is out there trying to call itself authentic fuzz. I'll tell you one think, the X-Bender easily makes the cut. This is a pedal built for one thing and one thing only... Sweet awesome epic fuzz tones!

For this pedal demo I pulled out an array of different amps and guitars. This is something I always like to do whenever coming across an awesome and versatile fuzz box. I plugged in low watt amps, mid watt amps, and of course the mean high gain amps. Through each of these amps I was able to pull great sounding rhythm, lead, and experimental fuzz tones. The three guitars that did the job for this session were my dear sweet Erica, Lady, and Solo (aka Hagstrom Viking, Custom Tele, and Junior copy). I paired the X-Bender up with a handful of my favorite effect pedals, ran it with some boosters for extra juice, and also played some gigs with it. In all of these applications the X-Bender came through like a true champion. I'll start with my low watt 15/7 watt head and 1x12 cab. I plugged in the semi-hollow body Hagstrom Viking, set the amp to 15 watts, and dialed in as clean a tone as possible. I matched the X-Bender's output to the amp's, set the tone a bit bright to balance out the amp's warmth, and last dialed in about 15% of the sustain/fuzz effect. The perfect rhythm guitar tone came screaming from my little amplifier. I had great tight lows, chunky mids, and just the right amount of highs. The fuzz effect of the X-Bender was thick, raspy, but focused and full of definition. Everything from simple to complex chords sounded great, riffs to quick lead runs, and light bluesy'n'jazzy playing. By rolling down some of the guitar's tone and switching to the neck humbucker I was able to get an even smoother and rounder rock tone. It was somewhere between a light blues tone and a woman tone. Next I pushed the X-Bender's sustain knob up to about 50%, rolled down the tone, and cranked the volume to help bring the tube amp into a bit of natural aggression. I was stunned at how well the fuzz sound stayed intact and how much control I still had over my notes. With some fuzz pedals when you start to turn things up you also start to loose a bit of what you naturally hold in your hands. This was not the case with this bad boy. Even in the highest of fuzz settings was I able to do my thing and let my playing do the talking. Not once did my playing get lost in a sea of fizzy madness. Just for kicks I dropped the amp wattage from 15 to 7 watts. I was surprised at how giant a fuzz tone came from the 1x12 cab. I was able to setup great sounding bedroom levels, recording levels and small gig settings. In fact this was the setup I used when I gigged the X-Bender. The next amp to see some of the X-Bender's fury was my modified Hot Rod Deville, dialed in to a big'n'beautiful clean tone with lots of lows, mids, and a perfect amount of highs. The guitar of choice for this amp was the neck bucker custom Tele. The X-Bender was able to turn the Hot Rod's clean tone into a screaming/howling fuzz. In low fuzz settings with the Tele's neck humbucker and some of the guitar's tone shaved off, I got these great distortion/fuzz sounds that rumbled the 4x10 Deville into a hard rock rhythm machine. To blow into a banshee lead tone all I had to do was turn the sustain knob up, flip the tone knob back to unity, and kick into the lead Tele's bridge pickup. Then to get an even more intense fuzz sound I paired the X-Bender up with a great sounding clean booster. Both pedals played well with each other and complimented one another's strong points. The X-Bender was proving to be another well rounded, great sounding fuzz box. Finally I pushed the X-Bender through my 100 watt Super Lead and single P90 Junior copy. The thick but loose feel of the P90 combined with the natural overdrive of the Super Lead worked beautifully! The fuzz and distortion sounds I was able to get from this setup was completely different from the rest. I was able to pull out more of a midrange focus, and looser highs and lows. I also found that rolling the amp back into a mellower, semi-clean tone worked very very nicely. This was by far one of the best tones I got throughout the entire demo. It sounded like an epic stadium rock tone. Before putting this amp away I had to do one thing... Pull out the Strat and a great sounding vibe pedal. And what tones do you think I went for here? That's right, Hendrix and Trower tones. I'm not saying it was an easy thing to do, but it was certainly much easier having a rockin' tube amp, a killer guitar, a sweet vibe, and a epic sounding fuzz box. I dialed in a medium amount of fuzz from the X-Bender, pushed it through a smooth low distortion, then dialed in my vibe to a great all-around tone. I was in killer tone heaven! The combo of everything engaged created pure tonal bliss. Some gear can't be used like this, once you start to pair things up you notice certain tones eating away at others. I was stoked to discover this was not an issue with the X-Bender when pairing it up with multiple gadgets. Last was the couple gigs I played with this pedal. For this I took my small 15/7 head and a 2x10 cab. I'm always big on taking low watt amps and pushing them to sound stronger than they appear. This was exactly what I was able to do with the X-Bender. Once mic'd, the sound that came out of the PA was gigantic. No one would have ever known I was pushing 7 watts through a 2x10 cab. In the end the X-Bender worked great for just about everything. I was able to get both modern and vintage fuzz tones, subtle and extreme sounds, and everything in between. I highly recommend anyone looking for a versatile and powerful fuzz box to look into the Backbeat Electric pedal line. I've said it before and I'll say it again. The last year or so has been one awesome ride of sweet and killer effects and gear. Backbeat Electric's X-Bender easily falls into this category.


