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Harmony Central 2017 Effects Pedal Gift Guide for Musicians

Because a guitarist can never have enough guitar effect pedals!

 

by Chris Loeffler

 

 

With more than 20 effects devices reviewed this year, many by Electro-Harmonix and Earthquaker Devices, some readers have asked “What’s up with all the pedal reviews?” The short, simple answer is that they are what our readers most gravitate towards, the manufacturers are the most frequent to submit review units for consideration, and at 1/5-1/30 the cost of a new amplifier of guitar, effects pedals are some of the most cost-effective ways for players to change up their sounds. As always, we receive no payment for product reviews and they are utterly decoupled from ads (although we’d love for them to!). Here’s a recap os one of the more interesting pieces Harmony Central reviewed in 2017…

 

 

Ampeg Scrambler Bass Overdrive

 

Ampeg came back strong in the bass effect world in 2017, with a strong, sub-focused offering for the four (or five, or six) stringed slingers looking to add character and crunch to their low end. Phil O’Keefe found a lot to love in the definition and bass-preservation of the new Ampeg Scrambler that may leave some guitar players wanting but shows their dedication to creating the ultimate bass tone today while mining the classic bass tones from the last fifty years.

 

Read the entire Harmony Central review of the Ampeg Scrambler Bass Overdrive here

 

 

 

Electro-Harmonix Operation Overlord Allied Overdrive Stereo Effect

 

Electro-Harmonix has never been a company to veer away from extreme or exotic effects, so it was a bit of a head-scratcher to see such a straight forward looking offering when they released the Operation Overlord Allied Overdrive. After a thorough test drive, however, effects enthusiast Chris Loeffler reported back there was a lot more happening under the hood than one expected, including three different line levels to add grit to anything from a low output passive single coil to a full line-level synthesizer, plus TRUE stereo outputs for an overdrive that is anything but ordinary!

 

Read the entire Harmony Central review of the Electro-Harmonix Operation Overlord Allied Overdrive here

 

 

 

Earthquaker Devices Erupter Perfect Fuzz

 

It takes a bold claim to name any version of the fuzz effect “perfect”, but if any modern manufacturer should take a shot at it, it might as well be the good folks of Earthquaker Devices in Akron, Ohion! The Earthquaker Devices Erupter perfect fuzz is a modern approach to achieving vintage fuzz tones, incorporating a built-in pickup load simulator to remove the fussiness of traditional fuzz circuits to signal chain placement, battery sag, and more for a fuzz that react and sounds exactly how it should no matter how many buffers you stack in front of it. The single fuzz control even has an indented section in the exact center of the sweep so you know exactly how Earthquaker thinks it should sound, but you can dial to the left or right for different shades of saturation and gating.

 

Read the entire Harmony Central review of the Earthquaker Devices Erupter here

 

Nexi Industries The Solution

 

Nexi Industries launched The Solution board with an eye towards changing the way player use and interact with their signal chain, starting from the foundation up, literally. Phil O’Keefe spent hours evaluating how their alternative approach to crafting guitar tone can simplify the open-minded player’s rig without sacrificing flexibility and effect swapping.

 

Read the entire Harmony Central review of the Nexi Industries The Solution system here

 

 

 

Electro-Harmonix Blurst Modulated Filter

 

The Elector-Harmonix Blurst modulated filter is probably the contender for “Most EHX-like Pedal Release of the Year”. Applying every type of trigger imaginable to a filter, from LFO to envelope to manual expression control, the Blurst is essentially the filter workstation for guitar players jealous of the controls typically reserved for synthesizer players without complicated controls or layered LED menus. Whether you’re looking to push the sonic boundaries of your instrument or explore the more subtle shades of filtering most effects ignore, the Blurst is the most accessible deep filter unit yet in floor format.

 

Read the entire Harmony Central review of the Electro-Harmonix Blurst here

 

Ampeg Analog Bass Preamp

 

Bass players who are looking to inject the classic Ampeg sound into their rig without buying a new amp or breaking the bank should read up on the Ampeg Bass Preamp, the gateway to the classic Ampeg sound for under $100 bones.

