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BDJohnston

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Everything posted by BDJohnston

  1. All comments made above.
  2. You can request free trial downloads to experience how much this software can wake up a mix and make it POP! https://www.eventideaudio.com/products/third-party-plug-ins/mastering/elevate-bundle
  3. Even up full on a clean channel you would be pleasantly surprised as to how smooth and natural the Val Drive II sounds (being a low to moderate gain pedal). It adds a warm grain with some headroom when on low (e.g., 10-o’clock) with a very acceptable drive and modest breaking up quality when up full. Obviously the cleaner the amp the more you can crank the Drive, which also depends whether you want to add some glassiness to your tone versus making it more of a crunch. With a dirty channel the Val Drive II shines incredibly well, although how much Drive you want will depend on how nasty your dirt channel is (or how much nastier you want it), and for the most part I’ve been keeping it at 10-o’clock, which seems to enhance the dirt channels on my Victory V4 Preamps (I have all three, The Countess, The Sheriff and The Kraken) in a positive way with no added saturation (in fact, the preamps sound even clearer and cutting edge). As for the Tone knob, you can get a lot of bass or treble for those clean channels, but with dirt channels (as least with my gear) the signal becomes more pronounced on the high end that I keep the Tone knob on the Val Drive II dialed back to about 9-o’clock… and on The Kraken (which has a more harsh tone) I dial back the Tone knob all the way to full bass. I’m surprised I had to do this since on a clean channel dialing all the way back made the tone sound dark and slightly muffled.
  4. There are two new features with the Spider V MkII. The first is a new Classic Speaker mode that produces a more organic sound and feel, just like a regular amp. What I mean is, if you were to plug into a typical amp/cab combo you get that true-to-life amp sound and that’s just what this amp offers. Conversely, you can select a ‘produced’ sound, which is ideal when running the Spider direct to DAW, for example, but also when using an acoustic guitar (since this mode uses both the loudspeaker and the tweeter for a more rounded and accurate tone). There are different presets for an acoustic guitar, but suffice to say (as you hear in the demo) an acoustic sounds great coming through this amp. The other new feature with the MkII is the Artist, Iconic Song and Classic Amp presets. At your fingertips are straight-forward clean, crunch and lead tones (that you can customize), but also several Iconic Song presets, like Whole Lotta Love and Enter Sandman, as well as artist presets from the likes of Jeff Loomis, Bill Kelliher, Vernon Reid and others. Those two features not only are new with the MkII (previous Spider V owners can download the new MkII firmware for free!), and definite game changers, but there also several great features built into this amp. These include being wireless ready (with a Line 6 G10 transmitter), a built-in metronome, drum tracks and a preset sampler function (pick a preset and hear it in different genres, such as Blues or Classic Rock). There are 78 amps and 24 cabs that range among Clean, American, British and Hi-Gain (from classic Fenders and Marshalls to Diezel and Friedman). And there are several stomp boxes in the categories of drive/distortion (10), delay (14), reverb (13), modulation (24), wahs (8), filters/synths (15), dynamics (8, including compressor) and EQ (1). And you do get a free license to Cubase LE for recording and mixing purposes, but I recorded my tracks in Cakewalk Sonar X3 with the Classic mode via a Shure SM57 mic… and with very decent results. The various presets on the Spider can be edited and saved, and they range from super clean to crunch to hi-gain. I was impressed with both crunch and hi-gain as they sound punchy, heavy and thick to varying degrees, but many of the clean sounds (particularly the artist presets) are mesmerizing. Although the Spider V MkII is a solid state amplifier, it does have a host of very usable sounds that sit well with both home recording and live gig playing. And when you consider how many different effects accompany all the different amps and cabinets with this amp, you get just about any perceivable sound possible. All elements can be tweaked via USB and the free downloadable Spider software, but also with the hard controls on the front of the Spider V. The Amp and FX buttons switch between the two, so that in Amp mode you can adjust the EQ, volume and drive of the amp, whereas in FX mode you adjust the compressor, amount of fuzz, depth of reverb, tempo of delay, etc. (each color coded, e.g., blue LED around a knob indicates ‘delay’). Speaking of tempo, you can adjust this manually if desired by tapping the Tempo button, or if hold down the button you access the Tuner. This amp also includes a 60-second Looper, a headphones jack and an AUX input to jam to your favorite music. Some optional add-ons (not included with the amp) include an Expression Pedal, ideal when using the internal wahs, filters, etc., a foot controller, and a USB cable (to connect to a computer for editing, recording and firmware updating).
