Posts Tagged ‘Vibrato’

Marshall RG-1 Regenerator

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

Marshall-RG1-Regenerator

What is it?
Marshall RG-1 Regenerator multi-modulation effect. Made in china, possibly around early 00’s

Digital chorus/phase/flange multieffect in the small metal series? Apparently yes. And once we open it up, there’s very little doubt of what the design is all about. Yup. It’s exactly the same board as seen in Echohead and Reflector.

Marshall-RG1-Regenerator-guts1

All these three are sisters with the same topology of TI DSP, Atmel and BSI chips. As we’ve seen with many other modern digital designs, the electronics are all the same, but the code burned n and the label on the top are the only differentiating factors.

Marshall-RG1-Regenerator-guts2

Mostly the pedal is well made and definitely represents the top quality of current chinese manufacturing. It could be that the Marshall quality control is strict, or at least stricter than for what we find in many other current chinese made brands with a low price point.

Marshall-RG1-Regenerator-guts3

I recently saw a same enclosure used with completely different brand on eBay. Sort of like when Daphon started to sell their own “soundtank-like” pedals as E10-series. Wonder how the british mother company feels about that. Anyway. The pedal has decent set of features and while the digital point makes the sound boringly predictable..

How does it sound?
It is still quite versatile sounding unit. Lacking in taste, scent and personality, but still pretty good. Two chorus modes are not surprising, as the flanger, phaser and vibe modes. The step phaser tries to mimic the random stepping of the Boss PH-3, and succeeds to a certain level. The expression pedal input is a very nice feature that adds a lot usability to the tones produced. To sum it up, this would be a nice entry level multi-modulation pedal for anyone who may need one. Nothing great, but nothing too disappointing. These are widely available and one should be able to score one for peanuts as used unit.

DOD FX22 Vibro Thang

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

DOD-FX22-VibroThang

What is it?
DOD FX22 Vibro Thang from FX series. No serial number (blue velcro on botton plate and rubber+sticker missing), but judging by the graphics, this unit is made in USA, around 1997.

Only few of DOD FX series boxes have received as wide recognition and fan base as Vibro Thang. A few more should have reached the status, but it’s no surprise why Vibro Thang is nowadays so highly praised. It’s a great, solid design that does everything from mild phasing to absolutely crazy, deep vibrato. There is some additional info on America’s Pedal, which suggests that the initial sales after the release weren’t that hot. I personally recall these units were selling for peanuts in the mid 00’s. I got mine around then. The appreciation wasn’t there at the time. Since then something has changed. The prices for these units are still very reasonable. Possibly due to high(ish) number of manufactured units.

DOD-FX22-VibroThang-guts1

Opening it up shows a board that’s on par with all the other US made FX series boxes. Neat design and solid construction. Now, if we take a look at the electronic design itself, we  have two LM13600 dual OTAs, equaling in four phasing stages. JRC chip is the LFO. There’s a copy of factory schematic donated to Freestompboxes forum, but you’ll need an account for the forum to see it. As a side note, the D6 thing on the America’s Pedal page is wrong. This LED is crucial part of the the LFO and it is exactly where it’s supposed to be.

DOD-FX22-VibroThang-guts2

The design isn’t that basic or something we’ve all seen thousand times before. The idea of having OTA stages for phase/vibe isn’t all new, but controlling how the LFO affects the phase and vibe is another story. So we basically have controls for phase stage feedback, in this case known as Regen, or Image. RPM, or Speed controls the LFO rate. Control named as Width/Drop is our vibrato depth and control called Phase/Intensity controls the phase depth. Not too obvious, but referring to the schematic it all sort of makes sense. With any given combination of Drop and Intensity, we’ll achieve beautiful and different phase/vibe tones. And what’s even more important..

How does it sound?
Any given settings sounds just awesome. It  can be wild and it can be mild. But there’s very little unusable area on controls. Sounds like a perfect vibrato and a perfect phaser. Or a perfect mix between the two. And since the design with four OTA stages hasn’t been done over and over by everyone (before like couple of the other methods of creating a phase and a vibe), the personality in tone of this effect is notable.

