Monday, August 23, 2010

Dig in and enjoy

Backline Engineering

To a musician there's nothing better than a new great sounding cool piece of gear. I'm sure there are a ton of you out there that agree with me on this. What can I say about Backline Engineering that their gear doesn't say for them? For those of you looking to take it to the next level or looking to expand the horizons of your sound, Backline Engineering isn't a bad place to start. In fact it would be a wonderful place to start. It was through word of mouth that I first came across this interesting and innovative gear company. Everyone I heard speak of their gear was always baffled at the capabilities of each product. Same goes for everything I read on Baclkline's gear, always being positive and imaginative feedback. I recently had the chance to put one of Backline Engineering's products through it's paces and was stunned at how far it was able to take my imagination. I was able to do things with my sound that before weren't possible, got to learn some new tricks, able to hit my guitar with just about every style of effect out there, and also got to explore some new plateaus. All with just one box too. Now try that on for size.


Backline Engineering


If I were to sit here and list all the features and possibilities that the FX-Tracker was capable of we'd be here till tomorrow..... no wait, we'd be here till next week! The FX-Tracker turned out to be one of THE most versatile and flexible effect units I have ever laid my hands on. Imagine being able to control the character of your effects with your playing style and pick attack. Being able to control the speed, depth, and time of each effect in a way that would create sounds not ever possible before. Imagine a pedal capable of dishing out an entire library of effects without lack of sound quality and with a range of control capable of keeping you busy forever more. This is definitely not your everyday multi-effects unit, instead think of the FX-Tracker as an effect unit of it's own breed. Within this unit you will find all of the key effects such as delay, chorus, tremolo, flanger, filter, pitch shifter, and arpeggiator. The FX-Tracker sports up to 87 different variations of it's effects, has up to 100 preset locations, and has MIDI output capabilities. Along with the main effects this pedal can also do things like place delay before, after, or in parallel with many of the effects. Giving you some of the most unique and interesting ways to morph and manipulate your effects ever. You can also skip back and fourth between delays and other effects with the picking of your hand! Pretty damn cool huh? This thing dishes out stereo effects, has up to 60 seconds of stereo delay as well as looping abilities, can pull off whammy effects, can be triggered by MIDI drum machines (along with many other MIDI functions), can control effect parameters with expression pedal, can work two delays at once and time them with with another ir with your playing, the list goes on and on. For more info on the FX Tracker just check out the website, you will be blown away!

Now for some FX Tracker fun. I seriously don't even know where to begin. I guess I will start with the simplest way to use this baby, as a multi effects unit. The factory settings on this pedal were actually quite impressive. They got me knee deep in the capabilities of the FX Tracker and showed what types of tricks were possible. With this one pedal I was able to tap into some of the best modulation effects I have ever heard. I warn you, I will only be scratching the surface of what this pedal is capable of. Inside the FX Tracker I was able to pull out some of the coolest delays ever. Not only was the quality of the delays stunning but what I could do with them was even better. One of the most fun delay tricks this pedal pulled off was it's ability to control the delay times with my pick attack. This made for some interesting and new delays sounds, sounds I have never dreamed possible. With a favorite fuzz box of mine things got even better. I was up to my knees in psychedelic heaven. Slowing down my playing would literally make the delay less intense and give me shorter echoes. Then by speeding up the delay would come alive, widen the echo amount, and follow my vibe. The first time I did this I was stunned! Now, before I go on I must mention that this pedal is very very easily setup and even easier to get killer sounds out of. I was also able to get reverse delay effects which sounded better than most reverse delays I have tried. My original signal would come across as clear and smooth, while the delayed signal would reverse in the exact time it was played. Some reverse delays are on an automatic cycle. This pedal gives you a much cooler sound. Another cool trick I was able to pull off was set a delay and a tremolo effects and switch back and fourth from them with my picking. This gave me and my band sounds that before had not been possible, and helped me tap into a creative side of my brain that had never before been touched. This may sound a bit dramatic but this is exactly how powerful this pedal is. The delay/tremolo trick was really fun for working out verses and chorus' in our tunes. I could play slowly and get these trippy delay effects, then begin to hammer away and turn the effect into a tremolo. This is something we usually do by switching back and fourth from stompbox to stompbox, but with this puppy it's all in your fingertips. Another super fun effect was the whammy sounds this pedal could pull off, as well as divebomb effects. I have always dug the idea and tone of the whammy but never really had a chance to play around with one. This pedal gave me a deep insight on just what is possible with this type of effect. The whammy effect could also be controlled with my picking, giving me certain registers in mellow picking, then higher frequencies when picked hard. Having a foot controller also came in handy as it let me use the whammy effect in a more traditional way. Then there was the arpeggiator effects, and boy how I love me some arpeggiator. Not only can you get some very very cool factory preset arpeggio sounds, the FX Tracker also lets you go deep inside to program your own patterns and settings. Add in the ability to control the effects feel with your picking and you have an entirely new arpeggiating monster in your hands. I was able to think of any pattern imaginable, then program it to work with whatever tune I chose. This I was stuck playing with for hours and hours. One of the coolest sounds and tricks with this pedal though was rocking out true to the core vibe effects. I dialed in a badass vintage style chorus effect, then again with my picking speed the chorus would speed up and slow down. This would have absolutely blown Jimi and Trower away into space, it did me! This created a much more intense and dramatic effect because the slow picking would produce these warbling, slow chorusing tones. When I'd speed up so would the chorus giving it almost a mind of it's own. Harmony effects were also pretty fun to play with. You can harmonize your favorite lead runs and licks to turn them into exciting new flavors. I was able to use the pedal like any old harmonizer, but that ain't nothing. This thing has the ability to throw in the previous note played on top of the new note played. Now if you're a technique/theory freak I'm sure you could get some insane uses out of this. With certain notes and with some volume swells thrown in you can get some spot-on violin sounds, lap steel, pedal steel, and completely new sounds. Then looping... oh yes looping! This thing did some awesome looping for me once again giving me the ability to do things with my playing, songs, and band that had not been possible before. I could create these tripped out layers and layers of weird licks, without loosing quality or mojo. Looping is something that many cats are into right now, something that almost every band I go see is doing. If you are on the hunt for a powerful delay and looping gadget this is your pedal, if even for this reason alone this pedal would be worth it. Timing two delays to each other was also something I had never so easily pulled off before. You don't know how many times I have tried to set up two different delay pedals to try and get certain sounds. Sitting there tapping on one, then the next to try and get a certain effect. It is a nightmare! This pedal makes that easy as pie.

