EarthQuaker Devices Arpanoid Review – Best Guitar Arpeggiator Pedal?


Reviewed by:
Rating:
4
On November 28, 2013
Last modified:December 3, 2016

Summary:

EarthQuaker-Devices-Arpanoid-Review-Best-Guitar-Arpeggiator-Pedal-04

If there’s one thing that can be expected from EarthQuaker Devices, it’s the unexpected. Their pedal range reaches manic extremes, from classic-inspired gems like The Depths, to ultra-modern designs that sometimes go off the deep end like the Bit Commander, Organizer, and Rainbow Machine pedals. The Arpanoid is their latest example of the latter, offering polyphonic pitch arpeggiation that is unlike anything else to be found in any other pedal anywhere.

The Arpanoid is an avant garde instrument, offering wild pitch-modulation possibilities for the most experimental of musicians. You can certainly find some interesting ways to form music around it or use the Arpanoid as a way to add some spontaneous pitch-shifting insanity to bring chaos to order. But how does it fare in actual use? Few pedals offer any form of pitch arpeggiation. Is the Arpanoid the best guitar arpeggiator pedal out there? It’s the first dedicated pitch arpeggiation pedal out here, and we’ll find out how good it is in our EarthQuaker Devices Arpanoid review.


EarthQuaker-Devices-Arpanoid-Review-Best-Guitar-Arpeggiator-Pedal-05Features:

Wet control knob adjusts the effected (digital) signal.

Dry control knob adjusts the unaffected (analog) signal.

Rate control knob adjusts the speed of the sequence.

Step control knob selects how many notes are in the sequence.

Toggle Switch controls direction of the sequence: up (left), up & down (middle), down (right).

Mode 8 position selector switch chooses the octave and scale:

1: Major: -1 octave to root.
2: Major: root to +1 octave.
3: Major: -1 octave through +1
4: Major: Random pattern
5: Minor: -1 octave to root.
6: Minor: root to +1 octave.
7: Minor: -1 octave through +1
8: Minor: Random pattern

True Bypass foot-switch for letting your signal pass unaffected when disengaged.

Powered by 9VDC power adapter.

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Sound & Performance:

I’ve played some crazy and bizarre guitar pedals in my day, but few are as insane as this one. The Arpanoid is not for the faint of heart. I’ve spent a lot of time coming to grips with this pedal, and I’ve realized a few things. The Arpanoid is a challenging beast to tame. Even so, to what degree you’re able to tame it is up for dispute as you may come to realize that you’ve had to submit yourself to this pedal to make use of it. I like the idea of “controlled chaos”, and I accepted the challenge of trying to get the Arpanoid to bend to my will. But ultimately, when playing this pedal it is you who bends as you give up control and align yourself to the chaotic flurry of sound that spews forth from the Arpanoid.

It’s important to get familiar with the controls before getting overwhelmed with a cacophony of pitch-shifting insanity. The Wet and Dry controls are easy enough to understand. I’d recommend rolling down your dry signal and focusing on the Wet signal to get a feel for what’s going on. The center Mode knob will allow you to pick various ranges of minor, major, and random note sequences, and the Step knob will limit or extend the range of notes available. For example, rolling the Step knob counterclockwise will result in the base note being heard, turning it slightly will bring in the second note, then the third, and so on, arpeggiating between them. The direction of the sequence is set by the Toggle Switch to either up, up & down, or down. It’s also important to note that the Step knob has a subtle influence on the rhythm of the note sequence as you turn it, giving the Arpanoid an analog, yet digital vibe. The Rate knob sets the speed of the sequence. To give you some ideas of what this pedal can do while reviewing its capabilities, I’ll cover several of the interesting settings I discovered.

