This year’s NAMM show was intense. There were many more exhibitors than last year and, yes, a ton of new effects pedals shown at the 4-day event here in Anaheim, California. Best Guitar Effects was there to check things out and see which new guitar pedals stood out above the rest. This article chronicles our initial impressions in what is presented here as the Top 42 Best Guitar Effects Pedals of Winter NAMM 2015.
A quick disclaimer: NAMM isn’t an optimal environment for thoroughly evaluating gear. Many of these products are in prototype stages and some weren’t even playable. This article is meant to be a starting point for your own research in the coming months to find out which pedals you’re personally most excited about. While we’re always seeking out the “best of the best”, we use the term loosely for our annual NAMM article. More accurately, it could be said that these are simply the pedals we’re most excited about. Follow your ears, not the hype.
There are a lot of really unique stompboxes here along with plenty of traditionally inspired pedals for those seeking modern versions of classic effect sounds. I personally walked away feeling like this was the best NAMM show in years for effects loving guitarists. I’d also have to say the “MVB” (Most Valuable Builder) would be a tossup between Catalinbread, Walrus Audio, and ZVex, with each company showing several interesting new products at this year’s NAMM show. Now scroll on! All will be revealed.
Here they are… the Top 42 Best Guitar Effects Pedals of Winter NAMM 2015.
It’s getting to hear pedals like this that make going to NAMM worthwhile. But then again, nothing else is quite like Catalinbread’s Antichthon. For all the clones and rehashes of pedals that are continually spawned to no end (though many are great!), it’s the unconventional new instruments of inspired creativity that push music to exciting new frontiers. With a name inspired by the Greek concept of a counter-Earth that revolves around an unseen center fire, the Antichthon offers a new universe of possibilities for adventurous guitarists who seek bold new sounds. With controls for Time, Space, Gravity and Volume, the Antichthon conjures up inspiration from parallel universes where the laws of physics are dramatically different from our own. Want a less abstract description of what this is? It sounds like a fuzz/tremolo that’s very responsive to your volume dynamics, hence the custom “Gor/Antichthon” purple volume knob that Catalinbread designer/alchemist Howard Gee had on his guitar to further control the Antichthon (The pedal will hopefully ship with a custom Antichthon “Strat” style knob). Inspiring, unconventional, musical, and fun, there isn’t much not to like about the Catalinbread Antichthon.
Visit Catalinbread for more info about the Antichthon.
There are plenty of great digital tape echo delay emulations out there. Some of them are actually pretty excellent. But what if you’ve just gotta have the “reel” thing? The T-Rex Replicator is a 100% analog tape echo delay/chorus with 2 playback heads. It also has tap tempo. Yes, that means real authentic tape echo delay that you can sync to your music. It aims to be sturdy and reliable enough to take on the road unlike your old Echoplex and Copycat and uses custom tapes that are easily replaceable. Just imagine having real analog tape echo on your pedalboard. Thanks to the bold ambition of T-Rex a dream for many guitarists may soon come true this Fall. This is definitely a pedal to keep an eye on.
Visit T-Rex for more info about the Replicator.
We’ve been waiting for this one since Winter NAMM 2014. The Keeley Electronics Compressor Pro shown at this year’s Winter NAMM 2015 sports a slight redesign. Now it has a single foot-switch and a row of LEDs for metering of the compression, not to mention Robert Keeley spent a year fine-tuning it to perfection. Essentially, this is meant to be Keeley’s take on a fully featured studio-grade compressor for your pedalboard. Fans of Keeley’s legendary 2-knob and 4-knob compressors or anyone seeking a pristine compression pedal for their pedalboard will definitely want to look into this one.
Visit Robert Keeley for more info about the Compressor Pro.