I didn't get too much into the MIDI capabilities but my partner who is much more skilled at this did and when he came back from a couple days of playing with the FX Tracker he was in shock. OH HOLY I ALMOST FORGOT!!!! Volume pedal tricks!!! Never ever ever ever in my life have I been able to pull off volume pedal tricks as easily as I was able to with this pedal. The slower in between my notes the longer the volume would take to ramp, the quicker I would play in between notes the faster the volume ramp would snap in. Absolutely genius. With lap steel this was an absolute dream. And with the ramping/harmonizing trick I mentioned above I could get killer pedal steel effects, with my guitars too! I really don't want too bore you with lots of writing so I'll cut it here. The FX Tracker I assure you can do much much more, and much more complex tricks. This was only a small introduction of what Backline Engineering's amazing tone tool is capable. If ever there was a pedal that spoke for itself this is it. One session with this thing and I promise you'll be hooked... hooked to the gills! Backline also has a handful of other gadgets which I am very curious to try out. I promise I will try my best to bring you the rest of their stuff in the near future. For now let the FX Tracker's magic soak in and dream of any effect you've ever wanted... cause thing can do it.


For more info on Backline Engineering and it's awesome FX Tracker go to There is a bunch more amazing information on the FX Tracker and the rest of their products. You can also check out audio clips and much more. Stay tunes for more from Backline in the near future. Go out and get this pedal before it is no more!!!!

Sunday, August 22, 2010



A secret weapon of such notable bassists as Bootsy Collins, Justin Meldal-Johnsen, and Tool’s Justin Chancellor, the Guyatone BR-2 Bottom Wah Rocker has become a highly sought prize on the used market. In response to this growing demand, we’ve reissued a limited 100-piece run of this funky little filter box...





Metal mainstay and long-time Maxon endorser Metal Mike Chlasciak is out on tour this month with Rob Halford’s solo band on the 2010 Ozzfest tour. We were able to grab Mike before he split to demo the new Maxon SM-9 Pro+ Super Metal pedal and talk about his rig.

Read on...

SM-9 Pro+


The awesome Little Dipper pedal from TWA gets a "spacey Cool" review from Phil Feser of Vintage Guitar Magizine.

Space Talk
The TWA LD-01 Little Dipper
- By Phil Feser for Vintage Guitar Magazine

"Based on a classic ‘70s design, TWA’s new LD-01 - with better tracking, quieter operation, and more vocal-like sounds – is not your run-of-the-mill auto-wah/envelope filter."

"Inside and out, this box is well-executed. It’s electronic elements include high quality PC boards, chassis-mounted Euro-style ¼” jacks, full-sized pots, and a true-bypass footswitch. Controls include Ascension, Inclination, Diffraction, and two internal mini-pots to control clean/effect blend and noise-gate threshold."

