Pedal Winners of 2017
Initially the article was going to be ‘Best Guitar gear of 2017’ but due to the amount and quality of releases this year the article would have dragged on and on, so I decided to split it – today looking at the best of pedals this year that we have either purchased or reviewed.
Best Pedals –
This is a rough one, as there have been so many releases that I have tried and also a massive number that we haven’t so far. The issue is also that there are just SO many releases in a year that it seems almost unfair to say that the best Fuzz beats out the best Modulation. So how do we do this? I have picked a couple of my favourite pedals of the year, not from all categories but some of the pedals that really stood above and beyond the rest.
Firstly, the Pelican Noiseworks Half Horse (we have featured them previously) has to be my favourite fuzz of the year that I got my hands on. Great controls, great guys at the company and an awesome glitchy secret mode that is great to play around with a bit of delay. I will be posting up a review of the Half Horse in the New Year, so keep an eye out for that.
Walrus Audio seem to be always innovating and their drives like the 385 have always been appealing. However, one of the things that I don’t play is too much delay heavy/ambient style music, it just doesn’t seem to agree with me at all and the idea of delay just really doesn’t appeal to me. But something stirred in me when I saw the ARP-87, I haven’t played it yet but the fact that Walrus made something that appeals to a delay-phobe like me really says something. I will be ordering one of these soon through Walrus and will get up a review sometime in the new year for you to check out.
This year seems to be a bit of a year for the weird – so it would be rough to not have a category for that – taking out the prize for the best weird pedal, I would have to hand it to the folks at EQD, the Data Corruptor that I tried in store was super weird and would fit fantastically on the pedalboard of anyone who is experimenting with sound and noise.
Best re-release pedal
For me, there are two main contenders in this – the BOSS DS-1 40th Anniversary and the EHX Green Russian Reissue. Both are classic pedals and have been heard in numerous albums and live. For me, the DS-1 has aged significantly and with the amount of drives and distortion on the market it has kind of fallen off pedalboards as a mainstay, so in saying that the EHX Green Russian is the winner of best re-release for this year. Those awesome Muff tones with those Russian voicings are something that many players have chased, but not been able to afford with the $500-odd price-tag on an original. Since it hit my board it hasn’t left and with it’s small profile and big output I can’t imagine that it will any time soon.
Note – Well, since writing this the OpAmp Big Muff has been released, the ‘Smashing Pumpkins Muff’ so it will be interesting to see what it is like. Given the quality of the Green Russian and it’s ability to mimic the original I would say that this will be another awesome installment from EHX – now if only I could find space on my board for another Muff…
Best new range
The TC Smorgasboard of Tones was released last year, but they have followed up this year with the Analog Armada which includes the 3rd Dimension (a Boss Dimension-C remake) as well as a bunch of dirt and modulation. I haven’t personally played any of these, but if they are anything like the Smorgasboard range, they will absolutely kill at their price point. I did own the Prophet Delay from the previous range and they are seriously well made pedals, bridging the gap between cheap (and potentially unreliable) Chinese made pedals and the single stomp Boss type range. They are build like absolute bricks and will last you for a very long time should you choose to put them on your board.
The best sales may yet to come in Australia, but from what I have seen, the best deals can often be found overseas. While I would usually advocate for local buying and support of the industry it is exceptionally tough when things like the Digitech Trio sells for $65 AUD in the States but retails at close to $300 here, even with postage it comes in at less that $100. The best deals that I found this year were the Black Friday deals that a lot of smaller builders put on in late November. I picked up gear from Pelican Noiseworks and Mr Black and was tempted by gear from Walrus Audio and the range of sales from Sweetwater. If you are looking for tonal experiments or wanting to pick up a boutique pedal I would be advising to save up your dollars come late November 2018 and take advantage of the sales. I use Shopmate (from Australia Post) as a mail forwarder for those companies who only offer postage within the USA, postage for a pedal is usually less than $30.
What have been your pedals of the year, was it something released this year or something that you only first tried this year?