The annual NAMM conventions are events that every gear hungry guitarist looks forward to. The best companies in the business are in attendance each year showcasing their latest cutting edge guitar gear. Winter NAMM 2014 was no exception, and there was certainly plenty of great new gear to get excited about.
While there were plenty of new guitars, amplifiers, and other guitar-related products at NAMM, this list chronicles 20 of the most exciting new guitar effects pedals unveiled at the show for the first time. A few of these pedals were announced in the weeks leading up to Winter NAMM 2014, but none of these pedals have been publicly playable until this NAMM show. We’re not rehashing any of the pedals from last year’s Summer NAMM 2013 or else you’d see the Zvex Fuzz Factory 7 and Pigtronix Echolution 2 on this list, both of which were playable at the show this year.
It’s also worth noting that any of the feedback about these pedals in this article shouldn’t constitute our final review verdict. Winter NAMM 2014 was a little too hectic for full-on review coverage. You will, however, see many of these pedals reviewed on Best Guitar Effects in the coming months. This list could more accurately be viewed as simply the pedals that we’re most excited about based upon what we heard and are pedals that you should definitely keep on your radar.
Here’s our Top 20 Best Guitar Effects Pedals of Winter NAMM 2014!
JHS Pedals Colour Box
The JHS Pedals Colour Box is one of the most exciting pedals I’ve seen in while, offering an incredibly wide range of uses for many musicians and engineers, not just guitarists. The Colour Box brings the magic of a classic Neve console channel strip to your pedalboard, letting you boost, EQ, overdrive, and distort your signal however you see fit. This is the kind of pedal that guitarists will find a use for anywhere in their pedal chain. You might use it up front for a distortion or boost, in the middle for its filtering and EQ applications, or at the end as a preamp or “final mix” of your signal before it hits your amp or recording interface. You might want more than one for multiple linear signal uses or pre-amping a stereo signal. It has XLR and standard ¼” output jacks, both of which and be used simultaneously, and you can even input XLR line level signals. Vocalists that like to use guitar effects pedals will definitely appreciate this. I’m predicting that JHS Pedals will have huge demand for the Colour Box. I certainly can’t wait to get my hands on one.
Visit JHS Pedals for more info about the Colour Box.
The Descent is Walrus Audio’s long-awaited entry into reverb effects, and it looks well worth the wait. Descent offers plenty of traditional to surreal reverb options from its Hall, Shimmer, and Reverse modes. The interface puts all of its easily tweakable parameters right on the surface with no confusing menus to navigate. Three presets (and a Manual mode) are available with different colored LEDs to indicate which preset you’re using. You can also use an expression pedal for control of the Reverb Time or Wet Mix and output your signal in stereo. And come on, the artwork is awesome!
Read the Walrus Audio Descent review.
Hardcore fuzz junkies already know that Black Arts Toneworks makes some killer pedals, the Pharaoh being a definitive example. And while the original Pharaoh offers more than enough tone-tweaking options for most players, the Pharaoh Supreme takes it to a new level with its 6-position clipping selector knob. The 6 clipping options include symmetrical germanium, asymmetrical germanium, silicon, mosfet, LED, and bypass. Also distinguishing the Pharaoh Supreme from the original is its Pre knob in place of the original Pharaoh’s Hi/Lo switch. This gives you more detailed sculpting of your signal before it hits the fuzz, letting you perfectly shape the Pharaoh Supreme to your guitar or bass. To sum it all up, the Pharaoh Supreme kicks ass.
Bogner La Grange
If you’re familiar with Bogner’s last foray into overdrive/distortion pedals and you liked what you heard, this should be exciting news for you. The La Grange packs plenty of bite and is very dynamic, fitting in well with Bogner’s other overdrive/distortion pedals. I’ll just loosely sum up my interpretation of what Reinhold Bogner said to me about this pedal in the only 5 five words that should matter to you: Billy Gibbons in a Box. ‘Nuff said.