For more info on Backbeat-Electric go to or click the direct link in our sidebar. Backbeat Electric offers a wide range of awesome sounding fuzz that you're sure to fall in love with. Make sure and stay tuned for more from this super hip company. Peace!

Mod Amp Kits

ModTM Kits are designed to give both novice and experienced musicians the opportunity to build their own amps and effects pedals. All kits come with easy to follow instructions and use point-to-point wiring. Pre-drilled enclosure and all parts are included. All you need to provide are hand tools, a soldering iron and solder. All effect pedals operate on a 9V battery.

MOD 101 Guitar Amp Kit - 60 watts of tube power using your choice of either 6L6 tubes or EL34 tubes. Choose from 32 different variations of the circuit to suit your tonal preferences.

The Rattler Pedal Kit - an easy to build kit that has the fuzz sound of the 60's and 70's.

The Piledriver Pedal Kit - this clean boost kit provides up to 38dB of gain to your guitar signal. Use it to push your preamp into overdrive or as a line driver if you are experiencing signal degradation from your effects chain.

The Verb Pedal Kit - Build your own digital reverb pedal. Get sweet, warm reverb tone using the Belton Digi-Log module.

And the newest addition to the line:

The Persuader Pedal Kit - Make your own tube pre-amp pedal built around a real 12AX7 tube. Go from clean warm to smooth tube overdrive.


Make sure to keep an eye out for our review of the Mod Amp Kits The Verb pedal next month. Go to for more info of these killer products.

Sweet Sweet Sweet!

Sweet Sound Electronics, talk about cream of the crop! It was the Sweet Sound Mojo Vibe that hooked me by the gills and put me in the Sweet Sound grip forever more. It was in the beginning of my studio session days that I first heard the Sweet Sound name. Cats would swear by the gear and hunt it out like a rare and mystical animal. Many of the producers, engineers, and players I came to know always pointed me in the Sweet Sound direction. I had had a Uni-Vibe that was giving me problems, always breaking down and acting funny in gigs, sessions, and practices. I knew that hunting down a replacement was going to be a tuff tuff job. I went out and tried a bunch of different vibe pedals and effects units. Some pedals were small, some large, some units complex, and others much simpler. Nothing I tried was able to give me the sound I was looking for. This is when I came across the Mojo Vibe, lent to me by a fellow musician friend for some gigs and sessions. The rest is history. Later I would discover the Sweet Sound collection of fuzz boxes, this would only seal the deal even tighter. I few months ago I had a chance to try the MoFaux Vibe. Again I was to be floored by the character and ability of another Sweet Sound pedal.

Sweet Sound

MoFaux Vibe

* True Bypass Switching
* Hand matched FET transistors
* High quality parts/components
* 9V DC adapter or 9V battery operation
* In/Out jacks
* Single Speed/Effect knob
* Stunning Uni-Vibe type sound
* Very small footprint


Do not let the size of this little devil fool you, the Sweet Sound Mofaux packs one of the meanest vibe sounds in the effect pedal world. The Mofaux Vibe does not come equipped with an array of knobs, switches, or blinking lights. There is one knob and one knob only. To get a great sound out of this pedal is as easy, turn the Speed knob to your desired setting and you're in. The vibe effect, tonal characteristic, and mix amount couldn't be better. The Mofaux Vibe is capable of giving life to any guitar tone, and capable of making those epic lead tones sound even bigger. It don't matter if your thing is blues, classic rock, hard rock, or psychedelic madness. The Mofaux will work it's magic through them all.

Setting up and getting a good sound out of this pedal was as easy as pie. I'm talking instant gratification here. I grabbed one of my favorite axes, plugged into a decent tube amp, and got to playing. With an effect like the vibe you have to make sure it's used in the correct amount and with the right amp tone. Using the wrong vibe tone can end up sounding either too cartoonish or too darn extreme. When I aim for a killer sounding vibe tone I always think of one of two things, either an original Uni-Vibe sound or the warm vibe tones of a great vintage tube amp. Everyone knows finding a vintage Uni-Vibe unit in good shape is not an easy thing to do these days, and if you do find one you will be easily paying an arm and a leg. Sweet Sound takes care of this problem by giving you an affordable, great sounding, and super easy to dial-in vibe pedal. The Mofaux Vibe's overall sound is designed to produce a great universal vibe effect which will compliment whichever amp tone you choose to pair it up with. The first amp tone I paired the Mofaux up with was a sparkling clean Blackface tone. I ran the pedal through a couple different single coil pickups and some of my favorite humbuckers. My 70's spec Strat was the first guitar to do it thing. The spank and boom of the Strat's pickups worked beautifully with the Mofaux. In slower/lower settings the pedal created a dreamy, light vibe effect. I rang out a bunch of arpeggiated chords and mellow riffs which sounded wonderful through this setting. The sound of the Mofaux Vibe rose and fell evenly without ever getting too extreme or bothering the playing at hand. While in the clean amp setting I also plugged in my humbuckered semi-hollow body guitar. With the humbucker pickups the tone was still clean but a bit warmer and with a tad more aggression. I was able to get a hint of grit by digging into my playing and shaking the strings this way and that. This worked beautifully with the Mofaux Vibe, especially through a killer run of blues licks and classic rock riffs. Adding in a dirt box and turning up the speed of the Mofaux also sounded awesome. I tried the pedal behind and in front of the overdrive pedal and to my ears it sounded nice in both setups. The great thing about this vibe unit is that it doesn't overpower any of the boxes you pair it up with. Besides the overdriver I also plugged in a distortion and a fuzz box. I was able to setup some of the most epic classic rock, hard rock, and fully tripped out lead tones. So far so good and knew things were only gonna get better through an overdriven tube amp. The amp I chose to pair the Mofaux Vibe up with was a 100 watt Super Lead. The smooth thickness and rich flavor of the Super Lead worked perfectly! I was able to head into some pretty damn convincing Hendrix and Trower tones. The guitar I played through this setup was a Junior copy with a single Lollar P90 and Creation Audio Labs Redeemer Circuit. The warmth of the Mofaux combined with the clarity and spank of the guitar pickup sounded like pure heaven. I was a good couple hours into rocking this pedal out and was yet to land in any ugly amp tones. This is what makes this vibe pedal so special. You just set your desired speed and the rest just falls into place, no matter what you throw at it. I have plugged into so many vibe pedals in my time, and this is easily one of the best out there. The pedal can easily stand up to vibe units costing 2-3 times higher. I gotta give it up to the cats at Sweet Sound for creating such a gig and musician friendly vibe box. Never am I left unsatisfied when it comes to these cats, and if you've had a chance to plug into these pedals you know what I mean. Absolute magic baby!


