Size can be deceptive. Bruce Lee stood 5’7” and weighed about 140 pounds, but he was one of the fiercest fighters the world had ever seen. Taller and bulkier opponents were no match for his pure strength, agility and fighting acumen. Indeed, he was a powerhouse without looking like one. There’s nothing I like more than a little thing that does a lot, and the Chesapeake by Alexander Pedals fits a lot of tone into a small package. In a sturdy metal housing no bigger than most overdrive pedals, it has Ensemble, Dimension, and Rotary modulation modes complete with stereo capability and tap tempo with the ability to use an external tap switch. The graphics make me want softshell crab, and I’m not even a seafood guy.
Often times, the knobs on a pedal have a very limited range. At the lowest setting on the dials, one hears no discernible effect. Move them up halfway, and things get over the top. Not so with the Chesapeake. The knobs actually function as they should, with the depth knob revealing everything from subtle shades of chorus to wild, seasick vibrato on more extreme settings. The rate knob doubles as a level function. If you hold the bypass switch, then adjust the level, the pedal will default to that level setting. It’s a very cool way to add a level control without adding another knob, so kudos to Alexander for that.
Ensemble mode yields classic, single-voice chorus sounds. All the classic ‘80s pop songs are there, and you can get subtle or extreme by using the color knob. I preferred the color knob around halfway for a noticeable chorus tone that didn’t take over my signal. Dimension mode adds a second chorus voicing that sweeps opposite from the first, making for a less dramatic chorus. In this mode, the color knob controls how bright the chorus effect is. Rotary mode adds Leslie-esque sounds, as well as tremolo and vibrato, or a mixture of the aforementioned. The sound you get depends largely on where you set the color and mix knobs. You’ll want to experiment in order to find out which sounds you prefer in each mode, as there are many from which to choose.
The Chesapeake’s mix knob does much more than you would expect from a standard mix knob. In Ensemble and Dimension modes, higher mix settings deliver more dramatic vibrato, while similar settings in Rotary mode unlock warbly tremolo sounds, making the Chesapeake a one-stop modulation shop. My favorite setting was in Rotary mode with a high mix. The gooey, warbly vibrato-tremolo hybrid sounded glorious with a touch of reverb—the luscious, lo-fi clean tone put me in a trance for the better part of an hour.
While I didn’t use the Chesapeake’s TRS stereo function, I ran it before my Fulltone SupaTrem 2—a true stereo pedal—so that split it in stereo, and what a glorious sound it was. With a hint of overdrive added, and some reverb and delay, I was living in a Pink Floyd dream state.
Playing through the Chesapeake is like diving into an ocean of beautiful modulation, then discovering an underwater cave featuring even more goodness. It’s pedalboard friendly, has all the features you’ll ever need, sounds great, and looks cool. Other pedals may have more knobs and switches, but they can’t match the beautiful simplicity and practicality of this pedal. If you’re looking for a modulation machine that’s a cut above, take a swim in the Chesapeake.
What We Like
Great variety of modulation sounds. Quality build. Tap tempo with subdivisions and external tap capability. Stereo if you want it.
If you’re scared of crabs, they’re on the pedal, so be careful.