Getting some new pedals

  • BOSS TE-2 Tera Echo – $179 street

BOSS kicked off its stompbox line in 1977 with the OD-1 Overdrive, and this baby–the TE-2–has the distinction of being the company’s 100th pedal, That’s righteously coo[, but the Tera Echo adds dynamic sensitivity and a Freeze function that makes it not only a record holder, but also a truly wicked delay, bossus.com

  • BOSS DA-2 Adaptive Distortion – $129 street

Boss demo wizard Rob Marcello did an awesome run-through of the DA-2’s features at NAMM. In addition to good distortion tones, the pedal delivers unreal string-to-string articulation–even when the buzz is cranked. As with the TE-2, dynamic response was excellent. You can vary overdrive and distortion sounds simply by picking softer or harder, bossus.com

  • Crazy tube Circuits Splash MkII – $TBA

This compact pedal combines analog and digital circuits to produce everything from bathroom to cathedral reverb effects, and it has an interesting Space mode that creates incredible psychedelic sounds-some I’ve never heard from a pedal before, crazytubecircuits.com

  • Decibel Eleven Pedal Palette – $TBA

Providing a fresh take on loop switchers, the Pedal Palette not only gives you four loops with relay bypass switches, it lets you assign loops to a parallel mix bus (with individual level controls), instantly swap the order of pedals (e.g., wah before/after fuzz), store and recall up to 128 presets (including via MIDI), and allow reverb and delay to decay naturally using the Trails function. decibe111.com

  • DigiTech JamMan Solo XT – $199 street

Although this latest version of the Solo features some attractive upgrades, including twice as many internal memory slots as the previous model, DigiTech‘s new JamSync function is its claim to fame. Multiple Solo XTs may be synchronized for multi-track looping by an individual or for synchronized ensemble looping by two or more players–a milestone that opens up lots of fresh possibilities, digitech.com

  • DigiTech Adrian Belew Impossible Pedal $20 direct

That Big Electric Cat Belew put his Impossible Pedal through its paces at an early morning press conference, blowing more than one mind. The first in DigiTech’s new series of iStomp Signature Artist e-pedals; it puts two interval-shifters underfoot, allowing you to rapidly leap between pitches Belew-style. digitech.com

  • Dunlop Fuzz Face Minis – $99 each street

I love, love, love fuzz, looking for the best fuzz pedal and now, thanks to the miracle of miniaturization, I can fit three different Fuzz Faces on my pedalboard. The FFM1 Silicon delivers that ’70s aggro buzz, the FFM2 Germanium goes for some late ’60s beef, and the FFM3 Jimi Hendrix provides the master’s thick and ballsy fuzz. They’re also really cute little things if you’re into pedalboard aesthetics, jimdunlop.com

  • Dwarfcraft Pitchgrinder – $350 direct

I loved this new pedal, which, besides being Dwarfcraft’s first foray into the digital realm, is an 8-bit, 8-step pitch-shifter/sequencer/bit smasher with a tap-tempo footswitch that also functions as a momentary “single-stepper/freeze” switch. The range is -1/+2 octaves, and a Glide switch lets you move between the pitches in even wackier ways. dwarfcraft.com

  • EarthQuaker Devices Disaster Transport SR – $345 direct

Lots of manufacturers have sought to capture old-school echo magic in a digital delay pedal, but few efforts have been as successful as this. The Disaster Transport SR’s two delays–one coupled with modulation and the other with reverb–produce a thick, vibe-y, vintage sound that can be manipulated in very cool ways via the Bleed function, three footswitches, and an optional expression pedal, earthquakerdevices.com

  • Electro-Harmonix Epitome – $369 street

Combining the Micro Pog octave generator, Stereo Electric Mistress chorus/flanger, and the Holy Grail Plus reverb, this mini multi-effector offers an incredible range of sounds in a pedal that can easily fit on almost any pedalboard. Love it! ehx.com

  • Eventide H9 Harmonizer – $499 retail

One of my favorite pedals at the show, this one-knob unit serves as a sort of “best of” for Eventide’s other four stompboxes (15 algorithms from those pedals are included, along with the new Ultra Tap Delay, and others may be purchased). The Bluetooth-equipped H9 may also be programmed and controlled via a GUI that runs on IOS devices. Stereo I/O, expression pedal/ aux switch jacks, and MIDI ports complete the package. eventide.com

  • Ibanez Echo Shifter $149 street

To be honest, they had me with the awesome slider that controls the delay time, but this cool-looking box has a Lot more going for it. Bucket-brigade technology, tap tempo, modulation, and an oscillation switch make it easy to get nice, warm-sounding normal delays as well as crazy, runaway, warbly echoes from hell Count me in. ibanez.co.jp