Source Audio Nemesis Delay
With 12 Delay models, Tap Tempo, 4 presets, and MIDI I/O, the Source Audio Nemesis Delay is the new DSP delay powerhouse on the scene. It’s loaded with an assortment of delay sounds and plenty of tweaking options from its convenient surface controls, making it a potential candidate for anyone seeking plenty of delay sounds and menu-free simplicity. If you want to dig in deeper you can use Source Audio’s Neuro Effects Editor for Mac & PC gives for even more control. The Nemesis’ array of delays and compact size will certainly make it a tempting choice once it’s released this Summer.
Visit Source Audio for more info about the Nemesis Delay.
Walrus Audio Luminary
The Luminary is essentially Walrus Audio’s take an creating the ultimate digital octave pedal. With its upgraded SHARC DSP processor this pedal can deliver pristine +1, +2, -1, and -2 octave tones. You can also adjust the Attack for octaves that fade in. If you dig the lo-fi digital warble of older pitch shifting pedals, you can still dial in a similar sound with the Luminary’s Flutter knob. It gives you 3 presets, too.
Visit Walrus Audio for more info about the Luminary.
WMD Super Fatman (new version)
What do you get when you combine modular synth routing with WMD’s original “end all envelope filter pedal”? The new Super Fatman. This could be the ultimate filter pedal for anyone seeking real synth-style filtering effects. Notch, High Pass, Band Pass, and Low Pass modes are available. Use it with guitar, bass, synthesizers, or combined with your favorite guitar synth pedal. You can route the LFO to affect other parameters (Feedback and Frequency are good places to start), and even route an expression pedal (or use CV) to manually control the filtering. This is another pedal to watch for adventurous pedal junkies.
Visit WMD for more info about the Super Fatman.
Mojo Hand FX Extra Special
After already releasing a successful Dumble-inspired dirt pedal with the DMBL, Mojo Hand FX have revisited the classic concept with the new Extra Special. While it features a similar Jazz/Rock switch like the DMBL pedal and actual Dumble Overdrive Special amplifier, the controls and circuit are a bit different from the DMBL. The Gain and Accent controls work together to dial in the feel and response of the pedal with the overall vibe being perhaps more suited to those who want a little something extra in terms of gain and response. I definitely want to try this one again. You should check it out, too.
Visit Mojo Hand FX for more info about the Extra Special.
DOD Boneshaker (designed by Black Arts Toneworks)
In what is perhaps the most unexpected collaboration of the show, DOD teamed up with Black Arts Toneworks to deliver the new Boneshaker distortion. Imagine a new variation of the doom fuzz sounds Black Arts Toneworks are known for combined with a 6-knob parametric EQ section (3 knobs for Low, Mid, & High with 3 Freq knobs). The Boneshaker offers some of the most in-depth tone shaping you’ll find on a compact dirt pedal. There’s also an emphasis on the low-end for guitarists who like to drop-tune or who play 7, 8, & 9 string instruments. Definitely want to get some playtime in with this one. P.S. Uli Jon Roth asked if he could use one for his pedalboard when playing in Anaheim during NAMM week.
Visit DOD for more info about the Boneshaker.
Walrus Audio Vanguard
Take a phaser and feed it into another phaser, and you have the Walrus Audio Vanguard. This will be another one of those unique pedals for those who like sounds that are a bit unconventional. It doesn’t have to be too extreme though as you can set the second phaser to a lower depth setting for just a little extra modulation. With 3 presets and expression pedal control, it all adds up to one of the most unique phasers you’ll probably ever encounter.
Visit Walrus Audio for more info about the Vanguard.
Electro Harmonix Super Pulsar Stereo Tap Tremolo
The new Electro Harmonix Super Pulsar Stereo Tap Tremolo is one of the most feature packed tremolo pedals ever released. This pedal just looks awesome. Some of its features include 8 presets, stereo operation, expression control, tap division, wave inversion, envelope control, and more all while retaining a 100% analog signal path.
Visit EHX for more info about the Super Pulsar Stereo Tap Tremolo.