 

Read the entire Harmony Central review of the Ampeg Bass Preamp here

 

Electro-Harmonix Canyon Delay and Reverb

 

Another surprise from Electro-Harmonix this year the the Electro-Harmonix Canyon Delay and Reverb, an affordable digital multi effect crammed with nearly a dozen dead-on recreations of classic delay and reverb tones in a pedal smaller than the wallet in your pocket and cheaper than most single use delay effects. The Canyon make take the cake for the biggest bang for your buck in 2017l

 

Read the entire Harmony Central review of the Electro-Harmonix Canyon Delay and Reverb here

 

Earthquaker Transmisser Resonant Reverb

 

If there was an award for most unique (or WTF?!?) effect of 2017, Earthquake Devices’ Transmisser easily claims that prize. Ostensibly a tricked out reverb for guitar players, the Transmisser introduces modulation, tone darkening, and filter sweeping to the reverb signal, nearly immediately taking over the guitar’s original signal and crafting dark, brooding pads that sound like transmissions from deep in the heart of space. There’s nothing “vintage” about the Transmisser, but it might be your quickest way to unique, psychedelic waves or post-rock dreaminess.

 

Read the entire Harmony Central review of the Earthquaker Devices Transmisser resonant reverb here

 

Totally Wyked Audio HS-02 Hot Sake Overdrive

 

Considering distortion is one of the most common effects manufacturers offer, it is worthy of note that the Totally Wyked Audio HS-02 Hot Sake is the only dedicated distortion box Harmony Central chose to review this year. Its Manga inspired Eastern graphics and American designed and built production undoubtedly leads to a little confusion on the front end, but searing distortion tones and unique EQ parameters position the Hot Sake to be a future guitar tone hero.

 

Read the entire Harmony Central review of the Totally Wyked Audio HS-02 Hot Sake here

 

 

Electro-Harmonix Cock Fight Plus Fuzz Wah

 

Last year saw the release of the Electro-Harmonix Cock Fight fixed was pedal, which left Chris Loeffler tonally satisfied but itching to access the sweep of the two analog filter circuits without purchasing an optional expression pedal. Electro-Harmonix got the note, and rather than telling reviewers to own their experience and live with the consequences of the standard form factor or investing in the expansion they released the Electro-Harmonix Cock Fight Plus, featuring the same great fuzz and filter circuits as it’s little brother in a wha-style enclosure, proving you really can have your cake and eat it too.

 

Read the entire Harmony Central review of the Electro-Harmonix Cock Fight Fuzz Wah here

 

Digitech Mosaic Polyphonic 12-String

 

Perhaps realizing they’d put so much goodness into their Digitech Whammy pedal that most guitar players didn’t even dig in past the first setting or two, Digitech has spent the last couple of years pulling individual settings out of their pitch-shifting icon and creating use-specific stomp pedals out of them. Last year Harmony Central reviewed the Luxe and The Drop from that family, and 2017 saw Phil O’Keefe running the Digitech Mosaic through an extensive series of tests to see how much like a true 12-string guitar he could make his standard six string acoustic and electric guitars. Are you looking to add the color of a 12-string to your live gig without the expense or hassle of a new axe?

 

Read the entire Harmony Central review of the Digitech Mosaic here

 

 

Electro-Harmonix Green Russian Muff Fuzz

 

Electro-Harmonix has been pumping out fuzzes longer than most of today’s players have been sentient beings on this planet, and Harmony Central always turns to Chris Loeffler to evaluate and discuss the finer nuances of shades of fuzz when it comes to the venerable, if often changing, Big Muff Pi. The Green Russian Big Muff Pi released this year nails the circuitry and sound of the military-styled green tank that infiltrated music shops in the early 90’s and became the sound of grunge and alternative rock for some of the biggest acts of that era. Collusion is not an option.

 

Read the entire Harmony Central review of the Electro-Harmonix Green Russian Big Muff here

 

MXR Carbon Copy Deluxe Analog Delay

 

While Electro-Harmonix and Maxon were quietly keeping analog delay circuits in production throughout the early 00’s, it was Dunlop’s signing on of boutique effects legend Jeorge Tripps of Way Huge and their out-of-the-blue release of the MXR Carbon Copy analog delay that marked the resurgence of analog delay for the masses in the late 00’s. A lot has evolved in circuits since then, and MXR made it clear they’re not ready to sit idle and let technology pass them by with the upgraded MXR Carbon Copy Deluxe, which doubles the delay time to a mind-boggling 1.2 seconds, introduces true tap tempo, and moves modulation controls to the front of the box.