  5. Q allows you to sculpt your tone in real time (although the pedal can be parked without EQ sweeping) while playing guitar, bass or keyboards. The demo outlines some possibilities, but I bet there are several more. With toe down and the Treble and Bass dialed back (or turned off completely) you can achieve a very authentic lo-fi sound. Again with toe down, you can adjust the Treble or Bass to sculpt your tone, but also act as a boost (since there is a 20dB cut or boost with either the Treble or Bass). The real fun begins when you manipulate the treadle, which either cuts or boosts the Midrange by 20dB. This is where you get some interesting tone variations that seem to mimic a volume pedal and/or a phaser and/or a wah – depending how you use it. Get enough Treble and Bass in the mix and hear some very intense growls (without that shrill typically heard in wahs). When working the treadle in the front half of the range the mid scooping is not as intense, and doing so makes for a very good subtle wah-type effect. And whether working in broad or narrow sweeps, I find Q to work exceptionally well as a tremolo or Univibe – but what makes Q special is that you can control how fast or slow you want the tremolo/vibe without having to bend down and adjust any knobs like you would with a typical tremolo… you control the rate or speed with your foot so that you can have slow mixed with fast, etc. Placement is important, as often a volume or wah is at the beginning of the chain; but with this being an EQ pedal with 3-times the headroom of typical 9V pedals, your signal can be overdriven too hard if placed at the front end. Rather, place Q at the end of the signal chain (unless you want to overdrive earlier effects), viz., after distortions, delays, reverbs, etc.
  6. With the Internet... if I were a company I would create my own on-line NAMM show... displaying, demoing, etc., both on Skype and recorded for video playback... all new products I'm about to release. Now, that does not allow a person to try it out, but how many people actually attend NAMM vs. those who play instruments and buy gear? The cost of flight, hotel, meals and tickets (besides taking time off work) precludes many from attending, particularly non-USA citizens travelling from another country. To partake in a day or so of Skype and/or later view the videos of those in-house events (I think) would create greater draw for any one particular company.
  7. Straight forward in its use, start with the Level around 9-o’clock and increase thereafter. There’s enough headroom with this pedal, and so start low. Presuming the Bias is down low (all the way counter-clockwise) the signal will be its smoothest. The Fuzz is very intense, even when turned all the way down, and sounds plenty heavy around the 10-o’clock mark. Increasing the Bias obviously adds a heavier, broken-up quality. For rhythm purposes I prefer a low Bias with Fuzz around 12-noon or less, but when playing lead I like both Fuzz and Bias around the 1-o’clock position. Obviously individual preferences may dictate otherwise, and I’m basing this on a very clean and glassy amp channel. Amps with more or less aggression will determine proper settings of the British Bender.
  8. You can access all controls and functions via the OMNI AC’s knobs and switches, but also through the free computer software. The software certainly makes it easier to navigate, providing a larger and clearer representation of the controls that necessitate hooking up to your computer via an 8-inch USB cable, but the onboard controls are easy enough to use (visible via the OLED screen). The pedal has a master volume control and a Function knob. When you turn the Function knob left or right you select a preset. When you press down on the Function knob you enter the menu system, whereby you can make a number of changes (again, this can be done via the computer software). There are 15 presets or options, e.g., steel string, jumbo, dreadnaught, etc. You could have all 15 presets the same guitar with different EQ and Gain settings or each one can be a different guitar/acoustic instrument (and any combination between). Via onboard or through the software you can set the overall preset volume, whether playing an electric or acoustic, and the EQ setting associated with low, mid, high and presence. With each EQ setting you can set the Gain, thereby reducing the bass, upping the midrange, etc. The Footswitch is assignable so that it can bypass, mute, change modes (whether using an electric or acoustic guitar) or scroll up or down the presets. What’s cool about this pedal is that it has a Thru so that you can blend your original acoustic or electric guitar tone with one from the OMNI AC. There’s also a balanced XLR out (to a mixing board, for example) with a ground lift option, a headphones jack and an Aux In (to connect an MP3 player or other device).
