GEAR EXPO SUMMER 2022: In 2022 we’re seeing guitar effects evolve at pace. What was once the realm of multi-effects units is now occupied by practice amps, apps and high-end modelling units. The pedal-maker’s response has been to develop a wealth of units that exhaustively tackle one thing – and to get in on the amp game.
As ever in pedal land, our new for 2022 round-up contains a generous selection of re-makes of old favourites, but there’s also a sense of innovation and envelope-pushing on display throughout.
The builder of 2022 is less obsessed with slavish recreation and more interested in saying: ‘What happens if?’ For those in doubt, just check out some clips around Chase Bliss’ Habit, or the awe-inspiring Meris LVX Modular Delay...
Walrus Audio LORE
£285 / €329
If ‘psychedelic wood elf’ is your ideal guitar tone, then step this way. Walrus Audio’s new LORE Reverse Soundscape Generator pedal combines pitch, reverb and delay effects to make soundscapes inspired by woodlands and forest.
There are five programs, each of which transitions between two effects as the appropriate dials are turned. For instance, you can blend reverse delay into reverse reverb, reverse reverb into forward reverb, or between two separate pitch delays. A fine way to branch out…
Two Notes ReVolt Guitar
£349 / $399
2022 may be the year of the pedal amp, but Two Notes ReVolt Guitar nonetheless stands out from the crowd by using a 200-volt 12AX7 tube preamp circuit to create a range of classic tones inspired by units like the Fender Bassman 100, Marshall’s JMP Superlead and Soldano’s high-gain hit, the SLO 100.
All of the channels can call on +20 dB boost when required and there’s a good choice of innovative connection options, should you wish to treat it as an expansion of your existing amp.
Thomas Blug’s latest innovation claims to be a programmable analog amp and digital multi-fx unit. Using a nano-tube based power section, the all-analog amp stage can reportedly recreate any valve unit.
It’s not fully completed, but it’s getting there. The combination of tube-powered analog amps and front-end effects, with digital modulation delay and reverb, all in one attractive unit, has long seemed like a winning one on paper. It could soon be reality.
TC Electronic Plethora X3
£289 / $349
A smaller, three-pedal variant of TC’s X5 multi-fx that retains the bigger unit’s concept: essentially, loading your choice of three (from a total of 15) of TC Electronic’s TonePrint effects boxes into a unit with a looper, tuner and cab sims.
We particularly like the inclusion of the three MASH footswitches (also found on the X5), which are pressure-sensitive and, in addition to the regular on/off, can behave like expression pedals for certain parameters.
Chvrches x Old Blood Noise Endeavours Screen Violence
The Scottish synth-pop titans have teamed-up with OBNE for this versatile multi-fx pedal that provides a short-cut to many of the dark, cinematic synth and guitar tones on their recent album Screen Violence.
A pedal of two halves, ‘Screen’ incorporates chorus, reverb and delay, while the ‘Violence’ half tackles stackable fuzzy, distortion/drive tones. There’s a lot of fun to be had in the mix.
Universal Audio UAFX amp pedals
UA’s reputation for studio gear and software is second-to-none and its first UAFX guitar pedals have received similar acclaim. Now it’s back with this trio of amp-in-a-box pedals that channel classic sounds from three iconic builds.
The Ruby ’63 is all about the Vox AC30-style chiming Top Boost circuit, the Woodrow ’55 tackles Fender Tweed tones, while the Dream ’65 captures that mid-60s Deluxe Reverb vibe.
IK Multimedia AmpliTube X-Gear Series
£329 / $300 each
The X-Gear effects range sees IK Multimedia package its ever-popular AmpliTube tones into a hardware format – and its not done things by halves. Each DSP-powered pedal offers 16 effects algorithms, with 300 preset slots, plus eight rotary dials, three footswitches, MIDI I/O and USB connectivity, stereo I/O and an expression pedal input.
The sounds across the four pedals, which include X-Drive, X-Vibe, X-Time and X-Space, are top-notch and they’re hugely flexible, meaning they’ll find application on all manner of ‘boards.
SolidGoldFX Commodore Overdrive
£199 / $199
SolidGoldFX is a master at eye-catching pedal design and the Commodore Overdrive’s distinctive sliders for Volume, Tone, Contour and Drive make it hard to ignore.
The sounds are inspired by classic low- to mid-gain Marshall BluesBreaker-style drive tones, however there’s enough flexibility and control on offer here to access more Vox and Fender-like territory.
Chase Bliss Audio Habit
The fact that manufacturers Chase Bliss are still not entirely sure of everything that Habit can do, is a welcome sign that we are in innovative territory with this pedal. It’s a delay pedal, looper, sampler and musical sketchpad with a monstrous 60-second delay time.
What’s amazing about Habit though is the way it puts it to use, yes, you’ve got the typical delay functions – but it will also scan back through your previous three minutes’ playing to locate previous sections and pull them back in. You can the add additional echo on these new samples and further modify them with reverse delays, or pitch shifts. The possibilities are pretty much endless.
Heather Brown Sensation Fuzzdrive
£211 / $249
This hand-wired, Reverb-exclusive from cult designer Heather Brown blurs the lines between drive and fuzz and aims to blend the warmth of fuzz with the body of a good overdrive tone.
