It’s time for an additional builder round-up! And this time we’re chronicling Chase Bliss Audio and counting down the fan-favorite builder’s 10 greatest pedals.
First, let’s share some backstory about Chase Bliss Audio and speak about what makes this builder so particular.
Digital Brain. Analog Coronary heart.
Chase Bliss Audio first hit the scene again in December of 2013 with the discharge of the smash hit Warped Vinyl, a mojo crammed, lo-fi refrain & vibrato pedal. This groundbreaking release modified the pedal recreation by providing unprecedented digital management over its 100% analog effects. A plethora of 6 knobs, four flip-switches, 2 foot-switches, and 16 dip-switches provided guitarists a staggering quantity of management and sound-design potential. The immense tweakability of that debut launch would develop into an indicator staple of all Chase Bliss Audio pedals.
A succession of bold releases over the subsequent several years propelled Chase Bliss Audio towards an ever larger success that has but to succeed in its peak. The builder has continued to shock the business with collaborations, shocking pedal announcements, radical design enhancements, the sudden embracing of digital results (with Dark World and the upcoming Blooper), and coming quickly, a completely new pedal format with motorized faders dubbed “Automatone” – the debut pedal in that line being the forthcoming Preamp MKII collaboration with Benson Amps.
Comply with Your Bliss
Even with all of the fanfare and unrelenting hype that surrounds this builder’s newest innovations and ever extra inspiring pedal releases, I’ve all the time been most fascinated by the deeply human component present in Chase Bliss Audio. The model’s founder and lead engineer, Joel Korte, is synonymous with the model’s picture, and a backstory of tragedy & perseverance together with a uniquely open reference to followers, fellow builders, buddies, and family goes hand-in-hand with Chase Bliss Audio. Whereas I can consider a number of notable gear corporations whose founders used their own namesake for the brand, inflicting an obviously private touch, the “Chase Bliss” moniker and the brand itself inform a more private story than another gear brand, a story that strikes a chord of familiarity with the human situation in some ways.
Here’s a Knobs produced video from 2015 that shares some perception into Chase Bliss Audio and the mind of Joel Korte and provides viewers a glimpse of the fearless ambition and jovial nature of this beloved pedal builder…
Some informal observers might easily mistake Chase Bliss Audio as a story of one individual following their very own goals, but the model has all the time been about one thing more. It really comes via in the brand’s connection to individuals. I observed this difference early on in how shortly the corporate responded to certain consumer suggestions to dramatically replace and enhance certain elements of the early Warped Vinyl and Wombtone pedals in the “MKII” versions. I’ve seen builders who’ve lengthy been stubborn about updating their designs, however Chase Bliss Audio persistently strives for excellence, and typically this means overhauling things. They take heed to ideas from their users and others, and it has proven in lots of their later releases, notably the pedals that have been built as collaborative ventures with different individuals. Some merchandise have also benefitted from being refined with assist from teams of pre-release beta testers. The builder’s upcoming Blooper pedal is even being developed publicly, with crowdsourced feedback influencing the pedal’s path.
And talking of latest pedals…
Upcoming Chase Bliss Audio Releases
Earlier than we dive in, let’s speak about a couple exciting issues Chase Bliss Audio has in the works as these releases might warrant an inventory replace sooner or later.
One upcoming Chase Bliss Audio release is the Blooper, a digital looper pedal being developed in collaboration with Knobs Demos and Mark Seel from 3 Levels Audio. Blooper is going to be a full-fledged digital looping pedal that may supply some leading edge upgrades over different primary loopers. Anticipate a number of loop layers, loads of levels of undo/redo, “Modifiers” that affect the loops in numerous methods, deep parameter management and customizable response choices, MIDI, and rather more. The design of the pedal has undergone a couple of modifications since its debut at NAMM (including the addition of cool blue Modifier buttons on the south aspect of the pedal), and you may anticipate to see extra modifications before Blooper is released.