  • MXR M222 talk box $169 street

Gotta love a pedalboard friendly talk box that Lets you get all Frampton and Bon Jovi without any hassles. The compact M222 includes its own amp and speaker, and also offers Volume, Tone, and Gain knobs for some wild sound sculpting. Dunlop’s Bryan Kehoe did a hilarious and instructive demo at NAMM that immediately had me thinking of ways to use the M222 for tonal annihilation of the ordinary, jimdunlop.com

  • Pigtronix Quantum Time Modulator – $TBA

Billed as “a musical analogy to the essential nature of reality itself,” this three-knob/one-switch wonder warps temporal reality with an array of independently clocked bucket-brigade delay Lines modulated by a confluence of envelope and LFO sources, resulting in a stunning sonic phenomena evoking DynaFlangers, Spatial Expanders, Dimension Ds, and beyond, pigtronix.com

  • Radial PZ-DI – $219 street

Using input-impedance matching voodoo, the PZ-DI optimizes frequency response and dynamics when an acoustic instrument is plugged into its input. During Peter Janis’ demo at NAMM, the box certainly tamed piezo quack, making an acoustic-electric guitar sound simultaneously warm, smooth, and sparkly–as if miked with a darn good microphone. A simple and elegant solution for producing great acoustic sounds for stage and studio, radialeng.com

  • Radial Voco-Loco – $300

This is totally whack, but weird enough to be a secret weapon. The Voco-Loco lets you run dynamic and condenser microphones through guitar effects to produce some uniquely bizarre vocal effects for live performance and studio recordings. It’s a marriage of the sacred and the profane! Let your imagination run wild. radialeng.com

  • Source Audio Orbital Modulator – $169 street

This is an insanely flexible, killer sounding mod box that not only gives you chorus, phase, flange, rotary, and trem flavors, but it also Lets you use tremolo in addition to the other effects. The results run the gamut from classic to otherworldly, with a ton of parameters to tweak along the way. And, speaking of tweaking, you can use this pedalwith Source’s awesome Hot Hand ring controller and seriously blow minds, seurceaudio.net

  • TC Electronic TonePrint Editor – Free

Why should artists like Joe Perry, John 5, Bumble-foot, and Guthrie Govan have all the fun? This free software (available for both Mac and PC) now allows guitarists to create their own custom versions of effects for TC’s TonePrint pedals, including programming the ranges and behavior of all of a given pedal’s virtual controls, and auditioning the results in real time. tcelectronic.com

  • Wampler Faux Tape Echo – $219 street

What is the best delay pedal? You’ll find the answer. This delay definitely had people talking at the show. It’s Wampler’s take on the age-old question of how to get analog-style warmth and vibe in a delay with modern, digital-approved features. They seem like they nailed it, with sweet tones that you can keep in time with tap tempo plus the super-cool Movement and Sway knobs. Bitchin’! wamplerpedals.com

  • Zoom A3 – $199 street

To say the A3 is an acoustic preamp is like saying a NASCAR racer is a Fiat 500. Sure, it offers 40 effects and anti-feedback control, but, even hipper, it also lets you “re-imagine” the sound of your acoustic with ]6 different body models. Make your dreadnought sound awesome, or transform your jumbo into a parlor guitar. Dig the tonal massive power! zoom.co.jp

  • Zoom MS 100-BT MultiStomp – $149 street

Okay, you want your space-age, futuristic, Dick Tracy-style gadget? This pedal comes with 92 effects and eight amp models, lets you buy new effects for $0.99, Lets you try them out for 15 minutes for free to see if you like them, and then loads them into the pedal from your freaking phone wirelessly via Bluetooth. Uhh … I’m kind of impressed. zoom.co.jp

Rae defends use of copter for trip

Queen’s Park Bureau Toronto Ontario Premier Bob Rae has defended his use of a provincial police helicopter for a one-day visit to his family cottage near the eastern Ontario town of Portland on the Victoria Day weekend.

A police helicopter crew flew the Premier to his cottage on May 17, and then brought him back to Toronto the next day.

The best consumer drone costs about $500 an hour to operate, according to police officials.

Mr. Rae said he used the OPP helicopter because it was “the only way that I could get any time . . . to be with my family on short notice.” He asked for public understanding of the trip.

In the Legislature, he said: “I had not seen my children for about eight days. For a 24-hour trip to my family I did make use of the OPP helicopter.”