Warped “Digital” Record

Set the Dry and Wet knobs to noon, and roll the Rate and Step all the way down. Set the Mode knob to 2. The Toggle Switch setting isn’t relevant. From here the Arpanoid produces a fast slap-back style delay effect due to the latency of the digital signal. Now push the Step knob up just slightly until the second note of the sequence can be heard shifting back to the first note. You’ll have a bizarre warped record sounding effect that’s interesting over clean chords.

Octave Down

Again, set the Dry and Wet knobs to noon, leave the Rate and Step all the way down, and use Mode position 1. You get an instant octave down effect. Try turning down the Dry knob for a fully wet signal that’s an octave below your original pitch. This is another cool sound, but now we’re going to start getting to the really good stuff.

Minor 3rd Triplets

Set the Mode knob to 6. Turn down the Dry knob and crank the Rate control. Set the Step knob so that 3 different arpeggiated notes can be heard. Set the Toggle Switch to Up or Down. Each note you hit will trigger 3 notes – the root, the second, and the third – in ascending or descending order depending on where you set the Toggle Switch. Try hitting E, B, and G notes on the high E and G strings using wide-interval stretching and string skipping. The Arpanoid allows you to generate a lot of notes with minimal effort. While it may prove challenging to remaining locked within a specific scale, it’s easy to create wild chromatic sounds.

Rise & Fall

Set the Mode to either 3 or 7 and leave the Toggle Switch in the middle position. Turn the Rate and Step knobs fully clockwise. Leave the Wet knob around noon and either set the Dry to around noon or fully counterclockwise. You’ll be treated to a wide -1 octave to +1 octave sweep of the notes throughout the range. Despite the Arpanoid’s digital nature, it has an analog feel in terms of its rhythmic vibe and the sensitivity of the Rate and Step controls. It can be useful to blend in your dry signal to add some rhythmic stability to the oscillating chaos of the arpeggiated scale.

Bucket-Shred

Want to play some insane 8-finger-tapping style, chromatic 12-tone shred but don’t have the time to practice 16 hours a day? The Arpanoid will make you an instant shred-god. Crank the Rate and Step, set the Mode to either 4 or 8, and turn the Dry signal all the way down. Next time the other guitarist in your band starts wanking with all that tasteless shredding, just kick the pedal on in this setting and show everyone who’s the real shredder. Why not try turning your back to the crowd like Van Halen did in the early days as if you’re hiding your secret techniques? Then turn back and show them you’re just hitting one note. Yeah, it’s pretty ridiculous, I know. In all seriousness this is probably my favorite setting. You can either hit one note and let the Arpanoid do the rest or play chromatic sequences really high up the neck for some intense chromatic auto-shred. Kick it on for a quick burst of random notes for the most dramatic effect.

The funny thing about this pedal is that its weaknesses are its biggest strengths. The unpredictable nature of the Arpanoid forces you to just let go and be awed by the assault of notes that takes place when you engage the pedal. You’ll never have it lock in time to a rigid beat so don’t even try. You might be able to play in time by having your drummer form a beat around it. But then there’s the slight latency that, while subtle, further ensures that perfect timing is futile. The Arpanoid is an ego-shattering pedal that will force you to give in to its spontaneous, hypnotic arpeggiations. It’s at its best when you just let it run wild and is well suited to being used over ambient sequences without a clear beat or progression.

The Arpanoid really is the kind of experimental pedal-bomb that could only come from EarthQuaker devices. Let’s see the final result.

EarthQuaker-Devices-Arpanoid-Review-Best-Guitar-Arpeggiator-Pedal-06

Overall-Rating-4.0

The EarthQuaker Devices Arpanoid will decimate your audience with an assault of pitch arpeggiated chaos and take you on a journey into the unknown with hypnotic patterns of ascending, descending, and random note sequences in major and minor keys. From ambient to extreme, the Arpanoid may be just the pedal to take your sound to exciting new frontiers. If you’re brave enough, try setting the Mode knob to the 2 random positions for the ultimate unpredictable sonic attack. Few pedals offer pitch arpeggiation, making the Arpanoid one of the default choices for best guitar arpeggiator pedal, but it’s a surprisingly useful pitch-mangling tool for those who like to terrorize their audience with extreme audio effects.

