While 2016 may not be remembered as the year of effects pedal innovation, it will be heralded as the year of refinement: DigiTech expanded the 2015 best-in-show-winning Trio, Boss brought back a classic and Dunlop shrunk a load more stompers.
We’re seeing more high-end amp manufacturers – including Friedman, Morgan and Supro – wade into the pedal waters, too. Whatever the background, we can’t wait to get our hands on this lot this year…
Amptweaker compact pedals
Amptweaker has a bevy of quality – but bulky – stompboxes in its line, but for 2016, the company has trimmed them down with few sacrifices in functionality. Expect good things from the new Tight Metal, Tight Rock and Tight Drive.
Audio Sprockets ToneDexter
The Kickstarter-funded ToneDexter promises no compromises on acoustic tone: its combined analogue and digital processing analyses the signal coming from acoustic pickups and delivers a realistic mic’d sound – we can’t wait to get our hands on this.
Boss VO-1 Vocoder
A combined guitar and vocal pedal, the VO-1 delivers classic vocoder tones, plus talk box and more contemporary sounds – just plug in a mic, a guitar and go.
Boss VB-2W Vibrato
Yep, it’s the return of the Graham Coxon-favoured classic, with an added Custom mode, plus expression pedal functionality.
Designed to induce stuttering and skipping via a digital circuit, the CSIDMAN promises to introduce a random element to your playing. It’s also an anagram of DISCMAN – cool, eh?
Decibel Eleven Time After Time
The Time After Time is a proper bucket brigade analogue delay with full digital control – that means 11 memory presets, tap tempo and full MIDI control.
DigiTech has listened to its customers and expanded its innovative Trio format, adding a loop function, additional presets with SD card storage, plus additional genres and an option to simplify its basslines.
DOD Looking Glass Overdrive
This stunning-looking pedal is a collaboration with Shoe Pedals, and gives you natural amp-style class A FET drive, while its handy input buffer helps to dial in different guitars and pickups.
Dunlop Cry Baby Bass Mini Wah
After the runaway success of its Cry Baby Mini, Dunlop has expanded the format – the bass version offers the same external Q and volume controls and auto-return switching as its big brother, but cuts the size in half.
Dunlop John Petrucci Cry Baby Wah
Based on the Dream Theater man’s rack wah settings, the JP CB features volume and Q knobs, plus a internal 6-band EQ to shape frequencies from 100Hz to 3.2KHz.
Dunlop Volume (X) Mini Pedal
More shrinkage, this time with the Volume (X) volume and expression pedal – an additional aux output allows you to run a tuner off the (X), too.
Earthquaker Devices Avalanche Run
EQD had a ton of new pedals at NAMM, but among the most intriguing was the Avalanche Run, a stereo digital delay and reverb, with tape delay, cavernous reverb and auto oscillation when you hold the tap footswitch.
Electro-Harmonix Lester-G and Lester-K
This pair of leslie sims had us very impressed when we gave them a listen at the EHX stand – the G features a built-in compressor for guitarists to enhance the rotary effect, while the K is a stripped-down version aimed at keyboard players.
Electro-Harmonix Soul POG
The Soul POG combines two of EHX’s most popular effects: the Soul Food overdrive and Nano POG pitch-shifter – the two can be reordered, while an effects loop allows you to add more pedals to the chain.
Free The Tone Tri Avatar
A typically involved creation from the Japanese builder, the Tri Avatar offers four signal paths for three chorus sounds and one dry signal – stereo operation and a combination of analogue and digital processing promise a chorus pedal like no other.
Friedman Amplification pedals
As well as a new signature amp for Mastodon man Bill Kelliher, Friedman was showing off four new pedals: the valve-equipped Me-Drive and Fuzz Fiend, plus the more compact BE-OD and Sir-Compre. These will sound rather wonderful; of that we’re sure…
Henretta Engineering Heisenberg
Milking the Breaking Bad craze for all it’s worth, Henretta’s Heisenberg is an intriguing parallel drive, mixing Mr White’s clean sound with Pinkman’s dirtier boost.
Ibanez Mini pedals
The Tube Screamer Mini was a huge success, and we can’t wait to get our hands on the latest classy-looking trio from the Japanese guitar giant: the classic Analog Delay, Chorus and Super Metal all get the shrinking treatment
Of particular note is the Super Metal’s stacked knobs – now, that’s space efficient.
2016 looks set to be a monster year for Keeley, with four multi-function pedals, which combine existing pedals – first up is the Tone Workstation (Compressor, Red Dirt, 1962 Overdrive, Katana Clean Boost).
Mod Workstation fuses the 1962 Overdrive, Oxblood Overdrive plus eight modulation effects, including chorus, harmonic tremolo, flanger and rotary.
The Super Mod Workstation focuses on modulation exclusively, serving up double tracking, phase, rotary, chorus, reverb, delay, tremolo, auto filter and more.
Finally, the Delay Workstation features two delay and reverb engines, with eight sounds apiece – tap tempo rounds of the feature set.
Also on the way is the Compressor Mini, which comes in at a cool $99 and features a blend control and treble boost.
The Gold Star Reverb offers three studio-grade reverbs, which promise Wall of Sound-style effects.
The 30ms V2 updates the 30ms Double Tracker with dual outputs for mixed signal operation.
Finally, the Seafoam Plus provides unmodulated chorus and three modes, each with a dedicated bass mode.
Mooer Mini Wahs/Expressions
We can expect three new mini wahs and expression pedals from Mooer this year, each with pull-out feet supports – the Lemwah delivers a smooth, mellow wah tone for funk and blues.
As you might expect, the Leveline gives full control over your volume, with no signal loss.
The oddly named Redkid aims to replicate talking, vocal effects – this will not be your ordinary wah.