Little Dipper

You can check out more info on all Godlyke products at


Tonebutcher and Analog War Cry are working together to bring you guys a special offer. Mention Analog War Cry when purchasing a Tonebutcher pedal and they will wave the shipping fee and include a free Tonebutcher t-shirt. This offer is available for all Tonebutcher models. To check out more info on the Tonebutcher line go to the address below. There are a handful of cool vids to check on their website. You can also use our Youtube search engine and type in Tonebutcher to check out the vids here on our website.


Stomp Under Foot
hand wired effects

Our friend Matt at Stomp Under Foot has just finished himself a fresh batch of his infamous Halo Benders. These boutique, hand built, high quality component pedals are in and ready to ship so make sure to pay Matt a visit and get yours. Above is a picture of a new color offer for the Halo Bender for you guys to check out, which I imagine is only one of the options this pedal is available in. Matt is also in the process of building five 73' Ram's Head pedals, three 76' Ram's Head pedals, and one Tri-Dirty Booster which will be available in about two weeks. A few of these pedals are not yet spoken for so get in there kids! You can visit Stomp Under Foot at the address below.

Deep Trip Land/Lessons in Fuzz Part 2

It's time to bring you guys the next round in the Deep Trip Land saga, just make sure stay in your seats and try not to fall out. For those of you not hip on Deep Trip, pay attention and get ready to be schooled. I am probably the biggest fuzz box addict I know. Meaning I am a sucker for a great sounding fuzz tone. It is the sound of the fuzz that has always drawn me to so many of my favorite tunes. It is also the fuzz that makes the most excited when gigging or recording. A great fuzz box can do for you what no other dirt box can. It can literally rise your tone to rock god status in the blink of an eye. The cats at Deep Trip most definitely share the love and passion I have for fuzz pedals, and I'm sure definitely I suffer from the same bug. In the many years I have been playing music there are only a handful of fuzz pedals I consider timeless champions. You know the pedals of which I speak. They are the ones that give us goosebumps, make us sweat, and drive us mad. These here pedals are amongst those few champions.

Deep Trip

  • Power Consume: 10mA
  • Swiftcraft Jacks
  • Alpha Pots
  • External Battery Drawer
  • 9v (-) DC jack Operation
  • Nos Ger Transistors

  • Volume Knob: Controls overall output
  • Mood Knob: External bias control for one of the Ger transistors
  • Fuzz Knob: Controls dirt, texture, grit, etc...
  • Mode Switch: Adds high impedance cell in front of circuit
  • Voice Switch: Filters out bass frequencies and decreases overall gain


I don't even know where to start with this pedal. The Hellbender is a pedal that has lived on my pedalboard since the day it arrived on my doorstep. The controls on the Hellbender give it the ability to land in both vintage and modern fuzz territories, and everything in between. This alone sets this fuzz box apart from many others on the market today, but it's more than this that makes this pedal so special. Getting a cool sounding fuzz tone from a stompbox is something that isn't all too difficult. It's dialing in a fuzz tone that makes you shiver and drives your speakers into howling beasts that's the challenge. I believe it is a combination of a few things that makes Deep Trip pedals the champs that they are today. #1. The components. Having a keen ear for what makes certain components tick is something that cannot be taught. This is something only a passionate and experienced ear can pick out. Then there's getting a hold of these parts, which isn't always an easy task. #2. You must have the talent the create the sounds that live on your head. I can dream up a thousand cool tones, but bringing them to life is a whole different thing. #3. There must be some kind of mojo, hippness, and mystique to a box to make it legendary. Many of the classic fuzz boxes had this element about them, which is why they are still so hunted down. Deep Trip posses all of these traits, and uses them to create what I think are some of the best pedals out there today. Let's also not forget that Deep Trip pedals also have one of the coolest looks in existence.