That concludes our EarthQuaker Devices Arpanoid review. Thanks for reading.

 

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210 COMMENTS

  1. This is another pedal I’d like to try although probably normally wouldn’t buy one. I have an electro harmonix POG 2 that I read very rarely use. Although lately I’ve been finding more use for octave switcher is it Harmonizers with the band apparently playing with.

  2. These guys make pedals that do everything and things that peeps never thought if before. If love to have this pedal and the depths. Every time I look at the depths pedal it reminds me of captain nemo and his prized nautilus. I’m the captain and I want to go to the depths

  3. Whoa….I’ve never heard anything like this. Wild! I’d love to try to figure out Edgar Winter’s Frankenstein solo using this pedal. For V2, they should throw in an expression pedal or tap tempo.

  4. Like the fact that you can dial in separate wet and dry setting. Probably would be cool to have a shimmer of an octave on a dry signal. Nice!

  5. One of the most innovative effects I’ve heard in years!
    I have the Organizer and the Speaker Cranker. They are so well built and a mainstay on my board.

  6. I don’t even know what chaos is going on with this pedal, but I love the sound of it. It sounds like it would be a great match for some dirty style of punk

  7. God I love this website. It’s gotten me to buy three pedals that I never turn off. This pedal is very cool, I’ve never had an octave or arpeggio pedal before

  8. Dang, that’s awesome! I had been considering the EH Pog, but this looks like it will do the same & more. I think I need the Arpanoid instead.

  9. As the newsletter said, EQD is killing it right now!!! Love the wackieness possible with this thing, polyphonic craziness! Saw a demo of a more subtle setting with one setting that was killer! the creativity contained in this metal enclosure!

  10. Got the chance to mess around with one of these; sooo much fun. This pedal has so many possibilities by itself, not to mention when linked up on a board. you can spend an hour playing on it and still not reveal the full potential. Definitely on my wishlist; it would sound amazing with my Organizer.

  11. NO WAY!!! THIS IS SO SICK!!! OK so after watching the demo video above for the Earthquaker Devices Arpanoid, I must confess it is now on TOP of my list for pedals to acquire! I have been searching for years for a guitar effect pedal to do exactly what this does. Namely, create Steve Vai-esc type finger tapping shredded licks with the most minimal effort on my behalf. LOL. Now, having seen and heard of this pedal for the last few months , watched demos on YouTube ect, I must admit I always kind of glossed over it in favor of other EQD pedals that are more straight forward in their sounds. After watching the demo above produced by bestguitareffects.com, I AM BLOWN AWAY!!! I absolutely had no idea that this pedal has the range of tones and sounds-capes it does! It seems to only be limited my my own imagination! Thank you bestguitareffects.com for the chance to actually add this to my pedal board. You seriously couldn’t have picked a cooler pedal. Also, keep up these rocking awesome demos! BEST ON THE NET!!! ^_^

  12. I wondered if this could actually be used musically, but the more I hear it, the more I think this is an extremely musical pwdal. It seems like the type of effect that 4 really brings out your creativity!

  13. I’ve yet to play one but, given the reviews I’ve read, I would really like to. I like to play pedals like instruments themselves, and something like the Arpanoid lends itself to this readily. Hope to get my hands on one soon.

  14. At first I was a little skeptical of this pedal, but after reading your review and watching the video, you’ve changed my mind! Ambient sounds galore!

  15. This is the coolest EarthQuaker Device pedal i’ve ever tried; it sounds amazing and, last but not least, aesthetically it’s really cool. It takes whatever you play and transforms it into an ascending or descending scale using 8 different programs. The disposition of controls is really simple, even a child can understand how it works.

    Hope to win it in the December Giveaway!!!