For more info on Sweet Sound please go to or click the direct link in our sidebar. You can check out the entire collection of amazing vibe units and also listen to some cool demos. Word around the camp fire is the Sweet Sound fuzz boxes will be back into production sooner than later, so keep your eyes peeled! Dig it!



Saturday, March 27, 2010

*DMB* Pedals

Mike Blakmore and Daniel Minton, the gifted two-man crew that make up the DMB Pedals company. I say gifted because of the splendid tone quality and very hip look of their stompboxes. In the last couple years I have come across a handful of DMB effect pedals, all of them impressive, and each one very versatile. These are pedals that get straight to the point, offer no-frills, and make your tone quest an easy one. Any true to-the-core tone junky will appreciate the wide range of killer designs that DMB offers on their website.


(3 knob version)
Stellar Drive

* Handmade in the USA
* True bypass circuit
* FET based IC chip design
* Extra bright LED
* Built with high quality components
* Runs on 9V battery and 9V power supply
* Heavy duty enclosure


I can never ever get enough of a great sounding tri-knob overdrive. To me these have always been the workhorse type overdrive pedals, overdrivers you can push and push and always get great results from. The Stellar Drive sports the magical Drive, Tone, and Level control layout that so many champions before it have had. At the heart of this pedal you will find a FET based IC chip design layout. This gives the Stellar Drive an enormous sound your amplifier will thank you for. You can run this pedal off of a single 9V battery or a standard 9Vdc power supply. The pedal is housed in a built to last enclosure and sports true bypass circuitry. The Stellar Drive is topped off with simple yet catchy artwork, and a turquoise sparkle paint job. I was able to dial-in some great sounding root tones, mild dirt tones, very hairy grit tones, and stunning lead tones. This pedal is all about one thing... quality, quality, quality!

I must tell you, running the Stellar Drive through my main setup was an absolute dream! I dialed in my root clean and dirty tones, broke out my two favorite guitars, and worked it in with my #1 pedalboard. The Stellar Drive was able to perform and play beautifully with every piece of gear I stacked it up with. My rig consists of a modified Hot Rod Deville which I use for clean tones, and a 7/15 watt head (secret weapon) and 1x12 cab which is dialed in nice'n'crunchy. The amps are controlled by a A/B/AB switch which lets me choose one or the other or both. The rest of my setup consists of a bunch of effects, some on a loop strip, some on their own. The two guitars I used for this demo were my precious Lady & Erica, a custom Tele, and Hagstrom Viking. I ran the Stellar Drive through my clean signal first, rolling back the pedal's Drive close to zero, Tone rolled more towards the low side, and Level just a hint passed unity gain. The Tele was first up to bat. This setting gave my clean tone a big'n'beautiful boost, with a hint of grit, and jump in bass'n'boom. The perfect tone for shaping with your pick attack. Playing lightly produced sweet'n'bright clean sounds, the harder I dug in the more spank and aggression the pedal put out. With the Tele's neck humbucker the Stellar Drive produced a thick'n'jazzy blues tone, perfect for sitting in the mix of any jam, or layering guitar tracks in the studio. I was able to darken up this tone even more by rolling down the guitar's tone knob. With the Tele bridge pickup it was an entirely different story, I was able to get lots more spank, twang, and slice. A sign of a versatile and high quality stompbox. I was able to knock out perfect southern classic rock, and country blues tones. Next I switched to the dirty amp and played the same run of licks and riffs. My root dirty rhythm tone is something I do like to mess with, not in the least. If something throws it off even a bit, or if I find myself down on my knees playing and tweaking with stompbox knobs, it's time for that pedal to take a hike. The Stellar Drive did not take a hike, no sir it did not. Instead I was able to push my rhythm dirt tone into a bigger, beefier version of itself. Everything stood out more, became richer, and was easier to control. While in the neck humbucker position I rolled down a bit more of the pedal's Tone knob, and low and behold! Woman Tone City baby! This was beautiful, I was able to get both thick'n'smooth, and stellar classic hard rock tones from one pedal. Here I pushed the Drive control to about 50%, and Level just passed 12'o'clock. I ran this signal through both amps and got a sweet rumbling, roaring overdrive sound that shook and made the speakers work their magic. The combination of both amps was epic! Through the clean signal I got the pedal's pure gritty overdrive, letting me hear what the FET based IC chip design was capable of. Through the dirty amp both overdriven sounds blended to create a huge and epic rock tone. Next I plugged in Erica, my sexy sweet sounding humbucker equipped Hagstrom Viking. I worked the guitar through the clean tone first, with the pedal set to a mild grit. This produced a creamy, earthy tone that complimented the semi-hollow sound of the guitar. I got a perfect blend of dirty and clean sounds, with lots of warmth and bite. If you're big on using humbuckers for achieving your tone, you will love this pedal. Even better was setting the Stellar Drive to a higher overdrive tone and switching over to the dirty amp. The sustain became violin like and super smooth. The quality of the signal's break-up and amount of compression felt just like a great sounding vintage tube amp when overdriven naturally. To get a mellower dirt tone from this setting all I did was roll down the guitar's volume. The eq balance stayed intact and all of the tone's character was still present. There was literally no way to get a bad sound out of this pedal. I could flip both amp's controls to any setting, plug in any guitar, and set the Stellar Drive to any level of grit. DMB Pedals has really created a timeless classic here. With the many many pedals that are out there today it can be tuff knowing which one's to choose. This is a pedal you can take anywhere with you and always get great results from. The Stellar Drive's design is simple and familiar, meaning working out your favorite tones will be a cinch.


