Ernie Ball brings foot-sweepable magic to the world of guitar effects

When it comes to expression pedals, Ernie Ball is an old and trusted name. Known for can’t-bust-’em reliability and great value, the company’s various volume pedals are stage and studio go-to gear. So when Ernie Ball debuted its new Expression Series pedals at Winter NAMM 2016, interest was keen. Guitarists left the booth wearing a big grin and possessing a serious jones to own their own copies of these two very cool units. Like them, we’ve been impatiently waiting for the Expression Overdrive to hit the street (currently scheduled for mid-October, 2016).

Better than a stomp

The trouble with stomp boxes is that they’re either on or off. Sure, you can dial in as much or as little effect as you want and control other parameters too. But the effect, no matter how you tweak it, is still either on or off. (At least until you reach down and start changing settings.) Realtime control takes an expression pedal. And that’s exactly what Ernie Ball’s new Expression Effects pedals bring to the game: by combining the company’s proven electro-mechanical expression pedal-design prowess with two intelligently thought-out effects boxes, they’ve come up with a pair of winners. Here are the early details:

Ambient Expression Delay Pedal

The new Ambient Expression Delay Pedal delivers all the time-shifting goodness any guitarist could want. From subtle echoes and slapback sounds to mind boggling delays, it’s all there, under your feet. Being able to sweep through your settings, going from subtle to serious to completely dry again—all in realtime is big-time fun! The clean-looking front panel has Reverb, Feedback, and (delay) Time knobs. There’s also a Tap Tempo input for connecting external control gear. With the ability to swell and attenuate your time-based effects, we suspect the eye-catching rose gold Ambient Expression Delay is going to be showing up on a lot of pedal boards soon.

Ilan Rubin demos the new Ernie Ball Expression Series guitar pedals.

Expression Overdrive Pedal

With its gleaming gold aluminum case and classic OD control layout, the Expression Overdrive Pedal earns its own visual and sonic identity. As with its Delay sibling, the big news is course realtime foot-sweepability—the ability to go from the subtle tube-like warmth of mild overdrive to massive leads and crunching rhythms with both hands firmly on your guitar, in realtime. As Ilan Rubin notes in the above video, EB’s design team has come up with a circuit that makes the underlying dry tone ever-present, even under vast distortion, adding definition to your sound.

Typical of the company’s concern for building robust gear, both pedals have PVC-coated Kevlar cables and spring linkage for trouble-free performance under punishing conditions.