Finally! The Empress Zoia

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.

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EarthQuaker Devices Releases Plumes Small Signal Shredder

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!

 

 

 

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Audio Damage’s Cool Enso Looper

While perusing the latest edition of Electronic Musician, I chanced upon the Enos Looper by Audio Damage.Much as I love doing loops on my iPad with Simpler, Borderlands, and iDensity,  I have been looking for a more basic looper to add to the iOS  arsenal. I was intrigued enough to plop down $5.99 USD and check it out, only to learn that , while it can be used for basic looping and Frippertronics, ala the Ableton Live Looper, it is capable of much more. I recommend checking out the video. (It demos the plugin, but they are very close).

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Spotlight: Markus W. Schneider

Sometimes it takes great modern players to demonstrate new ways in which the electric guitar can be used to creatively enhance the song form: Belew/Fripp in King Crimson, David Torn with David Bowie, Stian Westerhus with his band Pale Horses, and now Markus Schneider on his new record Widerspruch, where he intones evocative vocals over glitchy guitar. This Viennese guitarist contacted me and I checked out some live videos, where his cool Hofner immediately caught my eye. I decided an interview was in order.

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Exclusive: Bill Frisell’s Amazing New Guitar

Someone posted some pictures of the guitars Bill Frisell used during his four night residency at the Freight & Salvage in the San Francisco Bay Area. One of them looked very unusual. It was not the typical Tele, Jazzmaster, Strat, or archtop shape he usually favors. I emailed him to ask, “What is that guitar?” Bill was kind enough to answer in detail, as well as sending gorgeous pictures of this unique instrument.


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