Every once in a while a pedal comes along that blows your mind because of the unbelievable value. I am a sucker for simplicity in operation and have a “3 knob” preference when it comes to features and ease of dialing in tones. A few moons ago, I wrote an article called the Klon Centaur Phenomenon  about Bill Finnegan and his legendary pedal, the Klon Centaur. There are quite of few Klon Clones out there (Try saying that quickly over and over!). Many of these pedals are quite close to the original and one would be hard pressed to pick out the authentic, given a blind-fold test.

EHX (Electro-Harmonix) has been on the cutting edge of the effect world for quite a few decades. I have a few of their later products and again they take first place in my arsenal for coolest with one of their latest forthcomings, The EHX Soul Food.

Essentially a Klon Clone with some tweaks, this pedal has quickly become my favorite OD for a couple of reasons. It takes up very little pedalboard real estate, you cannot beat the price, and it  sounds great! I rarely play a gig where I am not going back and forth to my amp, tweaking a knob or two in between songs or adjusting tone knobs on pedals depending on the room. I played one of my alltime favorite gigs (tonewise) last week with the EHX Soul food as the main engine behind my solos with no tweaks all night!

It was historic! The way the Soul Food works with a Fender style platform is quite spectacular. Check out my original article to see what makes the Klon magic happen (Click Here). A  great feature of this pedal is it stacks really well with other boosts or overdrive pedals. Use it as a clean boost before an overdrive pedal, or use a clean boost before it to increase the edge.

I did a few A/B tests with the EHX Soul Food and other pedals including the KTR from Bill Finnegan, which is the latest, smaller incarnation of the original Klon. If you cannot afford an original Klon or a KTR, The EHX Soul Food is a very special find. The KTR is a welcome downsize in price and size from the original Klon. It is easier to get an offers a “buffer” or “no buffer” option switch on the side of the pedal.

 

At around only a $60.00  price tag, the value and quality of the Soul Food is unbeatable!

Below is a link to a video from EHX. For more info check out The EHX website

Hi There,

Just a quick heads up to let you know that Introduction to Guitar has started up once again. For those of you who might be thinking of getting the fundamentals or filling in some blanks areas in your guitar knowledge, the course represents the perfect opportunity for you to do exactly this.

The cost is free!

For more information, here is the link:

https://www.coursera.org/course/guitar

I will be posting very soon about a couple of very cool guitar tone products!

 

In my on-line course at Berklee Online: Funk/Rock R&B Soloing and in my instructional book, “Funk R&B Guitar: Creative Solos, Grooves and Sounds” I talk about guitar sounds and effects that are common to the genre, both back-in-the-day and in contemporary tunes. One of the flagship sounds for the genre is the envelope filter. Envelope filters might be described as wah pedals in disguise. Instead of having a rocking treadle for use with your foot, the filter is automatically controlled with volume or velocity. Essentially, the harder you pick, the more “wah” you get. You can get some very interesting sounds after fine-tuning and experimenting with your picking and plucking.

Back it the day it was the Mu-tron III envelope filter that showed up in funk on guitar and on basslines. In a recent blog post, I talked about the 3-Leaf Audio Proton envelope filter as a hot contender for todays market. I recently stumbled on a rare find in the Guyatone WRm5 Wah Rocker pedal. These are no longer made and seem few and far between in used circles.  I was looking for something for my pedaltrain nano board. Yes I am on a constant search for smaller effective pedals that I can squeeze onto that little go-to board! I took a chance with the WRm5 since I had never played much with this model.  I did, at one point, try out its predecessor, the WR2 many moons back. The WRm5 has the standard features of most envelope filters: Decay, Threshold, Response, although differently named from some other auto-wahs, give full control over the quality of wah and oww that you get over time. In addition it has a “blend” switch which allows you to mix the original signal back in with the effect. Though I have never found it necessary to mix my original signal back in with an auto wah sound, it seems an interesting feature. I will experiment with this one to see what my personal applications for it might be.

Overall, I think the Guyatone WRm5 Wah Rocker is an unbelievable find, and is about the smallest full-featured envelope filter I have enjoyed thus far. Mine was an ebay quick sell on buy-it-now at about 160.00 which is probably higher than they were when they first came out, but given that these things are untraceable, a good value addition to the mini funk bag of tricks!! Keep an eye out on ebay for one! AAAA+

Here is a link to a youtube demo I found for this pedal:

I just wanted to give a heads up reminder to everyone to let your friends know that another semester of my Introduction to Guitar course is about to begin tomorrow January 27th 2014. Spread to work to anyone you know who is thinking about starting to play. The course is free and lasts for 6 weeks. It gives you the basics of everything you need to know to begin learning. It is even helpful for some who have already started playing and need some background or basic theory to help them along. No experience necessary!!

Here is a video describing the course.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUxpwYUlWDc

For more info, just click on the link below:

https://www.coursera.org/course/guitar

 

This post is a quick New Year’s alert to let you know that the long awaited Pedaltrain Volto power supply is now available at your local and on-line stores.  You may have read my post about the amazing Sanyo Pedal Power quite a few posts back. The Volto is a similar product.

