NAMM 2020: The annual NAMM show has come to a close and there were more than a couple of pedals that stood out from the crowd. Here are nine of our top picks:
EarthQuaker Devices Life Pedal
The Life Pedal is an octave distortion pedal that was created out of a collaboration between EarthQuaker Devices and drone metal act Sunn O))). The pedal’s sludgy sound was inspired by the tones on Sunn O)))’s recent albums Life Metal and Pyroclasts and features a whopping 60dB of gain, not including a separate boost circuit that can be triggered via the secondary footswitch. For the curious, the Life Pedal owes its sound to the ProCo ‘White Face’ Rat distortion, and even uses the same LM308 IC and tantalum capacitors.
Teisco’s Distortion comes with two footswitchable modes: a high-gain overdrive and a gain boost. The former is tweaked for a British voicing with fat mids and a tightened low end. The Distortion’s sound can be further sculpted by manipulating the gain, level, tone and presence knobs. Meanwhile, an additional More knob controls the second aspect of the pedal – the gain boost. Users can engage the secondary footswitch to either add more girth to their overdriven tone or to give their amp’s clean signal a little nudge.
Gamechanger x Bigsby Pedal
Gamechanger is at it once again, with another pedal out of left field. This prototype unit is bound to be hit with Bigsby vibrato fans. The Gamechanger Bigsby – working title – puts the functionality of a Bigsby in pedal form, even incorporating the iconic handle into the rocker design.
Line 6 POD Go
Line 6 has always been at the forefront of digital modelling technology and the POD Go shows that multi-effects can be just as no-nonsense as dedicated effects pedals. The pedal’s interface is remarkably straightforward, with an 11cm LCD display and a streamlined UI that brings the new Snapshots feature. The decluttered control panel makes tweaking a far less tedious process, and using the POD Go’s Pedal Edit mode allows users to tweak amp and effect parameters with their feet. Measuring in at 3.6kg and 520mm wide, it’s also a much more portable option compared to medium and large pedalboards.
ThorpyFX Field Marshal
The military-themed Field Marshal fuzz is the result of another collaboration between Adrian Thorpe and Dan Coggins. The pedal is based on Lovetone’s classic Big Cheese fuzz pedal, but with some tweaks and updates thrown into the mix. The most outstanding feature is the inclusion of a second footswitch. Depending on the pedal’s settings, this footswitch either un-gates the fuzz on top of a tone stack bypass, or just triggers the tone bypass while preserving the gated effect.
RedBeard Honey Badger Octave Fuzz
The second modulated dirtbox on this list is RedBeard‘s Honey Badger Octave Fuzz, which is just as feisty as its namesake. It features an independent octave function that can perform at either -2 or -1 octaves, both of which can also be blended together using the Divide knob. An additional Octave control can also be used to adjust the precise amount of modulation in the fuzz. Meanwhile, the stock tone of the fuzz bears a Russian provenance, but users can tweak the two-band EQ to produce a more balanced and contemporary sound.
Gamechanger Audio Light Pedal
Billed as the “world’s first optical spring reverb system”, Gamechanger Audio’s Light Pedal most surprising feature is how it’s built around an actual spring reverb tank with three springs. While the visual is retro, the technology behind is decidedly not. Infra-red optical sensors are placed at intervals along the springs to measure and record the frequencies of the reverb tank. This results in a greater amount of harmonics and overtones in the signal. The Light Pedal offers six modes, including Optical Reverb Tremolo, Optical Reverb Modulation and Optical Harmonic Shimmer.
Walrus Audio Mako D1 Delay
Paving the way for Walrus Audio‘s new line of “studio-grade” stompboxes is the Mako D1 Delay. It’s touted as a high-fidelity stereo delay, using a Sharc digital signal processor to achieve detailed and nuanced modulation. It offers five studio-grade, high-fidelity programmes – Digital, Mod, Vintage, Dual and Reverse – and each can be tweaked in terms modulation, tone and age. The latter gives the effect a weathered character not unlike vintage delay units.
The Fatbee has been announced as the forerunner for Beetronics‘ brand-new line of Babee effects pedals. It’s a made-in-USA, tube-like overdrive that features an original circuit design by Howard Davis. The tube-like behaviour is attributed to JFET transistors, and the amount of breakup delivered by the Fatbee is affected by pick attack and guitar volume. Beetronic’s new Babee line will feature a lower price point and smaller enclosures, so keep an eye out for upcoming additions.