Every year, the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) puts up the most awaited music gear and equipment promotion event in America. This year is no different. And it’s been an especially awesome year for effects pedal-hogging guitarists. So, let’s take a closer look at some of the best pedals NAMM featured at the start of 2020.
This beloved overdrive pedal needs no introduction. As Tonebox’s Nobels ODR-1 review notes, the pedal is already world-famous for its natural, tube amp-sounding overdrive and high dynamic sensitivity. For that reason, the German makers of the now-classic effect unit improved on it in the only way they could. The overdrive pedal now comes with an internal Bass Cut switch, which gives it even more tonal range over the low end that it had before – as if guitarists needed any more reasons to put the Nobels ODR-1 on their pedalboards. As any session musician will tell you, there’s nothing better than a feature you didn’t know you needed until it was put there. It’s a useful improvement that doesn’t over-complicate an already near-perfect pedal.
Line 6 POD Go
Followers of this line of pedals might be confused as to why a 2020 release bears the brand POD instead of Line 6’s more recently-promoted Helix series. Nonetheless, the Line 6 POD Go could offer the range of features that many guitarists have been waiting for in a multi-effects unit – in a more affordable package. Controlling the eight-foot switches is made simple by the LCD screen that shows you what you’re working with. The classic Line 6 expression pedal is hooked up to five push encoder knobs. While the features aren’t exactly groundbreaking, the Line 6 POD Go’s combination of elements makes it the ideal tone palette for musicians who want to save some space on their pedalboards.
Rainger FX Minibar Liquid Analyser
More often than not, the cool names pedal makers give their new experiments are mere metaphors for new features or effects. This isn’t the case with the Rainger FX Minibar Liquid Analyser, which won’t make a sound until you pour liquid into its container. At the bottom of this watertight container, two screws make contact with whatever liquid you put inside. The resulting overdrive tone’s gain, bass, and treble will then depend on the opacity and conductivity of the liquid. In Pro Music News’ feature on the Minibar Liquid Analyser, Rainger FX reveals that using Coca-Cola results in a “nice mild overdrive with plenty of lower mids,” while using Jagermeister ends up in a “great dark drive.” Overdrive wizards, take note.
Gamechanger Audio Light Pedal
This pedal is technically the world’s first analog optical spring reverb system. According to the makers of the pedal, this means that infrared optical sensors are attached to specific places around a traditional analog reverb spring tank. While the visibility of this tank along with the lights may seem like a gimmick, Gamechanger Audio explains that this optic system allows the Light Pedal to harvest and playback all the previously unheard timbres, textures, overtones, and harmonics of a high-fidelity analog spring reverb. You can hear it for yourself by turning up the dedicated volume knob for the optical sensors, or adjusting the two other separate volume knobs – one for the spring tank output, and another for the clean signal. The tone knob affects only the spring and optical knobs, letting you control the level of reverb, shimmering harmonics, and even tremolo, which are interchangeable through the mode dial.