Morley enters the guitar multi-effects fray with the all-analogue, retro-voiced AFX-1

Morley AFX-1
(Image credit: Morley)

Morley has bucked the trend for digital signal processing in multi-effects pedals for guitar by going all analogue with its brand-new AFX-1.

Intended for stage and studio use, the AFX-1 might be a 21st-century product but it is unashamedly a greatest hits of Morley, housing a number of reissued circuits from the archive in a heavy-duty spun stainless steel unit that Morley is quite right to note that it will look good under stage lights.

Referencing the look of vintage units, the AFX-1 has an industrial aesthetic, giving the impression that this could have been some bespoke unit that was built for the touring musician way back when Gerald Ford was in the White House.

This being Morley, we’d be disappointed if there was no switchless optical wah pedal onboard, so it’s a relief to find the signature treadle on the right-hand side of the unit, complete with a glow-in-the-dark (Luminlay?) Morley logo.

This wah is joined by distortion, a stereo chorus, and an echo effect. Morley might have eschewed the functionality of digital technology, but it is no monster – there is an onboard effects loop so you can incorporate some other goodies from your other pedalboard.

There are mono and stereo outputs, and a simple setup, with a WYSIWYG control panel. From right to left you have the optical wah – always on, just use the treadle – the Diamond Distortion, after which you have the effects loop, Crystal Chorus, and the Emerald Echo.

The Diamond Distortion is based off a ‘90s circuit but with an expanded control set than Morley's original standalone distortion pedals it now looks for all the world like an amp-in-a-box style drive section, with controls for pre and post-gain, a three-band EQ and switchable high-gain.

Morley AFX-1

(Image credit: Morley)

The chorus is from the '80s and is controlled by Rate and Depth knobs, while the Emerald Echo has a similarly pared-down interface with Echo (delay time) and Repeat (number of repeats) dials joined by an all important Mix. Again, like the chorus, the echo is designed to sound bigger in stereo. The circuit for the echo is the oldest of the lot, and is a '70s reissue.

But whether used in mono or stereo, this looks very much like a no-fuss, no-manual unit: simply plug in and play, and bring each of the effects in and out via their footswitches – or, in the case of the wah pedal, just take your foot off the pedal.

The AFX-1 has a premium buffer, takes a 9v DC adaptor (included) and is available now, priced $499 street. See Morley for more information. 

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.