For more info on DMB Pedals go to You'll be sure to find the perfect pedal for the job, and pedal you can hang onto forever.



Friday, March 26, 2010

Big is Beautiful

We're back with another sweet creation from our good friend at BMF Effects, and this one is equally as impressive as the last one. There is no doubt in my mind that Scott Kiraly (BMF owner/builder) possesses the unique ear and talented hand that comes with designing Grade A effects pedals. There is definitely an elite group of special effects/gear builders out there and Scott falls into that category easily. Looking inside most pedals you'll notice there isn't much to them, just about anyone with a little time and patience could put together and build their own stompbox. In fact there are tons of kits and schematic websites one can sink into to learn the whole pedal building game. To build something truly golden you need someone like Scott Kiraly, which instinctively know what good tone sounds like and what players want to hear. It is this type of pedal wizard that is able to build and design the masterpieces we all fall in love with. The BMF Effects line has quickly become one of my favorite stompbox companies. May they keep on coming!


BMF Effects

Fat Bastard
Clean Boost

Need a little weight added to your sound? How about beefing up that already thick'n'gooey rhythm tone you use? Or maybe you just need to push your lead tone into that epic howling scream that causes both you and the listener to go into a world of inspiration. The Fat Bastard is the perfect pedal for the job, a pedal capable of taking that tone you've worked so hard to dial-in and give it size, weight, and balls. With only one knob, a true bypass switch, and in & out jacks I doubt anyone will have any trouble flying this puppy. It is as simple as plugging in and rolling the Fat Bastard's boost knob to the desired setting. The pedal works great with clean, dirty, and fully saturated tones. It can be used as a clean booster, to help drive your amp, and to help push other pedals. I found the Fat Bastard was able to hold it's own with every type of pickup I threw at it, and noticed it took well to my guitar's volume and tone knobs. Another huge positive about this pedal is that it also works beautifully with bass guitars, keyboards, and lap steels. Such a simple little box, but what a giant champion.

The name says it all, Fat Bastard! It gives whatever you stack it on a boost of girth and attitude. There are pedals made to completely disguise your sound, pedals made to lightly color, and then there's pedals like the Fat Bastard that are made to enhance your root tone. I started out by plugging the Fat Bastard into my dear sweet Erica (Hagstrom Viking), and played through a '65 Deluxe Reverb. I dialed in a nice'n'chimey clean tone with both Bass and Treble knob at 7, and volume at 5. The guitar's semi-hollow woody tone combined with the Deluxe Reverb and two superb hand wound vintage voiced hunbuckers created a tone that floated across room and dug it's nails into the wind. Once engaged the Fat Bastard added a touch of boomy lows, tight'n'round mids, and neutral highs. I did this with the pedal set to noon. The feel of the sound didn't change at all, I could still control and manipulate the tone in the exact same way. Only now I had much more honk and girth behind it which made it stand out quite nicely. This is great for live situations when the rest of the band is overpowering your amp. Next I cranked the amp up a few notches and let the tubes cook the tone into nice creamy overdrive. Here is where I found the Fat Bastard to work most of it's magic. Alone the amp sounded wonderful. With the pedal thrown into the mix things got even better! I dialed the pedal right around 75% and let it fly. I heard the room fill with soul and power, organic richness, and evenly balanced EQ projection all the way across the board. The amount of control I felt in my fingers was as if the sound was coming straight from my hands. I was able to get a booming lead tone, and by shaving off some of the guitar's volume also able to attain crunchy overdrives and semi-clean tones. I was more than satisfied with the results I got with the humbuckers, now it was time for some rockin' good single coils. One of my favorite guitar tones has always been that of a Strat, booster, and tube amp. Single coils produce an entirely different kind of grit, it cuts through a lot more aggressively and flies right down the center of things. This is why I have always been so driven towards Jimi's guitar sound. For this I went with a higher gain amp, a 100 watt Super Lead pushed to a war glory rock tone. Getting a evenly balanced dirty tone from a proper Marshall is always fairly easy, some of the best root tones come from these amps. Again I dialed in a fairly strong dirt tone and used the pedal to push it further. With the Super Lead having much more string than the Fender clean tone, I was able to beautifully balance everything by blending in the Fat Bastard's tone. What can I say? There isn't much to it. When a pedal sounds and works great, it sounds and works great. Some other cool tricks I was able to pull off with this pedal was stacking it up with other overdrive and distortion boxes. Imagine those super killer tones you're able to get from your favorite stompboxes... now imagine them being pushed a few notches further. Placed before other pedals the Fat Bastard worked just like it did when pushing an overdriven tube amp. It added spice and character, size and weight. When stacked after other dirt pedals it drove the overall signal much higher and made things stand out beautifully. For such a simple little pedal the Fat Bastard is capable of a lot. These are the types of effect pedals that you find living on people's pedalboards. Pedals that work with you and make you work for them. If you're looking for a booster with a little something extra this is the pedal for you. It also works great when left on and worked into your root signal. I am super stoked to have found BMF Effects and am quite excited to continue bringing you guys more and more of these amazing boxes. Keep them coming Scott and keep up the great work!


