Efects builder Kevin Randall has done his homework on what makes vintage pedals sound the way they do. But most guys who build pedals do that… right? And we all know that quite often, that “knowledge” doesn’t translate into true vintage tones.
Randall’s KR Musical Products pedals include three fuzz units (Fuzz Child, The Gypsy Fuzz, and The Doubler), a tremolo pedal called The Tremolo and the chorus/vibrato Mega Vibe. All are housed in heavy-duty aluminum chassis and sport true-bypass metal footswitches, Switchcraft chassis-mounted jacks, Alpha pots, vintage-style components, and cool purple paint!
With the exception of the Mega Vibe, they measure 21/2″ x 41/2″ x 11/2″ and physically reminded us of early DOD pedals. The Mega Vibe is housed in a notably larger chassis that measured 71/2″ x 41/2″ x 21/2″. The smaller pedals use 9-volt batteries or an adapter, while the Mega Vibe requires a 12-volt wall wart.
Randall is a big Hendrix fan (in fact, a stated goal is to “…produce pedals that honor Jimi’s legacy…”), so when we lined up our review rig, we decided to keep it simple, opting for a Fender ’62 reissue Strat and an all-tube combo.
First up was The Tremolo, which is essentially a re-creation of a vintage Tremface. It features a speed control with a fast/slow switch and a depth control. The unit produced a deep, lush effect that was smooth and rich, with a nice swirl. No choppiness here. And it was just about completely transparent, taking only a tiny bit of the sparkle out of our tone.
The Mega Vibe, which features the same circuit design as the ’69 Univox Univibe, also utilizes the same light frequency oscillator (LFO); Randall used the same incandescent lamp and four photo cells housed in a metal cover as the original Univibe. The Mega Vibe features controls for volume, intensity, speed, a chorus/vibrato switch, a footswitch with LED, and a speed/rate LED. The pedal has that authentic Univibe “underwater” tone, producing a liquid chorus effect that’s transparent and lush. We do have a nit, though – the only thing separating this unit from having all of the features of the classic Univibe is the lack of a foot pedal to control the speed.
The three fuzz pedals scored big points with their authentic tones, also. The Doubler sounds like a vintage Octavia, producing a nearly dead-on “Purple Haze” solo tone with clean attack and good sustain. The Gypsy Fuzz has the brightest, most aggressive tone of all three, almost to the level of a regular distortion pedal; definitely a usable recreation of a Fuzz Face, but a slightly smoother top-end. The Fuzz Child is the darkest-sounding of the three, and certainly sports the Big Muff tone, with loads of sustain and compressed, muffled highs.
All five KR pedals sound very authentic and are competitively priced in today’s “boutique” pedal maelstrom.
KR Musical Products
Type of effects Vintage-style fuzz, tremolo, and chorus/vibrato.
Features Heavy duty housings, true-bypass circuitry, authentic, tranparent tones.
Price $150 to $300 (retail).
Contact KR Musical Products, 11872 NE 207th Court, Lake Butler, FL 32054, phone (253) 274-0629; www.krmusicalproducts.com.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Oct. ’03 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.