This is a pedal I know inside and out. I've used the Hellbender in the last couple bands I've played in and continue to do so to this day. And for those of you thinking "Ok so it's just another Tonebender clone..", uh uh, that it not all it can do. The Hellbender is not all looks and class. Under the hood of this pedal are some of the world's finest components and parts, which give it the ability to produce some of the greatest feeling and sounding fuzz tones out there today. One of the of the things I dig most about the Hellbender is it's ability to blend well with other dirt signals, whether they be tube amp or stompbox grit. This pedal also sounds especially good when being pushed with clean boosters. You can literally set this pedal in either of it's mode or voice settings, dial in a medium fuzz, and get yourself a stunning tone. For recording you can get humongous tones from this baby by pushing it through a medium watt tube amp (22-40 watts) and setting it up slightly dirty. Just throw a decent mic on the cab, and another mic in room for some ambiance, and you're home free. When gigging it's a whole different story. I like to dial in big'n'loud clean tones, then enjoy stacking theHellbender's fuzz tones on top of them. This gives me all of the sparkle and bounce of the clean tone mixed in with the unique and exciting sound of the pedal. The Hellbender works like a true classic champ in this area. I have used a variety of different amps in my time, most if them being Fenders, some Vox, some god knows what they were. The most important thing when using clean tones as my root tone has always been finding dirt pedals that work with the signal and not against it. Our friends over at Deep Trip must have had the same thing on their mind when they created their pedals. The Hellbender most of all works super fantastic through clean tones because of it's fat, warm, and huge sound. It naturally has adds lots of spank, size, and weight to anything it touches. So you can only imagine what this pedal does through a dirty signal. Pickups play a huge roll in how this pedal dishing out tone as well. You can plug in your vintage Strat to get thumping, spanking fuzz tones, plug in a semi-hollow body for a more earthy fuzz tone, P90's to get something super aggressive, or a modern style guitar to get something with some edge. I also found using Jazzmaster and Jaguar style pickups work quite nicely with this pedal. The Hellbender responds to guitars volume controls really well, giving you different takes on the set tone. This is always great for live shows or in those moments when you can't get to your pedal to switch it on or off. There are certain tunes where I will leave the Hellbender on at all times and only use my volume control to go from rhythm and lead tones. The versatility this pedal has is also something that is quite attractive. With it's voice toggle switch and Mood control alone the Hellbender can give you a world of different fuzz flavors to choose from. In it's upper setting the voice switch gives the pedal it's fattest boomiest tone. This will take you to insane QOTSA type fuzz tones, and produce great warm vintage fuzz tones in low fuzz settings. In the middle setting the voice switch gives you it's thinnest tone. This is great for slicing through any mix, for screaming/scorching lead, and for adding some bite to your pickups. The down position of the voice switch gives you somewhere in between the other two setting, with more punchy mids, throatier feel, and tighter reaction. Here you can get just about anything you want. From Black Sabbath tones to Jack White, and Wolfmother to Zeppelin. Then depending on where you have the mood knob set you can get stinging fuzz, splatty fuzz, octa-fuzz, buzzing fuzz, dead battery effects, and so on and so fourth. The mode switch can also come in handy and works great for getting a more sparkling and defined tone. With this switch engaged your dynamics, harmonics, undertones and overtones, all hit the distortion signal much quicker. Giving you a more in-your-face tone. This mode switch is also a great option for playing the Hellbender through a wah. The Hellbender definitely has one of the widest tone palette's out there, and just like all of the Deep trip pedals it is built to last. These will be amongst the few modern stompboxes that will become timeless champions and collectibles. Deep Trip has done their homework to the fullest and knocked out what are some true winners. I cannot wait to see what these cats can do with a distortion or overdrive pedal. ;^)


For more info on Deep Trip pedals go to or click on the direct link in our sidebar. We will be wrapping up our three part article on Deep Trip very soon so make sure to look out for out next feature. The Deep Trip website has a bunch more interesting and cool info on their pedals so make sure to stop by. See ya soon.

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.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Guitar's Best Friend

Spencer Amps

That's right kids... I've hunted down another kickass effects pedal company. And his little outfit has really caught me by surprise. Spencer Amps is the brain child of one Bill Spencer, a passionate and experienced brother on a mission to build some of the best sounding and performing musical gadgets. Bill's outlook on the pedal game is aimed in one direction and one direction only...... to bring us tone hungry players as many original and interesting designs as possible. We're talking a cat that built his first fuzz box back in 76', a cat with numerous pedal and vacuum tube circuits under his belt, and a cat with 28 years experience in electronics, digital hardware design, patents, and repair. Throw in a musicians passion for tone and there you have it, Spencer Amps.


Overdrive w/Fuzz

  • X-Mode Switch: Provides Xaggerated, Fuzz, and Normal
  • Volume: Dishes out loads of output
  • Tone: Enhances bass,treb, and mid frequencies
  • Gain: Adds various types of characteristics to tone


For me it was most definitely the X-Mode Switch that reeled me in and had me hooked. In the Normal mode alone I was pretty satisfied, but things just got even better when I tapped into both the Fuzz and Xaggerated modes. Another thing I dug about this pedal was that Bill was able to deliver an extremely versatile dirt box, while able to keep things familiar, and without going overboard on the controls. Many dirt pedals with the same types of capabilities will end up having twice as many controls, on twice the size enclosure. I was able to find usable tones in all modes, found it worked great through clean tones (huge plus!) as well as dirty ones, and the Mystique also played well with others. The simple handcrafted design of this pedal really comes though and it reminds you that there are still a few die hard boutique operations out there.

