Thursday, December 8, 2011

Xotic Nite at NAMM

Prosound Communications Inc Presents

Monday January 23, 2012 Doors at 7:30PM
Tickets: $10 at the door
Lighthouse Cafe
Address: 30 Pier Avenue, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254, Phone: (310) 376-983

Out of this World

All you drooling right now continue to keep on drooling - cause this pedal sounds as good as it looks! I'd like to introduce to those of you who aren't familiar with Analog Alien to one of the coolest pedal companies I have ever come across. I will tell you - I have been one lucky son of a bitch to have run across these cats. There are a lot of people building pedals out there today, and many of those people very talented. We have come across a stompbox revolution of sorts. A time where tone is everything again, and where what you play and say are two different things. Music is once again making a come back in a beautiful way - thanks to all the wonderful gear that is out there to motivate and inspire us. It is cool little companies like Analog Alien that sit in the front lines making sure we have the weapons needed for the battle. This is what happens when a couple of dedicated tone hungry cats get together to make a pedal. I bring your the...


Fuzz Bubble-45

  • Out: controls effected output level
  • Year 66'-77': controls gain amount sent to pedal's OD circuit
  • Tone: this switch helps roll back lower frequencies
  • In: controls amount of signal coming into the pedal
  • Out: controls effect output level
  • Haze: controls fuzz intensity
  • Tone: functions identically to Pete side circuit
  •  Bypass Switch: switches pedal On/Off
  • Effect: switches between Pete and Jimi sides
  • Power: runs on either single 9Volt battery or 9V adapter

The first time I saw this pedal was one of those moments when I said to myself; "Holy crap, now that's a pedal!". Boy was I right. This is baby is built extremely well, was designed to be user friendly so you can get the tones you want quickly, and ships with a very cool mini lunchbox which it is stored in! This is a two channel stompbox which lets you choose between a Pete side (overdrive/distortion) and a Jimi side (distortion/fuzz). What more can you ask for? The Fuzz Bubble-45 is the pedal for that classic rock tone addicted player. For those of you who dig those marvelous 60's-70's tube amps. For those who listen and grew up with those insanely great sounding rock gods of yesteryear.

Getting a great sound of this was as easy as plugging it into a decent tube amp and guitar. I went with my semi-hollow body Hagstrom Viking and modified Hot Rod Deville. The handwound humbuckers and 4x10 Jensen's seemed to take to the pedal like a hand and glove. I began by setting the amp to a big warm clean tone, with all of it's controls set at around 7 and reverb circuit turned completely down. I started with the Pete side, setting it's Out knob to 50% , Year knob at 67', and it's Tone switch in the left position. Once engaged the pedal pushed out a very smooth'n'cruncy natural sounding classic rock dirt tone. The sound had lots of defined grit which made each string come through with spectacular delivery. This tone was perfect for an get-go all around rock tone. I played some of my favorite classic, blues, and alternative rock tones and got nothing but magic. Chords especially sounded good, along with double stops and string bends. The big'n'beefy overdrive produced by the Pete side reminded me of my favorite golden era rock tones. As I went up on the Year knob and added more gain the pedal continued to give me more mojo and inspiration. One thing which I really dug about the Pete side was how well it owrked with my guitar's volume. Using my guitar's volume knob I was able to control not only the amount of grit, but also the feel, response, and character of my tone. I next flipped the Tone switch to the right side and like an atomic bomb my pickups pushed out more low-end muscle. My riffs sounded bigger and stronger, and chords even beefier and dirtier. The Tone switch I imagine would be the perfect little feature for either cutting through a mix or adding more body to an overall band's sound. In both positions the Fuzz Bubble-45's Tone switch was able to keep it's definition and smooth feel. Switching the pedal up to year 77' really made a difference not only in the amount of gain, but how it all worked with your pick attack and overall sound. Here I got more aggressive overdrive tones which really became more like distortion. But unlike modern distortion the Fuzz Bubble-45 is able to maintain a very velvety creamy classic feel. Along with the semi-hollow body I also played this pedal with a Strat, a Tele, and a Les Paul (of course). Each one of the guitars created it's own special collection of rock tones, making this one of the most user friendly circuits I've ever used.

Switching over to the Jimi side was an entirely different ballpark. Here I got a wide variety of very useful fuzz tones. I began by plugging into my partner's Les Paul and 7/15 watt amplifier. Now, on it's own this amp of mine has always produced some pretty sweet rock tones. It has been one of my favorite amps to plug fuzz boxes into and one of the best recording amps I've ever used. The Fuzz Bubble-45's Jimi circuit quickly and beautifully produced some of the best classic fuzz tones I've come across. I began with both the In and Out ch in the knobs at around noon, the Haze knob at around 15%, and the Tone switch in the left position. The pedal kicked out rockin' good subtle yet powerful fuzz tone that made my little amp sound much bigger than it actually is. Sliding up and down the neck playing blues and rock licks felt and sounded like something from another time. I was able to hear, and better yet feel, a big stack of harmonics and string ringing goodness. The softer I plucked the strings, the less the pedal growled. The harder I smacked down on the strings, the more the tone came to life and the more it knocked out big'n'bad fuzz. With the In knob I was able to tame and mellow out the sound of the fuzz, making it easy to tailor to whatever style of music I was playing. As well as the In knob working nicely, my guitar's volume knob gave me even more control and let me tap into even more crazy good rock tones. Some vintage fuzz boxes when doing this do one of two things; #1. They either become too thin and brittle, or #2. Just waste away the entire feel and vibe of the fuzz effect. The Jimi circuit I assure does non of these things. With my Strat I was able to use the pedal to dial in the biggest and meanest sounding fuzz tone, and by rolling down the guitar's volume able to get back to my jangly signature Strat sound. I was able to get some super cool feedback effects and strange ambiances just by holding the guitar in the right direction or playing the strings in a certain fashion. All you psychedelic rock monsters will appreciate and dig the hell out of this pedal. There's nothing better than blasting down in a rad collection of single note fuzz riffs. This pedal lets you beef up your licks or make them cut like razors. With the Tone switch giving you even more variety to choose from. I also played the Strat and Fuzz Bubble-45 through a Super Lead, which indeed was something to write home about. I will just say this - Everyone in the lockout studios was quite jealous that day. I had the walls ringing and shaking as if they were about to come down. I dialed in the Super Lead to a killer natural ovedrive, and stacked on top of it the fury of the Jimi side. If you've heard the best Marshall and fuzz tones combined you have an idea of what I was able to dial in. I found it easy to match both sides so that switching back and fourth was cinch. I know I get frustrated trying to find the right combination of overdrive and fuzz to bring out on gigs. With this pedal you get the best of both worlds all in one very cool looking box. All in all you can't go wring with this pedal, and I in fact found nothing I disliked about how it sounded or worked. The guys over at Analog Alien definitely own a special gift that lives in a few. I would kill to see what else crept into their minds, what else they'd be pushed to build.


