Time…for Some Reality
You just can’t say the word ‘reality’ without sounding ’90′s. I don’t know why. Maybe it was the ‘virtual reality’ tagline in the 1997 hit (except not) show VR Troopers? Oh. You know you loved it.
Anyway, once upon a time there was a pedal. For legal purposes, we’ll call it the ‘Omega Park.’ It was handmade by a small-town, hard-working, all-American guy in a basement. Beautiful, classic, opportunistic story. He called his company, once again for liability sake, we’ll say…’Mundane Yellows.’ And there was never a better sounding pedal. Guitarists who had never heard a Dumble could now hear a Dumble, thanks to this little handmade circuit. Don’t ask how 7 resistors and diodes can sound like 7 tubes, or how you’re supposed to recognize the pedal sounding like a Dumble if you’ve never heard a Dumble. It makes sense when you play them tones, bro. We marveled at the feat of genius captured in this innovation of magical boutique basement tone. The Gear Page was a buzz, emporium and ebay prices were soaring above retail as the wait time was increasing, and all was right with the world.
Then someone bought, let’s call it, a… Yoko Worst Park. From China. For $30. And they thought, ‘Wow, this sounds almost as good as my Mundane Yellows Omega Park! Hey, the controls are all the same too!’ And they opened up both pedals. And found that they were the same. Or at least, similar enough to make boutique tone junkies everywhere cry like little schoolgirls and go running back to the nearest Guitar Center and play Boss pedals through Roland Cube 6″ amps to convince themselves that Boss pedals really do sound thin and they still have ears tuned enough to recognize the difference between crystal lattice and non-crystal lattice amps.
Now, I don’t have a horse in that race (although the internet awesomeness on every gear message board in existence has made for many an enjoyable evening read as of late). I don’t know whether the seemingly simple explanation of a company taking $30 mass-produced pedals, repainting them, modding a couple components, and then scratching out the name on the circuit board, saying it was a handbuilt original circuit, and selling them for near a 500% markup is true; or if the company’s response that the Chinese company stole the circuit years ago while they were mass-producing circuit boards for him is true. The point is that there were two almost identical pedals…one was overlooked as a cheap Wal-Mart pedal because it said ‘Made in China’, and the other was hailed as the defender of all things tone because it had a cool paint job, and was said to be made in a basement.
To be fair, who knows…maybe those three diode mods really do make a difference. But the whole fiasco really threw into the spotlight for me, how much we hear tone with our eyes. I missed the whole ‘Mundane Yellows’ circus, basically because I’ve been over the flavors of the month for a few years, save for the Timeline…since I’ve been waiting for the bpm Timeline since I got the original in February of ’08, and the bpm didn’t even exist yet. But I have not bought a Black Arts Pharaoh fuzz, one of the 1,805 Lovepedal Eternity versions, or a Jetter Gain Stage Rainbow. But…knowing how I am about tone and blue led’s…I very well could have been involved in this latest deal. You could very easily have seen a video demo and a glowing review of the new handmade wonder.
Couple that with the fact that in the last few months, I have sold a Tim in favor of the v1 Fulltone (almost a heretical word amongst tone junkies the last few years) Fatboost, chose the non-tube Timeline over the tube Timeline in a blind test, and no longer like Lava Cables.
And then at the same time…try as I might, neither the Blues Junior or the Frenzel sounded as good to me as the Matchless. And the tube Valvulator buffer rocked (at least in my world) the non-tube ones, boutique or no.
So…the point here is…?
You don’t always get what you pay for. But sometimes you do. haha Play what you like, what gets your heart going, and don’t believe everything you read on the internet. Except for this blog, of course.
And if that doesn’t make you believe everything I say on this blog, then I’m just not sure what will.
- Survival Guide for the Boutique Age
- Tone Is Not in the Dogma
- What Boutique Pedal Nails That Hendrix Tone?
- Guitar for Worship…Enabling the Gear Junkie One Pedal at a Time
- You Know You Love Talking Tone More than Tone When…
- Tone is in the Big Pedalboards & Lots of Delay
- Tone is in the…
- Tonal Epiphanies
- Good Tone Vs. Bad Tone Vs. Great Tone (As Well as Strymon and DC Timeline’s, Godin, & New Music)
- They Won’t Notice When it’s Wrong, but They Will Notice When it’s Right