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This article was originally published in issue #32
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New Zealander Ben Fulton has certainly been making waves with his upmarket, all-analogue Red Witch pedals in recent years and in doing so has gained an impressive list of big name users which, to name just a few, includes The Police, Tool, The Black Crowes, U2 and Guns 'n' Roses. He must be doing something right!
There are several series of Red Witch pedals on offer, from the standard format Premium Range, the small footprint Seven Sisters (guess how many of those there are) and a couple more 'original chrome' models. There's also a bass pedal, The Factotum, which we reviewed down in The Bassment, in issue 31. We were so impressed with the Factotum that not only did we give one away in a competition but we also whistled up some of the guitar models to try. Three duly arrived and here they are. All are boutique quality, obviously well thought out and designed true bypass pedals
Seven Sisters Violetta delay & Grace compressor
I'm going to start with two of the Seven Sisters: Violetta, who is a sexy modulating delay, and Grace, who is a sweet looking compressor.
The first thing to say is that Ben Fulton seems to have finally cracked the rechargeable pedal problem with these ultra small footprint devices. All of the Seven Sisters models are rechargeable much like your smart phone or tablet. The first time you use them they need twelve hours charging, but from then on a four hour charge will give you full power. When the onboard LED light is red it means the pedal will work but is not fully charged. When it's green, it has full charge. The lithium ion cell batteries they have on board will last you two to three years and are easily replaceable for around ten dollars. You can also run the pedals on a standard power supply, which means they will be in a constant state of charge and readiness should you want to throw them in a gig bag.
The Seven Sisters range also boasts the smallest footprint on your board. They are tiny and have the input and output at the top of the pedal rather than the sides. This means you can stack them directly next to each other on a pedal board which is a huge bonus and saves so much real estate.
As an example of why this can matter in a very practical sense, I have a gig this coming week in Orlando, Florida where the back line and guitar will be supplied. Pedals, however, will not be supplied and rarely are, so flying from the UK, the Red Witch Seven Sisters range would have been absolutely ideal to stick in my suitcase. For any player who needs to travel light, and so many do these days, this is a very important plus for these newcomers.
To give all the Sisters a name check we have Ruby Fuzz, Scarlett Overdrive, Ivy Distortion, Lily Boost, Eve Tremolo and our review pedals, Violetta Delay and Grace Comp.
Grace, the compressor, has just two dials: Comp and Vol. The more you dial in the comp, the squashier is gets. You can boost the compression with the Volume control. Personally I think no pedal board is complete without a good compressor - you can do so much with it. You can boost your tube amp for a nice Blues tone, you can kick more into your gain sound for serious distortion, or you can simply breathe life in to your sparkly clean sound. A compressor is invaluable and Grace in her baby blue chassis will do all that for you with ease.
Violetta, on the other hand, is a set and leave analogue delay giving around 1000ms worth of repeat. More than enough for sensible applications. You have four knobs which give delay time, the amount you want compared to your dry signal, how many repeats you want, and my favourite, modulation. Once you have heard chorused delay repeats, there is no going back to regular normal delay! This pedal does it all well and the delays sound warm and 3D. Obviously, there is no tap tempo, or stereo, but this is one of the Seven Sisters and it's all about being portable, rechargeable and small. It does what it is supposed to and does it very well. Check out the video to hear how they sound!
Red Witch Fuzz God II (see above image)
Also on review we have the Fuzz God II. This is more of a regular boutique pedal in size and isn't the rechargeable type. The Fuzzgod II is a crazy fuzz pedal that is also very musical. It's a dual mode device which gives on one side your actual Fuzz and the Volume plus a little switch to increase everything. The fuzz sound is really musical. Normally I hate fuzz, but this I could really use because it sounds warm and fat. It also keeps the clarity and attack at the front of the note.
If you go to the other side of the pedal the 'Wrath' pot gives you some crazy oscillation effects whilst the other pot called 'Splutter' will choke them for you with a gating effect. A little toggle switch will give you a high end boost to your sound.
Again this pedal is true bypass and the Fuzz God will do all things fuzz for you with some pretty radical add-on effects courtesy of the oscillation and gating side of things. Both sides of the pedal are engaged with a separate footswitch, so you could save the wrath and splutter side for that special moment in your set where you kick it in to unleash the sound of a true Fuzz God!
So, a more expensive, more traditionally sized pedal but still a great one and selling for less than you'd expect to have to pay for such a well made, great sounding boutique item.
When it comes to the Seven Sisters range. I may have to hook myself up with the sisters, because I can't tell you how many times my suitcase has had to cater for clothes and pedals.