I don't even know where to begin, this pedal hit me with way more than I was ready for. I guess I'll start with my 4x10 Deville and 60's Strat build. Like many of you I'm sure know by now, I rarely push my Deville to overdriven levels. This means I must either A: have a pedal/pedals that will maintain my root tone, or B: a pedal/pedals that will enhance my root tone. The Mystique went way beyond any of these expectations. I first set the pedal to it's N setting (Normal). I matched the volume output to the amp's, rolled back on the lows just a tad to accent the amp's round sound, and started with the gain at around 15%. What I got was this; The Strat's booomy/spanking tone, amp's tight'n'warm sound, and Mystique's defined and rich vibe.... all in one sound! As I kept cranking the gain level up higher I noticed that the clarity and definition of my tone stayed intact, as if it were pushing out a hint of my clean signal along with the dirt. This my friends was be-a-u-ti-ful. I sometimes mix in a dirty signal through a parallel effects looper to achieve this same feel. It provides an enormous sounding tone that cannot be rivaled. Like playing through two amps. This was the type of sound the Mystique's N setting did for me. This effect would become more intense, and my overdrive would become more gritty when played through humbuckers. The break-up in my notes came and crumbled away with ease, never being too harsh and always working with my hands and fingers. Next I switched into the F mode (Fuzz). Something that really caught me off guard in this setting was the intensity and usable nature of the sound. The sound was howling mad at times, producing these huge throaty fuzz tones. But just like a well put together engine and exhaust of a killer muscle car it was tolerable and killer sounding. It also sounded great and adapted beautifully to my clean tone, and even better than that was this sound through a dirty tone. With the gain control set light while in the F I was able to produce these cool 50/50 distortion/fuzz tones. My favorite was definitely P90's, a slightly gritty amp tone, and a light pedal fuzz tone. Think of Tom Petty's Mary Jane guitar tone and you got the tone I'm talking about. It broke up beautifully, had plenty of splat, and lots clarity. To get a lead tone out of this tone all I did was push it with a clean booster or overdriver. Some pedals do not play nice with others.... this pedal does. In medium fuzz settings the pedal created fat'n'smooth fuzz tones that worked for both rhythm playing or lead lick work. Next it was time to switch amps, I wanted to see if this pedal worked good in small gig settings, studio levels, and bedroom levels. Cause as we all know, there are lots of pedals that can do either a solid quiet or loud tone, but rarely both. If there's one thing I hate it's not being able to reproduce my stage tones into the studio, or late at night when I'm writing and rocking out. For finding pedals that sound and work great with small amps are always a secret weapon and a gold find. The recruit for experimenting with some low level tones was a 15/7 watt head set to 7 watts, a 1x12 cab, and a Tele with a bucker in the neck. In light to medium fuzz settings the pedal and amp created these tight'n'focused fuzz/distortion tones that worked great for rhythm playing. Big, chunky, and full of body. Rolling off the guitar knob about half way brought about some tasty semi-clean tones, and once again pushing this tone with a booster provided me with some lead tones. I was stoked at how many sounds I was able to get from this one setting. At full blast the F setting did things that just plain scared me. The sound was somewhere between a super smooth distortion pedal and screaming vintage style fuzz box. Last was the X setting, where things got even wilder and cooler. This setting was kind of a mix of the other two. I was able to get some over the top overdrive/distortion tones, while able to also get lots of clarity, punch, and sparkle. In this setting the lows became much fuzzier, highs became more intense, and mids more pronounced. This setting sounded especially good when cranked up real loud. It pushed out this big meaty tone that ate up everything in it's way. A great setting for cutting through any mix. I also found the X setting sounded nice when stacked up with another dirty guitar, and when playing up in the higher frets of my guitar. Playing blues guitar with the tone at around 9'o'clock, gain at noon, and volume slightly pushing the tubes, created a tone to die for! It was tuff to pin-point whether I was hearing a modern or vintage tone through the X mode. It had the same characteristics of an brutal modern distortion tone, but also the forgiving nature of a vintage overdrive sound. The more I cranked the gain knob or used the volume to push the amp, the more the grit reacted like a vacuum tube. This meant it responded well to the guitar's volume, and was also a great candidate for clean boosters and other drive pedals. By the time I was done playing with this pedal I was dizzy with excitement, like being tone buzzed... if there is a such thing. Bill Spencer's mission to deliver a unique and usable dirt box is totally captured in the Mystique. At times I felt like I was playing some priceless 60's fuzz box. While other times I felt like I was tapping into something completely new. This is the magic behind Spencer Amp's pedals, the experience that Bill owns, and the visions he is skillfully able to bring to light. Get some!


Make sure and check out the new Spencer Amps website at Analog War Cry will be looking into more of these super cool pedals and sharing with ya'll our insight and feelings behind them. Stay tuned for more from Spencer Amps!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I'm in the Mood for Fuzz..

