Mar 3, 2013
More than meets the eye
Everything in the guitar gear world at the moment points towards things getting lighter, smaller, more portable – case in point, my favourite little lunchbox amp, the Mesa Mini Rectifier, and new stuff like the HK Tubemeister, and just about everything really. The lunchbox revolution has spawned a million pint-sized, carry bag amps… so what goes perfectly with your mini amp? Some mini pedals, of course!!
Transformers!! I’m unashamedly a bit of a geek, and my love of Transformers since I was a kid is all-encompassing, except for those terrible Michael Bay movies… which I watched anyway. In any case, I think robots go well with techy little gadgets like pedals – what do you think? Let me know your opinions about the new “theme”!
So, why use tiny pedals?
Smaller enclosures means less space taken up on your pedalboard, which in turn means that you can have a smaller pedalboard, or add a few extra pedals to your existing one. I’m not sure who exactly started it, but soon enough companies like Malekko started to bring the 1590a enclosure into boutique vogue, with their cool line of Omicron pedals, along with Lovepedal and their Mini series, and I think even Catalinbread had a mini range for awhile (though sadly those have been discontinued, if memory serves).
Now, if there’s one thing we learnt from the terrible Star Wars prequels (aside from the fact that Darth Vader was a really annoying, whiny kid, and Natalie Portman and Keira Knightley are essentially the same person) it’s that the damn clones are ALWAYS trying to take over the world. Last year, we did a few reviews on the Joyo series of pedals which were clones of the Tech 21 Character Series (which reminds me, I still have one unpublished), and they were cool, but not quite 100% there.
This year, there’s a new sheriff in town.
In another “how the HELL did they come up with that name” shocker, Mooer Audio have burst onto the scene with their Micro Series of pedals, which are clones of various famed designs, shoved into a tiny box and made in China to a terrifically affordable pricepoint. There’s just about a bazillion of them, cloning everything from the Fulltone OCD, to the Digitech Whammy. Yes, you heard right!
A word from our sponsors…
Here in New Zealand, a cool little company called Guitar Effects NZ has taken it upon themselves to help us source these sweet little pedals without the hassle and long wait time of ordering online from eBay or an overseas webstore. They are now the official distributor for Mooer in NZ, and were kind enough to provide Six-String Samurai with a few of the Mooer Micro Series to demo and review.
In fact, we’re teaming up with them to offer readers of Six-String Samurai an EXCLUSIVE online discount voucher – if you buy one of the Mooer series in the next week using the discount code 6SSMOO (which is obviously the sound you must make at the time of ordering, it’s a kind of “hiss-moo” type sound) you will receive a magical 10% off! That simple. Don’t forget to take a picture of your new pedal when you get it and tag us on the 6SS Facebook page!
The first thing I did was to excitedly assemble a little gigging board, for when I can’t be bothered taking my Line 6 HD500 and its flightcase, but still want to have some effects on hand. Here is the list of pedals that Guitar Effects NZ kindly provided us with this time around:
- Ninety Orange Phaser (MXR EVH Phase 90 clone) - actually, I already bought this one myself prior to getting the others, hence the slight paint chipping from a previous owner
- Eleclady Flanger (EHX Electric Mistress flanger clone)
- Hustle Drive (Fulltone OCD clone)
- Shimverb (Reverb pedal with Room, Spring, and Shimmer options)
- Pitchbox (Pitch shifter with Detune, Harmony and Pitch Shift mode
Today we’re gonna hit the modulation side of things with the first two on that list – the Ninety Orange Phaser and Eleclady Flanger.
Ninety Orange Phaser
As the name transparently suggests, this is based upon the legendary MXR Phase 90. Taking it a step further, it’s really a bit more akin to the EVH Phase 90, with switching between Vintage and Modern phaser tones (Vintage is a little bit more subtle, while Modern is like a block logo Phase 90, with a bit more “push” to the mids). The only thing lacking is the EVH stripe job!