Usable. In the biggest meaning of the word. And for me, this pedal is important. For its sound, good controls and, well. Everything.

Danelectro DJ-20 Rocky Road Spinning Speaker

Monday, July 21st, 2014

DJ20-RockyRoad

What is it?
Danelectro DJ-20 Rocky Road Spinning Speaker from Danelectro Mini series. Made in china around mid 00’s.

Leslie simulators are one sub-genre of effects that i haven’t had a lot of interest on. Is it a tremolo? A vibe? A Chorus? No. It’s a Leslie simulator. Which translates to it being a tremolo, vibe and delayless chorus. In essence, it is a amplitude modulation effect, designed to give you a feel of a spinning speaker-like illusion. Sort of like a stereo tremolo/vibe that goes ping-pong. In fact, a Leslie simulator is nothing more than a marketing scheme. Rarer the idea for the pedal, the better chance to sell them.

DJ20-RockyRoad-guts

On the technical side, the effect is created with a HE83015 8-bit micro-controller. There is a schematic for the complete circuit on the builder forums (you’ll need to log in to FSB to see it, so no link at the moment). Basically we have a overdrive/distortion that’s given to the programmed digital controller for amplitude modulation in stereo (or that’s how i read it). And once again, my shortcomings in the area of digital micro-controllers prevent me from digging any deeper. For now. So it is a lot more complicated than what you would expect from a stereo tremolo.

Design has peculiarities like only Dano can deliver. The Ramp up/down feature  only works in fast setting. And the distortion, or the Drive as it’s called…

How does it sound?
Um. I don’t know what to say. The drive part sounds pretty awful with its broken sounding clipping. As a huge disadvantage, we also have a volume boost when effect is activated. Only good feature is the ramp. This offers fun and wild modulation speed changes that are gradual, not instant.

This unit has gained some status, but why.. Beats me. Nice novelty toy, but not by far a good, usable effect. If a real Leslie sounded like this, i have a hard time believing anyone would have ever used one for anything. To sum it up – this definitely has something inside that we don”t see every day in pedals. But that doesn’t make it any more good than what it actually is. A novelty toy.

Danelectro DJ-15 Chicken Salad Vibrato

Saturday, July 5th, 2014

DJ15-ChickenSalad

What is it?
Danelectro DJ-15 Chicken Salad Vibrato from Mini series in plastic housing. Made in china around mid 00’s.

Where tuners and couple others in this mini series are just bad, there are a number of great units. This one is the greatest deal. Cheap vibrato effects are scarce, so when Dano released their miniature take on the classic Uni-Vibe with ridiculous price tag, it was bound to become instant classic and a hit. I do not have any idea how many of these have been sold, but i believe the number is big. I managed to grab mine as a new unit from one german retailer. It didn’t come too cheap, but for really good effect, the price can’t be an issue. These seem to sell for a reasonable prices on auction sites too, but usually there are many people bidding on them.

DJ15-ChickenSalad-guts1

If you do a web search for this, you’ll find a number of discussions on how to rehouse and true bypass the unit. This may be a good candidate for these changes, as will the Tuna Melt Tremolo. Boards and work quality are similar to others in the series, meaning that there isn’t too much to write home about. I did spot a schematic floating around the web.  I’m not sure if the changes noted in the schematic are for the factory units, but the drawing itself. If the lamp type has been changed during the production, this would make my unit the post-2004 unit as the black blob in the main board seems to be a LED.

DJ15-ChickenSalad-guts2

Looking at the schematic, there are four LDR stages that create the modulation. LFO part is made up in manner that’s very effective. But hey, that LFO looks rather familiar to me. Yup. It’s the same configuration we’ll find in original Uni-Vibe. There are some values that aren’t verbatim, but the function is more or less the same. Even the modulation stages correlate between these two designs, even though the Uni-Vibe uses transistors for those stages and Chicken Salad does the same thing with dual opamps.