The Analog War Cry laboratory is stoked to have one of our all time favorites back in the scene. Moody Sounds!!! Those of you who have been with from the beginning I'm sure had the chance to check out our Moody Sounds Mushroom Echo article (April, 30 2009). If you didn't I highly suggest you read it and come back once you're done. Once again our good friends from overseas have blessed us with another spectacular pedal, only this time in a DIY kit format. In just the few years that Moody Sounds has been around they've quickly become a well known and popular name, and for good reason too. The quality and sound that Moody Sounds has created is one that has become a favorite amongst the tone chasing community, gigging world, studio rats, and experimental freaks. Moody Sounds consists of a stunning collection of cool sounding effects, gadgets, and kits. A collection cool enough to keep any effect geek busy for years and years.


Moody Fuzz Kit

  • Silicon Transistor Design
  • High Quality Components/Parts
  • Extra Components for Mods
  • Easy to Follow Manual
  • Durable Heavy Duty Enclosure


DIY kits are always a blast to dig into. They teach you patience, give those of you who want to learn the game experience, and in the end you have the pleasure of playing and plugging into a piece of gear that has been built by you. The Moody Sounds Fuzz Kit was not only a blast to play and build, it also sounds as good if not better than some of the product line fuzz boxes I have had the chance to try. The Moody Fuzz Kit comes with hordes of high quality, great sounding, and long lasting parts. Included in the kit are also extra components for fooling with different tones and shaping your kit to your needs. Moody also provides you with some cool mods on their website for taking your Fuzz Kit to the next level. On board the pedal you will find a fuzz control, a volume control, LED, and in & out jacks. Simple and straight to the point (just how I like it). In the end you get a killer sounding boutique fuzz box that can be gigged, played, used and abused. In the end that is what's important right? When I'm working up a sweat rocking out on stage there's only one thing I want.... and that is for my gadgets to do their job. This is where a pedal like the Moody Fuzz Kit comes in and does the job magnificently.

Once my kit was put together I went ahead and threw it in line with all the rest of my gigging pedals, my favorite amp, and played with just about every guitar I could get my hands on. The one thing that struck me from the get-go was how much range and versatility the fuzz control owned. Rolled way back the Fuzz Kit was able to produce great sounding crunchy overdrive tones. The sounds reminded me of those first super old school vintage fuzz pedals from days ago. Way down low I also noticed the fuzz control dished out plenty of attitude. Through a couple of vintage voiced humbuckers the pedal was able to deliver a bunch of control and bite when needed. A touch of my pick would push out these great sounding semi-clean dirt sounds. The harder my pick hit the strings, the more dirt the pedal pumped out. This I first did with a clean amp tone, through a 22-watt 65' Deluxe Reverb. Right at around 50% is where the Fuzz Kit started to really break-up and deliver fuzz tone madness. The pedal's sound adapted to the amp's clean tone beautifully, and the two sounds together worked to create a huge sound. Keeping the amp's tone squeaky clean I went ahead and rolled the pedal's fuzz control up to full blast. The sound that came out of that little amp was stupendous!! The pedal gave me a spot-on, proper vintage fuzz tone that worked great with lead work, blues, classic rock, riffing, and thick'n'chunky rhythms. Then I helped the sound blow up even bigger by rolling up some of the pedal's volume control, this pushing the little amp's tubes into a smooth'n'creamy natural overdrive. I will tell you right now; That pedal through that little amp in the right room, with the right mic on it sounded as big as any 100 watt monster. Things got even better once I started pushing the amp itself into some natural tube grit. Instead of pushing the fuzz tone through a clean tone, I now pushed the pedal's sound through an overdriven root tone. The two sounds again worked beautifully together. With both the amp and pedal dishing out small amounts of grit I was able to get a warm and full light overdrive tone with lots of rumble and lots of spank. I was now also playing the pedal with a Strat which helped add more bite and midrange honk. One of my all time favorite setting with this pedal was using it through a med overdrive tone, with it's fuzz at about 20%, and it volume up almost at 100%. The pedal's output and light fuzz combined with the amp's medium overdrive ended up being one fine trio. It created the type of tone that flew out of the amp and smacked dead center in the chest. A perfect tone for stacking up guitars parts. Once I had more than enough killer sounding tones from the little amp I went ahead and switched to something with more power. The choice? A 60 watt 4x10 Deville. I wanted to see if the tones I was getting from the little amp could be reproduced in louder doses. I started out pretty much the same, with the Deville pushing out a thick and powerful clean tone. The Fuzz Kit's volume matched up with to unity, with the fuzz control up at around 15%. I struck down on some big complex chords at heard the same smooth rumbling good gritty overdrive tone come booming from the speakers. My touch was projected really nicely, giving me room to play with the tone. Next I cranked the fuzz up to half way and pushed the volume knob up a tiny bit more. Everything that sounded great in the last setting grew and became more focused. There was a bit more sustain, a hint more compression, and healthy serving of classic sounding fuzz. This sound I was easily able to tame by rolling down my guitar's volume control. The Fuzz Kit also responded nicely to the guitar's tone knob, giving me a handful of great variations of the same tone. Next I slammed everything to 100% (minus the amp of course). Here things got pretty damn loud. In fact, I was surprised just how loud this pedal could get. The sound I got was all pedal and no amp grit. The 100 watt speakers in my Deville produce a giant amount of headroom which is great for getting the most out of your pedals. Before shutting down I did break out an absolute beast of an amp. Here I pushed the Fuzz Kit through a 4x12 cab loaded with Greenbacks, the head being a borrowed Bogner Uberschall. Man oh man, the sounds we got that night. The Moody Fuzz Kit is definitely not a one horse pony, and neither is it discriminating towards different amp setups. I dialed in some of THE meanest guitar tones known to man, then pushing those tones with the pedal. Only to get even better sounding tone in the end. The Moody Fuzz Kit when producing all of the dirt works as a great solution for turning your clean amp into a proper wall of fuzz and attitude. The pedal can hit you with anything from subtle gritty sounds to all out frizzy/crunchy madness. When combined with overdriven tones this pedal works almost as an enhancer. Giving your existing dirt tones more of the mojo that makes them sound so great. You will find a world of kits out there, some being exact copies of popular pedal, some based around those all-time greats, and some completely original designs. Moody Sounds has definitely captured the best of all these worlds with this kit. You can feel and hear a bit of the classic fuzz boxes of yesteryear, the aggression of a solid sounding modern distortion pedal, and a sound that's all it's own. This is only a inkling of what Moody has to offer too.