For more info on the Fuzz Bubble-45 or Analog Alien go to You ill find some cool info on the history and making of this pedal. There are also some pretty cool vids out there for those of you that want some audio of this monster. Use our Youtube search engine to hunt down some oft hose vids. We will be sure to keep you guys posted if more comes out of this unique and talented pedal company.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Treat Yourself to Something Reeeaaal Nice

 Next on our list of killer pedals is a little number from the talented and amazing people of Aguilar Amplification. Last year I had a chance to try out a bunch of these pedals on bass guitar and was blown away by the quality in tone and wide range of sounds I was able to get. It didn't end on bass guitar either... no sir. I in fact also plugged some of these pedals into a bunch of my guitars and guitar amps and the outcome was nothing short of amazing. I also had a chance to meet the good folks from Aguilar at NAMM last year which really tuned me into what they're doing and the direction they are headed in. Let me just say this: Go out and try these pedals - you will not be sorry and very glad you did.


TLC Compressor

  • Threshold Control: variable from -30 to -10dBu
  • Slope Control: variable from 2:1 to infinity
  • Attack Control: variable from 10ms to 100ms
  • Level Control: -infinity to -3dBu
  • Low Distortion: (<0.2%)
  • Gig-saver Bypass: signal passes even if your battery dies
  • Power: 9 volt battery or optional universal power supply
  • Enclosure: heavy-duty steel construction
  • Battery Life: 100 hours
  • Inputs: one 1/4 jack
  • Outputs: one 1/4 jack

How about that for a gem of a compression pedal? Here is an area where us musicians cannot afford to skimp out on. Compression when used the wrong way can be the killer of all tones. So where does one go when in need of some proper quality compression? Well, the TLC Compressor is a beautiful place to start, and a beautiful place to end. This powerhouse of a pedal is capable of giving your bass tones (and guitar) all the spank, thump, boom, bang, and bottom you will ever need. The control layout on this pedal is genius! And each one of it's controls capable of so so much. With the guitar it works equally as good. This is a pedal that does not discriminate and loves to play well with others (pedals). The TLC Compressor (just like our last Aguilar review) kick much ass. The one word that comes to mind is quality - quality - quality. Make sure to run back in our archive for more Aguilar reviews. 

Round #1 (Bass Guitar)
My first experiment with the Aguilar TLC consisted of a P Bass and a Ampeg SVT. I dialed in a simple signature snappy P Bass tone, with lots of rounded corners and plenty of punch. I began with some subtle settings, tightening up the overall sound and getting more definition. The TLC quickly dished out more clarity making things sound sweeter and richer. I started first with a medium low level and ended up cranking the amp just about full blast. At low to medium settings the pedal accented all of the bass guitar's and amp's magic and mojo. Then once cranked things really became noticeable. My experience with most compression pedals has been they don't hang in there when in comes down to gigging or recording. Either they become too noisy or they just can't cut it. This is why studio compressors are so praised and so useful. The TLC was more than able to hold it's own. One very nice thing about this puppy, something I really dug, was it's low noise output. This is probably the one thing that turns me off to most comp pedals. With this pedal I was able to blast my bass amp and thump away at my bass guitar's strings like a madman. In the end the pedal stayed chill and quiet. I got no unwanted hissing or white noise. But more importantly was how quiet the pedal was when I wasn't playing. Here is where this pedal comes in handy for those of you looking for a proper gigging compressor. I also plugged the TLC into a higher output bass which worked equally as good. What I liked about playing this pedal through the higher output bass pickups was how well it helped roll off the high end sounds and jagged corners. This brought a lighter fluffier attack to my overall tone which made things sit much nicer when jamming with other instruments. I did also gig with this pedal, and on stage the pedal did more than it's job, falling beautifully into the mix and standing out just enough to accompany the guitar, bass drum, and vocals. Setting the compression to the club's room was cake! On the other side of the spectrum, in more extreme settings, the TLC also did a great job. The pedal's threshold takes care of a huge range of sounds and tones which helps you achieve just any sound or musical style you're going for.

Round # 2 (Electric Guitar)
For me finding a good compression pedal to team up with my guitars seems to something I've always had lots of trouble with. Really there has only been a handful of comp pedals that I've enjoyed. The TLC quickly became one of the few. I broke out my trusty bucker equipped Tele and my buddy's Princeton Reverb. The goal was to dial in a solid plunky country tone with plenty of meat and potatoes. I help back on the amp's reverb and rolled the eq straight up the middle. With a little meddling of the TLC's controls I was able to quickly get the sound I wanted. The guitar sang out lots of spanky goodness making each string sound like it's own thing. I was able to hear every little nuance and accent I played. My chords sounded off with lush clear projection, which made everything sound absolutely beautiful! Smoothness was the name of the game when playing through this pedal. The Tele jangled and chimed through the amp's big'n'bright tone. I was able to get plenty of sustain from my playing without any of the unwanted extreme sappy sounds. The TLC maintained my pick attack and left my guitar's natural character intact. While playing around the guitar I began fooling around with other pedals, such as overdrivers and distortion pedals. With overdrivers the pedal added a chunky ring to the overall sound that made things sound bigger and badder. I noticed my lows became rounder and warmer, with the highs becoming clearer and easier on the ear. I also got beautiful string balance that cut right through like a razor. In minimum compression settings the pedal gave the guitar's sound that hint of juice that helps bring one's tone to life. By adding in some of the pedal's level control I was able to naturally bring the amp's tubs into some pretty sweet gritty overdrive. This sound worked nicely for craning down on some classic country rock chord play. Blues and funk also sounded quite nice. I ran through some sweet licks and rifs and was able to hear every note with absolute authority. There is no doubt on my mind this pedal can hang with al types of music styles. Anyone hunting for a killer all around comp box would do themselves proper by grabbing one of these.

Some compressors squash your tone much too much, or just bloom and rise in the wrong ways. Something we're all too familiar with. The TLC's control layout made things very easy and user friendly. It took a bit of playing with the TLC's controls but once I began trusting my ears everything fell into place. This is what I tell my readers when the write in asking how to use compression, just trust those ears. Another great use I got out of this pedal was recording with it. I was able to get these very balanced, steady, and defined bass and guitar tones which were very easy to work with when mixing. The TLC is also very transparent, and instead of adding color to your tone - it brings what is already there to life.The magic in this pedal all comes from it's control layout and the quality of it's sound. This is what makes this little baby stand out from many others. Aguilar Amplification really did some number when designing this pedal and it shows right off the bat once you plug in and play.


For more info on Aguilar Amplification go to Make sure to also check out Aguilar's awesome amps, pickups, preamps, and cabs. We will be featuring more and more of Aguilar's gear in the near future so make sure to keep them eyes peeled. Hit up our Youtube search engine to hunt down some cool Aguilar pedal vids!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Mighty Verb

Yes yes I know it's been a while since the AWC has been in any kind of action. First let me apologize to both our loyal readers and the awesome gear companies that have kept us afloat. Your patience and contributions have been nothing short of highly appreciated. Let me say this, it was worth the wait! For all you gear addicted tone hunting fiends - do we have some off-the-wall knock your socks off pieces of gear to share with you. We'll be bringing you reads from both familiar and brand spankin' new companies, we've hunted down a handful of great bands to turn you guys onto, and have some new features that will give you guys even more insight into our world of lovely'n'strange musical gear. There is a lot of catching up to do so let's get to it shall we?

