Can this pedal really produce cool 12-string tones without a 12-string guitar?
by Phil O'Keefe
For many guitarists, a 12 string guitar can be a bit of a luxury. While some players (such as George Harrison, Roger McGuinn, and Leo Kottke) are closely associated with 12 strings, most players use them more sparingly; often for supportive parts and layers on recordings, or to cover well-known sounds in cover bands or other live situations. If that describes you, chances are you don't want to put a bunch of money into another guitar that you'll only use occasionally, or have to haul to gigs when you need it only for a song or two. Is there another option? Let's take a look at one possible alternative - the DigiTech Mosaic Polyphonic 12 String effect pedal, and see how close it gets to the sound of the real thing.
What You Need To Know
This could prove to be a very practical and useful pedal for some players. I liked the sound best and felt it had the most realism with fairly high settings of both controls, but unfortunately the pitch shifting artifacts become audible with those settings too, which can give away the fact that you're using a simulator and not a real 12 string to golden-eared listeners. For many users and in many situations the sound is more than "close enough" and this won't be a deal-breaker; the Mosaic can definitely give you 12 string sounds that will fool most of your audience, especially for live performances.
Live use is where the Mosaic really shines, and being able to cop some of the jangle, chime and doubled/octave string effects of a 12 string with just a press of a button sure beats having to take another guitar out on the road with you - especially if you only use a 12 string on a few songs, or if you need to be able to quickly switch back and forth between 6 and 12 string type sounds on the same song. For example, if you want to be able to cover "Hotel California" or "Stairway To Heaven" and do the opening 12-string parts as well as the solos all from one single-necked guitar, this pedal's for you.
The DigiTech Mosaic can even work on recordings as long as the guitar track using the effect isn't soloed out or strongly featured - for those situations, I think I'd still rather use a "real" 12 string guitar. But as long as it's layered in the mix with other tracks, many listeners will probably never know your "12 string" wasn't a guitar, but a pedal. Best of all, you won't have to deal with the tuning hassles that come with a real 12-string guitar! -HC-
DigiTech Mosaic polyphonic 12 string effect pedal ($187.44 MSRP, $149.95 "street")
DigiTech's product web page
DigiTech Mosaic product manual (PDF file)
You can purchase the DigiTech Mosaic from:
B&H Photo Video
Phil O'Keefe is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer / producer and the Senior Editor of Harmony Central. He has engineered, produced and performed on countless recording sessions in a diverse range of styles, with artists such as Alien Ant Farm, Jules Day, Voodoo Glow Skulls, John McGill, Michael Knott and Alexa's Wish. He is a former featured monthly columnist for EQ magazine, and his articles and product reviews have also appeared in Keyboard, Electronic Musician and Guitar Player magazines.