A pair of problem solving pedals

Hello ! In this week’s blog we’ll draw attention to a pair of problem solving pedals hand-wired by Ivan Richards Audio fx right here in Gosford, New South Wales. These pedals don’t have the glamour and appeal of distortion and/or modulation models, that’s for sure, and we don’t build them in large numbers either, but for a number of performing musicians out there this type of pedal can make life a lot easier.

Our first example, in the photo above, is called the Double A/B Pedal, and is one of our ongoing Rich Switch series of signal routing pedals. This design is a passive, bi-directional, 100% hand-wired selector intended to switch two pairs of instruments. Four LED status indicators alert the player as to which instruments have been selected. The true hard-wired bypass design prevents signal loss or colouration, plus prevents phase problems being introduced. 9V battery or pedalboard power supply operation is required for the LED status indication only. This pedal is not intended to be used on powered speaker connections.

This unique pedal was originally created a few years back when we were contacted by Australia’s Mark Lizotte, who was at the time preparing to go on tour with two pairs of instruments, one pair of electrics and one pair of acoustic guitars. The intention was to use wireless transmitter/receivers for mobility, so this would have resulted in four wireless packs. By introducing the Double A/B Pedal, the number of wireless packs could be halved, and the whole rig streamlined. This is why the two pairs of A/B are labelled electric and acoustic, however customers can label the top panel in any way they find appropriate to their individual circumstances. Dymo labelling works fine in this situation, and can be removed without damage.

To prevent an earth loop being introduced (a.k.a. ground loop in the USA), the signal earths for the electric instruments selector and the acoustic instruments selector are isolated from each other. The Hammond die-cast aluminium enclosure is earthed via the electric instruments circuit. The electric instruments output jack also switches on the internal 9V battery, when installed.

Our second example, pictured to the right, is called (as you might expect) the FX Looper pedal. Guitarists who use stompboxes (and who doesn’t ?) often have to resort to costly loop-switching systems to solve signal-degradation problems introduced when bypassed fx are not switched completely out of the signal chain. The reason for this is that most fx devices do not provide a true, hard-wired bypass when the effect is switched out (even in some cases where the manufacturer implies the device is true bypass). When this happens, your clean guitar signal can lose definition and clarity due to the bypassed device’s tone-sucking circuitry. The more pedals/devices you string together, the worse the problem becomes.

The FX Looper pedal allows you to place a preset combination of fx pedals or devices in each of its two loops, and switch the chain in or out of the signal path with the loop bypass footswitch. Because it’s a true hard-wired bypass, your clean signal remains obsolutely free of stompbox interaction and/or signal degradation. In other words, the FX Looper gives you the purest possible connection between your guitar and your amp when in bypass mode of operation.

Our V1.3 Looper offers two independent loops which are wired for series operation (ie, loop #1 output feeds loop #2 input), and each loop has its own dedicated LED status indicator. The input jack is placed on the right-hand side of the enclosure, as per accepted tradition, but the output jack is parallel-wired to both the left hand and right hand side of the enclosure, facilitating placement in different positions on a pedalboard, for example. 9V battery or pedalboard power supply operation is required for LED status indication only.

So, to summarise, there are many advantages to using an FX Looper in your setup. There is no additional active circuitry in the signal path, ie the Looper adds no noise. There is no load on the guitar pickups when in bypass mode, ie no tone-sucking. The high-impedance send to fx pedals provides correct interaction with vintage stompbox input circuitry. To some extent the Looper is able to mute switching pops and clicks – this minimises a typical vintage fx pedal design problem.

Please join us again next week for another (hopefully) informative and entertaining blog. In coming blogs we will look at a new tone cabinet in stunning red tolex for Aussie slide-guitar specialist Phil B Colson. Philby played that delicious little slide solo on the last Men At Work single, back in the 80’s. We will also conduct a speaker comparison with some older guys from the Sydney Shadows club. We also hope to check in with Ilya, the guitarist with Continental Robert Susz, and Marcus from NSW band Sparrows.

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