Each week Tom Whitwell of Music Thing highlights the best of the new music gear that's coming out, as well as noteworthy vintage equipment:
About a year ago, I wrote about boutique synthesizers -- fantastically obscure boxes hand-made by freaks (normally Scandinavian). Compared with synths, effects pedals are relatively simple -- sometimes just a handful of components, a switch and a couple of knobs in a steel box -- so there are loads of people experimenting and making great-looking but expensive pedals for guitarists. Most of the pedals mentioned here are in the $350-$500 range. Sure, that would buy you a dozen Chinese-made Behringer pedals, but would that make you happy?
Disappointingly, Zachary Vex's new Ringtone pedal won't make your vintage strat sound like the Crazy Frog. Instead, it's a 8-step sequencer driving a ring modulator -- the early sound effect used to make the voice of the Daleks, and built into the Commodore 64's SID sound effects chip. It's pretty hard to understand what the Ringtone does, or why it's cool, without watching Zachary's wonderful demo video. Like all boutique pedals, the Ringtone is crazy expensive at $349, but that gets you a hand-made, hand-painted pedal.
After the break: Kitsch Brazilian pedals, butch American pedals, clever English pedals, and a fuzzbox with a joystick...