We start our comeback with a sexy little number from our good friends at MOD Kits DIY (formally known as Mod Amp Kits). For those of you unfamiliar with the MOD collection they make some of the most fantastic sounding and easy to build DIY kits out there. MOD's pieces are the perfect introduction into the pedal building world for those of you looking to get your hands dirty. These pedals come stacked with quality parts and components, come with straight forward easy to follow building maps, and best of all are all reasonably priced. A perfect way to add some quality kickass sounding gear to any respectable tone arsenal.

 The Verb
Reverb Pedal Kit

  • Based on Belton Digi-Log module.
  • Adds quality reverb to any guitar rig.
  • Enclosure is 1.35 in height, 3.70 in width, 4.70 in length
  • Recommend 9-volt adapter for use with this pedal

The Verb pedal kit comes stacked with everything you'll need to build a killer sounding digital reverb pedal. Once assembled you'll find it kicks out plenty of mojo and warmth, and lots of clean cut definition. The Verb sounds and works great with loads of different stompboxes, guitars, pickups, and amplifiers.This is the perfect build for those newbie DIY rookies looking to up their chops. Just bring to the table a little soldering experience and a bit of patience - and you'll have yourself a rockin' good reverb box that'll be capable of plenty rockin' good tones. Mod provides really easy to read/follow directions (and this goes for every one of their kits) making the Verb's build go by smoothly and without flaws. I was able to knock this build out and have the pedal singing sweet reverb in about an hour.

The first obvious test was to run the Verb pedal solo, through a nice clean amp tone with no other effects/pedals in the chain, to help me see just where this puppy was gonna be capable of taking me. The first amp candidate was my modified Hot Rod Deville. I set the amp's controls straight up the middle, killed the amp's reverb, and plugged into the 2nd input for a hotter beefier signal. For a guitar I pulled out the neck bucker Telecaster with the coil splitting switch and Broadcaster style bridge pickup. I started in the neck pickup position with the humbucker split, picking out a bunch of big open voiced chords. With the pedal bypassed the tone had plenty of sparkle, tight lows, and focused mids. I wanted to compare the tone's weight with both the pedal on and off. Many reverb pedals kill the meat of one's tone, making everything sound hollow and overly flat. Then I clicked on the Verb pedal and to my wonderful surprise found all of my amp's sweet sweet tone still singing with plenty of juice. In fact, the Verb gave my highs more sparkle, my mids more ooohmf, and my lows more snap. This was especially true when I split the buckers coil or switched to the single bridge pickup. In it's low to medium reverb settings the Verb worked great for just a handful of situations or musical styles. The single output/amount knob made it all super duper easy. Before I go on I must say I think it is a great idea to have a reverb pedal with just one control that handles both the output and amount. This makes for no sitting and debating whether you've got the right sound or not. Just plug in and go! I began with some subtle bluesy guitar licks and had the Verb help maintain and hold my notes out in the air just a little bit longer. I noticed no ghostly reverb effects and no loss in the tone's character. Smacking down on some big beefy chords also sounded insanely good, especially when adding in a hint of overdrive. I was able to accent all of my pickings character and style. When chugging away at my axe I could really feel and hear the pedal really do it's magic. It sounded warm and smooth, instead of harsh or too square waved. I then added in a bit more reverb setting the pedal at about 50%. Here I got even more sweet ambiances and accents. Me personally I like extreme reverb thing when messing around with different pedals and effects. The Verb pedal let me get the reverb signal just where I wanted it and never threw my overall tone down the drain. One favorite trick of mine is to take a great sounding reverb pedal and mix it with a big nasty fuzz box. This is how I get lots of my psychedelic fuzz tones. If you've ever heard the band The Black Angels you can get an idea of what type of sound I'm talking about. At full blast the Verb pedal dipped into these frequencies with ease and flawless control. I was able to hold my notes as if playing through compression. Which brings me to another favorite effect of mine - reverb, fuzz, and comp. The Verb pedal worked great with a handful of comp pedals and fuzz boxes I ran it with, and even helped me get some tones I'd had trouble achieving. This quickly made this an all time favorite reverb pedal of mine.What made this such an easy pedal to dial is again it's one knob system. Once I was satisfied with the tones I got from my suped up Deville it was time to plug into something a bit more powerful and classic. Here is where the Super Lead came into play. This amp was the perfect mate for pairing this pedal against. The huge Marshal tone and Les Paul that I played the Verb with all worked splendidly together as if they were made for each other. I first dialed in a natural sounding room reverb effect by cranking in the pedal's knob to about 3-5%. This gave my tone an organic room reverb sound that gave my playing a bit more room and space. I then dial in a big'n'dirty lead tone by pushing the amp's tubes and rolling in like 30% of the Verb's effect. For a digital pedal this little box really did dish out plenty of warmth! Adding in more and more reverb as I played along I began stepping into awesome sounding spring reverb tones. This gave those quick licks and riffs some very very tasty effects. No matter if I played the amp soft or hot, the Verb was able to deliver with spot-on efficiency. Last I used the pedal through one of my amp's effect loops. Here the pedal once again worked beautifully. For those of you tone conscience freaks this is a perfect option. I've played through some very expensive effects processors and much more complex reverb pedals. The Verb was able to respectfully hold it's own with flying colors. In the end I was able to use this pedal in just about every way I wanted. Use it with great amps and guitars, pickups and pedals, and many different musical styles. With the Verb you get great sounding reverb throughout it's entire sweep, giving you quick and simple settings, whether gigging, recording, or practicing. It makes for a sweet go-to reverb box....... and all with simple control. 

For more info on this pedal and the rest of MOD's gear collection go to Make sure to stay tuned for more features from our good friends at MOD, and make sure to use our Youtube search engine at the bottom of our site to see some of these pedal in action. Stay tuned for more folks!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

News and Updates

First let me apologize for the long hiatus, I had the opportunity at an awesome music project which in fact plugged me in even deeper into this world of strange and fantastic sounding gear. I will be back in action by the start of Oct and in full force he month after that. If any of you have any gear that you'd like me to look into please email with that info I'd appreciate it very much. Thank you for your patience and loayalty.

See you all soon,

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Magic in a Box

There's creativity, and then there's Cusack Effects pedals. Since day one I have been a huge fan of these innovative stompbox designs. These are pedals that ooze with originality, superb sound, and one of a kind style. If there exists a perfectionist out there in the pedal building game I'd have to give that title to Jon Cusack. The coming of the Tap-A line was like nothing else before it. I can remember feeling like a first grader in an amusement park the first time I plugged into one of these pedals. All of the colors, buttons, and shiny lights drew me in like a mad sonic piped piper. Usually I am not a fan of multi-switch/multi-button stompboxes, but here was something different. Unlike the hundreds of gimmick driven pedals floating around today (EHX uhhhm uhhhm!), here was something different. These pedals made sense me, sounded great, and the quality of them is tip-top. From the simplest to the most complex creations, Cusack has proven time and time again that their pedals can stand up in just about any application. 



