Four Vintage Effects You’ve Never Heard Of
By PGS Fitz
Let’s just call a spade a spade: effects pedals are a dangerous drug-- and most of us have the addiction. I’ve got a few rarities in my collection and am always on the hunt for something cool to add to my collection and/or signal chain. Here are four vintage effects you may never have come across or even heard of. Keep your eyes peeled for them when they cross your path—it may only happen once or twice in a gear-addict’s lifetime!
Ludwig Phase II Synth
Who ever would have thought a drum company would make something like this? The Ludwig Phase II Synth is neither a phase nor a synth, but rather a weird multi-effect that features a fuzz circuit along with “Animation” (it’s a tremolo effect!) and “Format Trajectories” (it’s a filter effect!) controls. It is thought that less than 1,000 units were produced between 1970-1971, and the Phase II Synth has had some ups and downs in the used market. It’s unique form factor and lights give it something of a dashboard/cockpit look—making it one of the few pedals around that actually looks way cooler than it sounds.
DeArmond 601 Tremolo
We all think of effects pedals as primarily being objects we stomp on with our feet, but back in the day, DeArmond made the 601 Tremolo, a desktop tremolo unit that appears to be the first commercial standalone effect ever manufactured. Looking something like a lunchbox (before lunchbox amps became cool, I might add!), the 601 has two simple controls for Increase and Speed and is known for its liquid, watery tone—probably because the instrument signal actually gets grounded through an electrolytic hydro-fluid that is housed in a canister inside the unit. This is one of only two times we’ll encourage mixing liquids with your electronics (spoiler alert).
Shil Ei ER-23 Echo Reverb
Shin Ei was a Japanese electronics manufacturer who produced under several different brand names in the seventies, creating some of the most unique effects of the day, including the Shin Ei ER-23 Echo Reverb. This spring-reverb time-capsule of a pedal has a cool space-age paint job and a sound all it’s own—less Fender-Reverb, more lo-fi psychedelic reverb on the verge of breaking up.
Tel Ray Organ Tone
Remember when we said there were two times we’d encourage mixing liquids with your electronics? The Tel Ray Organ Tone echo/vibrato is the second one. Known as an oil-can unit, the Organ Tone has a miniature motor which pulls a small rubber belt to turn a can that is filled with electrolytic oil; a pickup inside the can acts like a recording head as it sloshes around in the oil, producing echo. Who needs tape, anyway?!*
*rhetorically speaking of course!