Looking for noisy, spacey, atypical guitar pedal effects...
November 26, 2012 7:01 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for guitar pedals that can create noisy, spacey effects like this that can be manipulated live and while recording.

I'm just getting my feet wet recording. I'm sort of old school and want to spend less time in front of the computer to get sounds, and more time hunched over pedals and knobs. I like this example because you can strike a few notes then set to work turning knobs and creating atmosphere.

My interest is stuff like Roy Montgomery Kevin Drumm and Charlambides and other bands that blend folky, spacey and noisy elements. I tend to play loud and rely on amp feedback. I'm looking for pedals that complement that.

I'm also looking for wacked out pedals that don't sound anything like guitar. Or at least, not immediately recognizable as popular effects like wah-wah or flange for example.

I like delay pedals, but looking to go beyond the basic fading repeats. I don't want to sound like The Edge. ;)

Also - I'm not looking for loop pedals because I can create loops with Logic Pro...
posted by critzer to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You're probably doing something similar, but I recently got an MXR carbon copy, and when I play through that and an old 90s BOSS DD3, I can get and control sounds very much like these. Also, the DD3 has a dry signal out, which means you can easily use it and another delay independently on the same signal, and it has a hold feature that's great for building up a big spacey sound temporarily. But it is digital. I love the sound of the carbon copy (though it does get a little The Edgey sometimes), but haven't spent as much time messing with it.

I also find it fun to put the signal through a tremelo before the delay because it accentuates the changes in speed you get when you twiddle the knobs.

I hope you'll post some of your music!
posted by activitystory at 7:49 AM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

If I want something quick and dirty to give me that kinda of noise, I use my Boss DD3 (which i got super-cheap :D), with the feedback set to max. Then you basically have a tone generator, and depending on your signal chain, you can go wild and shape it however you like. Screwing around with the delay time does the obvious pitch-shifting, and you can hammer it on and off to give crunchy little staccato breaks. I've had some awesome multi-layered loops going with just that and a couple of fuzz pedals.
posted by Magnakai at 9:44 AM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ever play around with Moog's Moogerfooger line, particularly the Ring Modulator? The great thing about them (aside from the way they sound, of course) are that pretty much every part of the things are controllable via CV, meaning you can link the different Moog effects (or other CV controlled gear such as an analog synth) up for some crazy sync action - or just hook up whawha-style CV expression pedals to 'turn the knobs' with your feet while playing - or if you want to get really fancy, you can use a MIDI-to-CV converter to have endless control possibilities.
posted by item at 10:08 AM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Listen to the sample clips for Strymon's El Capistan digital tape-echo pedal. (And keep an eye out for Effectrode to release a competitor next year.) It's a fantastic pedal and based on your preferences, I think it's something you would really enjoy fiddling with.

As for the broader question of "wacked out pedals that don't sound anything like guitar," I'll reiterate my suggestion from last thread that you ask the folks over at The Gear Page. That's a much better forum with more, and more educated, guitarists than are on AskMe.

In the meantime, my favorites for wacky, non-guitar-sounding pedals are the HOG that was mentioned in your last thread (I own one, and it didn't fit your description in that thread) and Moog's ring modulator, also mentioned last time.

Building from there you can check out Moog's entire line of wacky-sounding Moogerfooger pedals. Another company that specializes in that space is Pigtronix, particularly with their Mothership analog synth. And Electro-Harmonix is a slightly larger and more commercial company that is equally cool, creative, and wacky with many of its products, which are myriad. Check out their Effectology series of blogs (link to latest) which are literally a series of adventures in doing exactly what you're describing: making guitar sound like anything but.

