Friday, January 25, 2013

Effect Pedal News From NAMM

Since I'm trapped at a desk in the suddenly frigid mid-Atlantic, Nathan Sousa has offered to play the P90Noir "man on the street" at NAMM 2013. Nate spent the day strolling through the Anaheim Convention Center and visiting with the biggest and best names in guitar gear.

From our friends at Cusack, Earthquaker Devices, Empress, VFE, Zvex, Reverend, Wampler, and Mojo Hand, to Dunlop, Marshall, and EHX - Nate took some great photos and shared some comments on the new gear we'll all be craving in the coming months.

Mojo Hand Pedals - Photo Courtesy of Nathan Sousa
What's posted here is just the tip of the iceberg. Check out this thread on TGP to see even more.

Nathan Sousa Reporting:

Day 1 at NAMM 2013 has been a success, and I wanted to report my findings and thoughts here.

First, I headed over to Mojo Hand Effects. Tried out basically their whole line, and my favorite box was the Iron Bell. Sort of a fuzzy distortion, Brad explained it as a Gilmourish fuzz that is meant to stack well with overdrives. I was also really impressed with the Rook Royale -- the normal Rook side being an awesome drive with a few clipping options, but then you add in the EP-type boost with a treble control. The Xotic EP was always too woofy for me, so this is a nice "fix."
Mojo Hand Pedals - Photo Courtesy of Nathan Sousa

Next,  I went by Caroline Guitar and tried out the new Kilobyte Delay. This thing is RAD, man. I love Caroline for their Wave Cannon, but this is another reason to pay attention to what Phillipe and the gang are up to. Really cool control over the gain of the repeats-- you are able to get some great saturation and grit. This is what I wanted the Supa Puss to do but didn't. And there is also the switch to have runaway repeats, which is great for on-the-fly spurts of craziness. I had a ton of fun playing with this one.

Wampler Pedals - Photo Courtesy of Nathan Sousa
After Caroline, I swung by the Wampler booth. I got to chat with them a bit about their new pedal, the Dual Fusion. It's a great idea for a pedal- mixing the Paisley and the Euphoria together. They mentioned that it still needs some tweaks in the EQ sections, but it's getting close. The proto also does not have a way to quickly change the order of the effects-- you just have to move the ins/outs around. But perhaps this will change on the production model. It sounded great, and even though you lose a few controls (bass on Euphoria, counter on Paisley), it was super super versatile, and of course the stack was great. 

Rockett Pedals - Photo Courtesy of Nathan Sousa
After that I headed over to Rockett. I was chatting with them about their new Mark Sampson line, when up walks Mark Sampson! That was cool to shake his hand and meet him briefly. They started chatting about their new pedals, and got to hear each of them. They all sounded great, but the two that really stood out were the High Top and the unmarked Klon-esque pedal. The High Top really took your amp into Matchless/AC territory and had a great EQ and glassiness to it. Truly a DC30 sound in a box. The Klon-esque pedal (not sure I heard a name) is two sides: one has simple volume/tone, and the other has more control-- one switch toggles the two sides, the other switch is bypass. Really cool sounding, and is more appealing to me than the Klon for the added gain stage and more EQ control. Don't know when this will be out but I hope I can afford it! The other Sampson pedals should be out in March.

Cusack Pedals - Photo Courtesy of Nathan Sousa
My next stop was Cusack Effects. Really fun trying out their line since I had not had much experience with it. The drive section was cool- and the way they tweaked the Screamer Fuzz (a P90Noir favorite) to have a little OD and a little Fuzz is very cool. Their switching system was really great, including a tap tempo, presets, and soft switches. Seemed like a great option if you're looking for a looper with options. And their delay: wow! I had never heard one, but the tone of the repeats was fantastic. And it's got tap subdivisions plus tons of other options. Sounded killer. They also get the award for most colorful booth. A.J. mentioned it was like working in a kid's playground! The most exciting item at Cusack was the Goblin amplifier. This is the 15 watt little brother to the Kingsnake, and it's a ridiculous amount of amp in a small and affordable package.

VFE Pedals - Photo Courtesy of Nathan Sousa
After Cusack, I went over and checked out VFE next. Peter was there and walked through his whole line. All very cool sounding, and the new addition of simpler pedals (Junior Series) was a cool add. If you have not yet joined the Kickstarter campaign for the Junior pedals, get in now. It's a great deal with the benefit of supporting a great builder. For $80 you get the Junior of your choice, a t-shirt, and a sticker. But act fast. There are only about 20 slot of the $80 early-bird option left. After that, it's $100 for a pedal, shirt, and sticker. It's still an amazing deal for such quality effects.

Earthquaker Devices Pedals - Photo Courtesy of Nathan Sousa
Then I was off to Earthquaker Devices. I love these guys! Their Talons and Dispatch Master were two of my favorite pedals I got in 2012. And the Organizer and Dirt Transmitter are P90Noir favorites. This year they were showing off the new compressor, the Warden -- and also their new reverb/delay monster, the Disaster Transport Sr. The Warden was cool, I didn't play it-- just heard it. It sounded like a good comp should, but I didn't personally get the feel of it. The DTSR has two sides: one has modulation, one has reverb. You can use them separately or together, and the combination is hypnotizing - amazing ambiance and tons of options abound.

Dunlop Fuzz Face Minis - Photo Courtesy of Nathan Sousa
The Dunlop booth was buzzing over their new Mini Fuzz Face pedals. I got to plug in myself and give them a try. They had the old ones in line with the new ones, and I got to try them all out. Granted I was on a set of headphones… so I can't say much. BUT, the new ones sounded great-- I will say a little different than the old ones. I noticed the old ones were powered off batteries, but the new ones had a power supply… is this really a fair comparison? Anyways, I also wanted to check out the Echo-Puss, since I was so disappointed with the Supa-Puss that I bought last year. I was surprised by the Echo-Puss! It sounded really different, and more to my liking than the Supa-Puss. The modulation did not seem as crazy, and the tone of the repeats was a little "fuller" and not as filtered out. Wish it had tap tempo, but was also glad they had a version without the bling graphics on it. Cool stuff at Dunlop.

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