Here’s a current Knobs replace on the progress of the Blooper:
The Benson Amps Preamp gained lots of traction in 2018, turning into a well-liked go-to pedal for guitarists on the lookout for an amp-style preamp for his or her pedalboard. The impeccable high quality of Benson’s work should’ve appeared ripe for the complete Chase Bliss Audio “digital control over analog” remedy, and the 2 builders joined forces to deal with this formidable challenge.
The Preamp MKII is being inbuilt an all-new pedal format referred to as “Automatone”. Housed in a strong enclosure with cool picket aspect panels, the bigger eye catching facet are the pedal’s 6 motorized faders. These faders give the Preamp MKII a tactile, professional studio mixer really feel, and the faders will even move to indicate present positions of chosen presets. The Preamp MKII also expands upon the original Preamp with a routable mids EQ part, new clipping choices, non-compulsory fuzz, and MIDI functionality among different things.
When the Blooper and Preamp MKII are launched, each of those pedals will doubtless shake up our record, but in the present day let’s rely down from 10, starting with my favourite discontinued Chase Bliss Audio pedal…
10. Spectre (discontinued)
Product Page: Spectre, Impact Sort: Analog Flanger
Ah, sure, the notorious Spectre. I still love this pedal. I adore it so much that I’ve stored 2 of them. This now discontinued treasure was Chase Bliss Audio’s daring attempt at an all analog through-zero flanger. It’s as well-known for its deep, distortion loving flange as it is for those swooning “whale songs” that wash over your guitar whenever you push up the Regen.
The Spectre uses a pair of analog delay strains and modulates one towards the other to create its flanging sounds. That second when the delay occasions sync up is the ever elusive “zero point” the place the alerts cancel one another out and the flanging moves “through zero”. The pedal was calibrated in a means in order that the pedal can transfer via zero twice, and in the event you add in Ramping modulation of the Zero knob (and perhaps Ramp a number of more parameters), you will get all types of unusual flange-like modulation occurring.
As cool as this pedal was (and still is), it was an enormous enterprise by Chase Bliss Audio, boasting the builder’s most complicated and element crammed through-hole assembled circuit board so far on the time of its release. This made it a very costly pedal to keep in the line-up for one thing that had a extra obscure attraction compared to the builder’s other hits.
Before this pedal was inevitably discontinued, two variations have been released: the unique Spectre and the Spectre “Blue Knob Mod”. The BKM model addressed the noise points that have been present within the unique pedal and in addition attenuated the extremity of the flange suggestions (Regen) for much less intense “whale song” sounds. Whereas most of the early purple knob variations have also since been modded to BKM specs at the request of their house owners, I’d argue that both variations still supply unique advantages to collectors and players. The cleaner BKM is arguably higher for non-distorted guitar tones and may even obtain some great chorus sounds. The original Spectre’s noise is probably not a problem when you’re primarily utilizing the pedal with dust, and so its sounds and the more intense suggestions sounds may be appealing. And as another point of word, I stored a Spectre on my board for over two years “always on” with the Combine rolled down as the pedal imparted a personality on my sound that made it a favourite Chase Bliss Audio pedal of mine for including some additional tonal mojo.
9. Wombtone MKII
Product Web page: Wombtone MKII, Impact Sort: Analog Phaser
The Wombtone MKII is the successor to the builder’s unique Wombtone pedal, with each pedals being impressed by the legendary Mu-Tron Phasor II. Not all builders have all the time been candid concerning the sources of inspiration for his or her products, but Joel has a penchant for sharing immediately with followers on social media, and his transparency has all the time set a superb instance for different builders to comply with. The Wombtone was meant to deliver again the sounds of the basic Mu-Tron Phasor II whereas adding upon and enhancing the components, and the Wombtone MKII further improved upon the original Wombtone.