  • Level: Controls output level
  • Mix: Blends original and delayed signals
  • Feedback: Adjusts feedback/repeat amount
  • Delay: Controls Delay time. 50ms-750ms. 
  • Modulation: Selects one of 7 modulation settings. Up is off
  • Divide: Controls how your tap will be divided. 1/8 - Dotted1/8 - 1/4
  • Mode: Controls how the effect will react during breaking. Stay - Snap - Drift
  • Tap Speed: This works as tap-tempo switch. Holding down works as break to alter delay time.
  • Bypass: On/Off Switch. Holding this and Tap Switch changes direction of brake effect.
  • LED (blue): This LED gives you a visual of the tempo
  • LED (red/green): Works as status LED. Red = On / Green = Low Battery
  • In/Out Jacks: Standard input and mono output jacks. 
  • External Tap: This RCA jack can be used to control taps for more than one Tap-A pedal.
  • DC Power Jack: Standard 9VDC power jack.
  • Echo Tone: Internal trimmer adjusts repeat tone. From dark to very bright.


The Tap-a-Delay - Where the hell do I start!? This pedal very quickly introduced me to an entirely new level of on-the-fly delay control. As a standard use delay box this pedal is aces, but digging into it's features is where I quickly learned more than a thing or two. I began slowly, using this pedal as a simple every day ol' delay box. I dialed in a handful of quick delay sounds to get an idea of the pedal's sound and to see how it would get along with my amp's tone. Instantly I was impressed by the pedal's buttery smooth sound, and it wasn't until I read the manual that I even learned it was a digital delay. Unlike many digi-delays, the Tap-a-Delay beams with warmth and lush mojo. This gave the repeats a velvety tone that sat nicely within the mix and accented my every move. I first played this pedal through my buddy's vintage Twin Reverb - This amp would give me the perfect crisp and clear clean tone for hearing and feeling every nuance and tickle that this pedal had to give. I first set the Tap-a-Delay to some quick slapback delay sounds, using my customized Tele as the first guitar choice. Riffing up and down the neck I was able to create smooth and clear-cut echoes that came and went with perfect attack. I'll tell you this much, my so-so country licks never sounded so damn good. With the pedal's mix control I was able to blend in as little or as much of the delayed signal as I wanted, which came in handy for taming or creating extreme echoing effects. Next I experimented with longer delay sounds and switched to the modulation control's subtle setting. The result was a mellow chorusing effect that sat perfectly next to the delay sound. This setting worked out very nicely for adding some character and size to my chords and licks, and for filling in dead space. I continued to work my way through the modulation control listening to every setting and possibility. By the time I was done I had a world of sane and insane chorusing delay sounds. I'll tell you this much - you won't get bored hunting down sounds from this pedal. All in all I heard no change in my amp's root tone, not in the output level nor in the actual tone itself. I continued spreading out the delay time for longer and more complex delay sounds. For those of you delay scientist freaks this pedal works like a charm. There are so many ways to use this pedal within your playing that you can easily get lost inside of it's every echoes. The tap tempo switch I found to be very accurate and easy to use. Stepping on it I didn't feel any hesitation or ruff clicks. Throwing in on the pedal's divide control I was able to tap in just about any delay sound I could imagine. Again I found a level of control in this pedal that blew me away with excitement. But the ultimate cool feature on this pedal, at least my personal favorite, was the breaking option. By holding down on the tap tempo switch I was able to slow the delay time into strange and wonderful sound effects. Here is where the Tap-a-Delay's mode switch comes into play. With this switch you get three options; Stay/Snap/or Drift. In the Stay position the delay either slows down or speeds up with every hold and release. Letting go of the switch will leave you in whichever delay time you end up at. Very cool right!? The Snap position (my favorite) slows down or speeds up, depending on how you have it set, and letting go returns to the original delay time. Then last but not least there is the Drift mode. Here the delay time slows or speeds up and slowly drifts back to your original delay time once you let go of the switch. To change the break effect all you have to do is hold down both the bypass and tap switches, giving either falling or climbing delay effects. With the breaking effect I was able to create some maddening sound effect. All it took was one part fuzz box, one part imagination, and the Tap-a-Delay. The result was swishing, whirling, winding, slow motion, growling, haunting, bending, (you get the idea), delay sounds that left me with a huge smile on my face. But wait, there's more! Inside the pedal I found a nice little trimmer for darkening or brightening the delays repeats. This little trimmer came in handy for matching the pedal's sound to different amps, pickups, and styles. The super cool thing about this pedal is that it works for all types of players. If you're into simple straight to the point delay sounds this pedal is it. And if you're like me and enjoy finding strange new ways to create sounds, the Tap-A-Delay has all the tools. Jon Cusack has once again out done himself. I can honestly see no way for him to top this one. When all is said and done, this pedal kicks much ass. End of discussion!

For more info on this and the rest of the Tap-A line, go to or click the direct link in our sidebar. There is a ton of killer info on these pedals and a wide flavor of insanely cool sounding stompboxes. AWC will be continuing on down the Cusack line so make sure to stay tuned.

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Lesson in Splendid Tone


Handsome, well built, simple, and great sounding - is how I would describe the Manifold Drive if I only had a few words to do so. Everything on this pedal (and I mean everything) is super freakin' sexy and right on target. From it's gun metal grey finish and hip simple artwork, to it's very cool LED and tiny toggle switch. Right from the start it was clear this was no ordinary dirt box. Sporting a duo of controls for gain and volume, and a switch which dishes out dark-bright-and flat signals - the Manifold Drive is capable of a huge variety of sounds. The volume control alone has enough output to send your signal into natural grinding'n'growling overdrives, but it is it's gain control that really delivers the magic when introducing it into your amp's tone. The 3-way toggle works like an EQ for fine tuning and further shaping your overall sound. This comes in handy when having to compensate high and low frequencies in certain venues and rooms. The pedal rocks true bypass circuitry for keeping your treasured amp tones in check and untampered. The Manifold Drive can run off of a 9V battery or (+) DC adapter. The pedal ships with a (-) adapter for those using daisy chain power supplies and the like. Last but not least, these babies are built on a high quality PCB's, for durable and consistent designs. 