Wampler Plexi-Drive Deluxe
If Wampler’s original Plexi-Drive wasn’t flexible enough for you and the Pinnacle Deluxe is too “brown” for your tastes, the new Plexi-Drive Deluxe may be just what you need. Essentially, it’s aiming to capture the sound of a Marshall JTM-45 in a pedal, and it certainly has a british rock ‘n roll vibe going on from what I heard. Just like how Wampler’s Latitude Deluxe Tremolo arrived mid-way through NAMM 2014, the Plexi-Drive was a nice mid-show surprise that made me glad to have come by the Wampler booth late. Wampler fans already know the kind of quality to expect, and if you’re new to Wampler this may end up being a good pedal to become familiar with.
Visit Wampler for more info about the Plexi-Drive Deluxe.
Catalinbread Talisman & Zero Point
The Catalinbread Talisman is a plate reverb pedal inspired by the EMT 140. Basically, they’ve taken the hulking reverb behemoth made famous on countless recordings since the 70’s and have attempted to capture the sound in a pedal. At NAMM it sounded awesome. The Zero Point essentially aims to capture the sound of true zero flanging, letting you activate the pedal and use its momentary bypass foot-switch to accent certain passages with more authentic flange sounds than your run of the mill LFO flanging pedal. It certainly seems to offer a unique and simple way to add more authentic sounding flanging to your pedalboard.
Visit Catalinbread for more info about the Talisman & Zero Point.
Talisman: See the lowest price on Amazon.
Walrus Audio Bellwether
Walrus Audio also unveiled the Bellwether, their 1000mS all-analog delay pedal with tap tempo and modulation. This eye-catching pedal also features a Tone control knob for darkening or brightening your repeats, useful for sculpting your ideal delay sound if you don’t like your analog delays all dark all the time. Expression pedal control and stereo operation round things out. Looks like it should be rad.
Visit Walrus Audio for more info about the Bellwether.
Keeley Mini Red Dirt Overdrive
The Keeley Mini Red Dirt Overdrive has already gained notoriety for it’s hot-rodded Tube Screamer overdrive tones. This mini version sounded just like the standard sized version in “Lo” mode at the NAMM show. There will also be at least 1 (maybe more!) dip-switch inside for even more tonal variety and tweaking. If you were looking at the Red Dirt Overdrive before but wouldn’t mind saving some pedalboard space, keep an eye on this one. Uncompromising Keeley quality in a micro sized pedal sounds like a win to me.
Visit Robert Keeley for more info about the Mini Red Dirt Overdrive.
WMD Geiger Counter Pro
The original Geiger Counter was insane as anyone who’s ever come across it surely agrees. The WMD Geiger Counter Pro takes the wave-table, 8-Bit, bit-crushing overdrive pedal of digital destruction to chaotic new territory with expanded control parameters, assignable dual CV/expression control, and a ton of presets with 2 dedicated foot-switches for easily switching among them. The Geiger Counter Pro is a sound-mangling beast of a pedal and is definitely something to keep an eye on if you like unconventional pedals, unique distortion effects, and plenty of tweakability.
Visit WMD for more info about the Geiger Counter Pro.
ZVex Woolly Mammoth 7
Following the runaway success of the ZVex Fuzz Factory 7 (my new all-time favorite fuzz pedal), ZVex have now multiplied their Woolly Mammoth pedal by 7 as well. This pedal adds a Bass, Mid, & Treble Marshall-style tone stack as well as a foot-switch to select from 2 different output levels. Whereas the ZVex Fuzzolo took the Woolly Mammoth to minuscule levels, the Woolly Mammoth 7 takes it over the top. Oh, and the little window on the face of the pedal shows off its germanium transistors, and this particular prototype has a really cool hand-painted mammoth Ganesh graphic by in-house ZVex artist, Hannah. Super cool.
Visit ZVex for more info about the Woolly Mammoth 7.
