Serving up a truly unique creative platform for adventurous tone chasers and stompbox fanatics, Gamechanger Audio's Light Pedal is the world's first optical spring reverb system—bringing the potential for adding new sonic textures to your playing. Though it has a traditional spring reverb tank at its core, the Light Pedal adds an innovative array of infrared optical sensors aimed at different points of the spring to harvest unique overtones and harmonics produced along its length. Here's Nick Jennison to explain more.
Spring reverb is a thing of beauty, no question. It was the first "effect", pre-dating fuzz, wah, tape echo and even tremolo. The digital arms race of the '80s, '90s and '00s and the pursuit of clean, perfect-sounding "studio-grade" reverbs led many guitarists to overlook the humble spring tank and its glorious imperfections, but the last decade has seen legions of guitarists embracing the drippy, splashy vibe-y-ness of the most primitive of artificial reverbs. But don't call it a comeback…
Enter Gamechanger Audio - the Heston Blumenthal of the guitar pedal space. Not content with using plasma tubes to power fuzz pedals, the Latvian boffinshave decided to take a crack at spring reverb… using the power of light!
The Light Pedal is a unique and highly innovative take on a reverb pedal, using a combination of a traditional transducer-driven spring tank and an array of optical sensors. These sensors capture the output of the springs with much greater fidelity than the output transformer of a common-or-garden spring tank.
That's only the start of it, though. This highly tweakable pedal allows you to blend the cruder sound of the transducer (via the "springs" knob) in with the more lush and ethereal optical sensors to create a completely unique reverb that's somewhere between a clanky, resonant spring and a lush plate-like wash.
The real fun begins when you start messing with the various modes of operation, though. "Optics" allows you to select between various combinations of optical sensors for subtly different reverb textures, while "Sweep" will cycle through the sensors to create a gorgeous modulated reverb. "Tremolo" turns the sensors on and off for a pulsing optical tremolo that only affects the wet signal.
"Reflect" and "Feedback" both feed the signal back into the tank multiple times - the former producing a lo-fi sounding delay that blurs the line between delay and reverb, the latter producing chaotic, resonant feedback that's perfect for drones, washes and other noisy goodness.
Finally, "Harmonic" produces a shimmer-like effect, but unlike digital shimmer reverbs where a pitch-shifted signal is fed back into the reverb, the Light Pedal achieves this effect by driving the springs using a special circuit that emphasises the upper harmonics of the signal.
There are a bunch of other useful performance features, too. You can create gated or ducked reverbs with the centre-notched "Gate" knob. The footswitch can be set to latching or momentary operation (especially useful in "Feedback" mode), and there's a three-position "shock sensor" that shuts off the wet signal when an impact is detected to/near the pedal. This means you can stomp around on stage as hard as you like without the springs sounding like a cannon going off, but you can still get that sound, too if you so desire. Lastly, the "Ctrl", "Springs", "Optics" and "Gate" knobs can all be assigned to an expression pedal for real-time control.
The Light Pedal is a truly unique reverb pedal - in concept, execution and sound. It's capable of a huge range of sounds that go far beyond the constraints of a traditional spring reverb, but stays firmly in the analogue domain with all the immediacy and organic lushness that comes with it. It's a tweaker's pedal for sure, but if your imagination is big enough, there's endless fun to be had.
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