I began my rundown of this pedal with a custom built Tele and 15 watt head with 1x12 cabinet. The guitar's tapable neck bucker and hand wound bridge pickup made for a wide variety of tasty tasty tones that the Manifold Drive would easily accent and bring to life. The amp was set to a sparkling clean tone, with it's EQ stack at noon and volume at about 30%. I started with the Manifold Drive's toggle switch in it's flat setting, it's volume matched to the amp's output, and the gain control up to about 10-15%. Here the pedal kicked out a mellow very natural sounding grit which brought out all of my amp's smooth and chiming tone. The subtle grit that the Manifold created was exactly that of a proper tube amp on the verge of breaking up. In the bridge pickup position I was able to easily control the pedal's overdrive and able to get a perfectly clean signal by easing up on my pick attack. With the Tele's neck bucker the Manifold pushed out a thicker and even smoother dirt tone. The overdrive was still quite mellow, only now by digging in and grinding down on my guitar's strings I was able to bring out more of the pedal's character. In both pickup positions the Manifold Drive worked exceptionally well at maintaining my amp's natural tone and guitar's feel. All very good good stuff for such a mellow gritty tone. While in this subtle overdrive setting I also played around with the pedal's toggle switch positions, first with the dark setting, then the bright. In the dark setting the highs from the amp became more forgiving and much lighter. This made everything warmer and gave the overall sound more bloom and boom. This setting would later work beautifully at shaving off some of my AC15's treble frequencies, making it easier dirty up and play loud. In the bright toggle setting the pedal dished out more ear candy tones. Setting the Manifold Drive bright added a crisp top-end which helped make every string punch and stand out more. This was perfect for getting the pedal's overdrive to cut through any mix. Next I set the Manifold Drive's gain at about 30%, with it's volume a bit louder, and it's toggle in the dark setting. Playing this pedal setting through a Les Paul, with the 15 watter set slightly hot, and a 2x12 cab in the mix - created one of the best rock rhythm tones I'd ever heard. The combination of the 15 watt head's natural dirt and pedal's super smooth grime made for one grade A golden rock tone. Here is where I really began hearing the difference between this pedal and the average ol' TS808 style pedal.. I was able to hear these subtle harmonics, overtones, and undertones when digging into the guitar's strings and working complex chords and riffs. I was also able to hear the Manifold's signature sound when bending and double stopping. It was something in the actual grit that became accented and much richer. Pushing the pedal's volume even higher helped to create some creamy woman tones and violin-like lead tones. This would become bigger and much more focused as I began adding in more of the pedal's gain control. I also rocked this pedal through my upgraded and customized Hot Rod Deville. This is an amp I use mostly for clean tones and for getting pure pedal dirt signals, The four 100 watt 10" speakers in this amp give it endless headroom and make it the perfect amp for hearing what a pedal is really capable of. Here I played with the Manifold Drive in it's medium to highest gain settings. I began with my amp in it's home run setting (which I won't share with you) and the pedal with it's controls at noon and switch in it's flat setting. Bypassed the amp produced a huge booming clean tone that let every string come across with massive clarity. Stepping on the pedal introduced a tight rumbling overdrive that hit my chest like a ton of bricks. I went from one guitar to the next, and each time the pedal worked it's magic. Cranked to the fullest the pedal also surprised me. I honestly thought with as much output as it's volume had that the sound would become muddy. But this was not the case. All the way form it's tiniest sound to it's biggest, the Manifold Drive came through beautifully. My last test with this pedal was to see if it would get along in a pedalboard situation. First I just plugged it in to see if there would be any excess noise - and there was none. Stacking this pedal up with clean boosters and putting it in front of other dirt boxes also sounded quite nice. I was able to take my pedals into new heights and create wild and tasteful tones. I also matched it up with some delays, reverbs, and other modulation pedals which really sounded off the hook. In the end there was no way to get a bad sound out of this pedal. Electronic wizards Wes Kuhnley and Peter Bregman sought out to create a collection of pedals that would express the sounds and tastes they most wanted to hear. With the Manifold Drive they not only accomplished their mission to design something unique - they also created something for us tone hounds, something we could appreciate and incorporate into our own world of tones. Get some and get your rock on!


For more info on Field Effects/Resonant Electronic Design go to There you will find more cool info on the Field Effects line and some sweet insight on the Resonant Electronic Design amp collection. Check back with us soon for another Field Effects feature - coming atcha very very soon.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Top Finds of 2010: Nace Amps

It is no secret I am a sucker for a great sounding stompbox. But even greater than my desire for guitar pedals is my love for superbly built, great sounding amplifiers. Like the world of stompboxes, today just like yesterday exists a wide variety of boutique and commercial amp companies - all there to tempt us into snagging up one of their creations. For those of us who have been around long enough we know finding those few golden pieces of gear is not an easy task. But the gift one receives when he/she finally comes across that keeper of an amp is something that cannot be compared to anything else. Growing up I was fortunate enough to spend some time with some real heavyweight song writers and studio hounds. The one thing all these cats had in common?.... Their knowledge in amp tones and amp history. And the one piece of advice that all these cats had to give was "Play, collect, and hang on to as many good sounding amps as possible." Boy has this been truer than true. These last 5 or so years has shown us a steady come back in low and mid watt amplifiers, and for good reason too. With many players cutting their stage volumes in half, the need for great sounding low watt amps is a must. Well once again I have been blessed with another spectacular discovery - one that has shown me once again that deep rooted passion for building and designing musical gear still exists. For those of you who have experience with Nace Amps you know the magic they possess. And for those of you new to the Nace name hold on to your picks, cause here comes a doozy.



  • Class “A” 5 watts average power clean, 7 watts average power rock distorted with a 6V6 power tube.
  • Cathode biased: uses proprietary “phase invariant cathode biasing” which reduces resistor/capacitor cathode biasing phase distortion.
  • Power tubes: EL34, 6L6, or 6V6
  • Pre-amp tubes: 12AT7, 5751, ECC83, 12AX7
  • Controls: volume, treble, bass, reverb
  • Input: ¼ mono
  • Output: ¼ mono – plug into one of two outputs 16 ohm, 8 ohm
  • Reverb on/off 1/4 mono - external switch pedal to turn on or off the reverb
  • Built in power conditioning: proprietary “trans flux power module” which enables the above specifications to be valid for the following input profile: 117vrms +/15%,48 Hz to 1 KHz or from 100VDC to 180VDC. Specifications shall not change over the specified input voltage/frequency range. Ideal for those “out of the way” gigs.
  • Very low noise: better than -60db. Studio/stage quality ideal for micing or recording. 120 Hz amp hum is gone. Note: guitar and pedal hum is a separate issue.
  • Also available in 1x12 combo with 12” Celestion Greenback - or - 1x12 combo 12" speaker ready


If I had to put into just a few words I would say "Giant monster in a  little box." This was the character that this little amp put out from the get-go, and from there it would onyl get better and better. For me (like for many of you I'm sure) there is nothing better than a simple, great sounding and elegant, well built amplifier. The Nace M2-7R is all of these things and nothing less. I found this little beast to be the perfect go-to amp for both live and studio applications, a great little amp for practicing and writing, and a stunning amp for incorporating into it stompboxes of all types. The M2-7R got along beautifully with speaker cabs of all sizes, guitars of all makes, and playing styles of every color. I found the amp to be very versatile for it's size and very quiet at it's highest levels (no unwanted noise here folks). Quality wise the amp is right on the money - all the way from it's cool knobs and clean tolex work to it's guts. For the price you couldn't ask for a better amp. At the end of the day though, when all was said and done, it was all about the amp's tone. Here is where amp guru Art Nace really put his talents and soul into this design.