For more info on BMF Effects go to or click on the direct link in our sidebar. We will be looking at more awesome stompboxes from BMF in the near future so please keep an eye out. We'll be back soon.



Thursday, March 25, 2010

An absolute work of art


Pay attention kids, here is a pedal company that is going to absolutely blow your mind. And they're gonna do it with only one pedal design. The name is South Wave Audio Corp, and if you were to ask most players they'd say they'd never heard of these cats. This is one of those pedal companies that is strictly for the hardcore. South Wave came to be out of the love and passion of true, die hard gear fanatics. Throw in tons of playing experience, a keen knowhow of vintage musical gadgets, 40 years plus in the electronics game, and a talented ear for seeking out killer tone. Now what does all this add up to? One of the baddest overdrive pedals I have ever laid my hands on.


South Wave Audio Corp
Imagine Overdrive

* Custom made steel chassis
* Knob Rollbars protect electronics/settings
* Weight 2lbs. Built to last
* Heavy duty true bypass switch
* Side slide drawer 9V battery compartment
* Accepts unregulated 9 to 12 volt (+) AC adapter
* Triple position battery power/AC adapter/pedal off switch
* Built with high quality components

* Level: controls overall output
* Bass: controls bass frequencies
* Treble: controls treble frequencies
* Cut: use to match to your amp's tone
* Gain: goes from soft to hard clipping


If there's two things the last couple years have really shown us it's how far effects pedals have come, and the large number of talented electronics wizards that are floating around our underground. This is what is keeping the pedal game fresh and interesting, and the sweet sounding tone tools in our favorite shops. The Imagine Overdrive, a pedal I have been blessed to come across, is exactly this type of stompbox. Everything about this pedal oozes with hipness! From it's looks on down to it's voice. It took about 5 years of trial and error, steady stage rocking, and mucho mucho lab testing to get this puppy to where it is today. The Imagine Overdrive was designed to be extremely transparent, meaning it is one of the most root tone friendly overdrive pedals I have tried. It's five beautifully voiced control knobs work to create and compliment your amp into a memorable wall of soul and tone. The Imagine Overdrive works around the sound of your guitar, pickups, and amplifier, creating nothing but pure grade A tone. The Level control alone owns enough output to send your amp into a thundering boom of grit and grime. The pedal's Bass and Treble knobs work wonders at fine tuning your root guitar tone into that signature Rock God sound you've always dreamed of owning. The Cut knob (and what I see as this pedal secret weapon) is used for matching the pedal's character to whichever amp you choose to run it through. Last we have the Gain control, which can take you anywhere from subtle semi-clean hairy tones to sustain soaked distortion. Everything is housed in a super slick designed retro/vintage vibed, heavy duty enclosure. Other features like the pedal's sliding drawer battery compartment, roll bars, 9-12 volt unregulated AC adapter option, and power type toggle switch. Make this one of the coolest stompboxes to see light.

