The pedal world is rife with cryptic stompbox names that give no clue to what the pedal is or does. While the name on EarthQuaker’s new pedal, Astral Destiny, doesn’t specifically mention that it is a reverb, it’s description “An Octal Octave Reverberation Odyssey” does accurately represent the feelings this device will evoke: a literally awe inspiring trip through the cosmos. There are plenty of pedals with “shimmer” functions out there, but with its octave up and down options, and its stretch feature, which doubles the reverb length while adding an adjustable pitch bending effect, Astral Destiny carves out its own place in the firmament. A must for ambience lovers, it is also just a great sounding reverb. Thankfully it allows presets, as you are quite likely to find at least eight sounds you won’t want to lose. (See “more” for specs).
If you are like me, you could stare covetously at the beautiful Island Instruments 12-string he is playing for the whole 20 minutes. But while doing so, Phelps gives great insight into his process when making loops with his desktop system.
If anyone were to be into pedals it would be the modern guitarist. Granted there are a few who play only acoustic, and even fewer who exclusively play plugged straight into the amplifier, but the majority of modern guitarists are to some extent looking to find new sounds in the electric realm and pedals help them go there. The firmament of modern guitar heaven is filled with gods who use a plethora of stompboxes in their quest for sonic freshness. Adrian Belew, Nels Cline, Eivind Aarset, Stian Westerhus, David Torn, Nick Reinhardt, and others employ effect pedals as an essential part of their artistry.
For them, and guitarists of all stripes, this year has seen the release of, not one, but two books (actually three) devoted to these playable, collectable, fetish-encouraging devices.
Magnatone amps included vibrato in their amps as far back as 1957, but went out of business circa 1969. The effect was lost until Boss issued their VB-2 Vibrato pedal in 1982 to resounding crickets. But in the last couple of years the effect’s surge of popularity has caused Boss to reissued the VB-2 in Waza form, while Earthquaker Devices, T.C. Electronic, and others have also launched vibrato pedals. Even Magnatone is back in business. Nels Cline recently told me that he is afraid he uses his VB-2 too much. So, it is not surprising to see Electro-Harmonix enter the field. But first let’s clear up exactly what vibrato is, and is not.
As I said about their travel-size instrument in my NAMM 2020 report: “This is what an acoustic guitar from future might look like. FreeBoost Technology on the pickups uses rear surface of the guitar as a speaker, complete with reverb, delay, and chorus, all without an amp.” Now Lava has come out with a full size version with tap tempo and a 50% solo boost. At $800 the mini-ME seemed a bit dear for a travel sized guitar but at around $1400, the Pro seems well within, er, pro pricing. As I also said then, it is great to see something truly new in the acoustic realm. Again, we have the lovely and talented Mary Spender to demo it.