For more info on Moody Sounds you can go to or click the direct link on our sidebar. We will be bringing you more and more from this awesome company so make sure to check in regularly.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Two Animals of the Same Breed

What can I say? Those Danes over at T-Rex just know a good thing when they hear it. When I first heard T-Rex was going to be dishing out the T.C. Jauernig line I was absolutely stoked. What better way to bring some much deserved attention to one of the stompbox world's premier boutique builders. I had been aware of Tim's pedals for quite some time and in fact had had a chance to try some of his original builds. The difference between the T-Rex stuff and Tim's you ask? There isn't any, not to my ears at least. They are still the same kickass sounding pedals they have always been, with all the same mojo, finesse, and stunning tone. Below are two awesome examples of what T-Rex has done with the Jauernig line. And believe me, once you dig in you will be hooked!



It seems like every time I turn someone on to this little gold pedal it ends up being a favorite. Looking at the Luxury Drive one might not think there's much to it. On board you'll a single solo knob, a true bypass switch, and an LED. But this is exactly what makes this pedal so desirable. No matter whether combined with pedal or amp, this is a booster that comes through beautifully. The reason for this is the transparent and non-pirating nature of of it's tone. Instead of taking you back to square one (which many boosters can do), the Luxury Drive pushes your sound forward. Delivering size, volume, and the power needed to get you amp growling and howling. I dialed in some of my favorite guitar tones to see just how much this pedal was capable of. The end result was quite impressive.

I'll tell you right now, having a pedal like this around can really really come in handy, no matter what the situation. My run-through of the Luxury Drive consisted of a handful of gigs, band practices, and even recording sessions. In each and every one of these applications I could not have been happier with this little monster. One of the setups this pedal really did wonders with was with my 7/15 watt head and 2x10 cabinet. I am a huge fan of rocking out to small wattage amps, but the drawback of small amps of course is once you've pushed them to their limits they're done. Here is where a sweet sounding non-coloring booster like this comes in to play. We can all agree there is nothing better than the sound of a vacuum tube being pushed over the edge. If I can help it I never try and get in the way of that. There's something about pure uncut tube tone that just makes things sound and play that much better. With my little amp I was able to dial in an awesome sounding rhythm crunch, get semi-clean tones by rolling back the guitar's volume, then by stepping on the Luxury Drive take the amp's tone into lead tone territory. Perfect for small gigs, bedroom rocking, and sessions. Another great mash-up was the Luxury Drive pushing my Deville's huge clean tone and overdrive pedals. I very rarely push my Deville past 6-7. I've actually modified it with tighter bass, thicker mids, better volume roll-off, and have it stacked with four 100 watt 10" Jet Series Jensen's (2 Blackbirds & 2 Tornados). Let's just say I've got more than enough headroom on tap. When playing through this amp I always rely on pedals for my dirt tones. I used the Luxury Drive first to boost my clean signal. At the time I was playing with another guitar player who did not know the meaning of tailoring his sound. I was able to boost my signal so that'd it cut through and become more focused. Pushing my overdrive, distortion, and fuzz pedals was another great way to use this pedal. With some pedals you can't take them too far or else they start frizzing out. With the Luxury pushing my pedals I could dial in the sweet spot then take it further by boosting it. I was also able to boost other effect like chorus pedals, vibes, and delays without screwing up their vibe. Last was pushing this baby through some big wattage. A 100 watts of Super Lead muscle did the trick beautifully. Here the Luxury Drive really worked it magic. Whether pushing the fierce sound of the amp's drive, amp's dirt mixed with a fuzz box, or using the Luxury to push me into distortion tones. It was all a okay. Guitar wasn't the only instrument this pedal sounded good with either. So whether on the gigging or recording trail, band practice or solo session. The Luxury Drive will do you solid.



