Barring those who use the instrument as a pure noise generator, even the most modern of players needs to tune. Like so many guitarists, I am trying to pack as many pedals as I can on as small a board as possible, so I decided to try out the D’Addario Chromatic Pedal Tuner. Though is sounds like a device to tune your pedals (shouldn’t it be called the Chromatic Tuner Pedal?), it actually tunes the guitar, and is a little over half the size of the Boss TU-2 I have been using forever.
There is a wonderful world of effects out there, but maximizing their usefulness often requires modifying parameters on the fly—think Whammy pedal, or runaway delay feedback. Unfortunately, modifying parameters, and even engaging or switching off effects, tethers you to the pedal in a way that can hamper your visual performance.
There have been solutions: In 2014, Livid came out with Guitar Wing, which I covered in Guitar Moderne. It allows control of MIDI effects parameters right from the face of the guitar, unchained from pedals and standard hardware controllers. Source Audio’s Hot Hand, covered here, also permits free-ranging parameter control, either through MIDI (using the Neuro Hub), or through an expression input on the pedal or switching device. The folks at GTC Sound Innovations have come up with yet another solution that debuted at NAMM a couple of years ago and I recently got to put it through its paces. First watch the GTC folks demo some classic effects.
Once upon a time, a couple of former Strymon and Line 6 folks got together and started making 500 Series rack modules under the name Meris. Eventually they started producing pedal versions of two of the modules. I saw one of those pedals, the Ottobit Jr., demonstrated back in January by Nick Reinhart and Juan Alderete on the great YouTube channel Pedals And Effects. It immediately struck me as potentially a perfect multi-effects pedal for Guitar Moderne readers. As luck would have it, in February, Nick introduced me by email to the Meris people who were kind enough to send one when the review models became available. I dove in and here are the results.
We pedal geeks often go on about the delightful idiosyncrasies of vintage effects: “Sure, germanium fuzz pedals are inconsistent and reactive to temperature, but, man, that sound,” or “Yeah, the original Electro-Harmonix Electric Mistress Flanger was noisy as hell, but, man, that sound!” Modern effect pedals are often sturdier, more consistent, and quieter, but can lack that quirky character that makes the old ones fun and fabulous. Earthquaker Devices new Erupter fuzz brings some of sound and eccentricity that makes us love the pedals of yore.
The Space Spiral ($195.00 street) seems on the surface to be a typical modulated digital delay, but as with many Earthquaker Devices, er, devices, it is something more.
Like their Dispatch Master, the Spiral Delay is designed around what their literature refers to as a “dawn of digital” echo processor. This lo-fi technology gives this unit a more analog murk that sits the delayed signal nicely behind the original. Despite being digital, the sound of the delays are warm and smooth, without any audible aliasing, even when mixed very wet.