The helicopter flight was raised in the Legislature yesterday by Liberal MPP Steven Mahoney, who accused the Premier of using a taxpayer funded “taxi service to his private family retreat” at a time when the government is preaching fiscal restraint. “I don’t think that’s proper use,” Mr. Mahoney said.

But Mr. Rae argued passionately in the Legislature and to reporters later that his desire to spend time with his family led him to use the aircraft. He said his need to see his family outweighed the damaging publicity that would result if his use of the helicopter became public.

“I hope there’s some understanding of it” by voters, Mr. Rae said. “I made a decision that it’s (use of the helicopter) fair, it’s reasonable.”

Mr. Rae’s strong defence of his actions led to applause from government members and from the Opposition Conservatives.

“I think we all become better members when we spend more time with our families,” said Cameron Jackson, a Conservative MPP from Burlington.

The Ontario Provincial Police operate two helicopters that can be used by the Premier. The Ministry of Natural Resources also has two airplanes available for senior politicians.

The Premier can use the police best cheap quadcopter, $2-million Aerospatiale Twin Stars, as long as they are not needed for search-and-rescue work or for criminal investigations. One of the aircraft is stationed in Brampton, the other in Sudbury.

Mr. Rae’s trip conformed to these requirements and he said he received approval to use thehelicopter from the head of the OPP. The Premier also received approval from cabinet secretary Peter Barnes.

“From time to time, the premier may use the helicopter, provided it’s not being used for an operational matter,” OPP Superintendent William Sulston said.

Mr. Rae has had a busy schedule lately that has kept him away from his family for long periods since the Legislature resumed sitting in late April. He returned from a Tokyo trip on May 17, and was scheduled to attend a meeting of U.S. Great Lakes governors the next day in Cleveland. In recent weeks, he has also travelled to Hong Kong, to Sydney, N.S. for a funeral of mine workers and to Montreal for last week’s constitutional discussions.

Fixed Income FX

The cute designs, whimsical ’50s-diner names, and absurdly low prices promise cheap stompbox thrills, but do Danelectro‘s new Mini Effects manage to deliver big sounds for little money? Absolutely. Are some of them cool enough to convert lo-fi fiends who can afford costlier alternatives? Yes again. All ten of these Chinese-made pedals list for less than $50. They have an irrepressibly fun vibe, even though the plastic housings (which measure approximately 4″x 3″x 1″) and tiny, pot-metal knobs, and switches don’t exactly instill long-term confidence. All models run on 9-volt batteries or AC adapters (not included). The battery compartment is secured with a recessed, non-detachable screw that’s a cinch to open with a coin or screwdriver, but difficult to grasp with bare fingers.

I tested the Mini Effects using a ’63 Fender Strat, a G&L ASAT, and a Hamer 25th Anniversary. Amps included an old Fender Deluxe and a Yamaha DG100, and direct-recording tones were auditioned with a SansAmp PSA-1.

BLT Slap Echo

The BLT ($39) shines at short, rockabilly-style delay. The effect has the funky ambiance of an older solid-state echo–a bit metallic and tanky, though not in a bad way. The only controls are Mix and Repeat, and the maximum delay time is a mere fraction of a second. Cranking the Repeat knob generates a deliciously spooky quasi-reverb ambience–think early-’70s Italian horror movie. If you delight in cheap, edgy attitude, this pedal is a one-of-a-kind bargain.

Corned Beef Reverb

The Corned Beef ($49) bears no sonic resemblance to other digital reverb pedals. With its loud, early reflections and bouncing-marbles regenerations, it sounds more like a cross between a best spring reverb and a short delay with the repeats turned up. The only controls are Mix and Hi-Cut, so you can’t adjust the predelay or reverb decay time. The Corned Beef is a great choice for players seeking surf-approved splash without draining their wallets.

Grilled Cheese Distortion

Think of the smoothest, creamiest, most tube-like distortion you’ve ever heard. Now imagine the exact opposite–that’s the sizzle of the Grilled Cheese ($49), a potent squawk-box that hearkens back to some of the nastier fuzz pedals of the ’60s. Actually, it’s a combination distortion/filter effect with no gain control–just Level and Resonance. The latter adjusts the pitch of the pedal’s jagged filter peak. Lower settings elicit hollow, boxy-in-a-cool-way fuzz, and higher numbers can unleash white-noise squalls of eardrum-lacerating violence. Cool. The closest equivalents to this bold effect might be a notched wah pedal feeding an aggressive fuzz, or certain extinct filter-fuzzes such as the Systech Harmonic Energizer. Few players are likely to use this noise bomb as their principal overdrive, but it’s a great weapon to have in your armory.