When I first heard the pedal's name I had a hard time figuring out what South Wave meant by it. It wasn't till I spent a good couple hours with the Imagine Overdrive that I figured out what it's name stood for. I say they named it the Imagine Overdrive as in "Imagine any tone you want and it will come true." I put this pedal up against every type of amp I could get my hands on, every type of pickup, and ran it through a ton of other effects. Not once did this pedal show any weaknesses or spill any sour tones. It was like playing through a multi sweet-spot dirt box. A Twin Reverb, neck bucker Tele, and clean booster were the first to take the Imagine OD for a ride. I dialed in the most sparkling clean tone possible, jabbed it with a hint of verb, and topped it off wit plenty of lows and mids. I matched the Imagine Overdrive's level to the amp's, set the Bass and Treble at noon, Cut at around 11'o'clock, and Gain just hint passed 1'o'clock. An instant classic Stones/Kieth Richards sound came crying from my amp. The overdrive was mellow'n'smooth but gritty enough to still rip into a killer rock'n'roll sound. I felt the combination of the amp, guitar, and pedal smack me dead center in the gut. Ooooohmmf! And damn did it feel good. I strummed lightly then harder, and brushing my palm against the strings to get dynamics and character. Harmonic richness and big fat undertones bounced everywhere creating pure, uncut overdrive heaven. I'm talking the heavy stuff baby, the stuff hits are made of. The Tele's bridge pickup created an overdrive that sliced and diced the air with attitude and aggression. The neck bucker's tone growled and moved slowly through the air, wrapping itself around every note I dished out. I kicked things into high gain by maxing out the Gain knob and rolling up some more of the Level. The final push was the clean booster I had set in front of the Imagine OD. Again the pedal adapted beautifully to my amp's tone and pushed out a distortion sound EVH would be proud of. I noticed I could tame and warm the distortion sound by rolling down my guitar's volume and tone knobs. I was actually able to dial the pedal to a full force overdrive/distortion then take it back down to smooth'n'grainy dirt tone. The second battle with the Imagine Overdrive was with a Super Lead and 70's Strat. We set our Super Lead to a nice/fat crunch, then threw some leslie type chorus on top of everything. The amp, guitar, and chorus pedal were able to give me a spot-on Robin Trower rhythm tone. When we stepped on the Imagine Overdrive Robin's magical lead tone came screaming from the speakers. Because this pedal doesn't meddle with the nature of your root tone, you're able to take whichever tone you have and push it further into a meaner, wilder version of itself. I was getting sounds from this pedal that words cannot describe. The type of tones that when trying to explain to someone just sit on the tip of your tongue but never make it out because of excitement and inspiration. While playing through an already muddy Marshall I went ahead and also worked in some lead Hendrix tones. With the right amount of overdrive from the amp, and pedal set with enough output and gain, I was able to get some pretty convincing distortion/fuzz tones. A vintage Cry Baby wah was the cherry on top of it all, which by the way worked very very nicely with this pedal. You'll find not all dirt pedals play nice with certain wah pedals. The Imagine Overdrive does, and it does so with many many types of effects, including fuzz and much more extreme effects. Once we finished our dance with the Super Lead and Strat we moved onto a smaller amp, a much much smaller amp. For this we took out Lil' Man, our 7/15 watt tiny little beast. The guitar of choice for this run was my dear sweet Erica, a black Hagstrom Viking with the baddest sounding humbucking pickups you will ever hear. For this we set up two different sounds. One sound being as clean as possible, the other as dirty as we could get it. Through both amp setting the pedal was able to knock out some awesome bedroom level, recording studio rock tones. We ended up throwing up a couple mics and running the signal straight through our Pro Tools setup. The sound was super! I can only imagine what a decent preamp in the signal would have done. This overdrive pedal definitely falls under the pro level, gig ready, and studio tool category. I would love to see South Wave Audio Corp. sit down and brainstorm another magical box, maybe a fuzz or delay pedal. Anyone looking for something to take them to the golden tone level should look into getting themselves one of these awesome stompboxes. Grab one, roll up your sleeves, and put it to work. I promise it will not disappoint.


For more info on the Imagine Overdrive and South Wave Audio Corp. go to You can read up on the history and making of this awesome, super cool pedal. Check it out!



Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"Open wide and say Awwwwesome."

If there's one stompbox company you can be sure will always come through and never disappoint it's Visual Sound. From their first generation pedals on down to their V2 models I have always been highly impressed with their products. It was Visual Sound's first generation Route 66, and H2O pedals that first caught my attention. Later when I heard they were going to be upgrading their designs I thought to myself "Hmm, this should be interesting.", and it has been. Visual Sound focused on the areas that their pedals could use spicing up and left the tone 100% alone. The end result has been fantastic! I've had a chance to try all of the remakes and a few of their single effects, I must say I am highly impressed. If you're looking for couple of no-frills, decently priced, and built to last effects pedals, the Visual Sound collection is a perfect place to start.


Visual Sound

Align CenterOpen Road

* Custom designed switches rated at 10 million hits
* Circuit protection against AC (vs. DC) adapters
* Hand wired jacks
* Knob protection built into the die-cast aluminum housing
* No white noise


These are only a few of the features that make the V2 series pedals such awesome champions. Visual Sound really went to town designing a collection of stompboxes that are capable of delivering impeccable tone, able to hold their own in all applications, and most important capable of standing the test of time. The Open Road is only one of Visual Sound's newest models, a pedal designed to pack a natural, tube-like, rockin' good punch. It's Drive, Tone, and Volume controls make the Open Road a versatile yet simple pedal to dial in, and you'll find this pedal beautifully adapts to any amplifier or guitar you pair it up with. The Open Road compliments your root tone, and keeps things organically tasteful.

