The boutique guitar pedals you really need to hear
Guitar pedal lovers the world over will appreciate the time and effort that goes in to those “boutique” pedals we strive to collect before they sell out. Whether it’s the handmade construction, the artwork or the sought after parts that some of the more household names simply don’t/can’t offer, getting hold of a boutique guitar pedal seems to carry a weight of prestige to it, so we’re happy to pay that little bit extra or wait for long delivery times as they make their way across the globe to our front door. Here at Dawsons though, we don’t really want you to have to wait forever or pay expensive import taxes for your pedal – you should just be able to order it, plug in and let it wail! With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of awesome boutique (or lesser known brand) pedals you must hear/play/drool over before you die, all readily available in the UK and all made with love and care. Enjoy.
First off, we simply have to start with the Strymon BlueSky pedal. This pedal has gone from a coveted boutique range and “oh hey have you heard about these Strymon pedals” to a complete industry standard without losing their “boutique” mentality or feel. An offshoot of Damage Control, the small company began creating pedals under the Strymon name in 2009 and since then, the main pedal on everyone’s minds, and pedalboards, is the BlueSky Reverberator. It packs an array of exceptionally high quality reverb sounds in a slightly larger box than you might be used to, but once you hear the Plate, Room and Spring, and their three different modes i.e. normal, mod and shimmer, chances are you’ll never want another reverb pedal again.
The pedal on everyone’s minds, currently taking the guitar world by storm is the Wampler Tumnus overdrive effects pedal, and for good reason. Each and every pedal is hand built in the USA and painstakingly designed to provide guitarists and bass players with excellent tone and responsive effects – the Tumnus is no exception. Get that coveted vintage tone and buffered bypass tone reminiscent of Overdrive pedals from the rock legends of old. Go from creamy rhythm tones to searing face melting solo leads at the turn of a knob and see why this tiny pedal is the new favourite for guitarists of all genres.
For those who have been on that eternal search for an original Dumble amplifier sound, this is your chance to get the next best thing. The now extremely sought after (and extremely expensive) Dumble amps built by Alexander ‘Howard’ Dumble back in the 60s are almost impossible to come by, so the good people at Rowin pedals decided to recreate that gorgeous high gain tone in a pedal that accurately emulates this coveted sound. It’s an extremely affordable, no frills pedal that does exactly what it says it’s going to do. Adjust the gain, tone and volume to get your ideal settings then really crank your sonic assault with the Voice knob. This Voice setting gives your sound the crisp bite you need and colours your tone beautifully. If you haven’t got a fortune to spare, the Rowin Dumbler, Dumble amp emulator is your new best friend.
When it was discontinued in 1984, the BOSS DM-2 Delay pedal became one of the hottest pedals on the second hand market, changing hands for 10x as much as they were originally sold for. The bad news is, the original DM-2 Delay will cost you a small fortune, but the good news is the good people at BOSS have partnered with the geniuses at Waza Craft yet again to recreate this sought after delay in the form of the DM-2W. This pedal faithfully recreates the sound you want whilst adding a few little extras. Easily achieve those warm, “bucket brigade” analogue delay tones via the old-school 100% analogue circuitry with high-tech modern digital signal processing (DSP) technology. Enjoy 20-300ms delay range as the original intended or flip over to custom mode and feel the cleaner analogue tones kick in with twice the available delay time. As far as boutique pedals go, the Waza Craft range from BOSS are just as sought after amongst guitarists who want pedals with more attention to detail.
Yep, we love Wampler pedals that much we’ve included them twice in our boutique pedals blog. In a world of digital delay pedals, it’s good to know that some brands are flying the analog flag, or at the very least providing the digital users out there with an analog sound. Wampler are well and truly flying their flag high with the awesome Faux AnalogEcho. You get the warmth of analog with the reliability of digital as the pedal is built around the sought after pt2339 chip which provides an accurate representation of the sound you’re pumping through the pedal – it won’t alter your sound unless you ask it to. You have 600ms of delay time to play with and if you want to colour your tone, Repeats, Shade, Level and Echo will allow you to sculpt your sound to your needs. The Shade switch is where you’ll find the pedal really comes into its own as this lets the user colour the EQ and tone which can create really dark or exceptionally bright echoes.
Orange are well known for their awesome amplifiers, gracing pretty much every stage in the world with their high quality (and often high gain) heads, combos and amps. Orange have decided to re-enter the pedal market once again with their new Orange Two Stroke Boost EQ and their Detonator Buffered ABY Amp Switcher. The Two Stroke has turned heads here due to its versatility, ease of use, and due to the fact it is designed by lead designer (and all round legend in the amplifier world) Adrian Emsley. The regular clean boost pedals simply take your existing sound and boost it without adding too much colouration to your tone. The Two Stroke EQ however, offers a world of flexibility and sonic options via this sturdy, striking and super cool guitar pedal, brand new for 2016. Add up to 12dB of clean boost to your sound via the Oil knob and change the EQ via the Frequency knobs and Hi & Lo options. Powered via 9volt power supply with the option to change to 12v for more headroom – it’s the boost pedal for guitarists who want a boutique option with a great deal of control.
Check out a complete range of boutique guitar effects pedals at the Dawsons website.