The first couple weeks I had the amp I used it only with a 1x12 cab. This was really all I needed. The amp made it so easy to dial in desirable tones that I found no reason to plug into it anything else. Having the 1x12 cab was nice for dragging around to shows and setting up in recording sessions. I was able to get tons of different tones on the fly and able to blend in a handful of my favorite stompboxes (which all sounded and played fantastic!) For those of you fellow pedal junkies you will absolutely love this amp. First thing I wanted to hear when I plugged into this amp was it's clean tones. My experience with pulling sweet sounding clean tones from low watt amps hasn't been all that great to tell you the truth - but here things were different. The Nace M2-7R was able to produce clean tones sweet and powerful enough to rival some of my favorite classic blackface and tweed amps. Getting overall clear and sparkling tones was easy, getting the amp to kick and punch was a cinch, and taking those tones to the next level a piece of cake. On it's own the amp kicked out plenty of spank and clarity. Each pickup I played through the amp whether it be single coils or humbuckers all did something very special. What stood out from the beginning was how well the amp let each pickup project it's own special tone. Rocking the tone controls from their lowest to their highest settings all sounded great. And fine tuning those controls to fit the room or guitars being played sounded even better. Through my semi-hollow guitar I was able to get everything from beautifully dark jazz tones to jangly chiming classic rock sounds. With the M2-7R's reverb at hand I was able to add in more character and size - making my guitar sound just bigger than life! The amp was very touch sensitive when needed and barked out with plenty of growl when pushing my strings to the limit. Playing quick riffs and runs up and down the neck bloomed and blossomed with precision, making the amp's tone blend in perfectly in band situations and recording sessions. I played a few blues and funk gigs with this amp and it's clean tones definitely hit the mark and then some. At medium gain levels the amp is capable of producing huge sounding rhythm tones. In fact, the amp was much louder than I expected it to be, and very very quiet on the excess noise side of things. Getting the amp to give up some slight grit or mellow crunch was very very easy. With it's volume at about 10'o'clock things can start to get pretty crunchy, depending on what pickups you got on hand. With the semi-hollow's buckers all I had to do was a little bit of digging into the strings and wahla! One pickup that really stood out with the amp at a medium gain settings was the filtertron, and the P90 now that I think of it. This isn't to say others sounded bad, I just mean for me this are the two pickups types that I usually have the tuffest time dialing in - because of either noise issues or otherwise. I was able to get these insanely aggressive clean tones through my buddy's Grestch - those rockin' clean tones that seem to be hanging on to their last inch of clarity. Good stuff for blues, all around rock, and rhythm work. At medium gain levels the amp also pushed out killer alt-rock and punk rock tones. The P90 proved a great pup for this. Later when plugging into bigger cabs I found the power of this amp transfered over perfectly. Not all low watt amps sound good through all cab sizes, something I have had to learn the hard way. The amp's treble and bass controls proved versatile enough to match to plenty of gigs, rooms, and plenty of musical styles. The sweep within each tone control rolled beautifully and covered more ground than I expected them to. Going from zero to ten wasn't harsh or extreme, instead subtle and pronounced. This goes for the reverb circuit as well. I was able to get small bouncy verb tones, medium and large room verbs, and haunting good hall sounds. A real treat for amp of this size. Going into it's higher gain settings I discovered the M2-7R was able to hold it's own with much larger much more powerful amps. My Eminence Red Fang equipped 1x12 cab proved a great match for the Nace's wide range of sounds - but time did come to plug into my buddy's 2x12 Vintage 30 rosewood handbuilt cabinet. Never have I heard such a loud, chest punching guitar cab. The Nace matched up with this cab was like voodoo! I don't know if it's the wood, the build, or the speakers - but the combo of all these things stacked up with the M2-7R was quite epic! My 60's build Strat was able to get me a world of big'n'bright rock tones which brought me instantly into Hendrix heaven, and I mean proper authentic Hendrix tones, not wimpy wannabe sounds. On it's own the amp was able to kick out some pretty impressive rich distortion. And it seemed the louder and louder I pushed the amp, the more it would come to life. When I finally did put a clean booster in front of the amp everything came to life ten-fold. The booster help me to achieve these crisp and clean lead tones which accented the amp's natural tone and filled the air with mojo. This was also true of overdrive pedals in line with the amp's dirt. Everything from Tube Screamer type pedals to more aggressive dirt boxes did a wonderful job in bringing out more from this amp. Even when I pushed huge stompbox levels through the amp I didn't find it to sound flimsy or overpowered. At full blast the M2-7R was very usable and capable of further tone shaping. If you've played low watt amps and have ever cranked them you've noticed that one problem that many of them share is that they can't be manipulated or tamed once you got them full power. Things start to get muddy, too mid-rangy, and just overall too damn harsh. The M2-7R can more than hold it's own when cranked way on high, and beautifully take on the might of any dirt box. I was even able to push fuzz boxes through the amp and still get good string articulation and clarity. Getting the amp to clean up was as easy as rolling back my guitar's volume control - and all without loss of the amp's character. The really cool thing was that this amp was able to go from blackface type tones when setup clean, to plexi-ish sounds when cranked loud. Very cool stuff if you ask me. Gotta give it up to Art for that one, very very clever indeed my friend. In the end the M2-7R was able to pull from me inspiration and the drive to play. Which is more than anyone can ask for. If you're looking for an easy to use workhorse boutique quality amp - you must try one of these puppies.  What more can I say?


Art Nace also lends his talents to the world of Trillium Amps, which if you haven't seem I highly suggest you also check out. The M2-7R also comes in combo form (which is pictured here). Nace also produces their own matching cabs for those of you needing the whole package. For more info on these killer little amps go to Or click on the direct links on our sidebar. You can see one of these bad boys in action by typing Nace Amps in our Youtube search engine below. Stay tuned for more. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Have much fear - Tonebutcher is here

 Bronx Cheer
dynamic fuzz


I must say it has been an honor to have come across such a cool and creative stompbox company. Each and every Tonebutcher pedal that I have had the chance to try has been nothing short of amazing! In each one of these boxes I have found the ultimate in excitement and madness. Besides the crazy cool sounds that this particular Tonebutcher pedal is capable of it also sports the super hip signature Tonebutcher look - A look which by the way reminds me of a tail light on an old Volvo that I once drove. The Bronx Cheer is certainly a dynamic fuzz to say the least, and an effect that will inspire and pull from you tons of wild child riffs. Plugging into this bad boy I found myself drenched in a world of super thick and syrupy fuzz tones. And probably the most impressive thing about the Bronx Cheer is it does what it does with only a couple of controls. On it's face there are only two controls - one controlling the pedal's effect output, and a switch that flips between wild and wilder fuzz sounds. For those of you synth-fuzz loving, extreme rock tone addicts, this pedal will be a dream. A big part of wha this pedal dishes out has to do with what pickups you play it with and how you pluck and pick your guitar's strings.