I had no trouble getting a killer collection of tones out of the Open Road overdrive. In fact this was one of the easiest pedals to dial in I have ever had the pleasure of plugging into. The amp of choice that started off my duel with the Open Road OD was my trusty modified Hot Rod Deville. The guitar my black humbucker equipped Hagstrom Viking (a.k.a. Erica). I set the amp to a big'n'bright clean tone with lots and lots of lows, and lots and lots of crispy highs. With the Open Road engaged I was able to take the fat, crispy, and clean Fender tone into a smooth'n'creamy, great sounding universal dirt tone. I was able to knock out blues licks, classic rock riffs, alt-rock runs, funky leads, and country slaps. The Open Road dishes out this great sounding mid tone that doesn't eat up your attack nor leaves things sounding frail. It is one of those "on the brink" of break-up rock tones that you can easily control with the stroke of your guitar pick. I was able to get fully clean, semi-clean, gritty, and light overdrive tones all by the weight of my hand. The real beauty is the tube-like warmth, response, and projection that the overdrive projects. You'd swear there was no pedal there (which is exactly the kind of pedal I like to play). Visual Sound nailed that big, wide, and open style dirt tone that you can only get when pushing a tube amp to the limit. I was also able to get these beautiful dark jazz tones by setting the Drive low, and dialing the Tone knob between 8 and 11. Pulling out classic rock tones was another task this pedal made easy. Tone just behind noon, Drive at around 1-2'o'clock, and Volume slightly hotter than unity made for one stunning woman tone. Rolling back the semi-hollow body's tone knob, and flipping into the neck humbucker made things even sweeter. I was able to get perfectly balanced string articulation and note definition, and a ton of string control. It's the kind of overdrive that somehow hangs on to the air even at low drive settings. Growling and grunting with your root's clean sound still lingering behind. The kind of overdrive that lets your fingers do all of the talking. Chords were another area that the Open Road worked beautifully. I've been jumping into more complex chord structures the last few weeks, which if you're familiar with know can sound like crap when played through a weak'n'flimsy dirt tones. The Open Road makes this a dream! In just about every Drive setting I was able to hear my chords evenly and clearly. This isn't a pedal that falls apart and loses it's character when cranked to higher grit settings either. Not once did the pedal's overdrive become ugly, overpowering, or fizzy. Last I played the Open Road through an already overdriven amp tone. I switched amps to a 15 watt head and 1x12 cab, and guitar to a 70's spec Stratocaster. I pushed the amp into a slight howl by dialing in plenty of volume, mids, and lows. I throttled back on the amp's highs and used the pedal's Tone knob to shape the amount of treble I wanted in my signal. Cranking up the pedal's Volume control to help cook the amp's tubes a bit more also worked great. I ended up with a rich, dynamic, and powerful overdrive tone. Next I took that howl and converted it into a screaming banshee by rolling up the Drive knob just passed 3'o'clock. The pedal gave me one of the baddest sounding classic rock/blues lead tones I've ever heard from a dirt box. Working the guitar's tone and volume knobs into the mix created another world of sweet overdrive tones that left me playing and riffing for hours and hours. The single coil pickups blended with the overall signal like magic! The definition in my double stops, bends, and harmonics were immaculate. This is definitely a pedal worthy of a long run on my pedalboard. I was able to use the Open Road with my other effects, and it played nicely with my distortion and fuzz boxes. I give Visual Sound 2 thumbs up for this stunning creation. The Open Road makes for one killer weapon to have in one's arsenal. I am super stoked to get my hands on some more of Visual Sound's single effect units. Stay tunes, this is only the beginning. Analog War Cry will most-def be taking a gander at a bunch more from the V2 pedal series.


For more info on Visual Sound pedals go to You can check out a bunch of great sounding audio and video demos on their site as well. Visual Sound has also recently launched their GarageTone pedals. We will try our best to bring you guys as much info on Visual Sound's new gear as possible. Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

"To infinity and beyond"

Are you ready for a massive collection of wild'n'lovely, out of this world guitar tones? If you are read on, if not please turn away this is not for the weak. The name is WMD (a.k.a. William Mathewson Devices), and this little company has been responsible for knocking out some of the most unique, innovative, and impressive music gadgets to ever see light. I was breathless, literally breathless the first time I had a chance to try one of William's pedals. I had seen pedals before that had attempted the extreme side of things, but never anything like this. Inside each and every one of WMD's stompboxes you will discover a unique and twisted world of mind-boggling guitar tones, whether you like it or not. The range of sounds possible with Mathew's devices go from traditional to downright nonconforming. These are pedals that will take you into places you never knew were possible, pedals capable of waking one's creative side. The complex and artistic nature of the WMD stompboxes is one that will keep you busy for a long long time. Man oh man, I can only imagine what the inside of William Mathewson's mind must look like.


William Mathewson Devices

Geiger Counter
Digital Destruction

* High Gain Modern Preamp
* Dramatic Tone Control with Disable Function
* Sample Rate from 260Hz to 58kHz
* 1 to 8 bit Depth with Mask Mode
* 252 Wave Table Modulator
* CV-In for Expressive Control
* Always Saves Settings
* Hand Wired / True Bypass
* Top Quality Components
* Super Hard Epoxy Powder Finish
* Standard 9V (-) Power Jack
* 4.5" x 3.5" Small Footprint

