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.
Like nearby Greece, Italy is becoming a hotbed of pedal manufacturing. These offerings from AC Noises should be of interest to any modern guitarist. Not cheap, but different.
Ama (reverb w/ oscillator + bit crusher)
Every now and again, I like to show a little love to the companies that have supported this endeavor for the last few years. I admit to being bewildered by the Red Panda Context reverb when it first came out. It seemed something of a quotidian pedal from the inventor of the Particle, Raster, and Particle. But when Curt sent me the 2.0 version I realized that in its own way it was as inventive as his other, more obviously out-there effects. Here are a couple of videos that show why.
Much of what I post revolves around live performance and improvisation. Still, many guitarists are as or more concerned with creating fresh sounds and effects while recording. Here, Derek VanScoten, A/K/A Cloudchord, demonstrates a way to create a complex loop ambience that follows the chords of a song.