The low profile of the Pedaltrain Volto makes it a great choice for mounting directly under your Pedatrain junior or mini or similar sized board. This, of course, means that there is another pedal-space on top of the board. The 3 status LED’s of the Volto have the same function as the green, amber and red light on the Sanyo, giving you an indication of the remaining power. Two outputs allow you to use 2 connectors or daisy chains, and the full-charge shut-off function is a feature that is a must have on rechargeable batteries to avoid overcharging. One very nice feature is that the Volto can be charged using a USB connection which gives you a variety of options for charging from the laptop to the car or home.  The Volto is a very practical product in a very practical package. It is unobtrusive and very easy to use.

I have been using mine on my Pedaltrain Nano with 5 small pedals. I set mine up with the on-off switch and the LED’s showing through the centre of my board, so I can constantly monitor the status. You can see the blue lights of the Volto peeking through from underneath the board on the right hand side.

The one thing I would recommend is a recharge before each gig. Because of its low profile the Volto will make it through the gig, but not 2 or 3 as I usually do with my Sanyo. All the same, you cannot beat it for the practicality it brings to the gig stage!  The Volto and the previously reviewed Sanyo are a couple of the most practical products to come around for the working musician!

 

Here are a couple of videos, one from Pedaltrain and the other just one of a review that was pretty informative on the set-up.

AAAA++

 

This post is another quick heads up.  I have been using the 3 Leaf Proton Envelope Filter for a couple of months now on my go-to board. As an R&B/Funkateer, vibe sounds are a big part of what I do on guitar.

The Proton Envelope Filter has much in the way of tweakable features that give you a broad range of sounds. I was an original Mu Tron III owner back in the day. I will say that it is very hard to find the contemporary vibe pedal that gives the good usable tones with the variety of features available in the original. I think the Proton comes as close as it gets! I will let the video do the talking. It is very well done and covers all of the bases. I will tell you that this pedal sounds great in my live power trio setting. The size and quality build with top inputs (including the 9-18v input) make it a serious addition to your pedalboard!

AAAA++

Here is the vid:

Hi Everyone,

Just wanted to give you a heads up to a course I recently authored. It is one of the results of a partnership with Berklee College of Music and Coursera. Coursera is an organization that is bringing free college courses to the world. The idea is that if you have access to the Internet, you will have universal access to knowledge at no cost. It is quite an amazing opportunity for students all over the world. I was honored to be chosen as one of 4 authors for this initial collaboration with Berklee. My course is called Introduction to Guitar , and is designed to help folks to take that first step towards learning guitar. It gives you the fundamentals for building knowledge on guitar. It may even be useful for clearing some grey areas of guitar knowledge for folks who have been playing for some time. Introduction to Guitar is a 6 week long course and covers everything from the names of the strings and guitar parts to tuning, basic scales and basic chords. It ends with a couple of very easy songs to play. It moves at a comfortable pace, is very methodical and concise and it has had overwhelmingly positive reviews so far. The first semester enrolled roughly 120,000 students. Currently  it is approaching 200,000 in total enrollment since that first time! (Thats a lot of guitar lovers!) It will run again sometime in the next month or so.

So altho many of you may be experienced guitarists, you may know someone who has thought about learning to play guitar. Spread the word and encourage them to sign up! It is free and sometimes all it takes is that first step to a lifetime of musical fulfillment.

Here is a link to a promotional video describing the course content:

Here is a quick post about a useful accessory for your vibe pedal (or any pedal with an expression pedal connection, as found on some delay pedals etc).

Instead of using a standard full-sized expression pedal to change the rate of your vibe pulses, try this one by Nose Pedals. You can toggle back and forth between 2 predetermined parameters, set by you, using the 2 yellow knobs in this model (photo). Set one knob on “slow” and one on “fast” and depending on desired effect for the particular song you can go back and forth between both.

In the case of a vibe pedal like the Dry Bell Vibe Machine, which allows you to choose a “ramp” up setting, when you toggle back and forth between the two settings, your rate will slowly accelerate to the faster speed and vice versa (emulating the leslie doppler effect)

Usually expression pedals come in sizes roughly as big as a wah-wah pedal for active foot operation. With this Nose pedal, for a fraction of the pedalboard space you will have instant control via foot-switch over your two most often used settings.

Though not necessary for expression parameter operation, there is a 9v center negative power input. This is to power the 2 LEDs which indicate which knob setting is activated. In addition, Nose pedals offers choices of TS/TRS and custom colors for knobs and finish.

Below is a video and here is a link to the website for info. There are many other very useful, interesting and practical accessories available from Nose Pedals too:

http://www.nosepedal.com/store/nose-expression-stomp-switch

Every now again I get excited knowing that I might be the one first who brings a great product to your attention. Even if the product has been out on the market for a  minute, it gives me pleasure to know that you are first reading about it here on my blog.