At first go I thought to myself "How, when, and where will I use this pedal?" The fuzz tones  that were blaring from my amp had me overwhelmed and ready for new heights. I'll say this much, If you stompboxes adventures have only led you to the average everyday ol' fuzz box, you're in for quite a treat. Getting hooked on this pedal is as easy as plugging into a 100 watt monster and strumming away - something that will have you stuck for hours and hours. After cranking both the pedal and the amp I wanted to see what kind of range the Bronx Cheer had - so next came taming this beast. I began by setting the Super Lead clean and serene, and setting the pedal at it's mellowest level. This got me a tight and super focused fuzz tone that rumbled and filled the room with magic. My amp bled out a rhythm tone alien to anything I'd ever heard before. It was still chill enough to sit beautifully in a mix, yet aggressive enough to let cut through beautifully. The Les Paul's smooth sounding humbuckers ended up being a perfect candidate for the Bronx Cheer. Everything from fierce blues tones to slamming alt-rock guitar tones were ripe for the picking. Slowing I began rolling up the pedal's level while still in the mellower toggle switch setting. At mid levels the Bronx Cheer was entire different beast. Here it began dishing out subtle hints of frizzed out/synth-like undertones. The super thick'n'creamy fuzz tone was still there 100%, only now it was chased by a completely new animal. These tones were still very usable for blues licks and rock n'roll of all types. It especially sounded killer being played to dirtier rock flavors, such as garage, punk, and hard rock. Adding in some analog delay or reverb and I had a massive lead tone. Way up on the guitar's neck the pedal's tone stung with chilling wide open harmonics. Last, before going to the pedal heavier toggle switch setting I went ahead and blasted the level knob. Here the Super Lead sang and growled like a mythological ancient Greek beast. The only limits of what could be done were my imagination. Once I got an idea of the first setting's range, I flipped on over to the Bronx Cheer's wild side. I also swapped out the Les Paul for something with single coils - first P90's then a Strat with a set of spectacular handwound 60's spec pickups. My first impression was vintage Japanese fuzz meets classic Arbiter + robotic synth sputter. I don't know about you but I do love me a fuzz box that converts single note hits into huge sounding chords. Playing even the most elementary of single note guitar runs sounded like World War III. I could strike a single note and listen as it warped and transformed into a being of it's own. And still as wild and freaked out sounding as this setting was, it still had the original smooth and articulate fuzz sound that it had at low levels. Like the humbuckers the P90's created a sound all their own, being very punchy and in your face. This sound also ended up working quite nicely through low and med watt amps, and single speaker cabs. Containing and pushing the pedal's sound out through a smaller package seemed to bring out even more oddball harmonics and undertones. Again cranking the pedal and playing way up on the neck made for some interesting effects, and even cooler was dialing in some gritty amp tones then playing the Bronx Cheer through it. My chords all sounded twice as insane and exaggerated, lines and riffs became much more complex, and the simplest of licks sounded enormous. And as I began to delve deeper into the Bronx Cheer's mean side through different amp and guitars, I began to hear possibilities for other instruments, such as bass and keys, and even vocals. On hand I had myself an old Dano bass, a Rhodes keyboard, and a very hip electric mandolin. Each of these gadgets did something different when played through the Bronx Cheer, and all of them being down right awesome. This is something not possible with all fuzz pedal, especially with fuzz pedals that are a bit on the wilder side. Yes it's fine and dandy to own a crazy wild noise machine for experimentation and trickery. But this is only true if you can actually use those sounds. Many of the freakout fuzz machines that exist out there today are only that - noise machines. You get those pedals home and realize they can't be used for anything other than noise. The Tonebutcher Bronx Cheer is the alternative to many of these pedals. Once getting a hold of what this pedal is capable of it makes it almost impossible to walk away from, and mainly because of how usable it actually really is. I found dialing in the sounds I wanted was a cinch, getting completely original fuzz sounds was cake, and getting this pedal to go bananas was a walk in the park. I can only imagine what other strange and beautiful creation Tonebutcher has in store me next.


You know where to go for more info on Tonebutcher.... but in case you don't the website is or click the direct link. You can also check out some video demos on our Youtube Search Engine at the bottom of our site, just type in Tonebutcher and the pedal you're seeking info on. We do have more to come very very soon so please hang tight you stompbox freaks.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Lay Down Your Soul

Sometime in the middle of last year while surfing the web for new and exciting gear outfits, I came across this keen little pedal company by the name of Penfar FX. Instantly I was drawn in by the magnificent looking stompboxes that flooded the Penfar website. To top it off not only were the pedals all lookers, but they were all also reasonably priced. I was instantly hooked, and even more so curious beyond belief. After a little research I'd discover a handful of great write-ups and video demos - this would only fuel my interest even further of course. This led me to contact Penfar FX's builder and creator Chad Leavitt. Chad was more than happy to work with me in having AWC feature some of his creations. The outcome? Read on.


Soul Taker

  • Invoke = Volume
  • Body = Presence
  • Agony = Tone
  • Pain = Gain
  • 22AWG Handwired
  • 1/4" Neutrik Jacks
  • True Bypass Switching
  • 16mm Alpha Potentiometers 
  • 2.1mm (-) DC Power Jack
  • Heavy-Duty Steel Knobs
  • Hand Built in the USA


This was by far one of THE coolest finds I made last year. From it's build quality to it's guts, and versatility to it's stunning tone - the Soul Taker is there to impress. Across the board you will find controls for volume (Invoke), presence (Body), tone (Agony), and gain (Gain). Together these four knobs along with it's brilliant circuit, make the Soul Taker capable of a handful of killer overdrive and distorted tones. As an overdrive pedal the Soul Taker is an honest to goodness no-frills grit pushing machine. You can land anywhere from splatty crunchy overdrives - to grime soaked woman tones. Entering it's distortion capabilities the Soul Taker can do everything from smooth big'n'bold rhythm tones - to sustain heavy lead tones. And it does this through any guitar or pickup you stack it up against. I'm sure many of you have had dirt boxes that sound great through one guitar, then you go and switch that axe out for something different only to find it's all down hill from there. You won't have that issue here, read on.

I began my demo of this pedal through my semi-hollow Hagstrom Viking. I figured the humbuckers would be a perfect place to start for pushing the pedal through it's paces. Amp of choice was a AC15 based head, first hooked up through a 1x12 cab, then through a 2x12. I started by setting up the 15 watter as clean as possible with it's tone at noon and bright switch to the off position. The Soul Taker I started also with it's tone (Agony) and presence (Body) controls at noon, it's gain (Pain) up to about 15%, and the volume (Invoke) matched to get along with the amp's output. Once engaged the pedal kicked out a mellow gritty overdrive tone which worked beautifully for all types of rhythm guitar tones. Something that stood out about the Soul Takers tone, which was quite nice, was it's ability to cut through without sounding harsh or honky. With the treble pickup the pedal's tone had a very forgiving brightness to it which made each string sparkle with attitude. In the rhythm pickup things got smoother and warmer. Getting back to the amp's clean tone was a cinch - just a bit of tapering from the guitar's volume control and I was good to go. In both pickup positions the pedal let the amp and guitar's natural tone shine through beautifully. Something I always look out for when playing a dirt box for the first time is the change in my amp's tone. I begin by setting the pedal to a low grit amount, move up from there, and listen listen listen. If a pedal can't pass the test at low dirt settings forget about them doing your root tone justice at high gain settings. The Soul Taker didn't add any extreme coloration or dullness. Leaving my amp the push fourth it's rockin' good tone. Next I began playing with the pedal's medium overdrive/low distortion settings. From really low to mid gain settings the Soul Taker holds it's own dishing out sweet sounding overdrive tones. Once you hit past the medium gain settings and on into the high settings - the Soul Taker begins it's venture into it's distortion tones. Set just right you can get these splendid overdrive/distortion hybrid dirt tones. Depending on where you have the pedal's tone control set the Soul Taker is capable of everything from classic woman tones to sharp aggressive rock tones. I began playing with the guitar's tone and volume controls which ended up producing some pretty interesting sounds. Some pedals you take your guitar's tone control back even a little and it's all down hill from there. Same goes when you start playing with your volume knob. The Soul Takers circuit was definitely built to get along with on-the-fly adjustments and fine-tuning of your overall tone. Next I cranked the pedal's gain up to full blast and got to picking. Here the pedal turned into a completely different animal. Harmonically charged overtones and undertones swam and flew all about, making leads, licks, and rocking riffs sound like magic. A hint of analog delay and I had me one of the most epic lead tones I'd ever gotten from a dirt pedal. At about this point the pedal had proven more than worthy of doing my guitar's handwound humbuckers justice. Time came to break out my 60's Strat build and put it's single coil pups to the test. And just as beautifully as it worked with the buckers - it did so as well with the single coils. I was able to get the same amount of versatility, feel, and overall smooth tone. With the Strat's pickups it was a bit more harsh though - perfect for alt-rock, punk, and everything in between. At low gain gettings with the presence and tone just behind noon I was able to get these amazing blues tones which were quite a surprise and quite a treat. I was able to riff and dig into chords with perfect string articulation and a great amount of dynamics. Then setting the amp to a slight grit itself things got even more aggressive and wild. I was able to pull these stinging fuzz/overdrive hybrid tones which my little 15 watter really loved pushing out. The combo of the amp's dirty goodness and Soul Takers crunch created something more than worth listening to. It was time to plug into something with more juice - and so then came the Super Lead. I disengaged the Soul Taker, set the amp to a loud slight grit, and began working in the pedal's dirty tone. Here I found the pedal's volume pedal worked quite nicely for taking the amp's natural grit to the next level. At the lowest possible gain setting with the volume blaring and the tone matched to the amp's - I was able to create something very special. If you've ever heard those slamming good old school Soundgarden Badmotorfinger tones you can imagine what was coming from my amp. With an upgraded Les Paul Studio things would only get better. By the time I was done with my first run of this pedal I had myself a squadron of rock tones. Things like putting a clean booster in front of or behind the Soul Taker also sounded good. And this is only the beginning of the Penfar FX rock and roll adventure - besides this pedal I've also had a chance to try a couple more, and all of them just as good as this one. But more on that soon to come. I say do yourselves a favor and try some of these pedals for your setups, absolutely no way to go wrong.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Feb: Updates/News

