The Guide 2016, our first annual roundup of gear favorites, was released earlier this month, but we couldn’t stop there.
Here are eleven more classic pedals and under-the-radar gems that would make great gifts for you or any other tone freak in your life:
Crowther Hot Cake, $179.99. A nice bright overdrive with equally beautiful harmonics but a more distorted character than the Tube Screamer, the Hot Cake gives you a clean boost with only the Level knob in play, and great controlled feedback as you crank the drive and presence. Beloved of Nels Cline and members of Sonic Youth, it sounds pretty much perfect before the top boost of a Vox AC 30.
Fuzz Goddess Mig Buff, $85. So much more than a Muff-killer, the range of fuzzes available in the Mig Buff is best described by the Fuzz Goddess, Devi Ever, herself: “gated and woolly, traversing through the land of classic with character, settling into some scrambled octavia fun, and then ending with intense and biting power. I wouldn’t say this is the end all be all of my fuzz designs, but it’s close.” Added bonus: the name’s dig at the misogyny of pedal names like Big Muff. With a price tag of only $85, this one’s a no-brainer.
WMD Geiger Counter distortion, $299. Billed by WMD as a collection of “entirely new face melting sounds,” the Geiger Counter can serve up anything from beautiful, harmonically rich drive to “total madness (impossible amounts of gain, multiple octave foldover, harsh digital data errors, and piercing sculpted noise.)” It’s got Bit Depth and Sample Rate controls, Gain and Tone controls and a Tone Enable/Disable switch, Bit Depth control and a Bits/Mask switch. The Geiger Counter also features an extensive wave table control and display, which “takes your signal and destroys it with math” and always remembers your last setting. This is one for the distortion-obsessives who appreciate an envelope filter and love sputter and annihilation.
Frantone Cream Puff and Peach Fuzz, $295. The Cream Puff is adorable but ferocious. High gain with “full fat” harmonics, it’s perfect for thick rhythm playing. It’s freaking adorable (pink, with a “fluff” knob) but built like a tank and hand wired, like all of Fran’s creations. See The Guide for more on the Peach Fuzz.
Diamond Tremolo, $239. An all analog tremolo that will comply to your every whim, Diamond’s TRM1 boasts a tap tempo with foot-switchable double speed mode, sharkfin, sine, square, and “chop” waveforms, timing accents, rhythmic trem mode, and “chaotic” mode for random speeds. You can get anything from a vintage amp trem sound with the sharkfin to a sputtering ring mod-like effect with “chop.”
DLS Versa Vibe, $259. Practically indestructible and with seemingly unlimited headroom, the all analog Versa Vibe yields gorgeous, dynamic chorus and vibrato effects. A Modern/Vintage switch lets you choose fatter or brighter tones in both the chorus and the vibrato setting. With waveform, bass throb, and wet-dry pots, you can dial in some really exciting vibes. Sounds great dirty or clean—particularly killer on fuzzed out, melodic leads.
Death by Audio Robot, $320. This one’s a lo-fi analog 8 bit pitch transposer/re-synthesizer which, according to DBA has “absolutely no feelings what-so-ever.” It’s hard to disagree: with four modes (Normal, Octave Down, Octave Up and Arpeggiator) this fucked up fuzz obediently serves up a variety of beautifully decimated tones with impressive precision.
MASF Possessed, $269. If you’re a guitarist who loves the beautiful, glitchy sound of folktronica (The Books, Lucky Dragons, etc.) but also wouldn’t mind your guitar becoming an a laser gun with a mind of its own when you switch on the distortion, this is the pedal for you. This beautiful offering from MASF will truly possess you, bringing an ecstatic tear to your eye one moment and cracking your head open the next. Sturdy construction and an effortlessly cool, minimalistic design, to boot.
Mid-Fi Clari(not), $225. When you first get your hands on the Clari(not), you might audibly say, “what the hell is this?” From the Mid-Fi website: it’s “an Envelope controlled vibrato/chorus/wow and flutter simulator, with the ability to modulate over an octave.” Its controls are Delay, Depth, Blend and Tracking. It’s available in a 4-knob “Clean” or a 5-knob “Fuzz” version, which adds a volume knob. If you’ve scanned this entire guide, you can probably guess that the fuzz comes highly recommended. The Clari(not) will take your leads to a new level. It’s as much of a showstopper as the Versa Vibe: more wild and perhaps less versatile, but with a sharper bite and a cool, minimal design.
Red Panda Particle Granular Delay, $275. This may be a case of “Save-The-Best-For-Last.” Particle is a granular delay and a pitch shifter that chops up your signal and spits it back out, pitch shifted and delayed using granular synthesis. The “grains” are super short segments of the signal you feed Particle, and in return you can get back anything from shimmering echo clouds to stuttering glitch collages. This offering from Red Panda is so much more than a delay. Nor is it an all-or-nothing beauty vs. rage machine like the Possessed or an unapologetically uncontrollable beast like the Clari(not). Particle is a subtle machine with something for everybody.