Finally, a plug for WMD's Geiger Counter. If you like kneeling down and fiddling with knobs to create non-guitar sounds, this pedal is for you. I have never encountered a pedal that requires more attention from the user in terms of learning the subtleties of its parameters and controls, but if you're into that the Geiger Counter can be a lot of fun to play with and you'll definitely end up with sounds that other guitarists aren't using.
posted by cribcage at 10:14 AM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Here's a demo of the Ring Mod with the MF FreqBox, all hooked up and modified using a theremin as a carrier oscillator. Here it is in action with a guitar- spacey enough?
posted by item at 10:18 AM on November 26, 2012

If you know your way around a soldering iron, you should make a Feedback Looper (it's not a loop pedal in the sense I think you're using the term).

It does nothing by itself, but when combined with other pedals (choruses, delays, etc.) it feeds the signal from the output of the pedal back into the the effect creating strange noises and awesome non-guitar sounds.

If you want to be able to manipulate it while playing, it wouldn't be that hard to modify it to control the resistance with an expression pedal.

Here's an example of a feedback looper with a whammy pedal

Otherwise, for a cheap non-guitar sound pedal, build/buy an MXR Blue Box and replace the blend pot with a 100k one. It'll produce glitchy square wave sounds.
posted by drezdn at 10:22 AM on November 26, 2012

Well, I'd definitely post this on The Gear Page (aka, TGP), as cribcage suggests. because if it's an effect, that's the community to ask. I say that as a fairly junior member of same community -- the shared guitar pedal/effect knowledge of TGP is pretty amazing.

Let me also suggest a brand new pedal that just came out within the last week or two, the Catalinbread Echorec, a loving recreation of the classic Binson Echorec that was widely used by David Gilmour in the early-to-early middle period of Pink Floyd (Echoes, DSotM, etc.) The link goes to the ProGuitarShop.com site because they have the best demo of this that I'm currently aware of. I believe it will do everything you are asking. I didn't need yet another boutique delay pedal -- I have a Strymon El Cap, and it's also a damn fine delay -- and yet, I ordered an Echored on Black Friday because it just appears to be an awesome, mind-bending sort of delay. YMMV, but check out the demo in the above link and see what you think.
posted by mosk at 10:29 AM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

For a delay, the EHX Deluxe Memory Man is a good value. No shortage of knob twisting fun from subtle to spaced out. They're also fairly commonplace and you might be able to get a deal on one used. And at the risk of being repetitive, aside from being a tremendous source of knowledge, the Gear Page also has a buy/sell section that probably outclasses Ebay as a source of quality used pedals.
posted by Lorin at 10:43 AM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thanks a bunch you guys. These all sound like great pedals. It occurs to me one important thing is like activitystory pointed out, what I want is a persistent signal to start with - the 'hold' feature that will play infinite repeats or an infinite tone to manipulate. So I guess I need something like a DD3 + something else in the chain to add in.
posted by critzer at 10:52 AM on November 26, 2012

Same as what Magnakai pointed out -

"If I want something quick and dirty to give me that kinda of noise, I use my Boss DD3 (which i got super-cheap :D), with the feedback set to max. Then you basically have a tone generator, and depending on your signal chain, you can go wild and shape it however you like."
posted by critzer at 10:53 AM on November 26, 2012

For a feedback loop you might look at Fairfield Circuitry's, and for another infinite-tone option you might look at EHX's Freeze. Both have good demos on YouTube.

That's another tip. Find a pedal or effect that's interesting to you and look for YouTube samples, and then browse through the similar-to videos in the right column. Then keep wandering. You can go on some odd, fun discovery trips through YouTube that way and you might find a sound that strikes you.
posted by cribcage at 11:00 AM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Strymon Timeline
Endangered Audio 4096 Delay
Catalinbread Echorec
Eventide TimeFactor and ModFactor
Electro-Harmonix Freeze
Any Moogerfooger units you can afford
posted by anazgnos at 2:58 PM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

You could also look into modding or tweaking any cheap pedals you can get your hands on. For example, I picked up a Joyo Flanger fairly recently (for about $40 US), and opened it up and discovered that each control knob had an internal trimpot associated with it. Tweaking those trimpots got me a wider range of sounds, some of which were definitely heading into space.
posted by soundguy99 at 8:19 PM on November 26, 2012

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