We are all familiar with the gutsy sounds on Jimi Hendrix’s Band of Gypsies record. This is the signature Uni-Vibe sound,  the pedal that was originally designed to give guitarists a touch of the watery and throbbing doppler effect of a Leslie sound. Well it might not have achieved a sound that is recognized as such, but in its own right it is an established and timeless guitar effect that is unlike any other.

I rarely hear live performances with great, authentic sounding Uni-Vibes that are not coming from the original version of the pedal created in the late 1960′s. The “chorus” effect was the industry standard for chordal effects in the 80′s and 90′s. The Uni-vibe retained its timeless and and “retro” status and as a much larger pedal, appeared on the pedalboard of a die-hard few. Lately, with the release of some very authentic sounding smaller (mini) uni-vibes, the pedal and its tradition have recently has seen an upsurge in popularity.

One of the best of these newer smaller versions comes in a pedal called The Dry Bell Vibe Machine  V-1. This pedal brings all of the authentic signature sounds of the UniVibe and a great deal of unprecedented adjustability to the smallest package. Ringing up at around $295.00 The Dry Bell Vibe Machine is around the size of a Phase 90 and is a rugged quality-built product. Features include  true bypass signal path with an option to switch on an output buffer, an input to connect an external expression pedal to control oscillation speed (with a Leslie acceleration option which ramps up/down to the new oscillation setting gradually), range and symmetry control (in addition to depth and rate) and the usual vibrato/chorus option. In addition, there is a Bright/Original option. In short, the level of flexibility in this pedal for its size is spectacular!

So the question is how does it sound. Well without mentioning other products, I put this pedal up against some tough and much larger competition and the result was….I want another one! So with no further ado, here is the link to the website for more information and a couple of nice video demo. The Dry Bell Vibe Machine is now one of my all-time favorite vibe pedals for chordal work. (It might even be one of my all-time favorite pedals, period!) Kudos to Dry Bell for making such great authentic tones accessible in such a small package. Highly recommended AAAAAA++

Click Here For the Website

Video Demos:

Here’s a post to highlight a wah I recently added to my arsenal of tone generators. I love wah pedals. It is a big part of the retro-funky-R&B sound of the songs I write and sing. In my on-line course Funk-Rock/R&B Soloing, and in my book, R&B/Funk Guitar: Creative Grooves and Solos, I get into the usefulness of wah sounds and even dig into exercises using a wah.

In these days of roadie-less gigs, taking a big pedalboard to every gig simply is not practical. One of the biggest pedals on a board is always the wah. You can cut down your pedalboard size, but it can never get smaller than your wah, unless you take it off and set it up separately (which defeats the purpose of convenience). So when I heard about the AMT Japanese Girl Wah I went on line to check out a couple of demos. Quite impressive I would say. A week later, I had one of these little beauties in the palm of my hand (literally speaking)

After you get used to the smaller size underfoot, the Japanese Girl Wah pedal feels and plays like a full-sized wah. A typical full size wah is sturdy enough for you to put a lot of your body weight into the operation of the pedal. This is something many of the old school cats (like myself) are reluctant to give up. Some mini wahs I have tried don’t take this into consideration. I felt comfortable leaning my full weight into this mini wah. And ,quite frankly, the tones were absolutely as funky as I ever dreamed of.

The wah is so small that there is no room inside for a battery; that is no problem with standard 9v input center negative power input that you can use with your average pedal power connection. It uses optical control instead of the traditional potentiometer for the effect, so there will be no maintenance issues with scratchiness at any point in the future!

Two bright blue led’s  on both sides of the pedal cast a bright glow when the true bypass switch is activated under toe as with traditional full size wahs. Those lights can easily be seen in the dim lights of a club, so there is none of the insecurity that comes with wondering if your wah actually  made it to the “off” position.

One the the big plus features of the wah is a 3 position toggle switch on the left side of the pedal that allows you to switch from three very useful modes:  0.2-1kH, 0.3-1,5 kH, 0.4-2kH. To describe it in layman’s terms, it goes from vintage to modern or almost synth like. I did a couple of gigs with the pedal and experimented with all 3 modes with great satisfaction.

The adjustable axial screw allows you to tighten the feel of the treadle and also allows you to keep it in a fixed place for some of the usual wah notch-effects.

Thanks to AMT for a great new and very practical product!! AAAAA++!! (my second one is already on the way!!)

Here are some specs from the AMT website:

FEATURES:
- Switchable bandpass: 0.2-1kH, 0.3-1,5 kH, 0.4-2kH;
- True bypass
- Removable support feet (the option is useful when you install the AMT WH-1 on the pedal board)
- Effect on/off indicator LEDs on both pedal sides (visible when engaged)
- Adjustable pedal movement by means of an axial screw

SPECIFICATIONS:
- 9-12v DC power negative center (-), adapter or battery
- Low power consumption
- Small size: 110 x 62 x 58 mm
- Weight (without battery) 0.45 kg

Here is a very good youtube demo of the pedal: