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Gear Review: TRUETONE’s 1Spot PRO CS7

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I was looking for a dependable, flexible and most importantly quiet power supply for my secondary pedalboard — Boss Loop Station, EHX Freeze, Arion SD4, DigiTech PDS-1002 and a TCE Wiretap. I had heard about TRUETONE’s new “pro” line from a friend of mine who was contemplating buying a VoodooLab Mondo I was selling — I’d trimmed my big board down, stepping down to a Walrus Audio Aetos power brick.

Best intentions aside, I eventually realized that (of course) I was going to need an additional power supply. I liked the Aetos both functionally (keeps things quiet, doesn’t get hot, bright blue LEDs so I know when it’s on) and aesthetically, but instead of just grabbing another one, I went trawling on Reverb for some other alternatives. I’d been through most of the VoodooLab series at one time or another, and have never had a bad experience with one, but I always balked at the prices. And, yes, the Walrus Audio power bricks are over-priced, too, but I found mine for an almost literal steal on Reverb, so there!

Anyway, I’ve been through several Dunlop DC Bricks and the various Chinese knock-offs (the quietest of which was the first one I purchased: a Mooer Micro). What I wanted was something with the features of the VL’s, but with a lower price tag and, preferably, a more compact size. I’m using an amptop HoleyBoard for the ‘extra’ pedals, so it needs to be something I can strap under the board and still allow enough clearance for the feet of the HoleyBoard to sit evenly on a flat surface. I remembered that my friend had been happy with the PRO CS12 he’d picked up instead of the Mondo, so I hit the wilds of Reverb until I found a great deal on a nearly-new CS7.

Sorry for the long wind-up, but the pitch is this: the PRO CS7 is great. Maybe not as pretty as the Aetos, but who’s looking underneath my pedalboard anyway? Plus, with all of its great voltage options, I’m seriously thinking about switching places between the CS7 and the Aetos, as the Walrus Audio supply has everything I need for my loop/sample/mangle board and the CS7 would allow me to run a couple of my main pedals at higher voltages for more headroom. I hope this review was helpful. Please visit my Reverb store to check out some of the funky gear (always coming and going, you know how it is) — and rock on!

Gear Review: Union Tube & Transistor “Swindle” Distortion

swindle-1With a name derived from its Sex Pistols-inspired color scheme, the “Swindle” distortion pedal from UT&T seems designed to emulate the BIG GUITAR sounds of the ’70s. With just two knobs —  volume (left) and gain (right) — the Swindle delivers a trouser-load of boost and a smoothly ascending gain. The controls are very interactive, eliciting a surprisingly wide range of raunch, and the pedal cleans up quite nicely with a some roll-back on your guitar’s volume knob, making it a prime candidate for an “always-on” tone shaper that can also cut through the mix when it’s time for your solo.

Check out my no-frills video for some Swindle riffage:

Stomp Box Fever #1

So, lately I’ve been on kind of a pedal kick. Since I’ve decided to go back to using a smaller amp — a fond farewell to my Vox AC15 and a big hello to my new purple Vox AC4 (and also to a black 2005 Bad Cat Mini Cat, which I’m still thinking of selling — I just feel so decadent owning three guitar amps … I’m counting the little Fender G-DEC I have, too) — I appear to be making up the difference by acquiring pedals as well as adding old pedals back to my effects chain. Not only am I buying and selling stomp boxes via Reverb and eBay — I’ve bought three, sold three — but I just joined and received my first pedal from Pedal Genie, which is like a Netflix (or Neckflix) for guitar pedals. I got a Caroline Kilobyte, which is supposed to create all sorts of crazy-cool lo-fi sounds. I’m hoping to hook it up early tomorrow morning and wake up the sleepyheads upstairs!

As of right now, my pedal board is rocking a Boss TU-2 chromatic tuner (thanks to Jared Bentley), a Modtone Funk Filter Enveloper (basically an auto-wah), a Visual Sound Garage Tone Drivetrain (an overdrive modeled on my old fave, the Reverend Drivetrain II pedal, used mainly for chunky rhythm), an Electro-Harmonix Soul Food overdrive (mainly for leads),  Visual Sound H2O stereo chorus/delay, and a Mooer Micro-DI with a built-in 4 x 12 cabinet simulator. I’m using the H2O as a delay and signal splitter so that one effects send goes to the amp, while the other goes to the DI and then into the PA board. The little 4-watt Vox then acts as my stage monitor, which I can adjust without affecting the signal that’s going to the board, as the sound man will be working with the signal coming through the pedals and then the DI/cab simulator.

I bought a Caline Pedal Power 5 to eliminate the need for multiple wall-warts or batteries, but it’s much noisier than I expected. I’m going to try a few different configurations and see if that helps, but I still have a one-spot with a multi-plug that I could use. The Caline was supposed to be quieter as it supposedly has isolated circuits for each power output … but it sure doesn’t sound like it.

I’d like to get a good Tremolo and a good Reverb pedal. The only real downside of the Vox AC4 is that it doesn’t have the AC15’s awesome built-in tremolo and reverb. I tend to use tremolo quite a bit, so I’m definitely going to need that … and where would guitarists be with reeve? In any case, I’m torn right now between getting one pedal that is both, like a Strymon Flint or a VHT Melo-Verb — or two separate ones, like an E-H Holy Grail  (reverb) nd a Z-Vex Sonar (tremolo).

Other than getting the humming power supply problem out of the way and the order/configuration of the pedals set, I’m hoping that I can eventually try out a Wampler Thirty Something between the H2O and the DI to see if I can improve my tone through the PA. This pedal, designed by Wampler with the help of Queen’s Brian May, is supposed to be pretty close to a Vox AC30. They are pricey, though, so I’m hoping I can try one out through Pedal Genie before I shell out the big bucks for it.

Well, that’s enough of my nerdy guitar blathering. If you are a guitarist or musical experimenter or any sort, check out some the links above.