First and foremost I would like to once again apologize for the lack in write-ups and for our short 2010 Top Finds. If you read the post at the beginning of Dec you know that I ran into some trouble with an external hard drive going bad. Rewriting and catching up has proven a task much harder than I first expected it to be. I am happy to announce that with the help of some good friends, some late night writing missions, and patience - I was able to get things back on track. All of the remaining scheduled posts for our Top Finds of 2010 will still be featured throughout the next couple months amongst the regular reviews and articles. Keep your eyes peeled for some more AWC favorites and some amazing new finds. I would also like to take a moment to thank our regular supporters, welcome our new friends, and thank you our loyal readers. Analog War Cry is working on moving to a proper .com within the next couple months so please keep an eye out for that and keep on spreading the word. I have some more giveaways and contests coming soon which you guys will absolutely dig. Again, thank you so much for your patience everyone and for hanging in there with me.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Top Finds of 2010 / MXR Micro Flanger

MXR has been doing it and doing it well for quite some time now. This is a company that has been steadily creating magic in a box for as long as I can remember, and a company that through hard work has become a favorite of players from every walk of life. Thinking back on my own pedal adventures I cannot think of one stage in my playing career where I have not had an MXR pedal as a part of my tonal arsenal. The MXR line has consisted of everything from timeless classics, no-frills champions, one of a kind originals, and let's also not forget the many MXR sleepers that have come to the surface to make our tonal dreams come true. Recently MXR chose to redesign a handful of their most sought after creations, breaking them down to their purest form, and releasing them onto the masses. Simple these pedals may be but nontheless quite useful within any situation. This little collection of pedals was one of the coolest of 2010, and below I will share with you my favorite of th bunch. This is a stompbox that once again shows us the beauty of the analog circuit and why less is most definitely more. 
Micro Flanger

  • All analog circuitry with bucket brigade technology
  • Two control knobs for simple operation
  • Faithful recreation of the classic 80's pedal


This new M152 Micro Flanger is based around the sound of the super popular M117 Flanger. With the ability to knock out many of M177's tones and many of it's own, the M152 stands a beast in it's own right. Sporting an analog circuitry and designed with kickass bucket brigade technology, you can be sure you'll get the warmest and smoothest of tones. A true bypass footswitch has also been added to this design for the ultimate in tone preservation and clarity. Control layout is pretty simple - Rate knob for controling cycling speed, and Regen knob for dialing in overall intensity. I in fact have had lots of experience with the original 80's M177, and if there's one thing that has always impressed me about this pedal it is it's range. I was excited to discover the Micro Flanger rides side by side with it's classic cousin covering may of the same ground. How MXR was able to pack so much tone into such a small box I do not know, and do not care. All I know is that with all the gigantic stompboxes floating around out there it's nice to see something that saves pedalboard space while at the same time getting straight to the point. 

With an effect like the flanger you always have to be very careful how you use it. Dial in too much of the flanger and your root tone will suffer, but then use too little and you won't get the effect's point across. The key is to tap into that magical little area where your root tone and the effect will get along their best. With the M152 Micro Flanger it wasn't all that tuff to find it's sweet spots, thanks to it's stunning sounding analog circuitry and simple yet versatile control layout. I found the M152 capable of producing spot-on vintage flange tones, as well as rich and aggressive modern sounds. I first paired the pedal up with a big'n'beefy 100 watt Super Lead and my single P90 Junior copy. I worked in a mellow slow and subtle flange effect from the M152 and dialed in a nice'n'gritty rhythm tone from the amp. I picked out a handful of pretty chords to accentuate the pedal's velvety sound. The pedal produced a glowing type of effect that added imagination to my guitar's tone. The flange effect blew in and out like a mellow breath, never taking over my amp's tone while letting it's voice be heard. The subtle effect worked great for adding size to my chords and for giving the overall tone some sweet character. At medium flange setting it was more of the same. Here I found some of the coolest sounds from this pedal. Some flanger pedals you can't even dial into their medium settings without having things sound too strong. Here is where I give MXR some major props. They designed a flanger and not some extreme strange cousin. Both at high and slow speeds the Micro Flanger creates absolute magic. The little bit of grit being produced from my amp married perfectly to the Micro Flanger's warm and focused sound. Here I kicked in a bit more gain which again accented the flange effect beautifully. For those of you high gain freaks wielding hot rodded super amps, this flanger will do wonders for you. It doesn't matter if you use P90's, humbuckers, Strat or Tele single coils, or any of the many other pickups out there - the Micro Flanger will do you proper. Plugging in my buddy's Les Paul got me some more really hot tones. The fatness and weight of the humbuckers drove the pedal to really knock out some killer sounding classic sounding flange. Rolling the amp up to lead tones and getting the Micro Flanger to create stinging flange tones was absolute Rock God heaven. The effect swam in and out through the room helping to create wild psychedelic visions. Chugging down on big power chords, digging into double stops, bending strings, and striking down on harmonics all sounding spectacular, if not epic! Really there isn't much more to say about this little gun metal grey demon. Go out grab one plug it in and see for yourself. A small footprint enclosure, two knobs, and a simple design is all it takes to make this one of the coolest pedals in the scene today. The M152 Micro Flanger is small, elegant, and packs a punch much larger than most pedals twice it's size. It is pedals like these that make MXR the company it is today. With the experience that these cats own and the group of builders/designers that back their play - MXR continues to sit way up high on the totem pole. 


For more info on the M152 and the rest of the MXR/Dunlop Manufacturing collection go to You can read up on a ton a cool info on many many of their products and check out some really cool vids. We will continue to bring you more from our friends at Dunlop so make sure to stay tuned. More to come very soon!