A strong contender for pedal pun of the show, the Mooergan gives you a choice of three different organ sounds, plus dry, organ and mod controls – could this give EHX’s B9 a run for its money?
Mooer Reverie Reverb
The second reverb to join Mooer’s double line is the Reverie, with five reverb types and five modulations with which to effect them – this could be rather interesting.
Mooer Eight Hands
Chen Lei of Tang Dynasty gets his own signature drive pedal here, which offers plenty of flexibility via boost/modern/vintage buttons.
Mooer Reverie Chorus
Five chorus effects, 10 effect modes… this is one fully stocked chorus, all right.
We have very little info on these retro-looking stompers, but we do know that they’re labelled Fuzz, OD MK II and NXT 275 – availability is still up in the air. They’re bound to ooze vintage charm, though.
Can you believe that this is MXR’s first ever Reverb pedal? The veteran company doesn’t do things by halves, mind, and six reverb types and high-voltage headroom make this a contender to be reckoned with – there’s even an Epic setting.
MXR Studio Compressor
The latest in a long line of MXR compressors, the Studio Compressor boasts constant headroom technology for clean performance, as well as a natty gain-reduction status meter for visual feedback.
Neunaber Immerse Reverberator
Could this be the ultimate reverb? Modes include wet, hall, plate and spring reverbs, two shimmers, wet and echo, and wet and detune.
Five controls, a high-quality buffered bypass and analogue dry signal round off the impressive spec.
nuX Octave Loop
Great idea, this: a looper with built-in -1 octave button to create basslines to play over. There’s also a fade out option.
Orange Amp Detonator
The world’s smallest active amp ABY switcher, the Amp Detonator hopes to make running multiple amps easy and quiet – you’d expect nothing less from Orange.
Orange Two Stroke
A boost with an active dual-parametric EQ and up to 12dB of output , the Two Stroke allows you to reshape the tone of your guitar’s pickups, not to mention your amp.
Rainger FX Freakbass Alpha
The Freakbass Alpha is a downsized version of Rainger’s Dr Freakenstein Bass. It boasts real-time overtone control via the included Igor pressure-sensitive controller, more low-end, a mix button and an internal passive/active switch.
Rowin mini pedals
Not much info on these yet, but the Chinese brand looks set to take 2016 by storm with theis good-looking updated range.
Rowin R3 Looper
We also liked the look of this looper design, which packs the usual rec/play/overdub/undo functions, as well as a bunch of effects for manipulating your loops.
Rowin Time Maker
Another good-looking double pedal from the Chinese manufacturer: we’re intrigued to hear how this one sounds.
Seymour Duncan Catalina Chorus
SD is touting this as a ‘dynamic chorus’: you can set it up to respond to your picking intensity, so you can just add chorus to decaying chords, or hard stabs. Great idea for anyone who still thinks chorus is exclusive to the 80s.
Seymour Duncan Palladium
Three gain stages and a fully functioned EQ means SD are dubbing this “the first stompbox that actually captures the feel and responsiveness of a high gain tube amp”.
Stone Deaf Warp Drive & Kilptonite
One of many new Stone Deaf releases, the Warp Drive claims to articulate high gain like a proper high-gain amp, with parametric EQ control over the full frequency range, from 35Hz to 6kHz, plus a built-in noise gate.
The Kliptonite, on the other hand, is a dual fuzz and overdrive pedal with Mirror Mix control that adjusts the mix of the two sounds from 50/50, 75/25 or 25/75, and can be flipped over using the footswitch.
Stone Deaf PDF-1
The successor to Stone Deaf's flagship PDF-1 parametric equalizer, the PDF-2 lowers the noise floor and adds an adjustable gain knob and dual footswitch for clean and dirty channels, plus expression input controls.
Stone Deaf Syncopy & Tremotron
An analogue delay and tremolo with digital control, both pedals offer four presets, plus expression and MIDI options.
Strymon Zuma and Ojai
This year, Strymon brought a pair of good-looking power supplies, which provide optically isolated feedback and advanced multi-stage filtering – these should be very quiet, indeed.
Fuzz, Drive and Boost from the revived US amp brand – no info yet, but these are bound to be ace.
Now properly available, the Replicator makes usable, easy-to-maintain and great-sounding tape delay a reality, thanks to T-Rex’s new proprietary tape format. Plus, it looks cool as anything.
TC Electronic SpectraComp
Multiband bass compression from a tiny pedal? TC will deliver it this year.
Way Huge Green Rhino Overdrive MKIV
Shrinking the Green Rhino to a smaller size, the MKIV still packs a classic switch to nail the original’s tones, plus 100Hz and 500Hz controls for shaping mids and lows.
Way Huge Overrated Special
With a name and font that offers a wink and a nod to a certain mythical amp, the Overrated Special was designed for Joe Bonamassa, offered a pronounced midrange and 500Hz control for cutting or boosting low-end.
Way Huge Swollen Pickle Jumbo Fuzz MKIIS
The same jumbo fuzz tones from a smaller enclosure, the latest Swollen Pickle goes from crunch to high gain, with scoop, crunch, voice and clip controls.
Another Thomas Blug-designed distortion pedal designed to mimic real amps – this high-gainer should be good.
Xvive Sweet Leo
As well as possessing one of our favourite pedal enclosures of the show, the Sweet Leo has a class A-style high-end for shimmering drive.
This looks like Zoom’s answer to Line 6’s Helix, with 68 newly assembled DSP effects, plus “10 of the most faithful and realistic amp/cabinet emulators [Zoom] have ever created”. We have high hopes for this one…
Z.Vex Candela Vibrophase
The talk of the show was Z.Vex’s bonkers Candela Vibrophase, the world’s first candle-powered guitar effects pedal. Zachary Vex explains the device’s workings in the video below.