 

Read the entire Harmony Central review of the MXR Carbon Copy Deluxe here

 

Electro-Harmonix Battalion Bass Preamp

 

Something must have had the great minds of Electro-Harmonix in an especially bellicose mood this year, as in addition to revisiting the Cold War fever dream of the Green Russian and the D-Day glory of the Operation Overlord they released a tank-studded bass preamp aggressively named the Electro-Harmonix Battalion bass preamp. Phil O’Keefe found the Battalion deeper than the average pedal, and pointed out how that flexibility could make for the most finely-tuned front end section a bass player has experienced or introduce some unwanted noise for people who like to tweak without taking the time to learn the complete signal chain.

 

Read the entire Harmony Central review of the Electro-Harmonix Battalion here

 

 

Way Huge Doubleland Special Overdrive

 

It’s the final stretch of 2017, and the endless search for the fabled lawyer tones only forged in crystal lattices and buried in the blackest of epoxies continues forward. With dozens of pedals and amps claiming to have captured that particular lightening in a bottle (and typically price tags to match), it was refreshing to see the master of boutique mystery take the piss out of that tone with the punned Overrated Special a couple of years ago. In partnership with guitar magazine cover boy Joe Bonamassa, Way Huge released a limited number of pedals dubbed the Way Huge Doubleland Special, all signed by Joe Bonamassa and featuring dual Overrated Specials in a single enclosure with slick control adaptations to sliders to emphasize the set-it-and-forget-it intention of the first effect to be stacked with the second. Are there even any of these super limited units still available?

 

Read the entire Harmony Central review of the Way Huge Doubleland Special here

 

Earthquaker Devices Space Spiral Modulated Delay

 

Earthquaker Devices set out to release a fairly standard analog-sounding delay pedal with limited delay time and a unique modulation section, and quickly found they’d stumbled across something special. Based on “crappy old karaoke chips”, the dark delay signal of the Earthquaker Devices Space Spiral goes far beyond the dreamy modulated repeats of the Deluxe Memory Man an into lopsided, angular pitch bends that leap and stagger multiple notes in more extreme settings. 60’s Sci-Fi nightmare escapes or The Edge like syncopated rhythms at the turn of a knob.

 

Read the entire Harmony Central review of the Earthquaker Devices Space Spiral here

 

Electro-Harmoix Tone Corset Compressor

 

Suggestions of Victorian-era bondage in its graphics are completely at odds with the smooth, natural behavior that is the sonic core of the Electro-Harmonix Tone Coreset analog compressor. The surprisingly warm and expressive attack and release of the compression circuit require minimal tone submission, and are more like a gentle massage that a traipse in the clipped smack of rougher compressors.

 

Read the entire Harmony Central review of the Electro-Harmonix Tone Corset here

 

 

Earthquaker Devices Night Wire Harmonic Tremolo

 

Phil O’Keefe drew the long straw when it came to deciding who would review the Earthquaker Devices Night Wire. With both amplitude (volume) and filter modulation happening at the same time, the genius ability to choose whether to choose either (or both!) as controlled by a LFO (typical tremolo tones), increase and decrease speed and depth with an envelope triggered by guitar attack (touch-sensitive ramping), and even freezing the filter section for cocked tones means everyone’s tremolo will sound different.

 

Read the entire Harmony Central review of the Earthquaker Devices Night Wire here

 

Supra 1305 Drive

 

Players are usually trying to make their mid-sized amps sound bigger, so when Supra sent Phil O’Keefe the Supra 1305 Drive to make his amps sound like the raunchy, compact tube posters they are recreating for studio players, he really took them to task on how big “small” could sound. Apparently, gloriously lo-fi, rich, and raw enough to tour with the Stones.

 

Read the entire Harmony Central review of the Supra 1305 here

 

Earthquaker Devices Data Corrupter Analog Synthesizer

 

If there was a “biggest barrier to entry/most worthwhile reward” category for 2017, one wouldn’t need look further than the Earthquaker Devices Data Corrupter. Despite an intuitive control layout, there just aren’t many (any?) pedals that get close to doing what the Data Corrupter does. Splitting the guitar signal into three channels (square wave, master oscillator, and subharmonic), the Data corrupter fuzzes, pitch shifts, and then pitch shifts again while adding gliding and LFO modulation to the oscillators for polyphonic recreation of monophonic inputs. Throw away for augmented jazz chords and consider embracing the corruption.

 

Read the entire Harmony Central review of the Earthquaker Devices Data Corrupter here

 

 

                                      

____________________________________________ 

 

Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer. 

 

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AlamoJoe  |  January 04, 2018 at 10:19 pm
THIS...Is a GREAT synopsis of the reviews..I thoroughly enjoyed it Chris. Read every single one and watched tons of links and videos...Gave me GAS though....Lol!
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