Guitar Moderne featured the Gamechanger Audio Plasma Pedal in the 2018 NAMM report. The Plasma is a unique dirt pedal that transforms your instrument’s signal into a series of continuous high-voltage discharges within a xenon-filled tube. Pre-orders are now available through an Indiegogo campaign. Along with other perks, the $299 pedal is available for a limited time for as low as $159 through the Indiegogo push. At post time they have raised $73,752, so this pedal will see the light of day.
In another innovative move, they are launching an online testing platform that will actually let anyone in the world take the PLASMA Pedal for a test-drive via a YouTube live-stream. There, you can upload your sound sample, dial in your desired knob settings via remote controlled motors and watch your track being played back through High-Voltage Plasma distortion. Try it–it’s fun!
NAMM 2018 was even bigger than last year, yet much more manageable. The brand new ACC (Anaheim Convention Center) North building housed most of the high tech and pro audio stuff, allowing guitars and related products to be centralized in one area on the main floor of the original building. NAMM further reduced the spread by offering the new boutique manufacturers—previously relegated to downstairs Hall E—smaller, more affordable booths in the main guitar product ghetto. Thus, I was able to cover the show in two relaxed, rather than three grueling, days.
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.
Thanks to a Facebook post by Naia Azumi, I discovered Elta Music devices . One of a growing number of pedal manufacturers who seem to be springing from the burgeoning modular market, Elta offers four effects in footswitchable packages that are bound to be of interest to the modern guitarist. First up is their String Ringer:
Wednesday was modern guitar pioneer Terje Rypdal’s 70th birthday. To celebrate, Henry Kaiser assembled a who’s who of modern guitarists: David Torn, Bill Frisell, Nels Cline, Hedvig Mollestad, Jim O’Rourke, Hans Magnus Ryan, Raoul Björkenheim, Even H. Hermansen, Reine Fiske, along with long time Rypdal keyboardist Ståle Storløkken, bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, and drummer Gard Nilssen (Dungen). There is a Volume 2 that is a vinyl only release of side-long outtakes that were too good to leave on the shelf.
Kaiser also played and his production is more than up to the task of presenting multiple distorted guitars with clarity and cohesion. This tribute is a must-own for anyone interested in modern guitar playing at its best.