12 Stompboxes that Kill on Keys Olive Branch MS
12 Stompboxes that Kill on Keys
Think pedal effects are just for guitar players? Here are a dozen that made us think again.
In a world of workstations that have a studio’s worth of effects built in, why use pedals? Maybe to spice up a synth, electric piano, or Clav that doesn’t have all those effects. Pedals are also more fun for the same reason analog synths are: Grab a knob, hear a change. But it comes down to personality. Pedals are designed to do one or two things well, so combining different ones from different makers can take your sound, and hence your ideas, places a virtual rack might not. Here are a dozen we like, with more to come in future issues and on video at keyboardmag.com.
BBE TWO TIMER
Dual Analog Delay
BBE’s pedal line is durably built, with a metal casing and knobs that feel more than up to the rigors of the gigging life. This “bucket brigade” analog delay is clean, and the Repeat knob gives you an ample range of feedback time. The unique feature on the Two Timer gives the pedal its name: Two separate delays can be set to different times and switched with the left footswitch. Say you want a short delay for rhythm parts and a longer one for your soaring synth solo — the Two Timer makes it easy, and sounds great. Things got really interesting when we cranked the Feedback knob and let the signal overdose on itself. It was a ton of fun, if a bit impractical for melodious solos. However, sometimes just making alien sounds can be an invigorating for the ears and mind, so don’t knock it ’til you rock it!
PROS Sturdy construction. Clean sound. True hardware bypass.
CONS None significant.
UNIQUE FEATURE Dual delay settings.
MAKES YOU SOUND LIKE Pink Floyd at Pompeii or Vesuvius at Pompeii, depending.
$209 list/approx. $150 street, bbesound.com
BEHRINGER VM1 VINTAGE TIME MACHINE
Delay, Echo, and Chorus/Vibrato
This pedal is modeled fairly close to a vintage Electro-Harmonix Memory Man, but in classic Behringer fashion, brings in similar features at the lowest possible price. It feels well-built enough, and looks cool, but the proof is in the sound. The VM1 has a true analog delay and up to 550ms of echo at hand — and is really two pedals in one. On one hand, it’s about straight modulation, i.e. delay plus chorus or vibrato. But crank the Feedback knob more than halfway and the VM1 becomes a sound-shaping feedback and noise generator that can make some ungodly sounds. Provided you’re in the right band playing the right sort of music at the right time, you may blow some minds!
PROS Affordable. Cool classic look.
CONS On the noisy side.
UNIQUE FEATURE True analog circuitry at a low price point.
MAKES YOU SOUND LIKE Alien spacecraft attacking the planet. $69.95 street, behringer.com
BOSS RE-20 SPACE ECHO
Tape Echo Simulator with Reverb
A re-imagining of the classic Roland RE-201 Space Echo from the ’70s, this is a much smaller unit, but they didn’t shrink the sound. It’s structured as a double p...