The Wombtone MKII sports 2, 4, & 6 stage phasing choices for plenty of selection on the subject of funky, swirly, hypnotic phasing. I’d argue that the MKII version is clearly superior than the orginal because of the added 2 stage choice, the improved Suggestions response, the extended slower Fee speeds, and the added Combine control, not to point out the overall tweaks to MIDI performance and the fact that the MKII moved the previously bottom accessed dip-switches to the highest aspect of the pedal.
Chase Bliss Audio nailed their components for a rock strong phaser, and it’s onerous to cope with the gorgeous sounds and formidable array of choices the Wombtone MKII offers. A favourite function of mine is plugging in an expression pedal with no Ramp dip-switches enabled and with the ability to manually sweep by way of the part filtering for cool notched part tones. Plenty of cool sounds all around. It’s no marvel the Wombtone MKII is among the two longest operating pedals within the Chase Bliss Audio line-up. And the opposite longest operating manufacturing pedal…
Product Web page: Gravitas, Impact Sort: Analog Tremolo
The Gravitas dropped back in 2015 proper across the similar time because the Wombtone MKII and Warped Vinyl MKII, and it nonetheless stays incredibly fashionable among guitarists who crave pulsing, vintage flavored analog tremolo. I’d also say that it was Gravitas that basically re-popularized the idea of harmonic tremolo which many other builders have since been adding to their tremolo pedals. Gravitas really hit house with that vintage, amp-inspired tremolo, and it set the brand new trendy commonplace for tremolo pedals chasing that sort of old fashioned flavor.
A number of issues make the Gravitas special (in addition to tap-tempo, presets, and MIDI). It has a singular Drive control that units the achieve before your guitar hits the tremolo impact. Should you crank the Drive and Ramp the Quantity knob, you’ll be able to even obtain a twin tremolo impact. Then there’s the ModuShape section which is particularly helpful for shaping the feel of the tremolo for the right rhythmic throb. The Gravitas can also be the one Chase Bliss Audio pedal that allows you to energy it at 18-volts for elevated headroom which is certainly value making an attempt if your power provide has an 18-volt output.
The Gravitas turned an immediate favourite of mine and lots of different guitarists, notably due to how simple and efficient it’s at attaining strong and clean tremolo sounds. (Gravitas also impressed another bizarre thing.) It type of appeared like just one other modulation pedal to add to the Chase Bliss Audio line-up, however the care Joel put into getting it right has made Gravitas an endearing trendy basic that easily outshines and outclasses most comparable tremolo pedals that come to thoughts.
7. Warped Vinyl HiFi
Product Page: Warped Vinyl HiFi, Effect Sort: Analog Chorus / Vibrato
The Warped Vinyl HiFi was a shock release that Chase Bliss Audio released right at the finish of 2017. It’s the newest iteration of the builder’s iconic Warped Vinyl concept, following the Warped Vinyl MKII. It’s additionally the final word on Chase Bliss Audio’s signature refrain & vibrato pedal.
The Warped Vinyl HiFi cleans up the lo-fi sound (re: grit & noise) from the previous two versions, opting to provide users a extra refined trendy refrain experience, yet it still retains a particular Tone control that can achieve very darkish tones akin to the previous Warped Vinyl pedals. While some users still cling to their MKIIs, I personally feel that the HiFi’s cleaner sound and skill to still dial in similarly dark-ish tones similar to earlier variations make this the superior Warped Vinyl pedal general.
There’s one other unique facet that makes the Warped Vinyl HiFi one of the best within the collection: the Lag. This knob adjusts the static delay time that the ModuShape section modulates. You possibly can Ramp this parameter to further “warp” the wobbly sounds of this pedal, adding yet one more solution to make the pedal reside as much as its namesake. It’s also enjoyable to cut the Depth in order that the LFO is inactive after which manually adjusting the Lag to create some jarring warped seems like jerking your guitar’s trem bar.
The pedigree the Warped Vinyl HiFi is constructed upon, its big feature-set, and its beautiful sound add up to not solely another stellar Chase Bliss Audio launch however what can also be a prime contender for the title of greatest mono analog chorus & vibrato pedal on the market.
