By Scott Auld
Everyone knows how important communication is. Whether it’s in a marriage, a friendship, or a business, people have to talk to each other for things to work out. This goes double for a band – the members of a band have to be able to communicate with each other, both at practice and during a gig. Knowing what the other musicians intend to do and where they are headed is the key to successful ensemble playing. But what about those little guys on your pedalboard? What if they could talk to each other, too? What if one pedal told the other pedals what it was doing? What if your pedals could communicate with each other, and react accordingly?
That’s the amazing promise offered by a line of pedals from our new friends at G-LAB, located in Zabrze, Poland. They are distributed in America by TSI DISTRIBUTING, which includes Jamie Carling, TGP’s own gtrdaddy.........and the G-LAB pedals that I got a chance to play with really do talk to each other!
I got to test-drive the Smooth Delay SD-1 and the Dual Reverb DR-3. Both pedals are optical-true-bypass, silent-switching wonders, but before I tell you too much about how they communicate with each other, let me first say that on their own they both sound fantastic. Neither effect colors your tone the way many other reverbs and delays do, and the backlit footswitches and glowing labels and knobs on both units are a very classy touch. The boxes are extremely rugged, and the silent switches feel very sturdy.
The Dual Reverb DR-3 is an analog-digital stompbox which adds beautiful, rich reverb to your guitar tone. Two “sets” (A and B) are provided, each with their own time and intensity controls, so you can set up two different reverb settings and switch back and forth depending on what the situation calls for. This is very easy to set up.
Like the best delays, the SD series allows for smooth on/off operation and allows for optional trailing off of repeated notes when the unit is off – but this unit is true bypass! (Most effects that offer trails are not, and Jamie had to straighten me out – I assumed incorrectly that the pedal wasn’t TB).
The Smooth Delay SD-1 shares the DR-3’s “MAX ANALOG” technology. This voice circuit allows for attenuation of high and low frequencies, and a SMOOTH function causes the SD-1 to emulate the effect of classic analog and tape units. The included TAP TEMPO function is crucial to players who need delays syncopated with the rhythm of their music. The standard FEEDBACK / LEVEL/ TIME controls are present, but the BASS / TREBLE control were a nice bonus.
A neat trick that the SD-1 pulls off is the added ability to tap in a tempo on the TAP TEMPO switch, but have the delays come back in double time, or triplets, or even six times per tap! I loved playing with that, especially the 6/8 mode. Input gain signal level regulation via a side-mounted trim pot (accessible without opening the case!) avoids unwanted distortion.
You Can Talk To Me
Now, about that inter-pedal communication: The Smooth Delay SD-1 delay features a CTRL OUT ¼” output jack that, when connected to the Dual Reverb DR-3, causes the Delay to tell the Reverb pedal what it’s doing, and the Reverb pedal reacts accordingly. For example, most people don’t like to run huge reverb and loudly-repeating delays at the same time. One of these might be optimal for rhythm, and the other for lead, depending on the music you play.
From a practical standpoint, this means that you can now set one of the Reverb settings for rhythm guitar, maybe with a fairly large amount of reverb (call that channel A), and one for leads with much less reverb (on Channel B). When you turn on the Delay pedal to enhance your lead playing, the SD-1 tells the Reverb that it should switch from channel A to channel B - thus enabling a reverb setting that is much more suited to work with the delay. Obviously, you can choose to set it the other way around if you want. The point is that the Delay pedal tells the Reverb pedal when it’s on or off, and the Reverb pedal will switch between its two channels accordingly.
What we have here are two amazingly rugged, excellent-sounding pedals that provide more features than are usually found in similar-sized units, and would be worthy of anyone’s board – even if they weren’t talking to each other – but they just so happen to work even better when they are connected.
Incidentally, G-LAB does make an entire arsenal of MIDI-enabled controllers and pedal-switching systems, and both the SD-1 and the DR-3 can be connected to those systems as well. But even without the pedal switchers, and without using MIDI cables, even beginner pedal junkies can have their delay and reverb talking to each other.
Now, getting the band to communicate … well, you’re on your own there.