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Guide: Comparing Arpeggiator Pedals

18 Oct
arpeggiator-pedals-roundup

Tararira, PitchGrinder, AARP, Arpanoid & More!

Wherein Dan talks himself into buying one via this arpeggiator pedal roundup/shootout. (Spoiler alert: I bought the Tararira.)

What is an arpeggiator pedal?

An arpeggiator is a sequencer. A sequencer plays a series of sounds based on a source and parameters set by you, the user/musician. In the case of an arpeggiator pedal, the “source” is whatever you plug into it: guitar, bass guitar, synth, toy, etc. The parameters are the pedal knobs and buttons, controlling things like: pitch, tempo, order, steps, scale, key, etc. We’ll leave it at that for now.

Why do I want one?

Keep in mind: My criteria for an arpeggiator are likely different than yours. That said, they’re fun. I recently picked up an Electro-Faustus Drone Thing, and this guy seems to have fun pairing it with arpeggiators, so…

EarthQuaker Devices Arpanoid

First I saw the Earthquaker Arpanoid. (Link immediately above). I wanted it.

Its small size and lack of a zillion knobs and whistles belie its nifty factor. However, it lacks a few things I’m looking for: per-note/step pitch control, CV or midi control, tap tempo, etc. And because it lacks features, it doesn’t so much arppegiate as it plays scales. At $225, it’s definitely ‘affordable’ in this lineup.

“But what else is out there?” I wondered.

Cooper FX AARP

I fell hard for the Cooper FX AARP (v1) when I saw that same dude playing with it.

AARP stands for Automatic Arpeggiated Repeating Patterns, which seems redundant, right? Also questionable product naming, what with the AARP being a 38-million-member thing, and all. Regardless, the AARP v1 has almost everything I want: tap tempo, eight pitch knobs, etc.

While looking for one, I learned about the upcoming AARP v2, but I’m not as attracted to its menu-driven interface (vs. all the knobbies on the older version.)

Regardless, both AARPs are currently unavailable, and you have to be on your Instagram game to snag one from the limited supply when v2 is released circa Q4 2017 or Q1 2018. Price unknown, but certainly higher than the v1’s $275 price tag.

Dwarfcraft Devices PitchGrinder

At $350, it’s not the most affordable option, and while I like that it crunches the signal down to 8-bit awesomeness, it lacks some features I want (external control, pattern control diversity, etc.). Another cool bit about the PitchGrinder: Its “Glide” knob acts as a portamento effect, controlling whether the pedal jumps or glides from pitch to pitch.

Hologram Dream Sequence

$425. It’s much more than an arpeggiator, but I’m not looking for more-than-an-arpeggiator, and I don’t want to spend that much. Furthermore, the UI isn’t setup for a great arpeggiating UX, if you know what I mean.

But it has midi in and out, and an assignable expression pedal insert, and it’s feature-rich. So maybe it’s your jam?

Bananana Effects Tararira

$269 + $20 shipping. This one might be my jam. It doesn’t break the bank – at least in this space, and speaking of space, it’s small, which is a plus. Each of the eight steps is knob controllable. …And if we’re grading on quantity of buttons and knobs, the Tararira is the clear winner, scoring a whopping 19 in the controller bells and whistles column.

^That was my original blurb on the Tararira. Then I bought it. Additional thoughts:

The Bananana Effects Tararira is everything I hoped it would be. (Fun and weird!) It has just about everything I want in an arpeggiator pedal. But if you want me to nitpick, I could say this:

bananana-tararira-arpeggiator

Added rubber feet for traction.

Par for the course with boutique pedals these days, the bottom of the Tararira is plain ole metal. I added four rubber feet to help it stay in place a little.

The scale, step and divider knobs are smooth-spinning, without a tactile hint when you spin to another value. …So you kind of have to visually know where the knobs are, which is tough because they’re small and black, with scant visual cue as to which number value/setting they’re pointing. I plan to remedy this with a little white paint and a tiny paintbrush, or something. If I find appropriately sized and calibrated clicky knobs, I might solder those in instead. But I doubt I’ll find any. Bananana Effects clearly had to make some minor sacrifices for the sake of size and cost. Worthy trade-offs for most consumers, I think.

I’ve no doubt I made the right choice in picking the Tararira. I look forward to many hours of noise-making weirdness with this pedal. You should get one.

 

Other arpeggiator pedals considered:

Eventide H9 – Billed as “a complete pedalboard in one pedal,” I find it way too separated from effect controls. If you want presets, this might be for you, but if you want knobbies, not so much. $399 + you may purchase/download additional algorithms (read:fx) for more $.

Line 6 RollerShifter – Near as I can tell, this is a custom-made Line 6 ToneCore module that was never available to purchase. It earned the nickname “talent simulator” on at least one pedal forum.

