Massive tones from miniature pedals
A very modern phenomenon in the world of guitars in the miniaturisation of effects pedals. Most pedal builders are at it, releasing ever smaller boxes which can do exactly what their bigger brothers can do, just in a smaller form factor, thus freeing up valuable pedal board space for the player. NAMM 2015 saw the trend continue further, as we saw several new mini versions of classic, household-name regular stomps. Here’s our list of the top 10 mini pedals to give you an idea of what’s out there.
First on our list is the Holy Grail Nano Reverb pedal from Electro Harmonix, a smaller and more compact version of the original and much coveted Holy Grail. When it comes to reverb, the Holy Grail really is the approriately named and chances are you’ve heard it on a recording owing to the fact it’s widely used and much loved by all genres of music. The nano version takes the same great sounds and just packs them into a smaller (and almost indestructible) housing, saving you space on your pedal board. Switch between Spring, Hall and Flerb and tweak it with the single knob. A small and easy to use pedal that doesn’t sacrifice quality.
Coming in at the same size as the Flashback Mini is the Ditto looper pedal, also from TC Electronic. The Ditto features the most simple and effective looping methods of pretty much any pedal, allowing people to lay down basic rhythm tracks which can be layered up to create full songs. Controls couldn’t be simpler, with a sole loop-level control on top and an intuitive switching system to guide you.
TC took the decision to release mini versions of the majority of its existing line, but in the interest of balance we can’t feature them all here. We can however show you the pedal where the modern mini-trend all began, and that’s the Polytune Mini. The first time we saw this pedal in the flesh, so to speak, it shocked us at just how small it really is. It’s since found favour with players everywhere who love its accuracy, build quality and, of course, its size.
While not a specialist mini pedal as such, the MXR Dyna Comp features here by virtue of the fact it is indeed tiny. Every good rig needs a compressor on board, so if size is important to you then this is definitely worth considering. MXR has a solid reputation for building good quality, durable products which sound great and last for ages.
Electro Harmonix (EHX) is another, like TC Electronic, which has long offered miniature versions of its pedals. Where TC calls them mini, EHX prefers nano, and there is a list as long as your arm of their cool looking and sounding boxes. We have plumped for the Pocket Metal Muff here because it’s capable of producing monstrously loud and meaty metal tones which bely its diminutive exterior.
When you see one of these for the first time you’ll laugh, particularly if you know the size of the original Fuzz Faces, because it’s roughly the same size as a digestive biscuit. It’s also built like a tank and capable of the same authentic, genuine vintage fuzz tones as its namesake, and comes in germanium and silicon variations for slightly different tones, as well as a Jimi Hendrix signature version.
The original Tube Screamer is one of the best known, and most widely used pedals there is on the market today. Favoured particularly by metal and hard rock players for its ability to tip an overdriven valve amp into new areas of tone, it also acts a s a slight mid-boost which is perfect for cutting through live drums and bass.
Another of NAMM 2015’s new additions is the Cry Baby Mini from Dunlop. It almost looks too small, compared to the iconic original Cry Baby, but features the same classic wah tones to add depth and flavour to solos or funk lines. If you’re entire board is becoming compact, then this is definitely worth a look.
Another fantastic offering from EHX comes in the form of the Nano Clone. If you’re a fan of the likes of INXS or Nirvana, just to name two bands that have used its bigger brother, you’ll have heard this pedal on the likes of “Need You Tonight” and “Come As You Are”. The Nano Clone takes the sounds of the Small Clone pedal and packages it neatly in a smaller chassis. The smaller version saves room on your pedal board, and like all the other nano pedals in the EHX series, the sizing never causes issue with tone or infringes on the quality of effect. From blues to metal, all the way to grunge and post rock, the Nano Clone is just one of those that you need on your board regardless of your style.
The final pedal in our top 10 mini pedals round up is also from Mighty Sound, and is the M5 compact delay pedal. Coming in at the same size as the M7, this simple to use delay pedal will add depth and colour to any tone, and won’t take up too much space doing it. It’s also among the more affordable pedals you can buy, without compromising on the quality of build or tone. Well worth a look if you fancy trying out delay patterns but aren’t ready to commit to one of the more expensive pedals by bigger name brands.