Here is definitely an overdrive pedal in it's own class. The Diabolical Gristle Tone Manipulator (or DGTM) has an ability to shape and mold some tones all it's own, while also capable of bringing you to some of rock's most memorable dirt tones. On board this pedal you will find a Gristle (Overdrive), Tone, and Gravy (Volume) controls, and a 2-way voice toggle switch. With these four little controls this pedal will do a lot let me tell you. Many overdrive pedal you're lucky to get one golden tone from. With the DGTM you'll come to find more than a handful. For me the mojo from this pedal definitely comes from it's wide range Gristle control and 2-way voicing switch. Don't get me wrong, it's Tone control has the ability to match up to any amp or pickup, and the Gravy control has more than enough output to drive anything you throw at it. But it'swhen combined with it's two other trinkets that this pedal really comes to life.

To see just exactly what kind of power this pedal had behind it I first ran it through a series of different clean tones. The amp's of choice were a Twin Reverb, a Deville Hot Rod, and a AC 15 clone. Guitar for the job were a humbucker equipped Hagstrom Viking, 60's Strat build, Junior copy, and National Lap Steel. The Twin/Strat combination was definitely one of my favorites. By setting the DGTM's toggle switch in the vintage position I was able to get some spot on "cut'n'dry" SVR tones. The pedal oozed with aggression, clarity, and warmth. The more I rolled up the pedal's Gristle the more the Strat bit. Cranked to the max I got one of the sweetest classic rock/blues lead tones I have ever heard come from the Twin's clean tone. This is exactly what makes this pedal such a winner. You can't tell the difference between the amp being pushed into overdrive vs the pedal creating an overdrive tone. Another tone through the Twin was the lap steel. The syrupy tone of the lap steels strings blended beautifully with the DGTM's creamy/smooth tone. The ultimate was adding in just a hint of the pedal's drive with the toggle set to modern and the tone set super warm. The subtle compression of the modern setting really came through nicely without being overpowering. Really no matter what eq setting I threw at the pedal I got great results. Next up to bat was the Vikings mean buckers and the Deville. Here I started with everything on the amp set to noon, except for the reverb set at 2-3, and presence at 5. I began with just a bit of the DGTM's gristle, the tone at noon, and the gravy set to match the amp's outout. The humbuckers powerful output grabbed on to the little bit the pedal was dishing out and I got a great semi-clean tone I was able to bring in and out of grit with just the touch of my strumming. The string articulation even at this low low setting was spot on and the amount of clean string action I was able to get was fantastic! It didn't take much to get the humbuckers singing. With the gristle at about 9'o'clock I was already getting some pretty interesting grit and grime. The medium overdrive with the four 10's in the amplifier really punched through with lots of force and definition. Switching back and fourth from vintage to modern modes I could either get a super steady compressed rhythm tone, or a loose in your face vintage rockin' tone. It seemed like the more overdrive I cranked from the pedal the more control over my tone I was able to get. At full blast I got a straight up heavy rock overdrive that worked great for everything from metal, punk, alternative, classic rock, and blues. Again the option of the modern to vintage switch gave me tons of variety and flavor. Last I rocked the Junior copy through an AC 15 clone. The combination of the P90's power and cutting AC tone ended up being a perfect candidate for the Diabolical one. There was thing I wanted to try before I got into anything else, and that was cranking the AC 15 into screaming overdrive on it's own then adding in the pedal to see what kind of sounds I would get. Just like I expected it was all gravy! With the amp I got a slicing good dirt signal, and with the DGTM I leveled it out by introducing in a warmer/tighter sound. This too ended up being great for gigs and recording sessions. I never like to get too much stage volume from my amp and enjoy a nice well balanced mix from the monitors. This pedal and this amp ended up being a perfect choice for this. After this there really wasn't much left to do, other than blend both the Luxury Drive and DGTM together. Like two birds of a feather they sounded stupendous together. Both with the booster i front or with the DGTM in front I got sweet sweet sounds. The Luxury pushing the DGTM handed me an entirely collection of tones to play with, leaving me with my jaw on the floor. I give the T-Rex just as much props as I do the original DGTM. It don't matter if you play hard rock, metal, blues, country, or punk. This pedal does it all.


For more info on T-Rex pedals go to or click the direct link on our sidebar. We have more awesome goodness coming at you from T-Rex in the near near future so make sure to tune in.