The Pigtronix Mothership is an analog guitar synthesizer that features a VCO with Sub-Octave, an intelligent ring modulator, and tunable expression pedal controlled whammy pitch-bending up to one octave. The Mothership also features lightening-fast, instantaneous tracking, a feat that reveals one of the limitations of most digital guitar synths. This pedal appears to be one of the most feature-packed analog synth pedals around. Is it the best analog guitar synthesizer out there? You’ll find out in our Pigtronix Mothership review.
I’ve been excited about this pedal for quite a while and have finally had a chance to spend some time with this awesome analog beast of a guitar synth pedal. Let’s run down the features and dive into the review.
Triangle or Square wave VCO.
Pitch tracking Ring Modulator
Revolutionary note recognition system that achieves fast and accurate pitch to voltage translation.
Variable Portamento for pitch glide and extreme pitch-bending.
Control knobs for Master Volume, Clean Signal Level, Sub Octave Level, VCO Level, VCO Tune, VCO Fine (tuning), Ring Mod Level, Ring Mod Tune, Glide, and Whammy Range.
Switches for VCO Wave, Ring Mod Source, and Glide.
¼” jacks for audio In, audio Out, Whammy expression pedal, glide Remote TRS footswitch, and Sub Out.
True Bypass for preserving instrument signal integrity when disengaged.
Pigtronix 18VDC 300mA power adapter included.
Sound & Performance:
This pedal may look like a lot to take in at first glance with all the knobs and switches everywhere, but it’s much easier to grasp than it looks. I dove right in without even opening the manual and was creating great synth sounds with ease.
But let’s take a step back and run down what’s going on with this pedal. I’ll start by setting the Clean Signal Level and Master Volume at noon and turning down the other Level knobs. Activating the Engage footswitch will result in your original dry signal still being heard although it will be heavily gated.
I recommend playing through your neck pickup for a most consistent tone. This may help you achieve the best possible tracking with the Mothership although it tracks exceptionally well in any pickup configuration. While this pedal should typically be at the beginning of your effects chain, an exception could be made by putting a high quality compressor such as the Pigtronix Philosopher’s Tone in front of it to further ensure even dynamics and smooth sustain of your signal.
Turning up the VCO Level knob brings in the main synth voice of this pedal. The VCO Wave switch lets you select between a triangle or square wave or turn off the VCO entirely. Use the VCO Tune to find the pitch you want and bring it perfectly in tune with the VCO Fine knob. The combination of your clean guitar signal with the Mothership’s VCO yields some truly F.A.T. tones.
Still not F.A.T. enough for you? Roll up the Sub Octave Level to around noon or so and press the Sub Octave footswitch. The Sub Octave adds a massive, wall-rattling sine wave bass tone that’s locked to your input signal. By using your clean signal with the Sub Octave and the VCO set to higher register, the Mothership will fill the frequency spectrum with great analog tone.
But that’s not all in the Mothership’s bag of tricks. The tunable intelligent Ring Mod adds yet another two voices, bringing the total to 5 available voices for sculpting your ultimate guitar synth tone. Although the Mothership is a monophonic guitar synthesizer, full synth chords can be achieved with clever tuning of the available synth voices.
Things get even more interesting when you hook up an expression pedal for some analog synth-style whammy action. You can even tune the Ring Mod and VCO to different tones to shift between two synth chord voicings. Even using just the VCO alone offers extremely thick sounding tone for expression pedal pitch-bending.
Want even more pitch-bending insanity? The portamento function activated with the Glide switch will let you glide between notes with ease. This gets really intense when you turn up the Glide and hit notes a few octaves apart. Using the VCO with the Glide all the way up, try hitting consecutive notes 3 to 4 octaves apart for a soaring portamento that will beam your audience aboard the Mothership.
One of the best things about the Mothership is that it doesn’t rely on a certain pickup or a specially made synth guitar to produce amazing analog synth sounds. If you’ve ever dealt with the frustration induced by those other products that require specific instruments or modifications to your guitar, you’ll be pleased by the latency-free, plug and play simplicity of the Mothership. The engineers at Pigtronix certainly put in the time to make the Mothership an analog synthesizer of superior quality.
The Pigtronix Mothership is a close encounter of the best kind and one of the most inspiring guitar pedals from the company. Let’s see the final result.
The Pigtronix Mothership is the definition of F.A.T. (Futuristic Analog Technology). From the moment I un-boxed this incredible device, I was blown away. The Pigtronix Mothership is an instant classic. As effects pedals come and go, often overshadowed by newer devices with better sound quality, more features, and tracking improvements, the Pigtronix Mothership will stand the test of time thanks to its superior tracking performance, smooth playability, and high-grade analog sound quality. If you’re looking for the best analog guitar synthesizer, the Pigtronix Mothership should be at the top of your must try list.
That concludes our Pigtronix Mothership review. Thanks for reading.
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