Visit Bogner Amplification for more info about the La Grange.
Keeley Electronics Compressor Pro
Robert Keeley’s original Compressor in its 2-knob and 4-knob variations has become very highly regarded since its debut as one of the most venerable compressors in a compact stompbox format. The new Keeley Electronics Compressor Pro does the unthinkable by completely outdoing its predecessor in terms of smooth studio-grade compression with an even less “squishy” character. Of course it can still clamp down hard on your signal, and a Super Squishy footswitch will put the extra squeeze on your sound when needed. Expanded controls round out what looks like could be the new king of the compression pedal hill.
Visit Keeley Electronics for more info about the Compressor Pro.
There are few quality pedals that can convincingly emulate a rotating Leslie speaker cabinet. Traditional vibe pedals failed at this task, becoming a whole new category of effect. Leave it to Pigtronix to come up with an excellent take on the classic swirling Leslie cabinet that seems to hit the mark. The Rototron features Fast and Slow speeds that can be selected via a dedicated footswitch and a Ramp knob that sets the time it takes for the change in speed to occur. Dual expression pedal inputs can control the speed of both high and low rotors simultaneously, perfect for use with Pigtronix’s own Dual Expression Pedal. Stereo ins and outs round out what looks like a pretty spectacular rotary speaker simulator pedal.
Visit Pigtronix for more info about the Rototron.
Dawner Prince Effects Viberator
Speaking of rotary effects, vibe pedals initially sought out to emulate rotating speaker cabinets but ended up becoming an entirely new effect in their own right. The Dawner Prince Effects Viberator looks to be one of the more interesting modern takes on a classic vibe pedal, featuring vintage and modern modes, expression pedal control, and stereo outputs. I definitely plan to spend more time with this one after its official release.
Visit Dawner Prince Effects for more info abou the Viberator.
Pro Co Sound Fat Rat
I played ProCo’s Fat Rat and thought it sounded pretty awesome. You can go from stock Rat tones to a Mosfet infused sound. A Thick switch beefs up the low end for even thicker Rat distortion. The prototype at the show had the coveted LM308 chip from the original whiteface Rat, but the version shipping will have the OP07DP for a more RAT2 sound. This might ignite some debates among RAT fans. Personally, I’m a fan of the range of RAT sounds. The Fat Rat features a socketed op-amp, so you can replace the stock chip with another of your choice if desired.
Visit Pro Co Sound for more info about the Fat Rat.
EarthQuaker Devices Pitch Bay & The Terminal Fuzz
Both of these pedals sounded solid in the demo videos EarthQuaker Devices released when first announcing the pedals, but they’re even better in person. The Pitch Bay generates massive polyphonic harmonies with and without its own built in distortion. You can create some musical harmonies and intensely dissonant sounds with this pedal. The Terminal Fuzz delivers some really standout fuzz tones. The controls are a bit subtle in their application, but the sounds produced are excellent. Both of these pedals deserve an in person audition to appreciate the range of sounds on offer.
Visit EarthQuaker Devices for more info about the Pitch Bay & The Terminal Fuzz.
Wampler Pedals “Reverb” & “Tremolo”
Both of these prototype pedals from Wampler arrived midway through NAMM, rushed to the show after their completion. The new “reverb” (left) looks to offer quite a bit more in the way of big ambience, a natural evolution since Wampler already has spring-style sounds covered in their Faux Spring Reverb. But I’m even more excited about the pedal on the right. Wampler will be releasing 2 separate tremolo pedals, a single footswitch version that wasn’t at the show, and the 2-footswitch version pictured. This fully featured tremolo features multiple waveforms, tap tempo with several beat divisions, and the ability to re-sync/reset the waveform with a single tap of the tap tempo footswitch to keep your tremolo on the beat. While many companies have been getting on the bandwagon with tap tempo in their tremolo pedals, I have a good feeling that this one is really going to turn some heads. Keep an eye out for these pedals and their names and full specs to be announced at a later time.
