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This article was originally published in issue #16
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The boutique pedal boom shows no signs of abating, with our review queue growing by the week! The latest contender for heavyweight champ is Israel's exclusive Greenhouse range.Michael Casswell steps into the ring ready to do battle.
I probably own too many stomp boxes for my own good, but they are tools of the trade and all earn their keep eventually. I have pedals from Japan, China, Taiwan, USA and the UK, but none are from Israel, which makes the Greenhouse range a first for me. Apparently, the company has been with us since 2004 and the key selling points seem to be that they are true bypass, have a unique graphic on each pedal, are hand made from quality components and sound good. That sounds about right.
The three pedals we have on review are the Roadkiller overdrive, the Remedy Fuzz and the Retro Sky analog delay. All Greenhouse pedals are the same price. Not cheap, but they are handmade.
So firstly the Roadkiller overdrive. The first thing that strikes you about the pedal is the yellow and black picture on it, which depicts a dead girl in the bath! A pretty radical look which certainly catches your eye, and reminds me of the comic books I had when I was a kid. It sounds good too. It's the sort of overdrive tone that would work well with any guitar, pick up, and amp. It gives you a thick complex FET type overdrive that is musical and complimentary to any style. A good overdrive will react nicely to adjustments with your guitar volume, and the Roadkiller does this really well. There is bags of gain to be had, and it's the sort of gain that keeps the attack at the front of the note, rather than certain distortion pedals that compress when you dig in play harder and faster. There also seems to be a really good signal to noise ratio. There wasn't excessive hiss, even at extreme settings. With so many Overdrive type pedals on the market to choose from, you could certainly save some time by putting this somewhere near the top of your 'check it out' list.
The Greenhouse Remedy is a Fuzz pedal, that has a lime green and black graphic depicting a girl on the floor, choking on pills. Certainly something to cheer your day up, especially if you had the dead girl in the bath on the Roadkiller next to it on your pedal board!
I have never been a fan of "Fuzz". Apart from some superb Hendrix fuzz moments, it's never been one of those tones that speaks to me. Obviously it has its place, but I guess I'm more into amp tones than maybe over the top fuzz. The Remedy pedal certainly gives you over the top fuzz. It can go from downright ugly, to smooth and singing, with huge amounts of fuzz type sustain on tap. What I couldn't get it to do is that cool old Fuzz Face octave type sound, which you can get from something like a Roger Mayer Voodoo-1 pedal, or the Voodoo Lab Proctavia, both of which I own. So although the Remedy does give you bags of Fuzz, for me it's more Matt Bellamy fuzz than Jimi Hendrix fuzz. I would always advise a young player to spend his money wisely searching for good tone with amp and overdrive combinations, before getting radical with fuzz pedals, and this isn't a cheap fuzz.
The Retro Sky is an analog delay, giving a 1000ms of delay time, plus some very cool modulating delay effects, once you engage the 'swivel' pot by flipping the mini toggle in the middle of the pedal. This inspires more atmospheric type playing, and generally just inspires. The swivel pot modulates your repeats, and depending how many repeats you set, how loud you set them and at with what delay interval, you can get some very cool effects indeed. Or you can bypass all the phasey swirly stuff with the mini switch, and just use the Retro Sky as a simple retro sounding delay pedal. At least the girl on the front of it is alive and breathing, which must count for something. If you look very closely you can make out her tattoo at the top of her arm!
These pedals do not seem to have the facility to run on batteries. Four screws at the base of the pedal keep everything secure, but even when we took those out, it still did not want to come apart, so we can only assume they need to run on an external 9 volt supply. I find this a little annoying, because I often want to just chuck one or two pedals into the pocket of my guitar gig bag, maybe with fresh batteries in and I don't really want to worry about carrying a power supply as well.
Apart from the no batteries issue, I liked these Greenhouse pedals. They do sound good, and I dig the dark, slightly disturbing, comic book style graphics each one comes with. You can form you own opinions on whether they might work for you or not, but if you are hooked on quality stompboxes, then these and other Greenhouse stomp boxes are definitely worth checking out.