Recording - July 2011 - 28

Grab Bag

A Guitar Gear

and Kevin Bolembach was kind enough to send us the first two TWA pedals... the LD-01 Little Dipper and the TK-01 Triskelion. Both combine remarkable tonal possibilities with beautiful design and unusual yet practical visual feedback. The Little Dipper is “an envelope-controlled vocal formant filter based on a classic ‘70s circuit. TWA has taken this holy-grail effect and launched it into the future with improved tracking, fuller frequency response, lower noise...” In simple terms, the Little Dipper starts with basic envelope filtering like you could find on many pedals, but then radically expands the range of tonal and control possibilities so the pedal can make sounds most envelope filters could only dream of. There are three controls on the front panel: Ascension, Inclination, and Diffraction. The Ascension control dials in the sweep depth for the dual envelope filters; there are certain ‘sweet spots’ around the dial where you get particularly rich vowel-like sounds, but they’re not magical on every single source; you’ll want to tune to taste for your particular instrument and playing style. The Inclination control is a 4position switch that sets the time difference between the two filters’ triggers. Changing the Inclination radically changes the range of sounds the Ascension knob gives you, turning the Little Dipper into four different envelope filters. Finally, the Diffraction control is an overdrive that brings out sharper harmonic content in the filtered sound to make it clearer and more present; you can adjust it to taste, with some more traditional ‘funk’ sounds not wanting any at all. The stars in the Little Dipper’s front panel graphic glow blue with intensity of the filter triggering, and there are internal controls for Blend (wet/dry mix) and Gate (an internal noise suppressor). All in all, a very comprehensive set of filtering controls that encourage playing and experimentation. Darwin’s first impression was: “Wow, I may never have to stick a talk box tube in my mouth again!” After working with the Little Dipper for a while longer, he added, “It’s more dynamically nuanced in the mids, because that’s where these formant filters sit. You have a bit less control way up high on the neck, it’s more of an on/off thing, because you’re above the formant range. But down where you’re going to be playing the funk, this thing rocks.” We recorded some particularly tasty settings, where we got expressive and funky sounds that tracked Darwin’s playing beautifully. The Diffraction control’s added bite was a great final touch to the most flexible envelope filter we’ve tried. The Triskelion is named for an episode of the original Star Trek TV series in the 1960s, and sports a dramatic graphic from that episode on the front panel. It’s referred to as a Harmonic Energizer, and owes its heritage to the Systech Harmonic Energizer from the 1970s (beloved of Frank Zappa) and to the Maestro Parametric Filter. Probably the easiest way to describe the Triskelion is as a very finely tunable way to boost and accentuate particular parts of your guitar’s tone; it’s part gain circuit, part filter, and combines the two functions so it’s easy to juice up your tone in a musical fashion that suits your playing. The three knobs are Energy (harmonic gain boost), Variant Mass (the center frequency of the affected range),

and Amplitude (output gain/overdrive). Two small buttons control Boost (a slightly wider range for the Variant Mass knob) and Engage (putting the Amplitude control in circuit—without it, the Triskelion acts very much like a conventional eq/tone control). A standard expression pedal can control the Variant Mass with your foot. The front-panel graphic is backlit and changes color from red to orange to yellow as the Variant Mass is changed, and pulsates faster as you turn the Energy up. In our tests, the Triskelion’s effect on tone was subtle and musical while we were working with completely clean tones, and like all pedals that affect the tone of a guitar, the changes it wrought on the Strat’s tone were dramatically accentuated when then run into the amp. You’ll get some benefit from working with the Triskelion when playing completely clean, but kicking in the Amplitude control and then feeding an amp really makes this pedal sing out loud and clear. Darwin says: “So many pedals are designed for lead guitarists, but I see the Triskelion not only as a good pedal for a soloist but really as a rhythm stylist’s best friend. It’s a way to control your guitar’s tone in a very fine way, and that lets you create clear and powerful rhythm settings that fit in well