  9. It will take a day of discovery to learn all the ins-and-outs, but a little bit of patience will make it all worth the effort as you can produce some utterly unique modulated delay effects. I won’t cover everything, but will go through some general guidelines. The delay knob allows you to select a ‘range’ by pushing down then turning the knob (the ‘range’ places you in a general area, e.g., 500ms delay); you then adjust the knob (without pushing) to fine-tune the milliseconds. Once you have a delay time you like (keep in mind you can tap tempo) you then can add a Reverse to the delay, besides adjust the Feedback (repeats) and even add a Delay Multiply (so that you hear your delay 2x to 5x). The amount of delay also is significant, ranging from 10ms to 10 seconds – add in a Delay Multiply the delay continues for nearly a minute even after you stop playing. Assign the Infinite Repeat to the Hotswitch and the signal will repeat forever (until you press the Hotswitch a second time, thus allowing the effect to trail off). Speaking of Hotswitch, you can assign many things to this footswitch besides an Infinite Repeat – you can use it as a tap tempo, use it to hold the modulation effect or reset the modulation (turn it on/off), and also use it to switch from a Preset’s A and B settings. In regard to the last assignment, if you have an expression pedal you can switch from A and B settings of a preset (heel down vs. toe down), but also morph the two into some fantastic sound-scapes (as you play and rock the treadle). The Modulation aspect of the Rose allows you to add various shapes to the delay tone, including a Sine, Square, Envelope or Random wave. You can adjust the depth of that shape, as well as its Rate (for a very slow wave to a fast pulse, as indicated by the Rose LED flashing to the set pulse or rhythm). Both the Delay and Modulation aspects can have a higher treble or bass response, whether you want it to be prominent and cut through the mix or remain dark and warm. And, of course, you can adjust the overall Mix so that even a complex sounding modulated delay remains nothing more than a hint in your tone.
  10. Even on low Meuf II has some fairly serious distortion. And so, if you want moderate dirt then keep the Distortion around 8-9 o’clock and with the Level (volume) about 10-o’clock to start. If your amp is fairly clean and you want a harder driving tone, then begin at 12-o’clock (keep the Level around 10 and adjust accordingly). For a very dirty amp, I would keep the amp’s gain no higher than 10-o’clock with Meuf II’s Distortion at 8-o’clock (up just a touch). I then would tweak both the amp’s gain and Meuf II’s Distortion until achieving the desired dirty growl and thickness. I find the pedal’s Tone to sound pretty good around 1-o’clock, although this depends whether your amp/speaker(s) are dark or bright; consequently, I would start with the Tone knob at 12-noon and adjust from there.https://docmusicstation.fr/en/fuzz/32-meuf-2-3172668160383.html
  11. The Ruby II is surprisingly easy to use, whether working with cleans or distorted signals. Tastes will vary, but I find clean sounds work very well with the Compression around 9-12 o’clock, depending if you want a hint of tightness or more control over the dynamics and overall loudness. Of course, if you want a very tight snap to the notes, e.g., Funk guitar, you can push the envelope upward to full Compression and still retail much of the tone’s character without added noise or sterility. When working with higher-gain signals, the amount of compression (for my liking) does vary. For crunch rhythms I prefer 9-12 o’clock – just enough to have some tightness and to make certain all notes have a more even output. With lead I tend to prefer Compression closer to 1-2 o’clock, since doing so adds to the sustain and boldness of each note (ideal for long-held soulful playing, but also hammering on/off and finger-tapping). The Level (volume) control is not overly finicky. Generally I can keep it around 1-2 o’clock with my current gear set-up, while needing to reduce level/volume slightly only once Compression exceeds 1-o’clock.https://docmusicstation.fr/en/other/33-ruby-2-3172668160390.html
  12. Dark Blue II is simple to use. The Level knob controls how loud you want the signal, and Dark Blue II does have some serious headroom and volume (start with this set at 9-o’clock). The Tone knob controls the degree of bass and treble in the signal and does not seem to exaggerate any particular aspect (the bass does not sound excessively fat and the treble does not sound shrill). The Distortion knob controls how much grain and drive you want, which varies from very modest at around 9-o’clock to exceptionally thick and heavy when cranked full. As well, you can decide on whether you want that distortion to sound more aggressive and saturated with the ‘I’ position (asymmetrical) or warmer and fatter with the ‘II’ position (symmetrical).https://docmusicstation.fr/en/distorsion/29-dark-blue-2-3172668150353.html
