This week at The Noise Reel we take a look at BC549 Mini Booster from SolidGoldFX. When it comes to boost pedals, today's guitarists gravitate toward two distinctly different camps: the transparent clean boost and those players who enjoy the mild drive tones in their boost. Like a coffee connoisseur's preference of blend, this fondness for a certain type of boost can run deep. Where does the BC549 stand?
Volume control from a mild boost to full crunch makes the BC549 one of the latest dirty boosts available. Let's dive in!
Operation of the BC549 could not be more simple while providing multiple tone options. One on/off switch and one knob which simultaneously adjusts volume and increases gain. This is not a transparent clean boost but rather a dirty boost which imparts a mid flat EQ overdrive to the signal providing a slightly warm and gritty feel to single coils or a mild crunch when running higher output pickups.
Two things of note in my time with the SolidGoldFX BC549 Mini Booster are 1. when rolling back your guitar volume, the signal cleans up to a glass-like clean while retaining volume which lends itself well to being your main overdrive if necessary and 2. the stackablity of this boost into other drive or fuzz pedals is extremely musical creating "meatier" tones than a transparent clean boost ever could.
So what sets the BC549 apart from other boosts is the volume control paired with the type of grit added to the signal while allowing a true cleanup at the guitar volume. All this in a mini enclosure to save pedalboard space has created a new option for guitarists looking for a dirty boost.
Level Control: Allows you to boost or cut your volume level.
True Bypass Switch: Allows you to engage or bypass the effect.
DC Input: This pedal uses a negative ground, 9V DC power supply with a 2.1mm barrel plug and negative center. Battery operation is not possible.
You spend your musical life searching for that fresh take. Something that breeds inspiration. The PureSalem take for me is that slightly off but always familiar look with the feel and tone of a guitar you can rely on. With Mendiola they pay homage to the old Italian style electric guitars often sought after by collectors and players alike. The angled t-style neck pickup is warm and thick while the mini humbucking style bridge pickup attacks with a quick punch. When combined, Mendiola creates a guitar that stands in front proudly while never content to rest behind the band. This is Mendiola from PureSalem Guitars.
The Mendiola sound in particular is a very dynamic attack. The strength in this guitar is in the contrasting pickup combinations. An "Attack Captain" mini humbucker in the bridge gives you that bright punch making it a fantastic option for lead lines while still retaining the individual note articulation in chords.
I notice that the tele style neck pickup in all PureSalem guitars seem to be wound slightly warmer than other tele style guitars and no exception here with Mendiola. You hear a well rounded, modest thickness to the tone brought out in this position. No other PureSalem guitar highlights this pickup's warmth better than the Jimmy model.
The unique flavor in which PureSalem seems to match sound with visual aesthetic lies in the combination of both Mendiola pickups. The slightly warmer tele style neck pickup compliments that mini humbucker attack so well that I had a tough time deciding whether to use the bridge, neck, or both pickups as my melodic lead sounds. Great decision to have to make!
The most important thing to keep in mind when looking into Mendiola is the lack of weight to the sound. Where large hollow body guitars may suit jazz rhythms and melodic lead lines, the beautiful attack of Mendiola may well be the option for players who need more of a punch or kick in the upper mids like country and rock guitarists. If you are after this sound with a more unique visual aesthetic, Mendiola from PureSalem Guitars is an option you should certainly look into.
It gets tough to look past a beautiful made-to-order stained wooden enclosure as if there could be more to it. Call it skepticism at it's core. Normally that old world attention to detail would be enough to elevate a pedal above the others in this crowded market where it seems everyone has a new effect to throw at you. No...there is much more to Canaglia that becomes immediately apparent when you turn it on and let that hard hit chord sustain. It's all in the bark. Canaglia from LollygaggerFX is not your average drive pedal.
One of the unique things you notice about Canaglia when first turning it on is the dual switches. ON/OFF does just that. There's no transparency here. When it's on you know it's on. Canaglia is a drive for people who want to know when they kick it on.
The second switch is the bypass for the Gain knob which acts like a variable boost. Switching the Gain section of the circuit on or off also seems to shift the EQ which can then be dialed in with the Pre and Post. It is in this deep interaction between all the controls which causes Canaglia to feel more like a way to switch between amp channels rather than a simple overdrive pedal.
Post - overall volume
Gain - variable boost
Pre - input gain into Post
An important thing to consider when planning to add Canaglia on your pedalboard is the size. The made to order enclosure is big enough to house three knobs and two foot switches which means you will need to reserve slightly more space than a single pedal on your board. This compromise is outweighed by the amount of times I rely on Canaglia for my drive and boost needs ultimately saving pedalboard space with a single pedal capable of functioning like two channels.
So at the end of the day where does Canaglia sit in the crowded drive pedal landscape? There is this inherent bark and growl Canaglia imparts on your tone at higher settings. This unique tonal characteristic alongside the custom enclosure options and functionality has helped carve a place for Canaglia as one of the most exciting and usable drive pedals to come in recent years.
Maybe it is a sign of the times that a debate over analog and digital multi effect units remains a divided argument. One essential tool in any given guitarist's bag is one in which analog is not an option. Reverb. So where does Ridges stand?
Ridges is a compact pedal from 323 Effects with three switchable reverb modes: Shimmer, Hall, and Spring. Let's break it down!
In Shimmer mode, regenerative octaves are added to the decay meaning as the note trails you hear a higher pitch reflected in the decay. Some people describe it as angels singing behind the notes. Shimmer is the perfect mode to add ambience and texture to your playing.
In Hall mode, the Depth knob is where you hear the sound of the room increase to a near cathedral reverb. I find myself holding melodic phrases just long enough to hear the long hall decay before overlapping another phrase just to be in a wash of reverb. This mode is where I'm home.
In Spring mode, the Color knob will either dampen that high end "drip" with which this digital recreation of a spring reverb tank is emulating or brighten the decay to a more metallic reflection. The big surprise to me when trying Ridges for the first time is how well I actually get on with the Spring setting.
A thing to consider when searching for any reverb pedal is your preference to the amount of wet/dry ratio available. Guitarists often want to bring in just enough of those massive hall, high octave shimmer, or metal spring tones while keeping their clean signal properly heard. On the other hand, some guitarists want a full 100% wet ambient mix without even a slight audible mix of dry. Ridges is the 50/50 mix option for guitarists.
Often the sign of a well engineered effect is in relation to how much time you spend dialing in the tone to your liking. In the case of Ridges we have a reverb pedal which instantly catches your ear moment you turn it on. The options are there to tweak the reverb in order to find that preferential sweet spot if you want but to be honest right out of the gate Ridges grabs you the second you hear it. Happy playing!