Visit Wampler Pedals for more info about these reverb and tremolo pedals as news becomes available.
Electro Harmonix EHX Tortion
The EHX Tortion from Electro Harmonix looks like an ambition take on a preamp pedal that will add some intense JFET overdrive and distortion to your amp or replace it altogether by allowing you to run your signal directly into a mixer or audio interface with speaker cabinet emulation. The footswitchable Boost function has its own Volume and Gain controls for achieving the perfect lead boost sound. The 4-way Pre-Gain selector and full EQ section give you wide-ranging control of your tone.
Visit Electro Harmonix for more info about the EHX Tortion.
Dunlop EP101 Echoplex Preamp & MXR Uni-Vibe
It looks like Dunlop, the owner of the Echoplex name, finally took notice of the amazingly popular Xotic Effects EP Booster and have staked their claim to great Echoplex style tone. With 11dB of boost, that coveted EP-3 sound, and a low price point, Dunlop’s EP101 Echoplex Preamp will surely be a hit. I got to hear it at Winter NAMM 2014, and it sounds great to me. Also, fans of Dunlop’s Uni-Vibe who don’t have a need for expression pedal control will appreciate the new compact size Uni-Vibe pedal.
Visit Jim Dunlop for more info about the EP101 Echoplex & MXR Uni-Vibe.
The TC Electronic Ditto Looper X2 keeps everything that was great about the original Ditto Looper and adds a dedicated Stop footswitch, reverse and half-speed modes, and stereo ins and outs. Simple, effective, and even more usable than its predecessor.
Read the TC Electronic Ditto Looper X2 review.
F-Pedals Phazevibe & Edstortion
Nikola Tesla Wireless Technology + Legendary Engineer Eddie Kramer = F-Pedals. The Phazevibe and Edstortion look very interesting. These effects from F-Pedals are all-analog, designed in the USA, made in Italy, approved by Eddie Kramer, are very pedalboard friendly, use innovative wireless power technology, can still be powered by a standard 9VDC power supply, and have plenty of tone-shaping parameters for deep control. Looking past the new technology hype, these pedals look promising.
Visit F-Pedals for more info about the Phazevibe & Edstortion.
Black Arts Toneworks Black Sheep
The Black Sheep from Black Arts Toneworks is a transistor based fuzz pedal that’s mean and aggressive with plenty of thick bottom end. It features a 4-way tone knob that shapes the low-end and midrange and has plenty of attitude for riffing on the kind of doom-laden grooves for the soundtrack of the biker dude riding into the sunset on the Black Sheep’s cool looking front graphic. And yes, the finish looks even cooler and is more clear in person.
Visit Black Arts Toneworks for more info about the Black Sheep.
Keeley Electronics Stereo Seafoam Vibrato/Chorus +
Also new for Winter NAMM 2014, the Stereo Seafoam Vibrato/Chorus + from Keeley Electronics builds upon the recently released Seafoam Chorus with stereo operation, a dedicated Vibrato mode, and a slightly different parameter setup that features a Delay and Gain control in place of the original Seafoam Chorus’ Blend knob.
Visit Keeley Electronics for more info about the Stereo Seafoam Vibrato/Chorus +.
T-Rex Replay Box Delay
Let’s make it 21. I found this superbly functional little box over at the T-Rex booth, but when I came back by to take a picture, the prototype had already been packed up to be shipped back to Denmark. Here’s a stock photo as this pedal is definitely worth mentioning. The Replay Box Delay is a modern digital delay with a small footprint, tap tempo, 3 note division settings, and stereo ins and outs.
Visit T-Rex for more info about the Replay Box Delay.
That concludes our Top 20 Best Guitar Effects Pedals of Winter NAMM 2014. Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you again next year!
UPDATE: Check out the Top 42 Best Guitar Effects Pedals of Winter NAMM 2015!
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