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?
If I had unlimited dough and space, and had to start a new cabinet from scratch, 75 percent of it would be fuzz pedals. Like any other red-blooded effects fanatic, I love fuzz pedals and the sheer variety of them. Some are super simple, consisting of just six parts—the old DIY staple, the Bazz Fuss, is one. On the other hand, some fuzzes like our Giygas contain over 90 parts. The effect is variations on a theme; sweet, saturated chewy slabs of tone that interact with other pedals and guitar controls in various ways. And when I say various, I mean hundreds. Thousands, even. There are more fuzz pedals on the market than perhaps any other type.
It’s not often you’ll see me wax poetic on a piece of gear still being made, but hear me out. It redefined an entire genre and rewrote the way musicians play with gear. And one of our era’s kings of pedal design had his mitts all over it; one Jeorge Tripps of Way Huge. However, this was not a Way Huge pedal. This is the Line 6 DL4.
And firstly, I want to get one thing straight: The Fuzz Face is my favorite circuit. I’ve built hundreds of them for various folks and myself, I’ve built them with drawers full of crusty parts occupied by the essences of repairpersons past, and I’ve built all sorts of features into them and around them. I’ve agonized over the circuit’s shortcomings and its finickiness. I’ve tried every value and configuration of those 11 components and found some great value sets and plenty of stinkers. And after all that, I’m still learning new things almost every time I put pen to paper. It’s perfect, and I want to tell you all about it.
In an age where more and more pedal companies are cropping up and more and more esoteric circuits are resurrected to broaden the total tonal spectrum, it’s surprising when new old circuits crop up. Circuits like the S. Hawk Tonal Expander and SRS EQ Exciter ended up enjoying their time in the spotlight by virtue of being undiscovered one-off devices. But it’s even rarer when one such circuit hides in plain sight, but stays obscure for one reason or another. This is the Maestro W-2.
Because only a handful of brands were making guitar effects in the mid ‘90s, if you wanted something truly unique, you had to expand your palette beyond traditional effects. For most, that meant expanding into the ever-budding tabletop effects scene. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you probably weren’t one of those people, so it may come as a surprise that there was a whole scene of effects that were meant to sit atop a table with many other effects and activated with pushbuttons and the like. I’ve written about the Alesis Bitrman in this very column, and that’s precisely the kind of thing I’m talking about. But Alesis went on to manufacture a great deal of products, while other manufacturers of this equipment stuck to their guns. This is the Sherman Filterbank.
Of course we all know about Boss pedals, but before Boss emerged as a titan of the effects industry, its parent company Roland made a handful of pedals under its own name. The first entry of this entire column was one such amazing unit, the AP-7 Jet Phaser. Others of note include the Double Beat Fuzz Wah, the Bee Baa and a surprisingly amazing flanger. While Roland didn’t really get a foothold in the effects market, they were busy getting it done in another way with a multi-sequeled line of echo units. Though many models were produced, it’s almost universally acknowledged that one sits alone at the top. This is the Roland RE-201 Space Echo.
So much has been made of MXR within the pages of this column, but for this one, I simply must make an exception. Though MXR has made a ton of killer gear in their pre- and post-Dunlop eras, there is something to be said for an old specimen of the effect that put them on the map and scored the first major victory in what I call “the color wars.” This is . . . no, not the Phase 90. This is the MXR Script Phase 100.
Malekko moved to Portland shortly after the release of its flagship echoes and went on to release many devices, including its E616, likely the most famous of the bunch. But there’s just something about this Fantastic Planet-reminiscent unit that I just can’t find in many other pedals, even 15 years after the fact. And I’ve played more than my fair share. It’s just that good.
Of course, as anyone who was around in the ‘70s and ‘80s knows, the framework for new technology starts in a large package and gradually gets whittled down in price and form factor. Our pedal today began its life as a much larger rack delay and found its way into a very familiar enclosure. This is the Boss DD-2.
Only those truly in the know back then even knew about oil can or magnetic drum delays. Of course now we are all informed, we even sell a handful of them. Among those alternate delay technologies, the two most well-known are the Tel-Ray and the Echorec. There are some excellent reproductions of those two units made (wink wink), and for many, that’s fine. But we are sound seekers! We must seek out the esoterica of the esoteric! Today, we’re talking about the Arbiter Soundimension.
Like the pedal it’s based upon, even the relatively unknown D&S was released in no less than six variants across several different enclosures and lines. My D&S is the rarest of the truly vintage varieties, being built for just one year, 1978. Though Maxon tried selling the D&S as a rebranded “II” model, it was the same circuit but with the square-button FET-based switching scheme that the Ibanez “808” series boasted