6 & 5. Tonal Recall / Tonal Recall RKM (tie)
Product Pages: Tonal Recall / Tonal Recall RKM, Effect Sort: Analog Delay
Battling for the sixth & 5th spots on the listing are the unique Tonal Recall and the Tonal Recall RKM. These immediate basic pedals wowed musicians for bringing back analog delay sounds corresponding to the unique Electro Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man and early Boss DM-2 pedals. And naturally they got here with the addition of superior features like consumer presets, Ramping, tons of parameter controls, tap tempo, expression pedal management, MIDI functionality, more.
I’d say that of every part these pedals supply that makes them nice, what makes the Tonal Recall pedals most special is just the fantastic analog delay tones. Chase Bliss Audio was one of many first builders to go all-out with utilizing reissued MN3005 bucket brigade chips, replicas designed particularly to recall the long-lasting sounds from these basic early analog delay pedals. Chase Bliss Audio nailed the Tonal Recall pedals in execution particularly in regard to the basic analog delay tones they supply.
“But there are two units–what’s the difference?” The original Tonal Recall uses a pair of MN3005 chips to realize up to 550ms of delay time. The Tonal Recall RKM makes use of four MN3005 chips for up to 1100ms of delay time. Chase Bliss Audio additionally tweaked the RKM a bit for smoother saturation when pushing the Regen into oscillation territory, and the Tone circuit was modified slightly. While I feel the RKM has turn into extra well-liked general, I’ve since realized that I truly choose the shorter delay occasions of the 550ms version, and I like using the center flip-switch to modify between using 1 or 2 MN3005s to half and double the delay time without causing pitch shifts. (The RKM will change between 1 and 4 chips.) For most customers though the large consideration will simply be how much delay time is needed. In fact, there’s additionally the Thermae, however we’ll get to that one in a second.
Product Web page: Brothers, Impact Varieties: Increase / Overdrive / Fuzz
The Brothers is Chase Bliss Audio’s powerhouse multi-circuit overdrive, increase, and fuzz pedal. It was designed in collaboration between Chase Bliss Audio and Resonant Electronic Design, and continues to be one of many builder’s most vital releases.
The A aspect of the pedal options JFET Increase, Drive, and Fuzz circuits based mostly around three circuits from Resonant Digital Design. The B aspect provides an analogous trio of choices which might be IC based mostly. Each side have dedicated Achieve & Tone controls. Having the equal of 6 totally different circuits is type of like having 6 pedals in a single. However that’s just the start.
Along with with the ability to use any of Brothers’ 6 achieve staging circuits by itself, you’ll be able to run two circuits directly, one from both sides of the pedal. These may be mixed in any combination and utilized in collection or parallel. Principally, we’re talking about up to 33 mixtures… to not mention the infinite subtleties of how you can dial within the Achieve & Tone on both sides to contour the overall sound and either Combine them in parallel or drive one into the other in collection (the extent of the first achieve stage going into the second can also be managed with the Combine knob). This all adds as much as an unimaginable quantity of flexibility for what is likely one of the most versatile increase and filth pedals on the market.
The Brothers presents an enormous vary of options and stays quite compact considering all it does. It’s just about the dimensions of a mean drive pedal, but it will possibly simply kick 2 or 3 other pedals off your board to assist make room for other pedals. What pedals? How about these subsequent few…
3. Darkish World
Product Page: Dark World, Impact Sort: Twin Digital Reverb
Scorching off the success of the Brothers, Chase Bliss Audio released one other collaborative pedal, this time teaming up with Keeley Electronics and Cooper FX for the Dark World Twin Channel Reverb. The Dark World was also an especially vital launch because it defied everybody’s expectations for the long-awaited CBA reverb by going full-on digital. For a builder that has damaged via many boundaries for the good thing about pedal loving musicians, breaking their own “Digital Brain. Analog Heart” mantra was the most effective selections the builder ever made.