with what the lead guitarist is playing. Some people might hook up a pedal to it and try to use it as a sort of wah pedal, but I don’t see its best use as much of a ‘wah’ effect. Rather, the pedal is best used to let you dial in your sound very easily from song to song without having to bend down.” If we had any complaint with these pedals, it was with the provided documentation; they come with “In-Flight Manuals” reminiscent of the wordless cartoon flyers provided by airlines for flight safety instruction, which are kind of cute and give you a starting point without really telling you what’s going on. I’m sorry, but when a cartoon shows me that I’m supposed to open the back of my pedal and take a screwdriver to a trim pot, I want a little more information on what’s going to happen than a picture of a punk rocker with duct tape over his mouth! Fortunately the website provides more information on both pedals, mainly in text form for the Little Dipper and in video form for the Triskelion, so you can get a better feel for what’s going on. Our guess is that you’ll want to try them for yourself and see what they do for you. These are both high-quality pedals, well built and great sounding; while the Little Dipper will have a focused appeal for funk players who love the sound of a great envelope filter, the Triskelion could potentially live happily in any electric player’s rig, and we think rhythm stylists will especially benefit from its wide-ranging and beautiful tone tweaks. William Mathewson Devices (WMD) Geiger Counter $299; William Mathewson is a quiet, pleasant fellow in Denver who builds effects pedals and synthesizer modules that are anything but quiet and pleasant. From the Gamma Wave Source to the Acoustic Trauma, WMD specializes in sound mangling that doesn’t fit into normal classifications, with a dual specialization in blistering-hot analog circuitry and severely sick digital manipulations. For this review, William stopped by and dropped off the Geiger Counter, a distortion pedal that as far as I know has no equivalent anywhere else on this or any other planet. It’s available in three

Recording - July 2011

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - July 2011

Recording - July 2011
Fade In
Fast Forward
Put Your Foot Down!
A Guitar Gear Grab Bag
Fat Guitar Tones Without The Mud
Rupert Neve Designs Portico 5017
iOS Music Tools For Guitarists
Reviewed and Revisited: BOSS RC-30 Loop Station
Reviewed and Revisited: IK Multimedia AmpliTube 3.5
Tech21 Blonde
It’s Your Music—Know Your Rights. Chapter 16: Licensing Music For Video Games
Eventide Space
Recording’s Showcase of Sounds
TC Electronic Flashback, Shaker, and Hall Of Fame
Readers’ Tapes
Advertiser Index
Fade Out
Recording - July 2011 - Recording - July 2011
Recording - July 2011 - Cover2
Recording - July 2011 - 1
Recording - July 2011 - Fade In
Recording - July 2011 - 3
Recording - July 2011 - Contents
Recording - July 2011 - 5
Recording - July 2011 - Talkback
Recording - July 2011 - 7
Recording - July 2011 - Fast Forward
Recording - July 2011 - 9
Recording - July 2011 - 10
Recording - July 2011 - 11
Recording - July 2011 - Put Your Foot Down!
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Recording - July 2011 - 21
Recording - July 2011 - A Guitar Gear Grab Bag
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Recording - July 2011 - 33
Recording - July 2011 - Fat Guitar Tones Without The Mud
Recording - July 2011 - 35
Recording - July 2011 - 36
Recording - July 2011 - 37
Recording - July 2011 - Rupert Neve Designs Portico 5017
Recording - July 2011 - 39
Recording - July 2011 - iOS Music Tools For Guitarists
Recording - July 2011 - 41
Recording - July 2011 - 42
Recording - July 2011 - 43
Recording - July 2011 - Reviewed and Revisited: BOSS RC-30 Loop Station
Recording - July 2011 - 45
Recording - July 2011 - Reviewed and Revisited: IK Multimedia AmpliTube 3.5
Recording - July 2011 - 47
Recording - July 2011 - 48
Recording - July 2011 - 49
Recording - July 2011 - Tech21 Blonde
Recording - July 2011 - 51
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Recording - July 2011 - 54
Recording - July 2011 - 55
Recording - July 2011 - It’s Your Music—Know Your Rights. Chapter 16: Licensing Music For Video Games
Recording - July 2011 - 57
Recording - July 2011 - Eventide Space
Recording - July 2011 - 59
Recording - July 2011 - Recording’s Showcase of Sounds
Recording - July 2011 - 61
Recording - July 2011 - TC Electronic Flashback, Shaker, and Hall Of Fame
Recording - July 2011 - 63
Recording - July 2011 - Readers’ Tapes
Recording - July 2011 - Advertiser Index
Recording - July 2011 - 66
Recording - July 2011 - 67
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Recording - July 2011 - Fade Out
Recording - July 2011 - Cover3
Recording - July 2011 - Cover4