  13. BDJohnston

    NUX Solid Studio

    Solid Studio requires some experimentation, since your choices depend on the gear (e.g., pedals, guitar pickups, etc.) you use. With the Roland Jazz Chorus 112 working so well for my clean tones, I start with that selection, although I will zip through the other cabinets to hear what they have to offer. Likewise, my dirty tones start with the Marshall 1960 cab and then I will try the others in case there is a better choice (the Fender Bassman cab seems to work well with clean and dirty, for example). My mic selection often is the Sennheiser MD421 as it offers a good amount of thickness and clarity (I may want a thinner sound or even a heavier sound and may select a different mic as I go through the fine-tuning). The next step is to select my tubes. EL34s are heavier with a bigger crunch, 6V6 have a warmer sound, and the EL84s are brighter with more high ends. I often select the EL34s, but I do have some drive pedals that have more punch and grain with the 6V6 tubes. The microphone selections vary significantly, with some producing a deeper and thicker response, whereas others are ‘lighter’ with more clarity, any of which can be used to coordinate with dark pickups/pedals vs. bright pickups/pedals. Likewise, mic placement makes a difference as having a center position translates into more high-ends, a mid position more mids and an edge position more bass. Double tracking your guitar (so that one is center and the other either mid or edge, with the same or different mic) can produce a very unique and multi-dimensional sound.http://www.nuxefx.com/
  14. When turning on The Atmosphere, it picks up where you left off (when it was turned off last). There are 16 Presets that you scroll through, each being a different algorithm or ‘atmosphere’ (scrolling can be done via the Preset knob or the Multi footswitch). For instance, the first preset is Spring (spring reverb), and you can be in preset mode (as created by the factory) or you can tweak any of the elements (e.g., mix, decay, etc.), which takes you automatically in default/editing mode. And you see all this information live and on the LED screen (it takes mere minutes to learn how to use The Atmosphere effectively). You can save your changes as a new preset of that algorithm if desired (and there’s also a function to restore the pedal to factory default). With any of the reverbs you can adjust the resolution (slower, longer and grainer reverb vs. smooth and refined), the overall mix (wet/dry), the volume, tone (more bass vs. treble), decay (how long the reverb lasts) and then two other elements. Those other elements are set by the Ctrl knobs, and the two elements differ from one preset/algorithm to the next. For example, and with the Hall reverb, Ctrl 1 affects the amount of pre-delay, whereas Ctrl 2 affects the amount of bass. With the Smear reverb Ctrl 1 affects the diffusion, whereas Ctrl 2 affects delay time. Any of these can be manipulated to produce real-time changes and effects, done either by hand or via Expression Pedal (you can assign things like mix, decay, resolution, volume and the elements associated with the two Ctrl knobs). The Multi footswitch also can take on different roles, whether you assign it to select different presets, used as a ‘freeze’ switch, a tap tempo, etc. Two roles can be assigned to the Multi, whether you hold the footswitch or click it once.https://www.drscientist.ca/pedals/the-atmosphere/
  15. You can get some excellent results with the 112+ and without much tweaking. This is particularly true of the EQ, since boosting or keeping plat the Bottom, Mid or Top all sound pretty decent (nothing muddy or shrill). There is a lot of headroom with this pedal, and so begin with the Level completely down, or perhaps at 9-o’clock to start. Place all EQ knobs at 12-noon (which is flat); from there you can increase or decrease any of the frequencies up to 5dB. If you’re looking for nothing but a clean boost, then keep the Drive all the way down. With the Drive at 9-o’clock you get a modest effect in dirt, whereas the quality of dirt really shines around 12-noon to 2-o’clock (at least with the light and moderate Voices and on a clean channel). If using the heavy Voice I find the Drive should be around 9-o’clock to 12-noon, depending on your tastes and how defined (less saturated) you want it. Going beyond 12-noon is fine if you like that heavy proto-metal psychedelic massive sound. When using the 112+ with a higher-gain channel or amp, the Drive should be relatively low, about 8-10 o’clock (just enough to add some ‘edge’ to the high-gain tone). Tweaking the EQ then further sculpts the sound effectively for some added bite.
