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May 12, 2010

SolidGoldFX Stompbox Review

If you are interested in guitar stompboxes, you must choose between two different worlds: you’ve got the mass-produced effect pedals that use more or less average-quality components for cost savings reasons, and you have boutique stompboxes produced in small quantities, using selected components, and hand-crafted by guitar FX enthusiasts. SolidGoldFX stompboxes – assembled by a tech guru from Quebec named Greg Djerrahian – fall in the second category.

SolidGoldFX

Before creating his own effect pedals, Greg made a name for himself customizing serial models from other brands to improve their sound quality. For example, he turned the awful Metal Zone into a highly musical high-gain pedal, which certainly cannot be considered a minor achievement.

Being a vintage stompbox collector, he decided to create the SolidGoldFX product range based on his own old-school collection and with the goal of offering modern-vintage sounds. His products have a vintage soul but feature a modern approach regarding dynamic response, sound clarity and respect of the instrument’s personality.

We’ll try to give you a good overview of the SolidGoldFX product range in this review. On today’s agenda, you’ll find two overdrive/distortion pedals (High Octane and Super Drive), two fuzz effects (Formula 69 and Formula 76) and a couple of boosters (Nitro and Rock Machine).

But before plugging in the guitar, let’s take the products out of their golden boxes and compare them.

Finish and Assembly

SolidGoldFXSolidGoldFX stompboxes come in rugged metal housings that recall MXR products in size and look, be it the compact (most of the pedals) or king-size models (Formula 76). Unfortunately, like MXR products, you’ll need a screwdriver to replace the batteries or use them with an external power supply, when this feature is provided, of course.

Each pedal has a silkscreen with a different color on the front panel and the typeface evokes the pedal’s spirit. For example, the Formula 69, which is a typical 60’s fuzz, uses psychedelic letters, while the Formula 76, which is more into the 70’s, recalls the disco years. The silkscreen is very clear, which we really appreciate, considering that most boutique manufacturers hand paint the name of the controls on the housing. In this case, the silkscreen looks professional and it is easily readable, except for the Super Drive whose jam-packed design makes reading the control functions a bit difficult.

Every pedal comes with adhesive plastic pads and it is up to the user to decide if he wants to use them or not. That’s a nice detail if you have a pedalboard and want to fix Velcro strips on the bottom.

Each pedal is provided with a spec sheet that includes an explanation of the concept behind it, a description of all its controls and the pedal’s assembly in detail.

That’s how we discovered that all SolidGoldFX have true bypass and use high-quality components: Neutrik I/O connectors, specially selected potentiometers (you’ll feel it as soon as you turn them) and gold-plated PCBs (does it have anything to do with the brand’s name?). The on/off status is indicated by one or several large, white and very (very) bright LEDs.

Enough chatter, it’s time to see if the stompboxes’ features are on the same level as their look.

Now let’s take a closer look at each stompbox…

Conclusion

All six stompboxes we tested have unquestionable positive features. I strongly recommend you to test them if you are looking for vintage-sounding products with higher versatility than the original models. The icing on the cake is that all stompboxes can be combined together to create more complex sound colors. For example, the Super Drive is transfigured by the Rock Machine, and I even achieved a Kyuss-like sound mixing these two pedals with the Formula 69!

Regardless of whether you are a blues, rock or stoner fan, give these made-in-Montreal stompboxes a chance. Bloody good tone guaranteed!

Advantages:

  • High-class assembly
  • Respect of the guitar’s own sound
  • Superb sound quality
  • Can be combined with each other

Drawbacks:

  • Controls’ layout on the Super Drive and Formula 76
  • Silk-screen on the Super Drive a bit unclear
  • Rock Machine requires special power-on precautions

To read the full detailed review see:  SolidGoldFX Stompbox Review

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March 17, 2010

TC Electronic PolyTune Review

When it comes to guitar tuner pedals innovations don’t come by everyday, so when TC Electronic announced the PolyTune, a pedal that allows you to tune all strings at once, we got curious…

TC Electronic PolyTuneIn the beginning, there was the tuner. It is pretty easy to use: just strum a string and it will show you if it is is too high or too low; tune the string and repeat the same procedure for the rest of the strings. The stompbox format has been readily adopted by live guitar players because it allows them to easily tune their guitar between songs. In fact, when you are playing live on stage the less you spend time tuning your guitar, the more your show gains in intensity. A gig without good mood is like a cake without the icing!

As soon as the new TC Electronic PolyTune stomp box was announced, all guitar players started to imagine how nice it would be to be able to check the tuning of all strings simultaneously. Most of the time, only one or two strings are out of tune and with a standard tuner you always have to check the strings one by one to know which one of them is slightly out of tune. Hence you lose time checking five perfectly in tune strings. With the PolyTune, you only need to strum all open strings just once and you immediately know which one needs to be adjusted. So, in the end, if you think about it – it takes you six times less time to tune your guitar than with a standard tuner. That’s a lot of time saved, especially for those musicians for whom tuning isn’t instinctive…

But let’s check first how this miraculous stompbox works…

Conclusion

TC Electronic PolyTuneTC Electronic incredibly managed to launch a totally new product in the tuner pedal market, which is quite a feat. The polyphonic mode displaying all six strings at once saves guitar players lots of time on stage. The manufacturing quality is impeccable and the product is packed with clever ideas like the auto adjustment of LED intensity, the power output and the dual needle/caterpillar display in monophonic mode. One thing is for sure: all competitors suddenly look a lot older and the PolyTune offers much more for the same price (about $100).

Advantages:

  • Polyphonic mode
  • Two display views in monophonic mode
  • Power output
  • True bypass
  • High-quality footswitch
  • Accurate and easily readable LED display
  • LEDs with automatic intensity adjustment
  • Easily accessible battery
  • Nice design
  • For guitar and bass
  • Drop tuning up to five semitones

Drawback:

  • Not compatible with open tunings in polyphonic mode

To read the full detailed review see:  TC Electronic PolyTune

March 9, 2010

Suhr Effects Pedals – Kokoboost – Shiba Drive -Riot

To see more great guitar gear videos visit us here at our video vault!

March 1, 2010

[NAMM 2010] Danelectro Cool Cat Series Effect Pedals

To see more great guitar gear videos visit us here at our video vault!

February 23, 2010

[NAMM 2010] Tech21 VT Bass Deluxe Pedal

Watch this and other videos/news from NAMM 2010 here.

July 10, 2009

TC Electronic Nova Repeater Pedal

TC Electronics presents to us their new Nova Repeater pedal.

To see more exclusive video demos visit Audiofanzine Videos.

June 8, 2009

TC Electronic NDR-1 Nova Drive Pedal

TC Electronic presents their new NDR-1 Nova Drive.

To see more exclusive video demos visit Audiofanzine Videos.

April 21, 2009

Video Demo: Source Audio Hothand & Soundblox Pedals

Source Audio presents their Hothand & Soundblox motion-controlled effects that use micro-machined motion sensors to translate movement and position into control signals for use in guitar effects.

To see more exclusive video demos visit Audiofanzine Videos.

April 7, 2009

Musikmesse: TC Electronic Nova Pedals

TC Electronic presents their Nova Repeater and Nova Drive pedals.

tc-electronics-pedals

For more Musikmesse videos and news visit Audiofanzine Musikmesse

April 2, 2009

Boss Booth at Musikmesse

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Who wants that big DD-7  🙂 ?

For more Musikmesse photos and news visit Audiofanzine Musikmesse

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