Review round-up: offbeat modulation pedals
Need some new ideas? Got some cash to burn? Whatever the reason, we’ve got just the thing.
This rogue’s gallery of modulation pedals will do it all, from boutique modulation to analogue synthesis.
With the Dimension C, we’re seeing the return of perhaps the best stompbox chorus ever. Not only that, but in this Waza reissue, a switch to change it over to a SDD-320 mode, emulating the rack effect the original was based on. The SDD-320 fetches astronomical prices on the used market, so its inclusion is a win-win.
Meanwhile, with the Coral, we’ve got a wallet-friendly, pocket-sized do-it-all box to spark new song ideas while you’re noodling. So whether you’re curious about phaser, flanger or ring modulator, step on up!
Keeley Bubble Tron
This multi-function modulation pedal is aimed at guitarists who want to box off several modulation options with a single pedal.
With a filter, phaser and flanger, the core filter-based modulation sounds are all accounted for and deliver pretty much what you’d expect. There are some pleasant surprises at the extreme ends of the controls for rate and depth, with psyched-out, weird sounds and artifacts aplenty, but most people will be after belt-and-braces decent mod settings, and those are here too.
We found the phaser most compelling with the depth and speed pulled back for some '70s prog vibes.
4 out of 5
The original Boss Dimension C was a stereo chorus that had the relatively unique distinction of using two parallel analogue BBD paths to create its sound.
That lush, 80s chorus is delivered in spades by the Dimension C, while updates have found issues with the original – noise and low output volume - largely mitigated. Mode 1 is great for subtle, Siamese Dream-style Smashing Pumpkins tones, while at the other extreme in Mode 4, think She Sells Sanctuary by The Cult.
It’s an expensive beast, but this is a unique chorus sound, magnificently executed, and available again at long last.
4.5 out of 5
Pigtronix Ringmaster Analog Multiplier
The Ringmaster is an analogue synthesiser and ring modulator with a ton of controls.
Even without diving into the different carrier and CV options, the front panel can be a little overwhelming and takes some time to dial in a good sound. Fuzzy, grainy ring mod tones are the easiest to tap, but with some tweaking there’s also tremolo and sample-hold sounds possible, with harmonised notes dancing around the input signal.
It feels at times like it might better suit a keyboard rather than a guitar, but it’s hard to think of a more feature-rich ring modulator on the market.
4 out of 5
Valeton Coral MDR
If what you’re looking for is a pedal to trigger inspiration, then it’s hard to go wrong with the Valeton Coral MDR.
MDR stands for modulation, delay, reverb, and this compact box gets every last mile out of the digital chip nestled inside. There are eight patches, with a further eight accessible via a toggle switch, and the footswitch even works for tap-tempo, though it’s a hair short of foolproof.
Some sounds are gimmicky, but the sine and square wave tremolo are great, and both the phaser and reverb ‘A’ are decent. It’s fiddly because of its size, but the core sounds aren’t bad at all - so at this price, why not?
4 out of 5