  16. BDJohnston

    Eventide H9 Max

    The Editing Software (free for download) is the easiest way to choose, edit and save patches, accessed through a computer via a USB cable (not included) or via wireless Bluetooth with your phone or iPad. Navigation is easy… working through categories is easy… and making changes is easy (just like working with knobs and buttons on a regular pedal or piece of hardware). And if you have an Expression Pedal you can assign any of the controls (multiple controls as well) to the pedal and create even more diverse sounds and tones. You don’t need an Expression Pedal, but sounds like Q-Wah will have a fixed wah sound, rather than a dynamic wah sound. Below is the Overview demo, but in the Sound section you will find demos on each category (delay, reverb, modulation, pitchfactor and H9 Max exclusives). If controlling the H9 Max through its hardware, there is a ‘Hotknob’ that enables you to assign and determine the range of any element, and you can use the large Encoder/Switch (which turns or spins) to control dynamic changes, just like working with an expression pedal (changes made with the Hotknob also affect the Expression Pedal… they control the same parameters and should be considered one in the same). Overall, it took me about 40-minutes to learn how to edit, recall patches, etc., using the hardware controls, but only about 60-seconds once hooked up to the editing software. When using the H9 Max itself for editing, all the information is found in the LED window and there are LEDs all around the large Encoder/Switch to indicate the level of the element being changed (besides a numeric value in the LED Window). In terms of play or live use, the H9 Max is simple enough to use. First, be aware that you can create patch lists, although you can save 99 different patches. For example, suppose you need only 10 patches of various delays, modulations, etc., and that you scroll through those while jamming with friends or playing a gig. You can create and recall a patch list that locks the H9 Max into only those 10 patches, so that you don’t accidentally scroll beyond or get into other patches – thus making on-stage use less worrisome and better contained. Once the H9 Max is turned on, it starts off at the last patch when it was turned off. In order to access (scroll through) the patches you step on the Tap foot switch, which scrolls up to the next patch – you then press the other footswitch (Active) to select it. If you want to scroll down, step on the large Encoder/Switch to reverse directions, step on the Tap switch to find your patch followed by making the new patch Active. You also can access patches by pressing the Preset button and scrolling up and down via the spin knob on the large Encoder/Switch (patches load automatically in this mode). Pressing the Active switch at any time turns off/bypasses the H9 Max, and so you hear only the dry signal. Pressing both Active and Tap (while holding for a few seconds) brings up the highly sensitive and accurate Tuner. Holding down the Tap button for a few seconds gives access to Tap Tempo.
