Seymour Duncan Shapeshifter Tremolo Pedal

PRESS RELEASE: The Shapeshifter was designed to be the ultimate Tremolo pedal, with all the features players have been asking for. Building on the original Shapeshifter, it’s now significantly smaller and features stereo inputs and outputs, Phase control between outputs and an expanded rate range, while a blinking LED knob (like the one found on the Vapor Trailanalog delay) gives you a visual representation of the tempo, and stays engaged even when the unit is in bypass so you can alter the rate in between parts of your song. Read More …

A Guitarist Answers: What’s That Stick Thing You See On Guitars Sometimes?

This post is a public service announcement for non-guitarists. Especially those who design guitar-based toys or who design cartoon characters. It’s not intended for guitarists who already know this stuff, but they might get a kick out of it anyway, and may even want to refer non-guitarists to it the next time this question comes up.

One thing I’m often asked by non-guitarists is “What’s that stick thing you see on guitars sometimes?” They’re referring to this.

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NAMM 2012: Z.Vex Booth Visit

One of my favourite things about NAMM each year is the Z.Vex booth. There’s always a huge variety of custom-painted pedals on display (I’d love to see my lady Pilgrim Lee do artwork for these pedals – her style would rock on this stuff!), as well as a monster pedalboard (sparkly, which I always love) with all sorts of Z.Vex goodies to try out. And the Z.Vex folks are some of the nicest dudes you’ll ever meet.


Z.Vex had three super-cool new pedals at the NAMM Show this year: the Double Rock, the Loop Gate and the Sonar. In typical Z.Vex fashion, each of these pedals is highly interactive – you can use them in all sorts of different musical situations, and no two players will use them in exactly the same way. That’s part of their charm, and part of why you should set aside a good solid block of playing time when you first get any new Z.Vex pedal home: you never know what unique sounds you’re going to stumble upon when you begin to experiment. It’s also why they’re such great ‘feature’ pedals. It’s certainly possible to use Z.Vex creations as the basis of your main sound for an entire set of rock glory, but they’re equally great when used for a big hero moment for a single song, solo, section, riff or fill. And because pedals like the Fuzz Factory are so interactive, you can write parts around them to incorporate the idiosyncrasies of the effect. For example, anyone who ever plugged in a Fuzz Factory has instantly written a riff with pauses thrown in to allow the pedal’s tunable feedback to ring out in key (or out of it on purpose) in the holes in the music.


Ah, but enough of the geeking out about well-established pedals. Let’s look at the new stuff!


The Sonar 

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COOL GEAR ALERT: Redesigned Catalinbread Semaphore Tremolo

Catalinbread presents the newly redesigned Semaphore Tremolo.
Dateline: October 20th, 2011 Portland, OR

The newly redesigned Semaphore combines a fantastic audio path, with a diverse tremolo that has a bottomless feature set including 8 different waveforms, tap tempo and divide, tap tempo input, and expression pedal capabilities. It’s small footprint combined with a feature set that suits both foot tappers and knob twiddlers alike, makes the Semaphore both versatile and pedalboard friendly.

At the heart of the Semaphore is a lush audio path that incorporates optically controlled JFET gain stages to sculpt a gorgeous clean boost sound, that is present and alive without being peaky or harsh. We’ve quadrupled the number of waveforms, everything is in there from classic square, triangle, and sine waves to ramping sounds, and a mind-bending random shape. And in conjunction with the Shape contour, which morphs the waveshape, numerous waveforms are waiting to be unlocked. The Semaphore sounds fantastic, and the Tap Tempo section is engaging and easy to use. We’ve even included a control voltage input to control the tap tempo with another unit.

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