“We subconsciously want to be the person who uses that one piece of gear that everyone notices.”
When it comes to our pedalboards, we’re all looking for two things. Clearly we want to gather the best pedals that help ourselves express the music we want to play. Second, we subconsciously want to be the person who uses that one piece of gear that everyone notices. Sometimes it’s a visual indicator, as your “gear-snob” bass player examines your pedalboard with a head scratch, followed up with a “where did you get that?” Or maybe it’s the unsettling moment where someone expects to hear the typical overdriven sound of a Tube Screamer, or the familiar wash of a Fuzz Face.
While it’s nice to have the staples of great tone in the line-up, sometimes it’s refreshing to have something that doesn’t react the same way, or challenges us as players to take a sound and make it special. At the end of the day, isn’t that what it’s all about? Crafting a tone and feel that is all our own, while having fun at the same time?
Here are five indescribable pedals that will have your pedalboard stand out, both physically and tonally.
Walrus Audio’s Janus
Sometimes there are pedals that look amazing artistically and spec-sheet wise, however their controls seem a little daunting. However, when you have a company as adept and dignified as Walrus Audio, there isn’t a gamble in usability. Standing in a sleek white box with blue artwork, the Janus is a fuzz/tremolo pedal with dual joystick controls. Yes, this pedal not only comes with knobs and switches, but it also has two joysticks. Similar to a video game controller, each joystick has a separate X and Y-axis that can alter the tone of both effects. The control for the tremolo alters the rate and the depth, while the fuzz control changes the amount of fuzz and the tone. Plus, having fluid joysticks allows for synth-like swells and unique applications.
EarthQuaker Devices’ Rainbow Machine
When it comes to quality pedals at a great price with unparalleled features and tones, one of the best companies to trust is EarthQuaker Devices. Known for their exceptional pedal artwork, these pedals stand out on their own. However one of their loudest pedals, both visually and sonically happens to be the Rainbow Machine. Wrapped in a hot pink metal casing, the Rainbow Machine is a polyphonic pitch mesmerizer. With a disclaimer that this pedal is only for “experimenters, adventurists, and noisemakers,” the Rainbow Machine is designed to stand out amongst synthetic tones. Essentially, this pedal uses digital oscillators to create real-time pitch shifting. Modifications to the tone include adding an octave below or about the primary tone, adjusting the lag time between wet and dry signals, metallic digital flanging, and it can even be used as a basic chorus. You know, if you’re into that sort of thing.
What started as a harmless collaboration between Fuzzrocious Pedals and Electro-Faustus has created something heinously beautiful, and it needs to be experienced to be fully appreciated. The Greyfly is a combination of Electro-Faustus’ Blackfly “spring activated instrument” with Fuzzrocious’ Grey Stache fuzz pedal. For those of you that didn’t know, the Blackfly is a basically an amplified noise machine with four springs arranged from a low to high pitch that can be amplified. Slapping, plucking, scrapping, and any other noise-inducing movement to the springs or housing would create a sonic texture. Then in conjunction with the springs Fuzzrocious added their signature fuzz pedal into the mix to add a physical aspect to their fuzz tone. While the resulting tone is wildly unique, the visuals of this pedal alone should intrigue any player. Plus, it adds a hands-on dynamic to the sound of your tone.
Dr. Scientist’s Frazz Dazzler
Crash-landing from outer space to a pedalboard near you, the Frazz Dazzler is one of the most unique pedals out there. Uncovered in a much more subtle housing than the other pedals on this list, Dr. Scientist’s fuzz pedal brings a lot of electrical tom-foolery to the party. The Frazz Dazzler is a dual-channel, aggressive fuzz with a wide gain range. I know what you’re saying: Kyle, oh wise one, what makes this fuzz stand out among the other fuzz pedals I’ve tried before? Well, for one this pedal uses a unique circuit to allow extremely high gain with a built-in noise gate. This pedal is full force, all of the time. Secondly both channels use a variable regulator for a voltage starving system, which in regular terms means that the pedal can intermittently clip the sound, almost like it’s glitching. With a side jack for an expression pedal, this pedal takes a t-t-turn on what f-f-fuzz pedals are capable of.
Boredbrain’s Patchulator 8000
Now, maybe you have all of the pedals you want, you’re in love with every single pedal you have. However, that brings up the age-old question of how to signal chain all of these pedals. You can do with the usual, boring technique of patch cables, you know, if you like that sort of thing. But what if there was a pedal that allowed you to test different signal changes, while making you feel like a combination of the “van guy” from every heist movie ever made and Dr. Frankenstein? Well you’re in luck. Let me introduce the Patchulator 8000, an eight-channel mini patchbay. This pedal allows you to plug all of your inputs into this central hub, and through the use of the green patch cables you can experiment with signal flow and routing. Plus, it makes it look like if anyone even looks at your pedalboard it would just implode, which is always cool.
If you’re looking for something useful yet entirely unique, check one of these five pedals out!