James Ryan rocks the Roger Mayer Voodoo TC Octavia

Check out this great video of Aussie guitar monster James Ryan showcasing the Roger Mayer Voodoo TC Octavia. I love this pedal! I used it to record a song which I’m currently adding nicer-sounding drums to, and then it’ll be ready to go. But don’t wait for my track – click on the video below and hear the Voodoo TC Octavia now! In Australia, Roger Mayer pedals are distributed by Guitar Toyz.

GEAR REVIEW: Roger Mayer Concorde + Treble Booster

Ok, you’ve got your fuzz, your overdrive, your distortion and your clean boost. That’s all, right? Wrongo. The treble booster is an almost-forgotten member of the distortion family, and without it we wouldn’t have such classic tones as Black Sabbath’s ‘Paranoid,’ pretty much all of Led Zeppelin 1, and everything Brian May’s ever done. So what’s a treble booster and why is it different to just turning up the treble knob on the amp? Well not quite a fuzz, not quite an EQ, treble boosters were typically based on very simple circuits and they promoted the idea of boosting the strength of the signal to the amp while tailoring its tone curve to attain maximum tonal goodness.

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INTERVIEW: Roger Mayer on Jimi Hendrix

L-R: Roger Mayer, Mitch Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix, Noel Redding

The boutique pedal boom of today could very well be traced back to one man: Roger Mayer. Mayer was building unique pedals for players like Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and Jimi Hendrix back when those venerable players were shaping the future of the guitar. Once upon a time his pedals were the exclusive domain of a select few. Now, though, Mayer’s pedals are readily available, and they build on the legacy and sound of his classic work, updating them for the future while still paying tribute to the past.

How did you meet Jimi Hendrix?

I met Jimi a few days after my 21st birthday at a club called the Bag of Nails in London. He was playing there and I went to him after the performance, introduced myself and said ‘I’ve got this new sound you might be interested in.’ I also told him I’d been working with Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck over the years and produced some very different fuzz boxes. Jimi was very interested and invited me to come down in a few weeks to a gig at the Chiselhurst Caves where he was performing, and that’s where I first showed him a prototype of the Octavia, which was the new sound. Jimi tried it out in the dressing room and was very interested in the new sound. He also mentioned he was going to be making a new single. He invited me down to another gig in about a week’s time, and he said that after the gig we were gonna go back to Olympic Studios. So that all happened and after the gig we went back to Olympic Studios and that’s when we recorded the solos to Purple Haze and Fire. After that we became close friends and started hanging out, and as they say, the rest is history!

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NEWS: My playing on GuitarToyz.com.au – Roger Mayer pedal demo

Hey, here’s something you might wanna check out. While you’re over at GuitarToyz.com.au listening to all the awesome sound clips and videos of James Ryan shredding up a storm through Roger Mayer pedals, look down in the corner of the X Series page and you’ll stumble across a clip of me playing the Mongoose X. It’s just a little demo I whipped up in the process of reviewing the pedal for Australian Guitar magazine. Thanks to Jay from Guitar Toyz for thinking enough of the clip to post it, and thanks of course to Roger for making awesome pedals!

Here’s the link: Guitartoyz.com.au

There are also links to a whole bunch of my reviews for Roger Mayer pedals for Australian Guitar magazine. You can see those here.

REVIEW: Roger Mayer Metalloid

The idea of mixing entirely different sounds for the high and low end isn’t a new one – bass players have been doing it for years and Roger Mayer experimented with this technique on Jimi Hendrix recording sessions way back in the day.

Ever wanted to split your sound off into two distinct ranges with different distortion levels and EQ settings? Me too, and it’s something I sometimes mess about with in software amp sims. Oh how I wish something similar could be achieved with my real amp… well lo and behold, Roger Mayer to the rescue! The Metalloid gives you two separate distortions, one for the low end and the other the highs. Each distortion band has a drive control and an EQ control, while on the back of the pedal are mix and output controls – the former allows you to set the perfect blend between the two distortions, while the latter controls the pedal’s output level (which you can use to push a tube preamp into meltdown). There are a pair of buffered outputs for driving two amps, plus a true bypass output if you’re of the ‘everything must be true bypass’ persuasion. The great thing about including both here is that you can select the one that’s best for your needs. The true bypass out is great for short cable runs and minimal pedalboards, while the buffered outs maintain signal strength over long cable runs, and to my ears they just sound that little bit beefier.

The best way to start using the Metalloid is to turn the mix knob all the way in one direction, tweak that tone, turn it the other way, tweak that one, then find the ideal setting on the mix control and make any small adjustments as necessary.

Although this pedal is called the Metalloid, it’s not really a metal distortion as such. It’s a little too woolly for modern Bullet For My Valentine or Lamb of God styles, for instance. It works much better for more old-school gain styles from Sabbath through to 80s Megadeth, but it’s even better for fine-tuning the mix of bite and punch for low-gain country, blues and indie sounds. I actually found most of my favourite settings residing at this lower end of the gain range, using the output control to punish my Marshall’s tube preamp if I needed a little more distortion. Medium gain ranges sound great (especially with the high end gain around 6 with tone on full and the low end around 4 with tone around 6), but anything past 7 gets a bit woofy – a sound you could really use the hell out of for stoner rock or mid 90s grunge. Still, I can’t help feeling that the Metalloid’s greatest quality is subtlety rather than over-the-top distortion, and you’re missing out on a lot of what it has to offer if you just crank it up all the way. Roger Mayer’s pedals have always been about the small details anyway.

My favourite sound actually came from pairing the Metalloid on lower gain settings with my Marshall DSL50’s Lead channel, with the amp’s gain on 5 and the Metalloid’s output about halfway up. Normally in a situation like this I’d use a distortion or overdrive pedal with the volume cranked to work as a boost, but in this case it works great with a flat volume level. With the treble tone at around 6 and the bass tone at about 4, this is where the high notes really thickened up while keeping low notes tight and chunky. Reaching for my Ibanez Talman (which has Ibanez Super 58 PAF-style humbuckers), lead work with the neck pickup sounded three-dimensional, in a Brian May kinda way. The effect isn’t quite like double tracking but there’s a similar feeling of space and depth to that which you get from a slapback delay – minus the delay. Next I achieved a similar effect but a little more open and less compressed by using the Metalloid’s output control maxed out to put some hurt on the Crunch channel. Finally, disengaging the Crunch button on the Marshall and flipping to single coil mode brought out the SRV lurking within my amp – hairy fuzz on the high notes, and a tight whomp on the lower ones. I couldn’t resist turning up the reverb and fumbling through SRV’s ‘Rude Mood.’

While I kinda with the Metalloid had a thicker, more grindy distortion tone and perhaps the ability to tweak the midrange too, the lower gain settings in particular will appeal to a huge range of players, especially in the blues, country and indie realms, while the middle section of the gain range is great for classic rock and early metal styles.

Roger Mayer
Guitar Toyz (Australian distributor)