Dan Armstrong stomp boxes

Vintage gets a boost

When hearing the name Dan Armstrong, most people think of that cool, clear Plexiglas guitar made by Ampeg in the late Sixties.For stompbox freaks, the name conjures up images of legendary effects like the Orange Squeezer and the Blue Clipper.

In the Seventies, Dan Armstrong designed a line of acclaimed effects modules that were manufactured by the Musictronics Corporation. Now that line has returned, fresh for 2008, and is being manufactured by Grafton Electronics. They've given these hand-assembled pedals a new interlocking design, allowing them to fit together for a more efficient, space-saving layout on your pedalboard.

First up, we have the Blue Clipper, a thick-sounding fuzz with gargantuan sustain. It's similar to a Big Muff, only it packs a little more bite. The big difference is that the gain level is preset and there is no tone knob to be found. Rest assured, though -- it has gain for days.

Then there's the Green Ringer, which combines distortion with an interesting ring modulator-like effect. The Green Ringer can also create a tone one octave above any note being played. If ever a pedal begged for experimentation, this is it.

Next up is the Black Reaper, which is either the most stripped-down pedal ever or the ultimate niche accessory. The Black Reaper lowers the midrange frequencies of the input signal. It's basically a mid scoop pedal -- but unlike the sound favored by Eighties thrashers. The Black Reaper offers full, rich tone, allowing you to crank your amp without adding any harsh midrange frequencies.

Finally, we have the Orange Squeezer, and as the name implies, it tightens your sound like a compressor -- only with way more versatility of tonal control. Plus, it sustains like crazy.

The Dan Armstrong stomp boxes are rugged, designed to slip and lock together, and each one comes with a jumper cable. Each box can be powered by a single nine-volt battery (included with purchase), or a nine-volt external supply (not included). The price for each stomp box is $169.95 U.S. list. Step to it.

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