The left aspect of the pedal is the “Dark” aspect, providing some unique reverb algorithms from Cooper FX partially influenced by the builder’s Era Loss and Outward pedals. The Mod reverb might be the good mode on the whole pedal, having an inspiring lo-fi sound with modulation. It seems like an previous VCR chewing up a dusty previous tape. It also sort of reminds me of the original two Warped Vinyl pedals, giving an unintentional nod to Chase Bliss Audio’s early work. The Shim mode creates a singular pulsing shimmer reverb, and the Black mode opens a dark portal to an infinite reverb that responds dynamically to create lush cascading reverb pads.
The correct aspect of the pedal is the “World” aspect, bringing in a trio of Keeley engineered reverbs which are inspired by extra typical real-world reverbs. The three choices are Spring, Plate, and Corridor, they usually all offering fulfilling reverb when something extra “normal” known as for.
Whereas the reverbs can all stand on their own, a singular facet of the pedal is that you need to use a reverb from each the Darkish and World sides at the similar time, combining them in either collection or parallel. This creates even greater ambient effects and opens up some artistic prospects. Certainly one of my favorite tips is operating the Mod and Plate or Hall in parallel and setting the Pre-Delay simply above minimum with a sluggish Bounce Ramp; this produces an distinctive twin modulated reverb. A central Tone knob allows you to dial in the excessive finish of the overall sound.
Nevertheless you employ it, the Darkish World is a dream for attaining nice reverbs with ease. One among its largest strengths is how surprisingly easy it is to make use of and shortly get inspired. And fortunately, your whole twin reverb creations could be saved and recalled as presets.
Product Web page: Thermae, Impact Sort: Analog Delay / Pitch Shifter
Named after a Roman tub house, the Thermae is likely one of the most original and memorable pedals Chase Bliss Audio has launched thus far, transcending the analog delay pedals that got here before it in a number of distinctive ways.
Right here’s the Themae intro video. Never has sustaining good hygiene sounded so good:
Thermae utilizes 4 reissued MN3005 chips to supply superb analog delays, and the digital mind contained in the pedal can pitch shift the delays to a number of musical intervals. The pedal can move by means of intervals in chosen observe divisions on the Tap Tempo price or be manually stepped by way of. Perhaps the strangest thing about Thermae is that its inherent complexity is arguably both a disadvantage and one among its biggest points. Somewhat than making an attempt work out the way to obtain a response from the interval and observe division settings, it’s often extra rewarding to only play and experiment with settings until you discover something that sounds fascinating. The pedal produces some very distinct sounds, and whenever you dial it in good, it’s mesmerizing to behold.
Except for the pitch shifting elements which are an enormous draw, the pedal may also perform as a extra conventional analog delay when each Interval knobs are set to Off. This makes Thermae a compelling various to Tonal Recall RKM, and while I initially felt like I most popular the Tonal Recall’s analog delays to Thermae’s, I’ve since come around to preferring the Thermae on all fronts. The distinctive LPF knob with its slightly resonant filter cutoff give the repeats a singular taste that may be outlined by the consumer to accent a sure peak response. And the all-new modulation section is extremely distinctive in how a sure “wobbly” character might be added to the waveform. And of course, the infinite oscillation is on level, and the LPF could be cleverly used to tame it if wanted.
The Thermae as an idea is exceptionally bold, even for Chase Bliss Audio. However no different builder might have pulled one thing like this off or pulled it off as nicely for that matter. It’s directly a tribute to the past delay designs that came earlier than it and a testomony to a new future of analog sound design that can only come from this pedal. And that’s why Thermae is the penultimate Chase Bliss Audio pedal on this record.
Product Web page: Condor, Effect Sort: Overdrive / EQ / Filter
Here it is. The Condor. One of the best Chase Bliss Audio pedal up to now. The Condor isn’t probably the most thrilling or flashy Chase Bliss Audio pedal, but it’s an important Swiss Military knife that has many utilities in its arsenal. It’s the pedal I hold going to repeatedly extra typically than another pedal from this builder. Let’s speak about what makes it great.
