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This article was originally published in issue #20
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Following the international success of Rotosound's reissued 1960s-style Fuzz pedal last year, the company has announced a further six brand new vintage-style FX. Guitar Interactive got the first look. Tom Quayle ventures back in time....
The Leveller – EQ pedal (see image above)
The ‘Leveller’ pedal is designed to give vintage sounding equalisation across three bands, low, mid and high, labeled as Boom, Honk and Fizz! Each band can be controlled with plus and minus 18db of cut or boost, giving a wide array of tonal options but with a smooth and musical tone throughout. The design is certainly vintage with a large footprint and intuitive operation thanks to the simple control layout. Plugged into the front of our studio amp, the ‘Leveller’ was a great performer allowing for precise control over boost and attenuation of the three frequency bands without introducing excessive noise or artifacts into the signal. The Boom, Honk and Fizz frequencies have been selected to be useful for guitar players but offer great tones for bass too. Switching is noiseless and in bypass mode the pedal is completely transparent, leaving your original tone intact. The only obvious downside to this, and the other pedals in the range, is the large footprint. This pedal will take up a huge amount of room on your pedalboard, being almost double the size of the average modern stompbox. This is something you’ll need to consider when opting for these Rotosound pedals, but as an EQ pedal this is a very solid, smooth and musical performer with very easy operation.
The Wobbler – Tremolo pedal
The Wobbler is the tremolo pedal in the range and provides both silicone and more vintage sounding germanium tones within a single pedal. The design mirrors the other pedals in the range and features a rate, depth and ‘Silly/Germ’ control for sweeping between the silicone and germanium circuits for different timbres. The rate control is reflected in the LED which flashes in time with the modulation rate. The Wobbler provides an extremely smooth and musical tremolo with very quiet operation and a definite vintage flavour, especially with the germanium setting, but any ratio of silicon to germanium can be dialed in for the particular tremolo required. Operation is extremely intuitive, making it very easy to dial in great tones with a definite analogue quality. This is a great tremolo pedal with a range of very musical tones on offer.
The King Henry – Phaser pedal
The King Henry is the phaser pedal in the range and features Rate, Depth and a unique Peak control for regenerating the phase signal and sharpening up the effect, creating wah type sounds at higher rate settings. As with the other modulation effects in the range, the LED reflects the Rate setting for easy visual feedback on stage and a significant variety of phase sounds can be achieved by combining the three dials in various combinations. The tone is superb with a very smooth analogue character that deserves the term ‘vintage’. As with the other pedals the tone is very musical and noiseless with a lovely sweep that moves into more extreme territory with higher rate and depth setting whilst still remaining useable. The peak control is great for getting auto-wah style effects and is very responsive to dynamics making this a versatile and great sounding pedal indeed.
The Aftermath – Analogue Delay pedal
The Aftermath is a retro sounding, analogue style delay with a traditional darker tone, designed to blend in with the original tone without getting in the way of the performance. The unit has Rate, Depth and Feedback controls, these being slightly unusual names for a delay unit. The rate controls the time of the delay with clockwise increases shortening the delay time from 1.2sec at the longest to about 45ms at the shortest. The Depth controls the level of the delayed signal with a 50/50 dry to wet mix being the maximum effect level. The Feedback controls the number of repeats from a single repeat to self-regenerating feedback if desired. Tonally, the Aftermath is a very solid performer with a lovely, smooth delayed tone that never gets in the way of your chordal or lead lines. The tone is definitely vintage so digital lovers should avoid, but this is a very nice sounding delay that would be at home on most people’s boards. Again, as with the other pedals, size is an issue and some may wish for more modern features and modulated delays. As a no frills, quality-sounding analogue delay, the Aftermath is a good choice.
The Crusader – Chorus pedal
The Crusader is the chorus pedal in the range and features a very warm, analogue chorus tone that can be blended with the original signal thanks to the Level control. The unit also features Depth and Rate controls with the modulation rate being reflected by the LED when the pedal is switched on. Being able to blend in the chorus effect using the level control is a superb addition and sadly lacking from many other chorus units on the market. This allows for fairly extreme setting of the rate and depth to become musical when small amounts of the chorus effect are blended in for some unique sounds. The chorus effect is fantastic making this my favourite pedal in the range with lush, analogue width and warmth that thickens up your tone in a very musical manner. Some really cool and modern sounding tones can be achieved using the level control, making this much more versatile than the average chorus pedal. This is definitely a winner!
The Pusher – Compression pedal
The Pusher is a compression pedal with a noise reduction feature for removing excess noise generated by compressing the signal. It is very simple to use thanks to a very easy control setup comprising a Squeeze control, Bite control and the noise reduction. Compression ratios from 1:1 all the way up to full limiting 50:1 can be achieved, all with musical results that never squash your tone too much. This is a subtle compression effect that doesn’t pump or sound artificial at all, with a great level of transparency retaining your original tone well. The Bite control allows you to add high frequencies back into the signal that might have been lost in the compression stage or after adding in the noise reduction feature. This feature is successful although also subtle and is a useful addition. The noise reduction is a great tool to have and works well to reduce hiss after at higher compression settings. It can also be used to reduce noise from any pedals preceding it in the chain making for a very versatile tonal tool that is more than just a simple compression pedal.
These new Rotosound pedals are a very well thought out and constructed set that offer a very nice array of tones and features. Their downside is their huge footprint and a board containing all of them would be a monster to behold. I can see a certain part of the market being turned off by their size but for players requiring vintage styled and sounding effects that really shine in terms of tone and ease of use, these pedals will be a must-have.