The world of pedals is an embarrassment of riches. Guitarists have so many options to choose from in every effect category. There is something for everyone, and there’s never been a better time to find your sound. It seems like new pedal companies pop up every day, and we all wait with bated breath to see what awesome sonic devices they unleash for our playing pleasures. If you’re like me, you watch a lot of pedal demos. At this point, it’s become a recreational activity for me; just when I think I couldn’t possibly need another pedal, something comes out and gets me all twitterpated. With that in mind, I thought we could take a look at some up and coming pedal companies that you need to know about. Please note that I use the phrase “up and coming” liberally. It can take a while to gain momentum in the pedal business, so the fact that these brands are on this list doesn’t mean they started yesterday, but I wanted to give them some love and let you know what they’re up to. But enough about that—let’s get to the good stuff.
Based out of Richland, Washington, Foxpedal has a great pedal lineup, with some of the most impressive pedal names in the business. Need to add some anger to your pedalboard? Make room for the Wrath, a Rat-inspired distortion built with top-shelf components. Need something a little fuzzier? The Defector is a full featured fuzz with a boost function that can push your signal into further madness or be used independently as a clean boost. If you’re a lover of ambient, ethereal tones, make it a point to get your paws on The Wave, a dual delay and reverb pot-of-gold. The Wave features three delay modes: Binson, RE-201, and EP-3. Sound familiar? That’s three epic delay sounds in one box. Add in a beautiful, spacious reverb, and a fine-tuned modulation section, and you’ve got a seriously luscious creative tool. If you have more delays than you know what to do with, and just need a great reverb pedal, the Magnifica is a delightful spring reverb with an ambient touch that can be subtle or extreme. If you’re looking for a great overdrive option, step into the Kingdom, a simple yet versatile dirt pedal that will make a great companion to any rig. Also, it has a lion on it. There are many more pedals in the lineup, those are just a few that caught my eyes and ears.
On the Hungry Robot website, effects are divided into two sections: Gain Devices and Ambient Devices. For many players, these are the essentials, and they look to be some incredible devices indeed. The first Hungry Robot pedal I ever heard was The Wash, a delay-and-reverb combo pedal with tap tempo, albeit not in the traditional sense. The “wash” switch activates a series of feedback loops for a unique and haunting effect reminiscent of the Binson Echorec in addition to the added reverb. It’s a rad pedal that is capable of beautiful, strange ethereal textures that will set you apart from all the Joe Schmoes out there using standard delay and reverb pedals. The latest pedal to the Hungry Robot is the [fz], a gnarly fuzz capable of a plethora of dirty tones courtesy of its internal DIP switches. The Hungry Robot fuzz is not inspired by any particular fuzz, as it was conceived by a pedal designer who was not particularly enthralled by any other fuzz designs out there. Some of you may scoff at the notion of someone who doesn’t like Fuzz Faces or Big Muffs, but hey, we all have our preferences, and how else are great things born, other than with a desire to create something that doesn’t already exist? Hungry Robot also appears to be working on a synth-based pedal, so keep your eyes and ears open for that one.
Fuzzes make me all happy and tingly inside, and Magnetic Effects has got me feeling that special feeling. They have seemed somewhat scarce when I searched for them online, but they recently joined the Pro Guitar Shop family and I have a feeling I’ll be enjoying a White Atom very soon. The White Atom is a delicious fuzz capable of everything from classic rock fuzziness to warped, gated madness. Volume, tone, and gain knobs do what they usually do, and the Texture control opens up the pedal even more for a wide range of fuzzy goodness. Dressed in handsome black and white, this pedal is wearing a tuxedo but it’s ready to mess things up. If you’re a Tone Bender aficionado, check out the Solar Bender, a strikingly beautiful orange and yellow fellow that will get you classic MKII tones and more. Love heavy, dramatic tremolo? The Electrochop will get you there with its Vox Repeat Percussion-inspired undulations, albeit with more control via the Volume knob and Rate switch. The unique Double Feature houses both a fuzz and filter device to give you classic fuzz and “parked wah” tones. All in all, Magnetic Effects has an awesome lineup, and I’m thrilled they’ve hopped across the pond from England to be a little more accessible here in the good ol’ U.S. of A.
Recently, I acquired two new pedals that kept me occupied for days in my magic music loft. I was not familiar with Tomkat pedals before I heard the Day Dreamer delay-reverb unit, but I knew I had to have it. For good measure, I bought the Killer fuzz to go along with it, because no new pedal should be alone. The Day Dreamer features a spring-ish reverb coupled with an analog-style delay. The effects can be used together or separately, but the real magic happens when you use them together. The reverb seems to be inspired by both spring and ambient types, as it offers more decay than you’d find in a typical spring tank. There is an inherent brightness to it that is not unpleasant in any way, but adds a beautiful sheen to every note and chord played. The delay rolls along in the background, with enough presence for rhythmic patterns if you want it, but I prefer lighter signal settings to get more of a background cloud effect. The real fun happens when you enter Freefall mode, which happens when you step and hold on the bypass switch to get gnarly self-oscillation. The Day Dreamer is a terrific option for the player seeking beautiful, unique ambience without spending thousands of dollars on a bevy of reverb and delays pedals. The Killer is, well, killer. It’s a silicon Fuzz Face-inspired design that freaking rips, and it also responds great to guitar volume knob variations for a wide range of dirty tones.
The pedal business is a daunting world. A lot of people with a soldering iron and a dream set down the path to become a pedal guru; some of them make it, some of them don’t. Great things have small beginnings—even all-time greats like EarthQuaker Devices have humble origins. If any of you who are reading this dream of creating your own pedal masterpieces, keep your head up, and keep working at it. There’s always room for one more, and generations of musicians wait to be inspired by your creative designs; maybe one day, we’ll be reading about you.