So. As usual with Dano designs, the similarities are there, while the circuit isn’t exactly straight up clone. To sum it up, the Chicken Salad is your awesome chance to have Uni-Vibe sounds for a very reasonable price. It is all plastic and not too well made with its standard Dano electronic switching. But if these things do not scare you, it’s a very nice score.

How does it sound?
Wobbly and warm with slight breakup on some depth settings. Not squeeky clean, but that’s part of the appeal on Uni-Vibe sound. So yes, it sounds good. And it’s a vibe as any vibe, without any obvious flaws. Range of he controls is sufficient and goes from mild to wild. Can’t say much more. This sounds like very expensive and great effect in a small plastic housing. And it comes with a great price. How can you not love it?

Nux MF6 Digital Multi FX

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

Nux-MF6-DigitalMFX

What is it?
Nux MF6 Digital Multi FX from the Nux First Series. Made in china in 00’s.

Whole Nux pedal line has been quite interesting line. Some of the designs are straight rip offs, but while the underlying design may be just that, the rest is well engineered and somewhat original. The “First Series”, as i’m going to be referring these units, have nice and personal enclosure design. According to interwebs, Nux is originally nothing more but a sub-brand of Cherub. Folks at Cherub may have wanted to build another brand that seems more prestigious. And they have, more or less, succeeded in that venture.

The enclosure is your standard medium strenght cast aluminium box with good rubber bottom and durable feeling plastic parts. The battery slot is accessible through the pedal lid, and its lid is the cheapest feeling part in whole unit.

Nux-MF6-DigitalMFX-ctrls

Controls on the top are one rotary switch for mode and four standard pots (one dual gang) for setting the parameters of the selected effect. In short, the effects this unit offers are tremolo, rotary, flanger, chorus, multivoice (which is one repeat dual delay in reality) and modulation delay. Others seem to have nice operation range, but the modulation on the mod delay can be turned off. So that the pedal can be used as a delay unit too. All in all, the number of usable effects is nothing short of impressive. And we should not forget about the stereo output and expression pedal input. So yes. There are quite a lot of features in this cheap pedal.

Nux-MF6-DigitalMFX-guts1

When taking a look under the hood, we see modern SMD board with relatively dull view. Flipping the board over shows what one would expect. It is, like the name suggests, a fully digital design. Once again i’m going to leave you with less analysis since my knowledge of all digital circuitry is very limited. There are couple of digital chips in addition to a few opamps. And a oscillator crystal. Feels a bit like a computer now doesn’t it…

Nux-MF6-DigitalMFX-guts2

I got the unit cheap as used one from a local dude. I didn’t have high hopes for it, but since i was, and still am, somewhat fond of the New Analog Series pedals, i wanted to try this one out too. The conclusion?

How does it sound?
Surprisingly good. There’s no negative thin digital feel to any of the modes. Most of the modulation types easily beat some of their analog counterparts. That’s what you won’t hear often from me. Most of the settings are usable. Overall sound is good. Or maybe even great. I do love it when a design offers more than i expected. Well worth a try if you spot used one for cheap.

Marshall VT-1 Vibratrem

Monday, February 17th, 2014

VT1-VibraTrem

What is it?
Marshall VT-1 Vibratrem, made in china around 2005.

The Marshall pedals are curious things. The hits in the 60’s and 70’s , another hits in early 90’s. After that the big black box series went through massive inflation. The next generation of Marshall pedals were introduced in early 00’s, while the players rediscovered the original Guv’nor and the original Bluesbreaker. While all the earlier Marshall pedals were just fuzzes, overdrives and distortions with one wah in the lineup, the “next generation” offered wider range of sounds. The nine effects in the next generation series have a few distortions, but also a reverb, delay and a few different modulation effects. This is one of them.

