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08/03/19

Chinese Pedals on Parade!

pedalboard

Found on Craigslist- a complete pedalboard, power supply, a second smaller pedalboard, and extra cables, as a package. These mostly do effects I already have pedals for, but every one sounds a little different.

So here they are, a parade of knock-offs, clones, and imitators... and a couple of standouts.

tremelo

Many All of these pedals are cheap Chinese units, but that's OK for my purposes. Inspiration comes from odd places, and sometimes it pays to be cheesy. This tremelo effect is probably the worst offender. It makes a little "click" as it cycles. This is really only noticable when you're not playing anything and there's a bit of noise on the input. It wouldn't be my first choice if I was looking for a clean sound. Otherwise, it works well, and the bias control makes it more than just a one-trick pony.

flanger

This knock-off of the famous Electric Mistress flanger, from one of the better known Chinese brands ("möre" or "moo-er"? I like cows...), does everything it should. It includes a useful feature which allows the LFO to be switched off. In this mode it's an extreme kind of tone control, allowing you to dial in storm-drain sounds. That's going to be useful for percussion and maybe even vocals.

reverb

I'm still looking for a deal on the Fender Marine Layer reverb, but this cheapo digital reverb will do until I find one. It's weird because it switches off for a half-second when you change any knob settings, but on the plus side the mode control has room, spring, and well sections, and when you move between them the led changes from red to green to a sort of yellow. Weird little things like this make a $20 pedal special!

fuzz

Side by side with my Flyboys SC-01 you would swear they were the same pedal, and they might have been made in the same factory, but the tones and distortion levels are distinctly different. This is a definite fuzz, sort of like my MXR Distortion +. A little goes a long way (see how the "fuzz" level is backed off just a smidge?)

tuner

Tuners are pedals too you know. This Tom's Line Engineering tuner is just as cheap as the rest of these pedals, but it has a nice bright multicolour LCD that is visible from standing up, and that's the important part that some more expensive pedals forgot.

boost

Speaking of Tom's Line Engineering (I'd wager that the "Tom" in this brand refers to the guy who imports these things, not to someone with a soldering iron and a brilliant idea), here's a simple boost pedal. Pretty clean sounding, as it should be, with the bonus of tone controls, and because it's big enough to hold a 9-volt, can be used as a preamp for acoustic instruments without dragging a whole pedalboard along.

delay

This is a bit of a step up from those other pedals. An analogue delay, using the old bucket-brigade delay line, it has some beautiful soft tones in it. I especially like how the repeats lose low-end as they fade out- reminds me of my old tape delay.

amp simulator

Saving the bests for last. JOYO (is it "joy-o" or "joe-yo" or "yo-yo"?) is also a cheaper line of pedals, but the difference is in the details I guess- they just feel more substantial, and have better fit and finish, which will hopefully be true of the internal components as well. This and the next pedal are amp simulators, a type of effect that I've never had any respect for in the past. Usually they would be over-priced, and the "simulation" was largely subjective.

This one is supposed to sound like various types of Mesa amps. Well, I've had a single 12" Mesa for years, and I was amazed at how much this pedal could be made to sound like it. The best part is, it could also be made to sound like something else- it's a nice mid-rangy crunch. Even so, rather than call it an amp simulator, I'd just call it a distortion pedal with benefits. (seen for $25 on Craig's yesterday- grab it!)

amp simulator

This one is supposed to sound like a Vox AC-30 I believe. I don't have one of those to compare it to, but I've been looking to buy one. Heh- if I can dial in that Honeyman-Scott tone with this pedal, why buy the amp?

Anyway, the point of all of these things is not to try and duplicate famous guitar sounds of the past, it's to provide fun and inspiration in the studio. I'll be building a re-amp box soon, then I'll be able to plug any of these pedals into the effects send on my mixing board and really mess things up.