Hands-On Review:Guyatone’s Micro-Effects Series.
by Matthew Caws
The Japanese are the undisputed masters of miniaturization. Consider the pedals in Guyatone’s new Micro-Effects Series: each of these cute and colorful little buggers measures 2.75 x 3.875 x 1.5 inches—approximately the same dimensions as a wet pack of cigarettes. But despite their subcompact appearance, Micro-Effects pedals have many of the features found in their macro-size brethren, including electronic silent switching, stamped steel chassis, glass-epoxy PC boards, LED effect indicators, nonskid rubber pads and quick-access battery compartments. What’s more, every pedal is tested before it’s shipped, and comes complete with battery. As for tone, let’s just say the Micro-Effects pedals give further credence to the adage that good things come in small packages.
PS3 Phase Shifter
The PS3 has a very detailed sweep, yet its effect is subtle even with the depth control cranked. The unit’s phasing isn’t radical enough to produce extreme warble, but with the speed set high and the depth set halfway, it can make for a very believable Leslie cabinet substitute. The pedal has a nice degree of transparency (i.e., it doesn’t color your tone) and produces no discernable level change when engaged.
The FL3’s depth and resonance controls don’t have as wide a range as your typical Eighties flanger, but the pedal delivers rich and evocative flange cycles that range from tense and slow to loose and warbling. Like the PS3, it’s extremely transparent.
SD2 Sustainer D
The SD2 Sustainer D combines overdrive and distortion with an envelope filter that sustains the crunching tone indefinitely. Applied to an already distorted tone, the SD2 produces a sonic mayhem that oozes with character, like Sabbath through a broken speaker. A strange effect, but one that’s highly recommended.
OD2 Over Drive
The OD2 is the SD2’s polar opposite—an overdrive that works best on a clean tone. The unit produces a warm and complex Tube Screamer–like tone that’s very touch sensitive, allowing you to switch from thick and clearly articulated arpeggios to massive-sounding power chords simply by changing how hard you play.
ST2 Compression Sustainer
The ST2 is just what you need to help your clean tones cut through a thick mix. By reducing a note’s peak and boosting its decay, the ST2 adds thickness to your sound without severely altering it. The pedal is very effective on clean sustained chords, and keeps them ringing far longer than they would otherwise. It also rounds out a dirty tone’s hard edges, which can be very useful for times when you want to soften your dynamics without losing heaviness.
MD3 Micro Digital Delay
With a maximum delay time of 3 seconds, the MD3 can create delay effects that range from subliminal doubling to intricate rhythmic interweaving reminiscent of the Edge’s early work in U2.
NR2 Noise Reduction
Noise reduction units are especially useful when you’re running a lot of effects, and they’re a good way to eliminate hum from single-coil pick-ups. The NR2 performs these duties well, and a red indicator light lets you know how hard the pedal is working. The NR2 is also an effective tool with which to manipulate feedback: engage it at the first sign of trouble, and it will coax microphonic shriek to a much more useful, singing howl.
ME2 Micro Equalizer
A fiendishly useful gizmo, the ME2 is a five-band equalizer that delivers up to 12dB of boost or cut at 150Hz, 500Hz, 1k, 2.5k and 4.5k, and features a master level control. The unit gives you control to reshape your tone and get extra juice out of your amp by delivering a hotter signal from your pickups.
The Bottom Line
These pint-sized wonders are well built and a great bargain to boot. What’s more, they’re so small you’ll almost forget they’re