Okay… so, let’s talk tone. The biggest thing I’ve found comparing clones to the originals is that because component values are different and/or aren’t controlled as strictly, they never end up being 100% accurate in their impression. When I first got this pedal just over a year back, I actually had an EVH Phase 90 on my pedalboard at that time – how convenient! I A/B-ed them (though I hadn’t started the site yet so sadly I didn’t record it!) and here are my thoughts on how they differed:
- The most significant variation was the Rate pot sweep. The EVH had a more even sweep, while the Mooer has a sweep that stays at slower speeds for about 2/3rds of the sweep, then starts to jump quickly into the faster, faux-Leslie type of sounds. The EVH also, if I recall, had a slightly faster maximum rate, though that’s really not what you should be buying a phaser for anyway.
- The EVH was ever so slightly “warmer” sounding, though the Mooer is definitely no slouch next to its far more expensive cousin (uncle? BROTHER? It’s difficult to quantify familial relationships between clones. Family gatherings are often awkward)
- The EVH looked cooler. But that can’t be avoided.
So… first Mooer pedal I tried, I was actually super impressed. I think it’s at least slightly significant that, having had both an EVH Phase 90 and the Mooer version, I no longer own an EVH Phase 90…
The Ninety Orange is perfectly capable of going from washy atmospheric vibes to vocal sounding overdriven solos, all the way to Leslie-alike tones. It also excels at doing the Van Halen thing – just sitting there in the mix, enough to let your solo jump out a little, but not in an overtly obvious way. You’ll see. Or hear, as the case is – check out a few of the key tones from the Ninety Orange that I really liked. Transformers fans, look out for some nostalgia!
The thing that I like about the Mooer pedals is that they actually took the time to mimic the paintjob and colour scheme of the pedals they’re cloning – you can look at most of the series, and if the original had a distinctive colour scheme, you’ll know almost immediately what the Mooer version is trying to be. In this case, the EHX Electric Mistress flanger:
When I think flanger, I think jetplane noises. I want to hear that rising metallic swoosh that makes you feel like your guitar tone is about to explode into the stratosphere and break the sound barrier. And to be honest, this is something that I was never really able to achieve with my Line 6 gear. The M-series flange effects built into the HD500 just never did it for me. For a long while I thought that maybe I needed it in stereo for it to sound that way, or something.
I was wrong.
I plugged into the Mooer Eleclady, set the Colour to around 3 o’clock, Range and Rate around 1.30, put my amp on the drive channel and… there it was.
I liked it so much I began to use it rabidly on intros/outros/transitions/bridges during covers sets… bordering on obnoxiously for that gig, I’m guessing, haha!
Another immensely cool thing about the Eleclady is that, much like the original, it can cleverly masquerade as a chorus – dial down the Colour and max the Range, and you instantly have the “chorus” tone that Andy Summers got from an Electric Mistress for many a Police record. I think that’s a really cool added benefit – and it saves those of you who are ashamed of chorus (but secretly love it) from having an actual chorus pedal on your board!
The Eleclady also has a Filter mode, but to be honest I didn’t really find that I had any real use for it, personally – and I was already more than happy with what it could do on Normal mode. Here are my picks from the Eleclady’s playbook!
MOAR MOOER PLS!
What can I say? I’m sold on these pedals. They’re compact, they sound great, and they’re terrifyingly affordable. I’ve seen no evidence to suggest that they are anything but rock solid construction-wise, and in the one or two isolated instances that a faulty pedal has shipped, this has been quickly rectified by our new local distro.
My only actual gripe is that the tiny adjustment knobs are virtually impossible to see, especially on a dark stage – so make sure you set and forget before the gig.
Otherwise… Fuck Yeah! Indeed, 4.5 of them!
Don’t forget to check back for our next set of Mooer reviews – we’ll be covering the Pitch Box, Hustle Drive, and Shimverb in coming weeks! Also – if there are any particular pedals in the Mooer range you’d like us to review, please let us know, and hopefully our friends at Guitar Effects NZ will oblige.
One last thing for our local readers – if you’re intending to buy some Mooer pedals, don’t forget to use your EXCLUSIVE Six-String Samurai discount voucher – enter the code 6SSMOO at Guitar Effects NZ for a sweet 10% off these already affordable pedals!!