Many guitarists will find use for the Condor particularly for its nice pre-amping and overdrive talents. The pedal has two modes, Clean & Drive, which cover a broad vary of low to mid overdrive sounds. I typically simply use the Clear channel and run the Condor with other filth pedals, typically pushing up the Achieve knob so as to add a bit of something additional to the overall sound. It makes for a fantastic pre-amp or achieve staging pedal on this regard. However the Condor can undoubtedly stand by itself in the overdrive department, and the Drive mode immediately transforms Condor into a very capable and tasteful overdrive pedal. And that’s where the EQ part is available in…
The large draw of the Condor for a lot of customers would be the EQ & Filter part. When using the Condor for its own overdrive, you’ll doubtless set the LPF knob for a clean high-end roll-off, slicing the high end as wanted till you achieve a wonderfully warm texture. The Mids section is probably the most powerful and dramatic facet of the pedal. It enables you to sweep the frequency from about 150Hz to around 4kHz and apply increase or minimize as needed. Condor even provides you three selectable “Q” choices for setting the width of the increase or reduce. For overdrive purposes this powerful Mids section permits you to set the mid increase point good for lead tones that may perfectly minimize by means of a mixture. The Bass section permits you to reduce or increase the bass frequencies with three choices for setting the cut-off/shelving point. I discover this handy primarily for clearing the bass frequencies of my guitar to let different parts have more room and low-end clarity, however you’ll be able to still beef up the bass if wanted.
To go into the Filtering a bit more, the LPF knob is large draw of this pedal. The LPF’s flip-switch supplies three totally different minimize off options, with the middle and right options providing delicate and steep resonant peaks for some killer synth-style filtering. You’ll be able to Ramp the Filter, control it by way of expressional pedal, or simply grab that LPF knob and twist it as it has a surprisingly quick and clean response. And yes, it may be managed by way of MIDI as properly.
There are lots of other tips within the Condor’s arsenal. You’ll be able to Bounce Ramp the Quantity for Tremolo effects (and in addition Ramping the LPF may give it a harmonic tremolo feel). Management the Mid Freq by way of expression pedal for wah-like effects. Or control the Quantity by way of expression pedal instead of a standard quantity pedal.
While I’m making a case for the Condor being the perfect Chase Bliss Audio pedal general, that doesn’t necessarily imply it must be your first purchase in the event you don’t yet have another Chase Bliss pedals. You may want Brothers first should you don’t have another filth pedals. Or perhaps you need a delay pedal like the Thermae or Tonal Recall. Or perhaps one thing else is looking you. While the Condor is powerful on its own, it’s even more highly effective when used in tandem with different results. When you’ve your pedal choice in place, the Condor is sort of a point guard leading the charge, contouring all the things good in order that your general sound is at it’s greatest. When the whole lot else is dialed in, it’s the Condor that may typically put the final touch on things.
That concludes our record for now. It might change later after Blooper and Preamp MKII are released, so examine again again later!
Should you’d order the listing in a different way, let us know in the feedback! Or just tell us what’s your favourite Chase Bliss Audio pedal!
Within the meantime…
Here’s a quick timeline of all official Chase Bliss Audio releases up to now:
12/2013 – Warped Vinyl
09/2014 – Wombtone
03/2015 – Warped Vinyl MKII
03/2015 – Wombtone MKII
03/2015 – Gravitas
11/2015 – Spectre
05/2016 – Tonal Recall
11/2016 – Spectre (Blue Knob Mod)
03/2017 – Brothers
07/2017 – Tonal Recall (Purple Knob Mod)
12/2017 – Warped Vinyl HiFi
04/2018 – Condor
05/2018 – Thermae
11/2018 – Darkish World
??/2019 – Blooper
??/2019 – Preamp MKII