As such, it will push your signal, providing plenty of dirt, but should stop short of complete aural apocalypse, focusing instead on providing a good variety of usable sounds. Don’t hang about on this one, though, it’s a limited edition for Reverb’s Maker’s May campaign…
EarthQuaker Devices Special Cranker
Pitched as “an overdrive you can trust” the Special Cranker upgrades EQD’s Speaker Cranker pedal. It offers germanium and silicon clipping diodes and essentially behaves like an extra pre-amp tube for your amp – adding drive, sustain and harmonics to your tone, without losing the midrange clarity.
You can trim highs with the Tone knob, while the More control allows you to control the bias of the transistor, according to your pickup type. There’s also true bypass switching, with EQD’s Flexi-Switch tech allowing for momentary and latching switching.
J. Rockett El Hombre
£199 / €219
Inspired by the tones of the one and only Billy F Gibbons, El Hombre is not a signature pedal, but a tribute, to the Texan blues rock great’s sound on ZZ Top’s Tres Hombre and Fandango recordings.
Expect a responsive, dynamic drive with a snarling edge, when required. The Bite dial makes the magic happen, bringing a range of sounds from Dumble-style mellows through to gainier tones that don’t lose their teeth.
Catalinbread Many Worlds Phaser
A pedal inspired by, er, quantum mechanics, the Catalinbread Many Worlds phaser offers a fairly mind-boggling take on a pedalboard staple.
At its core it’s an eight-stage phaser pedal that combines six LFOs with two envelope dependent phase shift settings. This enables you to alter your tone with a variety of waveforms, from sine, to sawtooth and square, while controlling the phase shift with your pick attack (dependent on your envelope setting) – dipping a toe into funk-friendly, autowah-like territory.
JHS Overdrive Preamp
£179 / $179
A tribute to the DOD Overdrive Preamp ‘Gray Box’ 250 – an ‘almost was’ product that dates back to the earliest days of DOD. It never made a full production run (partly because the components were hand sourced from old radios and electronics), but the few in circulation have achieved almost mythical status.
Josh Scott from JHS tracked down the DOD founder, David Oreste Di Francesco, in an effort to understand the unit. The result is this faithful recreation of the earliest DOD Preamp Overdrive, albeit with added volume…
Carl Martin Ampster
$299 / €299
An all-analogue amp-in-a-box from the Danish effects brand, the Ampster can work alongside your current amp or replace it. It’s a single-channel, 12AX7 valve-driven build with a three-band EQ, plus gain, presence and master volume controls.
There’s a speaker-emulated output, plus a heap of connectivity, concluding effects loop, balanced XLR and a link-output for sending the dry signal to another amp. It’s a simple but useful box and a great fly-rig alternative for those who don’t enjoy modelling tech.
Orange Guitar Butler
£279 / $429
From one pre-amp to another, the Orange Guitar Butler was inspired by its bass-y brethren and packs two channels into its ‘board friendly chassis.
The JFET circuit of the overdrive channel recalls classic 70s rock territory, while the clean is designed to be a neutral pedal platform. There’s independent EQ control for each channel, plus a ground lift, buffered effects loop and cab sim (which is directed through the balanced out). There’s also a (non-cab sim) direct amp out.
KMA Machines Chief Disruptor
Berlin-based KMA Machines’ Chief Disruptor aims to be the ultimate in Big Muff-style fuzz – the Biggest Muff, if you will. It offers three classic Big Muff voices, alongside a huge amount of tonal control.
Mini Lows and Highs knobs let you cut and boost your preferred frequencies, while a separate mids footswitch allows you to kick in some tonal body at the appropriate moment.
Boss Roland RE-2 Space Echo
Roland’s 1974 RE-201 was one of the first and best tape echo emulations to ever hit the market, capturing the characterful flutter and saturation of its inspiration in a way few have matched.
Now the Boss RE-2 captures that stunning original multi-head tape echo-style tone, alongside the useful features like ‘Wow’ and ‘Flutter’ modulation controls, and packs it all into a single compact pedal footprint.
Walrus Audio Mako M1
£319 / $349
The Mako M1 is quite Possibly the only modulation pedal you will ever need. Covering chorus, phaser, tremolo, vibrato, rotary and filter with audio quality to rival Universal Audio and Strymon, it’s a serious proposition.
There are are nine-onboard presets (rising to 128 via MIDI), tap tempo, stereo I/O and loads of fun tone-tweaking controls (including the Lo-fi dial, which progressively degrades the audio) and it won’t hog space on your board, either.
Meris LVX Modular Delay System
What does £600 worth of delay pedal buy you? Not a Meris LVX, it turns out, which comes in at an eye-watering £619. In defence of the LVX, though it stakes a convincing claim to the title of most powerful delay pedal ever.
Most delays give you an array of classic sounds and some let you tweak them, the LVX experience is more akin to building your own from scratch. It offers a level of exhaustive, deep-dive editing that could, frankly, prove dangerous, so perhaps its best its priced prohibitively. Otherwise, players across the land would go missing for weeks at a time…
REVV Shawn Tubbs Tilt Overdrive
When Nashville session ace and YouTube tone-lord Shawn Tubbs puts his name to something, you know it’s worth hearing. The Tilt Overdrive is the result of a collaboration with REVV and is essentially an overdrive with a boost circuit.
The expressive drive is inspired by classic valve amps, from Fender’s Tweed era, through to Marshall’s JTM and Plexi units, while the Boost offers a single Title EQ that can be used to quickly shape the tone at the desired boost setting.