  17. You control the output or volume via the Boost knob, giving upward of 17dB of germanium boost for a smooth rich texture (which is why this Treble Booster does not sound brittle or harsh). The Range knob controls the incoming bandwidth – when turned up low (about 9-o’clock) you get a modest glassy type of finish to your tone, and as you increase the Range the sound becomes more broad and full (as harmonics increase). At higher ranges I tend to like it around 12-noon or slightly greater (depending on whether the signal is clean, crunchy or high-gain) to add more aggression or bite and depending on how full-bodied I want the higher frequencies while tightening up the lower frequencies. There are two EQ knobs, one for Treble and one for Bass. The Bass knob obviously cuts the low frequencies (<240Hz), but without touching the low-mids, which is important in overall guitar tone and depth. The Treble knob cuts the highs (>2.4kHz), which takes out that sharp or piercing high-end and makes the higher-frequencies sound smoother while still allowing for the harmonics to pop through. When first powering up I suggest putting the two EQs at 12-noon, and the Range and Boost at 9-o’clock, and then adjust to taste.
  18. From subtle wave to a fast pulsating ‘surfer maniac-paced’ tremolo, the OptoTrem has all the bases covered. Consequently, all bases are covered. Depth at 9-o’clock makes the effect (rate and wave) audible, although very passive within the mix. The tremolo becomes more obvious at 10-o’clock and definitely present around 12-noon. Once you get around the 3-o’clock range or greater you hear very little of the dry mix, which makes for some utterly beautiful ambient results. The Rate goes nuts at 3-o’clock and beyond, and I suspect most people would use the OptoTrem between 9-o’clock and 12-noon (unless you like Surfer music, which means pushing past 12-noon). A low Rate gives you that warbling Pink Floyd quality, whereas 12-noon works perfectly for playing the theme to Twin Peaks. The Wave knob will give you a harder hitting square wave when turned all the way counter-clockwise, and smoothes out considerably with a Triangle wave fully clockwise. Anything between will give a mix of results best described as a sine/square (similar to what you would hear in most amp tremolos).
  19. BDJohnston

    Carl Martin Panama

    Panama is simple enough to use. The Level knob controls the output or volume, and should be turned to 9-o’clock when first firing up your gear (then adjust as required). The Tone knob’s sweet spot, in my use, tends to be between 11-o’clock and 1-o’clock, although it depends largely on the amp and pickups (whether dark or bright) – a bit lower or higher still sounds pretty good. Turning the Tone lower than 10-o’clock (more bass) produced too much muffle or fatness, but I did use humbuckers and more bass may feel quite at home with single-coils. Turning up the Treble high still sounded good to my ears, and without being shrill. The Gain begins to kick in well around 9-o’clock and then upward of 1-o’clock seems to be a sweet spot (although with this pedal it still sounds good to the max). The Damping knob is very cool, in that it adjusts how loose or tight the tone, viz., how much bass you’re leaving or trimming. Once Panama is up around 12-noon to 2-o’clock, the tone (like most pedals in its category) tend to get a bit more saturated and not quite as sharp. However, turning up the Damping increases tightness and clarity so that even with Gain up full you still hear crisp distortion cutting through; and, of course, if you prefer a slightly fatter tone then turn the Damping down.