Hash Browns Flanger

Though its tones veer more toward lo-fi funkiness than analog-tape warmth or digital precision, the Hash Browns Flanger ($39) gets high marks for personality. There’s lots of texture here, and it’s easy to get lost in the deep, shifting modulation. The high-regeneration settings are strong and colorful, even if they don’t match the swoop of, say, an old ADA unit. High-speed settings have a drunken wobble that reminds me of an old Morley “oil can” Rotating Wah. You could get a contact high from the Hash Browns’ woozy, circa-’71 sweeps.

Milkshake Chorus

To my ear, the Milkshake ($49) is the runt of the litter. All the Dano modulation pedals incline toward clangy and metallic sounds. But while the others manage to create coolness within their lo-fi specs, the Milkshake nails neither the richness of a quality chorus, nor the funkiness of a primitive one. The effect sounds clumpy, and the detuning strikes me as sour–regardless of the Rate and Depth settings.

Pastrami Overdrive

The Pastrami ($29) is noisy, trashy, and limited –but, man, what an attitude! It’s the epitome of cheap, solid-state distortion. Anyone who has discovered, say, the joys of recording through a battery-operated micro-amp will be in heaven here. These snotty, aggressive sounds have a strong, ’60s-punk flavor (think early Kinks). The tones don’t have much low-end muscle, but they’re, superb for old-school trash and raging psycho-blues. The Pastrami is also surprisingly responsive to performance dynamics. When I backed off the volume knob on my Strat, the pedal picked up tons of detail–not to mention an exceptionally clear AM radio broadcast of Billy Joel singing “Just the Way You Are.” Excellent!

Pepperoni Phaser

There’s nothing subtle about the Pepperoni ($49), which sounds like a low-rent, solid-state unit from the early ’70s. You can’t set the effect depth, mix, or regeneration–a Speed knob is the only control. The phasing effect is chewy and tactile, with a little pitch-bend seasickness thrown in at no extra charge. I love the Pepperoni’s crunchy bite (it actually distorts slightly when you play aggressively), and faster settings have a deliciously sleazy home-organ vibe. High marks for texture and personality.

Surf & Turf Compressor

The Surf & Turf ($49) is a lo-fi limiter in the down-and-dirty tradition of the MXR Dyna Comp and Dan Armstrong Orange Squeezer. The beauty of such units lies in the less-than-subtle way they squash your signal. For example, the tubby attack of a cheap compressor can increase the cluck factor of chicken-pickin’, or smooth out slide-guitar dynamics without total loss of transient attack. That’s why many guitarists who can afford quality compressors pledge their allegiance to cheapies, and the Surf & Turf is sure to win its share of such adherents. The controls are minimal–just Output and Sensitivity. It retains its punch even when maxed out, and it excels at the “gulping” attack players usually seek from low-cost squeeze boxes.

T-Bone Distortion

The T-Bone ($49) matches the aggression and slice of the Pastrami Overdrive, but with more low-end mass. Still, its flavor is closer to ’60s fuzz than modern metal. Like the Pastrami, it boasts ridiculous amounts of gain, yet it’s surprisingly adept at lightly toasted sounds. Maxed-out, the T-Bone delivers a fat distortion with a pleasing, square-wave-type hollowness. With my guitar’s tone control rolled back, I could get lard-assed fuzz evocative of early Cream tracks or the super-saturated solo from the Doors’ “When the Music’s Over.” Yet for all the smooth compression, the tones retain their transient edge. Nice.

Tuna Melt Tremolo

The Tuna Melt ($49) is one of the prides of the Mini pack. This retro-flavored trem holds its own against rivals costing two or three times as much. Besides the obligatory Speed and Depth controls, a toggle lets you switch between smooth triangle-wave modulation and a choppier square-wave effect. The results aren’t quite as creamy and 3-dimensional as on, say, an old Fender amp, but they’re more than serviceable for stage and studio. The effect is pretty, bordering on the mild–don’t expect violent, helicopter-style chop. Unlike most of the other Mini Effects, there’s nothing cheesy about the Tuna Melt. It’s a classy, classic effect

Snapshot

Cute, compact, and incredibly inexpensive, Danelectro’s ten Mini Effects (priced from $29 to $49) will appeal to noisemakers of all ages. Editors’ Pick Awards go to the BLT Slap Echo, Grilled Cheese Distortion, Pastrami Overdrive, T-Bone Distortion, and Tuna Melt Tremolo.