Read the full article
This article was originally published in issue #34
To read the article in its entirety, view the digital magazine
The Morley company was started by two brothers, Raymond and Marvin Lubow in Los Angeles in the early 1960s. Raymond designed an electro-mechanical echo unit that used a rotating disc inside a small metal drum filled with electrostatic fluid. He also designed another device that simulated the sound of a Leslie rotating speaker cabinet as used by organists and other musicians. The Lubow brothers jokingly referred to this new device as a Morley (More-Lee as opposed to Less-Lee). Shortly after, they began manufacturing their own line of pedals under the Morley name. Since those days, Morley has become one of the most well known and respected pedal makers in the business, especially for its Wah Wah pedals. In this review we're taking a look at four pedals, the M2 Mini Volume, Power Fuzz Wah, Morley Man FX Boost and Accu-Tuner. Be sure to check out the accompanying videos to see and hear them for yourself.
Ah, good old volume pedals, simple yet genius! Once you use one of these you will wonder how you lived without it. No more trying to wrap your little finger round the volume pot, easy to make slight volume changes on the fly, and great for those delay/chorus rich volume swells. The down side with them has always been the size and loss of tone. Well as the name might suggest the size issue has been taken care of with this offering from Morley. The M2 Mini is not much bigger than a standard size stomp box, meaning it should fit on most sized pedal boards with ease. The action on our sample was smooth and progressive, although there is no option for adjusting the sweep, or how “off” it actually is on the heel-down position. If pedal board space is an issue and you don’t want a separate pedal on the side, then the M2 mini could well be the answer for you. Good price for a premium class pedal, too!
Morley Cliff Burton Tribute Series Power Fuzz Wah
Based on the '70s Morley used by renowned bassist Cliff Burton, this one is suitable for use with guitar, bass or keyboards - don't be misled by the name, it's not just for bass. As the name would suggest it's a Wah Wah and Fuzz pedal in one unit. You can use the pedals separately or combine them, and it's not actually that big. The Wah felt good, was smooth in use and sounded great. Many Wahs now come with added controls to set the range of the Wah, boost etc., but quite often this is a sacrifice for the basic sound. The Morley doesn’t have all those bells and whistles, but it does give a great basic Wah sound, perfect for distorted Metallica type solos, or clean funky rhythms. Likewise, the Power Fuzz was also very pleasing, with a vintage/modern switch and intensity control meaning you can go from classic Rock/Blues fuzz right up to saturated high gain modern leads, without losing note definition or getting too muddy. I'm not sure it stands up as a classic “Fuzz” pedal. I hear it more as a distortion/drive, the two pedals together also worked great and I was in my element trying to do my best Hendrix impression!
Morley Man MDB FX Distortion Boost
This is a classic analogue, overdrive style distortion pedal with boost. It's quite a big unit as essentially it houses two pedals in one. It also has a True Tone Buffer (similar to true bypass) that ensures your original guitar signal is kept intact and also helps drive longer cable runs. We have all been in the situation where you are playing a rhythm part in a band with distortion, someone yells “solo”, you oblige but your sound instantly gets lost in the mix. This is where the Boost side comes in. Press this and it does exactly what it says, boosting your signal with more volume and crunch to cut through the mix. I found this to be a great quality distortion that was clear and transparent, with the drive control allowing you to go from Bluesy crunch up to Rock lead. Even with the Boost this is never going to be a “metal” pedal, it just doesn’t achieve that level of saturation. I would also have liked the option of being able to turn on just the Boost side to up your clean level, but the boost only works with the distortion on. All that being said it's a top distortion/crunch pedal that keeps your natural tone.
Morley's Accu-Tuner is a combo strobe and chromatic tuner in stomp box format, offering the largest LED display on a floor tuner. It has a calibration, choose note feature, plus it remembers your last tuner mode and stays there until you change tuner type. This is a clear to read tuner that responds quickly in either chromatic or strobe mode. It's also very bright which is great when it's on the floor. Accurate and easy to use the Accu is a top all round tuner. It is however on the large side. Morley really has gone against the current trend of making tuners as small as possible, but this could be to their advantage as it doesn’t require “press this button 2.5 times whilst holding button A” to get to the next tuning mode, but it will take up a fair bit of space on your pedal board, so I suppose it’s down to personal preference. If size isn't a problem, this is a good unit at a good price.