For control layout/functions go here


Think bottomless sea of sonic assault, distortion mayhem, rich'n'creamy overdrives, and freakazoid shape-shifting sound effects and you have the WMD Geiger Counter. For those of you already familiar with this pedal you know that the possibilities are damn near endless. The Geiger Counter was designed to provide you with as many tones as you're willing to work out of it. The first time I plugged into this pedal I must have been stuck dialing in tones for an entire day! In other words you will not find yourself easily bored with this pedal. It is the Geiger Counter's design and control layout that gives it it's ability to perform like no other. The symphony of wild'n'lovely sounds starts with the Geiger Counter's high gain modern preamp and 8-bit computer. The preamp works by driving the 8-bit computer into a massive variety of boosts, overdrives, distortions, fuzz tones, and exotic in-betweens. The Geiger Counter comes stacked with Volume, Gain, Tone, Sample Rate, and Bit Depth controls. There is also a Wave Table/Push Mode knob, an Enable/Disable toggle switch for the Tone control, Bit/Mask toggle switch which works in conjunction with the Bit Depth control, and Wave Table screen which reads out your settings. Then there's a Key/CV Input jack (Expression In) which controls the pedal's Bit Depth, Sample Rate, or both at the same time. The Geiger Counter is wired for True Bypass, sports In and Put jacks, and runs off of a standard 9V (-) adapter. Now I have seen lots and lots of extreme stompboxes in my time but this easily stands a top of the bunch. What makes the Geiger Counter so special is not only can it create off-the-wall sound effects, it can always return to more traditional, subtle, and mellow guitar tones. This makes the Geiger Counter one of the most versatile guitar pedals to ever cross my path. To try and describe all the sounds we were able to get from this monster is impossible, so we'll share with ya'll some of our favorite.

We started out by plugging directly into the Geiger Counter alone through a clean amp tone. Guitar of choice was neck bucker equipped Tele, amp was a 4x10 Deville, and Geiger Counter set to a mild crunchy overdrive. I was actually surprised at the warm tube-like overdrive I able to get from the pedal, the first audio and video demos I checked out of the Geiger Counter were balls to the wall extreme. I was able to convert my Deville into a beautiful box of lush'n'creamy overdrive. Both the neck humbucker and lead Tele pickup sounded and worked beautifully with the pedal. The Geiger Counter's Tone knob really delivered a wide pallet aggressive and smooth tones. The Enable/Disable switch let me cut the Tone circuit entirely out of the sound which gave me the guitar's pure untampered signal, perfect for those of you who work your guitar's tone knob for shaping your tones. Next through the right mixture of Wave Table, Bit Depth, and Sample Rate settings I was able to get one of the meanest lead distortion tones. I flipped into the Tele's humbucker, set the pedal's Gain at around 50%, disabled the pedal's tone circuit, and used the pedal's Volume control to help push the amp a bit further. Before I forget let me just say this pedal has more than enough output to send your amp into a screaming drive or distortion. The end result was a modern style "brown sound" that worked nicely with both lead and rhythm work. Getting into the more extreme side of things I found was simple to do and even more simple to control. The Geiger Counter comes with a chart of it's 252 waveforms, this makes for a great starting point when dialing in your desired tones. From here it was just a matter of diving in and getting my feet wet. I found everything the Geiger Counter threw at me to be exciting and of great quality. I was able to get ring-mod sounds, octave fuzz tones, strange crackling wonders, and oddball hellfire effects. This of course is also only the beginning of what is possible with this pedal, when I say the possibilities are "damn near endless" I truly mean it. Those of us looking for new meadows to explore will absolutely benefit from the WMD Geiger Counter. The amount of control you're capable of holding down is unbelievable once you break out an expression pedal and plug into the CV Input. With an expression pedal you can pull off everything from explosion sound effects, spaceship sounds, wah effects, laser gun sounds, swells for endless amounts of tones, and so on and so fourth. I found to be one of the most versatile pedals to ever hit our studio, in fact this is easily one of the most versatile pedals I have ever come across PERIOD! The Geiger Counter was able to hand me classic and traditional rock tones, modern rock sounds, and some sounds all it's own. But the most impressive thing about this pedal is it's ability to create those sounds that live within our heads. Dream it up and the Geiger Counter will deliver. William's talent for creating gadgets that give us the ability to reach new heights is like no other, I am truly proud to have the chance to put his gear through it's paces. As long as WMD is around we will try our hardest to continue bringing you their gear. Dig it and stay tuned for more.

For more info on WMD go to or click the WMD logo in our sidebar for direct access to their website. Please stay tunes for more from this awesome company. Peace!



Monday, March 1, 2010

March News & Updates


What a sweet couple months we just went through. We got to share lots and lots of great gear with ya'll and had a chance to discover some new companies we know you guys will enjoy. There are still a bunch of companies that have been lingering out there for a quite a while that we're yet to feature, but we will get to them asap. I was quite surprised at all the great gear that 2010 brought along with it, in fact I think it's one of the best year's for music gear to hit home in a long time. Cats aren't just focusing on pedals pedals pedals anymore, no sir! Take a look around and you'll notice the scene has brought us a bunch of amazing new amp companies, handmade guitar brands, and a bunch of cool gadget builders that have found a way to bring strange and wonderful sounding tools. So this month we will try and bring you as much new gear as possible and share with you those companies that have been hanging around the last few years. There is also the so many stunning products that we haven't had a chance to get around. I also have some more cool bands and artists I think you guys dig. Please keep on shooting us your emails with any info to products you think we should check out or with any questions you may have on gear to check out yourselves. I gotta feeling this is going to be one kickass month!

Photo by.
Tanya Sakolsky