REVIEW: DigiTech HardWire pedals

Digitech’s HardWire series incorporates rugged, stage-ready features so simple yet obvious that it’s kinda surprising that they’re not standard issue on every pedal everywhere. The main marketing point of these pedals is that they are true bypass, meaning the signal is completely diverted away from the effect circuit when the unit is in bypass mode, unlike a lot of pedals. The benefit of this is that if you switch the pedal off, it’s like it was never there, which is especially desirable if you use short cords and want to maintain the integrity of the signal.

But there’s much more to this series than a hardwire bypass. Each pedal in includes a stick-on hook and loop base pad, a glow in the dark sticker, and, with the exception of the tuner, each comes with a cover which slips down over the controls, preventing them from getting moved and messing up your settings. Battery access is underneath the stomp switch – press one of the two side pins in with the tip of a guitar cord and the pedal pops right off the base.

The pedals all also incorporate circuitry to increase the operating voltage headroom above that of typical pedals for clipping-free performance while also keeping a constant voltage through the life of the battery.

I got my hands on a batch of HardWire pedals to review for Mixdown Magazine, and here are my thoughts. Click on any of the titles to buy the pedal from Music123.

DigiTech HardWire Series HT-2 Chromatic Tuner Standard

Extremely visible on stage and very sturdy, the HT-2 has two outputs: Thru and Mute. If you use Thru, the signal passes to the amp while you’re tuning – especially handy for discovering new tunings or doing guitar setup work. The Mute output cuts off the signal to the amp for silent tuning, which is ideal for the stage. The tuner operates in Normal and Strobe modes.

DigiTech HardWire Series CM-2 Tube Overdrive Guitar Effects Pedal Standard

The CM-2 seems to take inspiration from a certain popular green overdrive pedal. One of my favourite stompers is the Digitech Bad Monkey, which is also inspired by the little green wonder. The CM-2 takes the general sound of the Bad Monkey and beefs it up, then adds a mode switch for Classic or Modified operation. Classic mode is great for vintage textures or as a solo boost into an already overdriven amp. Modified mode excels at edgier, more hi-fi tones and works especially well through an amp’s clean channel as the main distortion tone. I would have no hesitation in adding this to my pedalboard if my Bad Monkey ever choked on a banana.

DigiTech HardWire Series TL-2 Metal Distortion Guitar Effects Pedal Standard

A very extreme pedal, whether you want chunky death metal rhythm tones or a lively shred lead voice. This one works best on a clean amp setting. Tone controls include high, low, plus a concentric midrange control with sweepable frequency for scooping out the mids, Dimebag style, or cranking them up for some Slayer grind. You can also dial in a great ‘notched wah wah’ sound which instantly invites controllable feedback. The mode switch toggles between Tight and Loose modes, which govern how much sag you’ll hear in the bass range.

DigiTech HardWire DL-8 Delay/Looper Guitar Effects Pedal Standard

A huge range of very usable delay and loop settings, plus true stereo operation with discreet inputs and outputs. Modes are Reverse, Modulated, Analog, Slapback, Lo Fi, Tape, and Loop, and there’s a whopping 8 seconds of delay time. I compared the Analog mode to my favourite true analog delay, and it stood up very favourably, although the quickest delay time is 180 milliseconds, which may be too slow for country players in need of a good slapback delay. The DL-8 can sound as hi fi or as garage as you need it to, and thrives on being placed in a valve amp’s effect loop.

DigiTech HardWire Series RV-7 Reverb Guitar Effects Pedal Standard

Another true stereo time-based pedal, and a great companion to the DL-8, this one uses Lexicon reverbs including Room, Plate, Reverse, Modulated, Gated, Hall, and Spring, and there are controls for Level, Decay and Livliness. The Modulated mode sounds great but the real star is the Reverse selection. It’s worth buying the pedal for this setting alone – don’t worry, you can write a song around it later. You can also choose to have the reverbs tail off naturally when you switch the effect into bypass mode – the switch for this mode is accessible within the battery compartment.