Source Audio Reflex Universal Expression Controller
While it’s not exactly a guitar effect pedal itself, the Source Audio Reflex Universal Expression Controller looks like the ultimate effects expression pedal. It can send up to 3 expression or CV signals, MIDI CC messages, as well as 6 LFO wave shapes. You can also store up to 128 pedal configurations and customize the range and type of each control signal being used. This should be an essential pedal for guitarists who want to take control of several effects at once.
Visit Source Audio for more info about the Reflex Universal Expression Controller.
Bogner La Grange
This overdrive/distortion pedal was shown at last year’s NAMM show and now has a row of flip-switches that takes it from looking Uberschall to more Ecstasy in terms of control options. Reinhold Bogner and Co. are taking plenty of time to get the La Grange done right, so here’s hoping that it’ll be worth the wait. “Just let me know if you wanna go to that home out on the range… A haw, haw, haw, haw.”
Visit Bogner for more info about the La Grange.
The Catalinbread Valcoder is inspired by the tube driven tremolo on old Valco amps and is designed to capture that distinct retro style tremolo effect. Its unique Input control allows you to boost the signal as it enters the circuit to add a tube-like grit to the sound before it hits the tremolo for a characteristically warm and vintage sounding tone. This pedal certainly has some mojo and will take you Down By The Seaside. It’s yet another pedal wonder from Catalinbread this year add to their versatile range of unique effects pedals.
Visit Catalinbread for more info about the Valcoder.
EarthQuaker Devices Hummingbird V3
Speaking of Valco inspired tremolo pedals, EarthQuaker Devices have revised the Hummingbird V3 to add expression pedal control of the Rate as well as 3 speed modes of operation. This is a very choppy tremolo that now thanks to the expression pedal control lets you pull off some really cool rhythmic ramping effects. At extreme settings it starts emitting some crazy ring-mod like sounds, making it a potential tool for more traditional tremolo effects as well as some aurally punishing extreme and bizarre noise effects.
Visit EarthQuaker Devices for more info about the Hummingbird V3.
Amptweaker Fat Metal
The Amptweaker Fat Metal takes the Tight Metal distortion sound to doomier, thrashier, death-metal territory. Compared to the Tight Metal I noticed that the Fat Metal had less emphasis on the high frequencies, providing a thicker mid-range presence and a slightly looser feel overall. This might be a better choice for sludgier styles of heavy guitar playing when compared to the Tight Metal. It also retains the signature SideTrak function which lets you activate another pedal when bypassing the Fat Metal. If you dig corpse paint, fast tremolo picking, and heaps of gain, the Fat Metal is probably for you.
Visit Amptweaker for more info about the Fat Metal.
J. Rockett The Dude
J. Rockett makes some very tone conscious pedals. (I really dig their WTF Fuzz in particular.) Last fall they released the Klon Centaur inspired J. Rockett Archer, and sitting next to it on their Winter NAMM 2015 pedalboard was The Dude. This enclosure was actually empty, but they plugged in the single black boxed prototype to give me a taste. Simply put, this is an incredibly transparent overdrive. If you just want to lightly overdrive your signal and push your amp while retaining the pristine sound of your guitar, keep your eyes peeled and ears open for this one. It would be a shame to overlook The Dude.
Visit J. Rockett for more info about The Dude.
Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini
What can I say about the Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini really? Ibanez shrunk down the legendary overdrive and kept the JRC4558 IC chip that made the original TS-808 Tube Screamer an all-time classic. Being a huge hit since the blues rock revival of the 80’s, the Tube Screamer is arguably the most cloned, copied, and imitated guitar effects pedal of all time, but it’s good to see Ibanez still carrying the torch to bring the iconic sound to new audiences. Apparently, guitarists still can’t get enough of the Tube Screamer, so Ibanez will surely sell a ton of these. Gotta love how they kept the classic Tube Screamer appearance and made a similar looking custom mini enclosure. With the TS808HW covering the high-end crowd, it’s great to see the TSMINI available for budget-minded guitarists.
Visit Ibanez for more info about the Tube Screamer Mini.
