The Chords of Orion YouTube channel is an invaluable resource for modern guitarists. Bill Vencil’s focus is ambient music, but he covers gear of interest to any modern guitarist. I was unaware of the Joyo device. It makes me wonder if the EBow patent has run out. I compared the Aeon and the EBow in my Electronic Musician column, but a head to head (to head) video comparison is very welcome.
Life and website issues got in the way of doing timely NAMM reports this year. In my defense many of these products just started shipping a couple of months ago. As has become habit, there were hundreds of cool pedals on offer, mostly variations on pedals you have seen and heard.
With NAMM 2020 coming up, I thought I would do a listing of the things I saw last year that might be different and of more interest to the modern guitarist. The theme in January seemed to be the return of modulation (flange, chorus, and phase), fuzz/harmonizer combos, and guitar synth pedals. I am featuring only what I consider to be the most interesting takes on each. Please check company websites for details.
I have been using ZT amps for well over a decade. When I was living in Manhattan, their Lunchbox was a godsend, allowing me to take the subway to gigs, avoiding traffic and parking issues. Now in Nashville, I still use the Lunchbox for living room rehearsals with a country band (Including drums). I have also done a couple of house concerts using two Lunchbox amps as a stereo PA for my “guitar-through-laptop-ambient-excursions.” So, I was excited to try out the new Lee Ranaldo Club.
If it seems like years since Empress introduced what appeared to be the ultimate pedal effect at NAMM that’s because it has been—almost two to be exact. Apparently, Zoia has finally started shipping and is already sold out. Here is a short video of how it can be used with guitar. Read more for a longer one and specs. Still more videos are on the Empress site.
Weird spitty fuzz pedals are not the only dirt devices employed by modern guitarists, and Stevie Ray Vaughn imitators are not the only guitarists who use that trusty lime-green overdrive and its clones—that sound has been an industry staple since its inception.
Plumes is EarthQuaker’s take on the type of low to medium gain overdrive that works best in conjunction with a good valve amp. Of course it being the good folks from Akron, this version has a few twists and turns of its own.
For the technically inclined, Plumes does away with the usual JRC4558 OpAmp and the BJT buffers, replacing them with low noise JFET OpAmps for a more robust and precise signal with a significantly lower noise floor. The 9v power input is internally converted to +/- 9v for more headroom. The input impedance has been raised to 10 megaohms for a stronger signal with more clarity and chime. They’ve also adjusted the cutoff of the tone control to deliver a more useful range of travel with more bass on the low end without sacrificing the midrange and top end.
Plumes offers three different clipping modes. Mode 1 is symmetrical clipping utilizing a pair of light emitting diodes. When played through a clean amp, this setting delivers a facsimile of classic crunchy valve amp tone. Mode 2 is clean boost mode, eliminating the soft clipping diodes altogether for straight OpAmp drive. This mode can come in handy for pushing your clean tone to the fore or driving the preamp of an already overdriven amp into further breakup. Mode 3 is an asymmetrical silicon diode arrangement similar to the typical screamer but with more output and clarity; a tone some describe as “transparent.”
Plumes features EarthQuaker Devices relay-based “soft touch” Flexi-Switch Technology for both momentary and latching footswitch operation as well as a very low 25 mA current draw. Since the switching is relay based, it requires power to pass signal.
Plumes is available to pre-order through authorized EarthQuaker Devices dealers, and will be in stores on August 3, 2019.
List Price: $99.00
Measures: 4.75″ x 2.50″ x 2.25″ with knobs
Current Draw: 25 mA
Input Impedance: 10 MOhm
Output Impedance: 100 Ohm
This device takes a standard 9 volt DC power supply with a 2.1mm negative center barrel. EarthQuaker recommends pedal-specific, transformer-isolated wall-wart power supplies or multiple isolated-output supplies. Pedals will make extra noise if there is ripple or unclean power. Switching-type power supplies, daisy chains and non-pedal specific power supplies do not filter dirty power as well and let through unwanted noise. DO NOT RUN AT HIGHER VOLTAGES!