For each passing year it seems harder to find new pedals that really stands out. Partly because we’re being flooded by so new arrivals making it almost impossible to choose but also because everything seems to be done. Still, there are pedals that hits the mark and for me personally, 2014 has been a very good year with several new additions to my pedal boards. Here’s my top 5 pedals of 2014.
An unusual choice perhaps but the Deco is something else when it comes to pedals. Strymon is known for making state of the art pedals with impressive know-how and dedication. The Deco is perhaps not your typical go-to pedal but for me itâ€™s been a source of inspiration for new sounds and ways of using a pedal. In short, the Deco is a vintage tape recorder cramped into a pedal. Itâ€™s capable of producing overdrive, echo and flanger and it all sounds like when I as a kid plugged my guitar into my dadâ€™s old Revox. Versatile and great fun!
Iâ€™ve never owned a Klon but Iâ€™ve played them many times and Iâ€™m well aware of the myth. Iâ€™m not sure I agree that itâ€™s the best overdrive or booster ever made but thereâ€™s definitely something to itâ€¦ not to mention a jawbreaking price tag. Electro Harmonix decided to do something about it and released the Soul Food in late 2013 (so late that I consider it a 2014 pedal). Iâ€™m sure itâ€™s become one of their most popular pedals because this thing is simply amazing and one wonder if the price is just to spite the people who spent a fortune on the original. Gearmandude, AnalogMan and many others are impressed and so am I. If you want a pedal that can boost, produce creamy overdrive and make almost any amp sound like a million bucks then this is it.
I got one of Vickâ€™s â€™73 Ramâ€™s Heads for a review a few months back and I instantly fell in love with it. It had all the mojo of my favourite Big Muff circuit and the onboard mids booster made in incredibly versatile. In my review I pointed out a few cons purely based on my taste and the guys at Vick generously made a new version that they very kindly sent my way. â€œThe BjÃ¸rn modâ€ or whatever you want to call it, is very similar to the original but the gain is tamed just a hair and there’s a bit more top end. This opens up the pedal and makes it easier to use with boosters, which I prefer. Naturally, this little gem is one of my favourite pedals of the year. BTW, this one is not currently offered by Vick Audio but if you ask nicelyâ€¦
TopTone from Brazil has a few but great sounding pedals in their catalog. The Shine Boost has been launched without much notice – or at least as far as I can tell – but itâ€™s become one of my favourite booster pedals. The Shine Boost is basically a very transparent clean volume booster, which in it self is a great tool on the pedal board but the magic lies in the addition of a brightness switch, which boosts the treble and high mids. The problem with combining a typical volume booster with a mids scooped Tube Driver or Big Muff is that the booster doesnâ€™t help making your guitar cut through the mix. A mids saturated TS9/808 would be way too much and make your favourite Muff sound too dark and choked but the slight mids boost from the Shine Boost is spot on and only adds to the overdrive/distortionâ€™s harmonics.
Buffalo FX are on a roll and the Evolution is by no means alone in their amazing collection of pedals. Loosely based on the Cornish G2, which again is based on the RAT – both considered to be some of the finest and most reliable distortions in the business – the Evolution takes the classic tone a step further by opening up the top frequencies, tightening the bottom and making the distortion more linear, allowing you to really crank it without it ever sounding thin or messy. With the additional Contour control you can also dial in the amount of mid range you need for cutting through a mix. Capable of producing anything between a mild 808 to a growling RAT the Evolution is in my opinion the best distortion pedal on the market and a sure winner in 2014.
What are your favourites? Do you agree with mine? Please share!