Big Joe Stomp Box Company Texas Screamer
Before Johnny Winter passed away last year, he had auditioned more than 30 overdrive prototypes for a new guitar pedal that would be able capture his classic signature sound. The circuit he finally approved of is found here in the Big Joe Stomp Box Company Texas Screamer. With a simple 3-knob interface and a cool graphic inspired by Johnny Winter’s own chest tattoo, this pedal will be of interest to many blues rock and Johnny Winter fans who’d like to try to add a bit of his legendary sound to their own music. This pedal certainly seems like a great tribute to the legendary blues icon.
Visit Big Joe Stomp Box Company for more info about the Texas Screamer.
Black Arts Toneworks Black Shadow
The Black Arts Toneworks Black Shadow is gritty, valve-inspired overdrive pedal with a 2-knob Baxandall EQ tone section. It’s simple to use and raunchy with attitude to spare. And you’ve gotta love the motocycle graphic and those chrome knobs.
Visit Black Arts Toneworks for more info about the Black Shadow.
Dunlop Cry Baby Mini Wah
Finally Dunlop downsized their wah enclosure, but who would’ve thought they’d take it this far? The Cry Baby Mini Wah captures classic wah sounds thanks to its 3-position internal selector switch all while remaining about the size of a Boss pedal. This just might be the coolest gift idea for guitar players ever.
Visit Dunlop for more info about the Cry Baby Mini Wah.
Seymour Duncan have been getting back in the pedal game in a big way lately. (Their new Vapor Trail Analog Delay and 805 Overdrive pedals are both awesome.) Now they’ve unleashed the Vise Grip Compressor pedal with a blend control and huge sustain. Essentially, it appears to be a shrunk down and re’vise’d version of the old Seymour Duncan Double Back compressor. The original’s “Double Back” function was essentially a blend control. Even the Full, Mid, High tone filtering function is here to add compression emphasis only to certainly frequencies if desired.
Visit Seymour Duncan for more info about the Vise Grip Compressor.
Electro Harmonix Cool Vibes Modulator
The new Cool Vibes pedal from Electro Harmonix gives you classic Uni-Vibe style sounds from its 2 settings, Chorus and Vibrato. You can also use an expression pedal to control either the Speed or Intensity of the effect. There’s nothing like a good vibe machine to help you nail those classic Jimi Hendrix Machine Gun style Uni-Vibe tones. Electro Harmonix has been releasing a ton of amazing pedals in the past few years with an even distribution of classic and never before heard effects. I’m glad they’re finally putting out a vibe pedal that should be a worthy addition to their lineup.
Visit EHX for more info about the Cool Vibes Modulator.
EarthQuaker Devices Fuzz Master General & Park Fuzz Sound
EarthQuaker Devices had 2 new fuzzes for Winter NAMM 2015, the Park Fuzz Sound, a reissue of the classic original with an extended gain range, and the Fuzz Master General, a vicious octave fuzz in the vein of the Ace Tone Fuzz Master FM-2 and Super Fuzz. Really digging on the Fuzz Master General. It might be a best fuzz pedal contender.
Visit EarthQuaker Devices for more info about the Park Fuzz Sound & Fuzz Master General.
Park Fuzz Sound: See the lowest price on Amazon.
Fuzz Master General: See the lowest price on Amazon.
Big Joe Stomp Box Company Empire
The Empire is a 2-channel overdrive pedal from Big Joe Stomp Box Company. It has 9 knobs, 2 foot-switches, and flip-switches for order reversal, buffering, and Firm/Sponge character adjustment for both channels. This is a pedal to check out if you’re looking for a versatile overdrive for your rig.
Visit Big Joe Stomp Box Company for more info about the Empire.