  20. BDJohnston

    NUX Roctary

    Output/Volume is controlled by the Level knob, and since the Roctary is not a big headroom type pedal, you likely can set it about 12-noon to start. The Tremolo aspect involves both a Slow and Fast speed selection, which you can alternate via the Fast footswitch (this allows you to set two different tremolo speeds). You also can set the acceleration (rising speed) between the Slow and Fast settings by holding the Fast footswitch and turning the Slow knob to an appropriate level. By setting the acceleration the Roctary acts just like a real rotary speaker, viz., the woofer rotates at a slower speed than the horn. The Bass-Horn knob varies the mix between woofer and horn (the type of speaker setup found in a Leslie speaker cabinet); think of it as a Tone control, although its effects are a bit more interesting on this pedal. There are two Octave settings (an octave above the dry signal and an octave below), and they can vary in mix, from completely off to very dominant when turned up completely (however, this also depends on the Balance knob that I’ll address soon); the Octave function turns on/off via its own switch. The Drive knob adds some dirt into the signal, which adds sizzle to a guitar tone if used sparingly, but really has its use when creating a ‘dirty organ’ tone, viz., Rock Organ Lead. Now, if you want a Leslie sound, so that the Tremolo has more of a swirling around the room quality, that is achieved by holding down the Fast footswitch while powering up the unit (thereafter, by pressing both footswitches simultaneously you put the Brakes on the speaker rotation and you hear only the usual tremolo; rotation resumes by pressing either footswitch). Another feature is the Kill Dry, which removes your dry signal so that you hear only the Roctary’s sound, and this is done by holding the Fast footswitch and rotating the Octave Up knob full counter-clockwise (reversing those steps reinstates the Dry). The Roctary is not overly complicated to use, but it takes an hour or so of tweaking and experimenting, a rather enjoyable process with this pedal. Next, the Balance indicates the degree of mix between Dry and Wet. If you set the knob about 9-o’clock the Wet is subtle, although audible and can add some very unique characteristics to rhythm and lead. Around 12-noon and the mix is 50/50, although the Roctary can overpower somewhat and depending on the other settings (more particularly the Octaves). Beyond 12-noon and the Roctary dominates. Finally, you can use an Expression Pedal to control Tremolo speed. This feature is great if you want to play some rhythm or lead lines that end with a stronger vibrato (if you listen to the Demo accompanying this review you will hear that effect near the beginning when the lead guitar plays over the acoustic guitar).
  21. Volume or output is controlled by the Level; turn it down when first engaging the Fuzz (and powering up your gear). The Fuzz Bender has a lot of headroom, and so I find keeping the Level around 9-10 o’clock sufficient in most cases. The quality or nature of the Fuzz is relative to where you place the Fuzz knob – the more you turn it counter-clockwise, the more subtle the fuzz flavor, whereas the more you turn it clockwise, the more saturated and heavier the fuzz. Obviously there is a mixing and meshing of the two, with the extent depending on where you dial in your sound. The Bias offers a lot of splat, and it produces a breaking-up quality even when turned up slightly to about 8-9 o’clock, and then burps like crazy from 12-noon onward. The Bass and Treble knobs are awesome; you get sizzling bright fuzz that cuts through the mix, but also a super heavy Doom and Gloom fuzz that is dark, but still defined in its character (or anything between). The heaviness of the Bass becomes apparent around 12-noon and beyond, whereas that cutting-edge Treble seems to hit hard at 3-o’clock. Of course, these specs are based on a thick and warm preamp (The Countess V4 by Victory) and the Petrucci MESA 4x12 cabinet (which is considered ‘dark’) that I used in the demo.
  22. The clipping setting determines if you’re looking for a fatter and darker tone (Germanium), a tone that cuts through the mix a bit better (Silicon) or a tone that has an aggressive boosting quality (LED). The Tone knob works as it should, and with a wide range of dark-to-bright it’s easy to dial into something that works with any gear – fatten up that thin sounding Strat or brighten up those muddy humbuckers. The next consideration is what type of tone you are after, since you can use a lot of Drive, a lot of Fuzz or a combination of the two in various amounts. When focusing on Fuzz the Drive adds some saturation to smooth the signal, but at the same time makes the Fuzz sound a bit angry (a fuzz-distortion type of mix). When focusing on the Drive you can achieve a very classic amp-pushing quality with a lot of Drive and only a hint of Fuzz (you would not think this a fuzz pedal with such a mix, but a fantastic sounding drive/distortion). Add in even more Fuzz and you begin getting a fatter distortion and eventually an unmistakable fuzz tone. The results are even more widespread depending if you are adding the Screamer Fuzz Germanium to a clean or dirty channel. Depending on how ‘clean’ the channel, you can really crank up the pedal with awesome results. With dirty channels that verge on high-gain it is best to add low amounts of Fuzz (8-o’clock) and Drive (9-10 o’clock) for that extra dimension so that you get a super high-gain result.
