Even though most of the effects are iffy, the FX500 series—mostly the FX500 itself—have a lot to do with the shoegaze genre. 1993’s Souvlaki by Slowdive relied heavily on the FX500, specifically patch 40, named “Soft Focus.” It packs a lot of bang for the buck, with a 100 percent wet mashup of many different effects for a very interesting synth-like sound. Another setting on the FX500 (not a patch), called “Early Reflections” is a very close approximator to a handful of My Bloody Valentine tones. In essence, the FX500 is a shoegaze machine; it’s one box that basically forces you to use several effects at once. And while the onboard preamp leaves much to be desired, slamming it with literally any gain pedal takes the FX500 to a whole new level—and that’s exactly what Slowdive did.
Like almost every DeArmond device that’s not a volume or wah pedal, the Twister can be very hard to find. But like—well, every DeArmond device that’s not a volume or wah pedal—the search is absolutely worth it.
When the MN3005—the most famous and common chip in BBD history—went obsolete in the mid ‘90s, there was an arms race among effects manufacturers to secure the remaining supply. Maxon themselves were one such unit, with an astounding two MN3005 chips per pedal in the company’s AD-900 (with a hyphen). Along with some other companies, Maxon kept making their products until their stash was depleted, and those without stock made do with other devices—including digital.
There were some substitute devices available but nothing really compared to an MN3005. It wasn’t until Maxon thought “hey, what if we made our own BBDs?” that the company released the AD999, one of the best analog delays ever made.
You’re well aware of Boss’s status as effects innovators, but today I’m here to talk Boss, genre influencer.Boss got in on the ground floor with what would become death metal with the HM-2. The walls closed in on the US from both sides, with the Bay Area and Florida producing equally influential acts (Possessed and Death, respectively) whose very first albums were released the same year as Boss’s pedal, which would go on to shape the genre seven years down the road with Entombed’s Left Hand Pathin 1990. The same can be said for Boss’s game-changing first fuzz circuit. This is the Boss FZ-2 Hyper Fuzz.
It was so perfect in fact, that a handful of companies caught wind of the Centaur’s convolution with its dual-gang pots and juiced power supply. Soon, a handful of circuits emerged that didn’t explicitly copy the secret sauce, but set out to whip up a painstakingly designed effect with the goal of extreme nuance. The three that come to mind are the Rocktron Austin Gold, Zoom Power Drive and the best of the bunch, the Maxon OD-820 Overdrive Pro, a not-so-subtle nod to what Klon called the “professional overdrive.” It also might be better—you decide.
...This is the essence that Korg attempted to capture when it released the PME 40X, a radical new system that relied on cartridges stuffed into a box that tied it all together. And much like the NES, the PME 40X’s library outpaced the system’s limitations, with Korg really digging into this exciting new format and releasing a stunning array of mostly good cartridges for the main unit.
It’s time to talk about “the hunt.” This is the term that exists among aficionados of all stripes, pertaining to building one’s collection through means other than paying collectors’ prices. Hunters regularly comb the digital (and sometimes print) landscape in search of deals and outright steals for rare artifacts from their chosen field. For us pedal geeks, it means searching out misspelled Craigslist ads, combing through broken pedal bins accumulated by longtime musicians, and even silently praying through the aisles at antique malls. Many Cabinet items were acquired in this way, and I take pride in my abilities.
As the legend goes, Guitar Center acquired DeltaLab’s trademark after its founder, Richard DeFreitas, failed to renew it upon its expiration. This was in the early 2000s, and the “pedal categories” DeltaLab chose to tackle reflect that era—there’s a green overdrive, a phase, a flanger, a digital delay, and a metal distortion. All of them are very much OK devices, but they pale in comparison to some of the completely insane gear of years past, namely the Effectron series, which is the subject of today’s Cabinet adventure.
Much has been said in Cabinet canon regarding MXR and their amazing work. And to that end, everyone is familiar with the “script” pedals (that eventually became “block” logo), but far fewer axepersons are familiar with what I am calling the “block-only” era. This is unfortunate; some of my absolute favorite MXR pedals are from this series, and there’s a decent chance that you, the reader, has never heard of any of them.
Today in the Cabinet, we’re taking another trip back to the fabled wish list, and checking out a pedal that perhaps needs no introduction, but I’ll give it a shot for the rookies. In 1962, a product hit store shelves that would go on to redefine music as we know it. Though technically not the first guitar effect, this pedal languished in dusty discount bins for three solid years before getting the recognition it deserves, and kicking off the “pedal craze.” Sales have grown exponentially since those days, which is where we find ourselves.
When I went to work at ProGuitarShop I had the pleasure of working with Andy Martin of AndyDemos fame. As you might imagine, we talked a lot about pedals. And us, surrounded by literal walls of pedals sat one day and discussed chorus pedals one day. Among all the options past and present, Andy was (and is) the most bullish on the FX65. When I dug around in the cabinet recently, I pulled the FX65 out, played it and was taken back to both the time I first heard it and when I heard it again after Andy brought it into the shop. I reached out to him for this piece to get his thoughts on the enduring semi-legacy of this exceptional device. Would you believe that the FX65 kicked a Boss CE-1 off his board?