Oddfellow Effects Caveman Overdrive V2
I got to play the original Caveman Overdrive at Winter NAMM 2014 on a board filled with other high-end overdrives including a pair of Klon Centaurs and, if memory serves me correctly, an Analog Man King of Tone. It certainly sounded like it could hang with the best to me. For the Caveman Overdrive V2, Oddfellow Effects listened to customer feedback and have achieved an even more amp-like response with a more carefully attenuated high-end response. The boost can also now be placed before or after the overdrive.
Visit Oddfellow Effects for more info about the Caveman V2.
Keeley Mini Katana Clean Boost
The Keeley Mini Katana Clean Boost retains the 2-mode operation (boost & overdrive) of the original FET-driven Katana boost pedal in a new pedalboard friendly size. What’s not to like? The original standard-sized stompbox Katana Clean Boost pedal was interesting in that its single boost level control knob was mounted on the side. This could allow you to roll your foot across it for adjustments. Since the Mini Katana Clean Boost still has a single knob, you should still be able to turn the knob with the side of your foot assuming it’s securely fastened to your pedalboard.
Visit Robert Keeley for more info about the Mini Katana Clean Boost.
EarthQuaker Devices Sea Machine V2
The Sea Machine V2 is EarthQuaker Devices’ classic chorus pedal, squeezed into their standard sized enclosure and updated with new art. I’m always happy to see EarthQuaker Devices refined their designs and making more efficient use of a smaller enclosure. This pedal apparently didn’t need a spec revision like the recently updated Grand Orbiter and (also at NAMM 2015) Hummingbird V3. If you were looking at the Sea Machine before, the new V2 is definitely even more tempting. Now if we could only convince the mad geniuses at EarthQuaker Devices to add expression control to The Depths. ;)
Visit EarthQuaker Devices for more info about the Sea Machine V2.
Seymour Duncan Shape Shifter Stereo Tremolo
The new Shape Shifter Stereo Tremolo is an update of Seymour Duncan’s original Shape Shifter tap tempo tremolo pedal. Tap tempo, wave shape options, phasing adjustment, and a Speed indicator LED round out this pedal for those who want a tremolo that isn’t too simple or too complex. This looks like yet another example of Seymour Duncan refining their already solid designs to make them even more useful for modern guitar players. This new version also has stereo operation which will provide you with ultra wide stereo pulsing effects if you run it into 2 amps.
Visit Seymour Duncan for more info about the Shape Shifter Stereo Tremolo.
TC Electronic Viscous Vibe & Helix Phaser
TC Electronic finally added a couple more modulation effects to their TonePrint enabled arsenal of pedals, the Viscous Vibe and Helix Phaser. Both are stereo enabled and allow you create your ideal sound with the TonePrint Editor. While I generally like to see an expression input on Uni-Vibe style pedals like the Viscous Vibe, that Speed knob looks big enough to be foot-controlled for realtime rate control. The Helix Phaser should also provide a lot more flexibility than your average phaser pedal. Since these are by TC Electronic you know they’ll be solid, reliable, and have great-sounding algorithms.
Visit TC Electronic for more info about the Viscous Vibe & Helix Phaser.
Viscous Vibe: See the lowest price on Amazon.
Helix Phaser: See the lowest price on Amazon.
Keeley Aurora Reverb
Keeley’s new Aurora Reverb gives you 3 different styles of digital ‘verb – hall, plate, and room – in a simple pedal that should live up to Keeley’s standard of reliability and performance. Robert Keeley has really been expanding the company’s line of effects lately, and if haven’t checked them out in the past few years, you should have another look as the entire brand of pedals has received an attractive visual overhaul. Keeley is really setting the stage with a quality line-up that covers the essentials. The Aurora packs enough diversity and tweaking potential for covering most basic reverb needs.
Visit Robert Keeley for more info about the Aurora Reverb.
ZVex Pedal Thief
The ZVex Pedal Thief lets you reroute pedals from your guitar to a vocal mic. Sure you could let your singer steal your pedals, but if you sing and play guitar live, you could use a single chain of pedals with your guitar or vocal signal. This is an interesting and novel idea that may actually have more practical uses than you’d think at first. And there’s still a little more ZVex weirdness to come…
Visit ZVex for more info about the Pedal Thief.