  16. you want to sound unique? this could a be a good place to start! looks like it can create a crazy range of sounds = Awesome!!

  17. Definitely a very fun pedal. I would love to get one someday to use with some noise rock stuff. Cool idea indeed, works very well too.

  18. just discovered the EarthQuaker Devices – they do have incredible stuff up their sleeves. must find a place to test those in Poland

  19. The “Arpanoid” sounds the most interesting of the 2 pedals. I have a couple octive pedals, but they just dont cut it. Wish you had a video demo or sound clip. Would be very interested in trying one out!

  20. hey i am buliding pedals my self and im allways so impressed when someone pushes the limits and inovates …. would really like to try one of these out …living in austria…no eqd pedals around here yet….
    sounds sick tough….

    keep the good sounding devices going…

    adam.c

  21. It’s good to see somewhat new ground being broken. Surely inspirational to play and a good tool to help with those moments in writing when you need something just a bit more.

    A must have for my taste in music.

  22. I own some EQD pedals, the Dispatch Master is basis for my tone…
    Looking forward to own this device, it simply has that unique and interesting blend of experimental features good enough for my sound design kit.

  23. this, the rainbow machine, and the disaster transport would make anyone’s rig killer for experimental/textural/spacial sounds

  24. from the review, this sounds like the one of the two amazing EarthQuaker Devices arpeggiator type devices (between the Arpeggiator and the Rainbow Machine) that I’d want. more options, deeper controls, just MORE! can’t wait to try one!

  25. Love the sound of these pedals. The idea of owning one is mesmerising. I would love to spend hours playing with one of these babies. Never won anything in my life. One of these pedals would make up for these lost years… Would really make a great xmas present :D

  26. I don’t have an arpeggiator pedal but would love to, sounds fun. Thank you so much for having these giveaways, I hope I win!

  27. I already own this pedal in the future. I won it in an amazeballs pedal giveaway. It helped me to destroy my foes and caress my non-foes.

  28. NIce, watched a couple of youtube videos and as mentioned in the review it is the unpredictability of this effect which would entice me in, I love when an effect can do something unexpected and wonderful to turn a good song/guitar line into a great one.

  29. I love these. They seem like they could be a really useful thing to have on your pedalboard. A lot of interesting possibilities with them for sure.

  30. It sounds like it handles shifting the pitch of guitar tones better than my boss super shifter, which is kind of erratic. Different ballgame in many ways, but this could replace the super shifter on my board.

  31. Total diggin’ the endless options this pedal would bring to my guitar rig as I’m always looking to push it to the next level.

  32. Earthquaker Devices seems to make some of the most interesting pedals I’ve ever heard. I also love the graphics and branding they have. I’d be stoked to have this crazy thing on my pedal board. Especially when looping, reversing, and messing with the pitch. I’d like to hear what happens when it receives a Whammy 1 signal!

  33. I would love to have my hands on this pedal. I think it would be wise to spend some time and really get to know the ins and outs of the pedal because its almost like another instrument. I would love to use this with a looper and go nuts with the synth like flutters or maybe add it to the effects loop in my delay. rock on and hook me up! ;)

  34. I really hope to get my hands on this pedal soon. I’ve been wanting an arpeggiator for a long time. I love Earthquaker Devices!

  35. Love Earthquaker’s pedals. Always adds someting unique to the palette of boutique pedals. I’ve been wanting an arpeggiator for quite a while now, and this might be the thing I just need!

  36. Another unique pedal from EQD. Would love to experiment with this. I have a V1 Hummingbird that has brought me a unique sound and creative fun for years

  37. oh man, this is one that I really really want bad! I love arpeggiators, but having one on guitar sounds totally insane! I haven’t had a chance to play with this one yet, but the YouTube demos all sound really cool. – Good review!

  38. This seems like a fun pedal to play and to experiment with, but I really can’t comment as to how I would use it until I use it.

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