  23. Some coordination of the controls is required since once aspect can affect another. The Master Volume obviously controls how loud the signal is, but as you increase the Gain/Compression you will need to adjust the Master Volume. Likewise, a little Feedback goes a long way when the Reverb is very high (sounding very cavernous), whereas you can increase the Feedback as the Reverb reduces (down to ‘room’ level type reverb). The Feedback produces a shimmer to the Reverb sound, but it’s not like a typical shimmer you hear with reverb pedals (e.g., a crystal shimmer)… it can be subtle, but when turned up it produces more of a throbbing or pulsating shimmer modulation that becomes very dramatic in the background (and even overpowering if preferred and dialed in as such). The Swell knob is the most subtle of the bunch and it controls how quickly or slowly the Reverb blossoms toward its ultimate conclusion. There are three switches and since they are close together it may be prudent to add a Barefoot Button Tall Boy to the middle switch, which is a control that Holds or freezes the reverb – a fantastic feature if you enjoy drone-like background tones while playing overtop. The two outside switches including Kill, which removes the dry signal so that you have nothing but wet reverb, whereas the other footswitch Bypasses the Kaleidoscope so there is no reverb. Both Kill and Bypass have their own LED lights to indicate on and off.
  24. Start with the Drive knob turned all the way down if you want only a modest amount of drive. There is a serious amount of gain to be had even at that setting (more so with the Lo setting than the Hi setting). The sweet spots for either Lo or Hi ranges between 9-1 o’clock, which means you get the full robustness and note detail in that range and before the signal becomes more saturated or compressed. The Tone knob offers a very good range, which seems to be most notable with the Lo setting (very deep, almost muffled, to relatively high, yet not shrill). The Tone affects the Hi setting less, but still to good effect nonetheless (not as much muffle with a lot of bass). With the Hi setting, particularly for lead playing on the bridge pickup, you can get a very deep and mellow tone with the knob turned full counter-clockwise, e.g., more bass (it sounds as though playing on the neck pickup); conversely, with a lot of treble (knob turned fully clockwise) you get a very clear and cutting tone that does not sound brittle. Overall, not only is the El Rey Dorado a fantastic sounding pedal, but if it could have one extra thing I would suggest a second footswitch – one to turn the pedal on and off and the other to switch between the two channels (Lo and Hi). Certainly this would increase pedal size and the cost, but the El Rey Dorado’s Lo sounds so good for crunch/rhythm, whereas the Hi sounds so good for Lead, you may find yourself stooping a lot to make the switch.
  25. Whether you’re running SIX through a clean amp channel or a dirty channel governs the correct dial settings. As well, the amp channel’s level of gain will have a bearing on SIX’s gain level. Let’s consider a clean amp channel so that the tone either is very clean or slightly dirty/glassy. Placing SIX’s Gain around 9-o’clock will produce a modest amount of dirt or drive, good for soft rock type chording or to give some clean lead (e.g., Blues) a touch of hair and sustain. Getting the gain upward of 12-noon and beyond (2-o’clock sounds good to my ears) makes an amp’s clean channel very dirty while verging on high-gain. When working with a high-gain channel, there are two courses of action… keep the amp’s gain moderately high (but less than usual) and add in SIX at a lower level (gain around 9-10 o’clock)… or keep the amp’s gain relatively low (9-o’clock) and add in SIX at a higher gain level (e.g., 12-noon or a bit higher). Certainly the extent of either gain setting will depend on taste and the amp in question, but I find either of these actions work well (the former of which produces a bit less noise in the signal, although overall noise level is relatively low with SIX). Here are suggestions with the other settings. SIX comes with a built-in voltage doubler (no special adapter required). A basic 9v setting produces less headroom and a steadier and smoother tone; conversely, the 18v setting offers more headroom and playing dynamics, and I find it has a more amp-like quality. The Mood knob controls the bass-mids-treble contour, whereas the High knob adjusts the degree of that high end tone and sparkle. Depending on whether you like a smoother and more compressed signal, or one that has more volume and punch will dictate if 9v or 18v works best, and certainly tone adjustment will vary among amps and tone preferences. Suffice to say there is enough range with both Mood and High that it will accommodate any dark or bright amp, as well as take away harshness from thin and brittle pickups or give more life to those muddy humbuckers.
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