ZVex Bomb Pop
What looks like a one-off novelty is actually a very real product that ZVex plans to release. The Bomb Pop features 5 of ZVex’s most popular pedals (Fuzz Factory 7, Double Rock, Instant Lo-Fi Junky, Super Hard-On, & Wah Probe) in a very eclectic boutique multi-effects pedal. The effects can be used in series, or you can re-route them to your liking with patch cables (the Super Hard-On boost is always at the end). Very interesting and perhaps still not even the craziest product ZVex showed this year.
Visit ZVex for more info about the Bomb Pop.
Red Panda Raster
My biggest disappointment of Winter NAMM 2015 is that I didn’t get to hear the Red Panda Raster firsthand. As a huge fan of the Red Panda Particle (a staple delay pedal for those who like it weird), I cannot wait to hear the crazy sounds the Raster makes. It’s essentially a delay with pitch shifting “integrated into the feedback loop. It delivers a wide range of sounds including harmonized delays, reverse delays, chorus, arpeggios,infinite descents, self-oscillation, and continuously evolving sound scapes.” Red Panda are one of the most unique and innovative effects makers around, and the Raster will probably be another showcase of their one-of-a-kind design aesthetic. (A hat tip to Effects Database where I found this image and info.)
Visit Red Panda for more info about the Raster.
So those are our top picks as far as guitar effects pedals are concerned. But here’s 3 more interesting guitar pedal-related products to check out that were shown at NAMM 2015.
Walrus Audio Phoenix Clean Power Supply
I really enjoyed the Walrus Audio Aetos, and the avian inspired power supply has spread its wings to become the Phoenix, a 15 output clean power supply for larger pedalboards. The Phoenix has 8 9VDC (100mA), 4 9VDC (300mA), 1 18/9VDC (100mA), and 2 12/9VDC (100mA) outputs. A courtesy outlet on the back lets you plug in wall warts for pedals requiring more than 300mA. In short, this thing looks epic.
Visit Walrus Audio for more info about the Phoenix Clean Power Supply.
Empress Effects Buffer+ Stereo
The Empress Effects Buffer+ Stereo is a Swiss army knife utility pedal that offers plenty of signal routing possibilities (AB/AY), a foot-switchable or always on boost, noise gate features on both of it’s signal paths, a mute function with tuner output, and more. Essentially, this looks like it could be a great tool for guitarists who have a stereo rig and need a little extra care maintaining the integrity of their guitar signal over long cable runs. The Buffer+ Stereo has a 100% analog audio path and intends to ensure that the purity of your playing is maintained. This photo was taken atop the single pamphlet Empress Effects had at the show which gave examples of over a dozen routing possibilities. Keep an eye on their website as product information becomes available.
Visit Empress Effects for more info about the Buffer+ Stereo.
ZVex MIDI Light Show
When I stopped by to check out the ZVex booth, seeing their giant KISS-inspired light display had me bringing up using MIDI to control a DMX lighting system. Then it was pointed out to me that essentially the ZVex MIDI Light Show was doing something even better… giving bands a unique and less costly system for creating their own stage lighting system. If you’ve checked out our Ableton Live review and all the ideas I’ve presented for using software to automate effects changes (no more guitar tech needed to do your switching!), it would also be worth considering using the ZVex MIDI Light Show to create automated lighting effects for your performances. Or you could simply control lights with a keyboard, other MIDI controller, or even your feet since the MIDI Light Show is a floor-based system.