First of all, the idea of pairing a tremolo and a vibrato to a single box is a splendid idea. The controls are your standard depth and speed, with addition of LFO waveform control that can take the wave from square to saw wave. And then there’s a switch with two modes, a tremolo and a vibrato.

VT1-VibraTrem-guts1

Board looks like most modern designs. Dull and not too eye pleasing. But the overall construction with all the wires does look pleasing. Even though the wires all have terminal sockets to minimize the labour. Also, the through hole components does give us a hope that not all big name designs are done with baking the surface mount components in chinese toaster ovens with litres of flux residue all over them.

VT1-VibraTrem-guts2

It is quite complicated design that i’m not going to unravel more at this point. This would be a pain to reverse, not to mention how massive undertaking it would be to clone it. Quick searching did not reveal a a schematic, but it did point me to a reported fault.

Apparently  some units tend to come over unity level with sort of boosting the output level. At those brief test runs i had with my unit, i didn’t notice it. Guess i’ll need to revisit the testing. ..Or it could be one of those psycho-aural or psycho acoustic phenomenons often affiliated with tremolos and their output levels.

How does it sound?
When it comes to tremolos and vibes, i appreciate the fat and thick sounds. This heavy hitter provides those both with two distinctive wave forms. The sound is somewhat overwhelming, but still it keeps your guitar’s tone well in tact. Tremolo part is thick and juicy. Vibe is a lot brighter than most of the vibrato effects i’ve played with. That’s not a bad thing.

I’d say this makes a very usable effect in both modes. Personally i find the tremolo part to be more to my liking than the vibe, but it does sound good all the way. Recommended tool.

Danelectro CV-1 Vibe

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

CV1-Vibe

What is it?
Danelectro CV-1 Vibe from Cool Cat Series. Original version, no level trimmer under the battery slot.

I did get pretty far with my collection without having a single vibe-only pedal in it. This unit finally changed that fact. Danelectro made a number of itself with the vibe from its mini series. And for a good reason. It was very cheap and very good sounding vibe that many people simply true bypassed and rehoused. The success of mini-series univibe clone set pretty high hopes for this unit too.

This is also an good unit, but it has couple of reported faults. The first issue is with the delay of wet signal. I do get the idea of disconnecting power from the circuit when bypassed. But it is a very stupid idea on a circuit which operates on four LDR (light dependant resistor) stages that all need notable amount of current. Yes, that’ll save you from swapping the battery every 4 hours, but then again – who uses batteries anyway? Now, when we cut the power and push it back on when bypass switch activates the circuit, there’s bound to be a short, less than half a second delay before all four LDR stages are running properly. That is a fault. Not that it would bother me in any way, but that still is a fault.

CV1-Vibe-guts

Second issue reported is the rise in output level when activated. Later units have a trimmer pot under the battery slot, which lets you adjust the level to perfect. The original units don’t. The issue comes from the dual opamp seen on the gut photo’s main PCB on lower right corner. That simply applies slightly too much gain for the output signal. This is another issue that doesn’t bother me at all. But someone who would use this vibe as a everyday effect on his/her board, would suffer from these faults. Two “errors” on one design has never been a good thing for the pedals (nor for manufacturer’s) reputation.

Both issues can be addressed with relatively small effort. Just take the power continuously to the circuit, bypassing the switch. And change the value of one resistor to get the unity level back. Both are simple procedures, but i personally don’t see a reason to perform either. One can and should probably use this for recording instead of live performing. The issues mentioned do not bother you in studio and there’s a very good reason to use this for recording…

How does it sound?
And this is that reason. The overall sound is very close to the classic Uni-Vibe, but here we have added personality and overall feel of the sound is slight darker. Three controls can tune it from mild phaser-like atmospheric slow sweeper to super-wobbly wild child. Both extremes take the whole signal and put it through the blender with your morning smoothie.

For the price and construction (disregarding the two faults), this is in fact a very good catch. One should still look for revision two, rather than the original. For me, i’m keeping this as is.