And just one more thing… There was one pedal announced outside of NAMM that we’d also like to bring to your attention…
Origin Effects Cali76-G & Cali76-G-P
My jaw hit the floor upon hearing about the 2 Germanium Editions of the Cali76. We just finished our epic review of the Cali76-STD, Cali76-TX, and Cali76-TX-LP (and more recently the Cali76 Compact Deluxe & Compact), so these should be equally amazing in their own way. It’ll be a strictly limited edition, so DO NOT miss out on the Cali76-G & Cali76-G-P if you’re interested. Here’s the full info sheet from Origin Effects:
“NEW FOR 2015: ORIGIN EFFECTS CALI76 GERMANIUM OPTIONS
Two years in and our 1176-inspired FET compressors have gone global, with a host of well renowned artists whole heartedly embracing the designs. The Cali76 is widely acknowledged as being the best pedal-based compressor money can buy and with good reason…
Origin Effects is rapidly approaching a land-mark occasion, having shipped almost 2000 pedals. Given the hand-built nature of our products this feels like a big deal, and certainly a milestone to be celebrated! We decided to honour this occasion by releasing a limited run of compressors featuring a very special vintage-style NOS germanium-transistor output stage.
Germanium is a chemical element prolific in early transistor technology. The wide adoption of germanium transistors marked a global shift away from valve technology, allowing for some exciting advances in audio technology. This ultimately had a profound effect on the recording industry and was the enabling factor for a whole host of magical guitar gadgets. With such a well of creativity unlocked, many of the resultant tones have earned a permanent place in our collective psyche.
Our intention was to embody some of the unique sonic attributes of this magical period in time. We’re confident that you’ll agree that our limited edition germanium options offer a valuable new flavour to the Cali76 line-up.
Cali76 Standard Germanium Edition, production limited.
Cali76 Parallel / Germanium Boost Edition, production limited.
The Cali76 Standard Germanium Edition, comes in a wholly familiar package. The top-mounted controls are identical to the stock Cali76-STD and the compressor circuitry operates in exactly the same manner. The addition of a balanced germanium-transistor output stage accounts for extra sonic possibilities. A rear-mounted headroom control can be adjusted to obtain the desired amount of break-up from the germanium circuitry.
The Cali76 Parallel / Germanium Boost Edition draws inspiration from 2014’s limited run of Cali76-TX-P pedals. The parallel-compression feature allows dry-signal to be blended with compressed signal to deliver rich sustain with a dynamic integrity that allows loud transients to emerge uncurtailed. The boost function is wide-band and transparent. While the germanium output stage is always active, a variable-headroom control applies to the boost-mode only, allowing for switchable access to a world of harmonic break-up.
Staying true to the valve-like implementation of the earliest germanium designs, both units feature a fully-balanced output stage, totally free from global negative feedback, utilising NOS transistors. This means that overdrive characteristics are gradual and harmonically rich, with a fast transient-recovery characteristic. If desired, saturation can be finely adjusted through the use of the aforementioned headroom control.
Low impedance balanced outputs are obtainable using a TRS connector, allowing the unit to output to consoles, preamps, DAWs etc… This allows the unit to be used in your recordings to add warm compression to vocals, acoustic, piano, drums… you name it! Inserting an unbalanced guitar cable will configure the unit as a standard effects pedal, with a conventional single-ended output.”
I hope you’re as excited about this one as I am. The Cali76-G and Cali76-G-P should have a very cool vintage vibe and will surely sit well alongside the Cali76-STD, Cali76-TX, and Cali76-TX-L versions. And since Origin Effects means it when they say “Limited Edition”, you’ll want to keep an eye on their website for when they start taking preorders.
Visit Origin Effects for more info about the Cali76-G & Cali76-G-P.
So that’s about it. Winter NAMM 2015 was awesome. Can’t wait to see what next year brings. And yes, there’s Summer NAMM 2015, also. In the meantime I hope this article helps you discover which new guitar effects pedals will inspire you to keep playing guitar and making music.
Until next time here’s a cool photo from the Houses of the Keeley.
UPDATE: Check out the Top 30 Best Guitar Effects Pedals of Summer NAMM 2015!
Also, if you’re a beginner guitarist, definitely check out our guide to the best online guitar lessons.