That’s it. I hope to get up the nerve to buy one of these toys soon. Thanks for reading!

 

 

Dan Dreifort consults on UX and SEO. He’s been in hardcore noise-punk band ‘Cat Shit’ for over a year now. Accordingly, he and pals are getting ready to scare trick-or-treaters with noise from: Microbrute, Theremini, Drone Thing, and guitar through sundry fx pedals on Halloween. #LureThemInWithCandy

 

A Long Acronym

9 Jul

 

I enjoy a good acronym or three.

WOUB.org is putting the finishing touches on an article about my latest musical endeavor which is only relevant here because I strung three acronyms together this morning while politely refusing to stream one of my old songs along with the article.

“Naturally, if you just want it for personal use, I’d be happy to hook you with an OSJB OMG MP3”

To be fair, WOUB reporter Elliot Nicolson started the acronym abuse!

“Polishing up the Leave Corp article now. I was wondering, would it be possible that you send me an mp3 of Oh My God by OSJB?”

I wrote that song (OMG,) when I was 17, almost 22 years ago, just one short year after I finished my longest acronym.

C’mon. I dare you. Find a longer acronym, punk!

You won’t find it at AcronymFinder.com, but when I was a kid my friend and I would try to memorize really long acronyms of nonsensical pop culture phrases. I think I won when I could recite this doozy –

OMPYPPAEBFDWFDYMAHHCJBCHTPMPILISBCDCSDTDJL
OMDYACKKKJDTBCJBLOODYXTBGCOGODIDTDODAFNDO
TKOBRTBYGD

…Not saying I could do it in one breath, but I did it! I’m not going to bother counting that now, but according to 16-year-old me, that was a 94 character acronym.

I don’t know what all of it stands for, but here’s what I remember, (with the lost-to-us parts in parens.)

Osculate my posterior you pre-pubescent anal excretion. Big f*ckin’ deal. Whoopy f*ckin’ doo. Your mother and her howling commandos. (WBCHTP) My pistol is loaded. I shot Betty Crocker. Deliver Colonel Sanders down to Davey Jones’ locker. Ohio Meadville District Youth-Adult Committee.  (KKKJDTBCJBLOODYX) The black glove cult of gynecologists of death. (IDTDODAFNFO) The kingdom of big Rankin tape. (BYGD)

But what does it MEAN?!

Nothing.

Some of it is self-explanatory, like that first bit, which is long-winded douche-speak for, “Kiss my *ss you little sh*t.”

YMAHHC, (acronym pronounced Y-M-A-double-H-C) was my first band, named after a similarly named comic book.  The main character, Sgt. Nick Fury, is also the head of, S.H.I.E.L.D. Acronym coincidence? I think not.

Any hipster worth their salt will recognize a line from the Beastie Boys’ License to Ill, and I was an active member of the OMD-YAC, a Unitarian Universalist conference planning group.

Worst Fencing Club Name Ever

The Black Glove Cult of GOD was my fencing team. We each wore a single black glove and quickly got in trouble for our inappropriate name after posting flyers after-hours all over the high school. The mini-posters depicted a black glove surrounded by text, “The Black Glove Cult of G.O.D. – Join our ranks.”

School administration was certain beloved Shaker Heights High School had been infiltrated by a cult. They called an emergency early morning teacher meeting the next day for triage damage control wherein our honors English  teacher exclaimed, “Some kids in my class wear black gloves!”  We had to take down all of our flyers. 😦

TKOBRT is more convoluted. Mr. Rankin was an honors chemistry teacher. The tape was a roll of duct tape, duct-taped to the side of a bus in West Germany. The Kingdom consisted of band nerds on said bus. All kingdom dwellers got their own fancy title. I did NOT earn “Minister of Chill” but co-opted that title for my first business cards a decade later. TKOBRT even had a battle hymn/fight song. (With apologies to Alice Cooper.)

I wanna hit you with a really big stick. (BIG STICK!)
I wanna poke your eyes out with my favorite pocket knife. (POCKET KNIFE!)
Cuz you’re poison running through my veins.
I can’t stand the site of your brains.
You’re poison. And you smell bad too. I hate you.

I wrote none of that awesome garbage but I’m guilty of remembering it.

Dan Dreifort will be a bachelor for only another month or so, ladies. You missed your chance. For you, he would have recited an even longer acronym. Dan Dreifort makes little changes to companies’ websites to make those companies more money. He will be first against the wall come the revolution.

 

Cum on feel the noise

25 May

Need some good tunes? Bored with plain Jane kid music? This track is too precious. Maxwell “the silver hammer” Schoen, barely out of diapers, covers the Quiet Riot classic “Cum On Feel the Noise”. How many takes did this kid require to knock this one out of the park? One.

I particularly enjoy the guttural moans at just the right spots. Headbanger frontmen wannabes take note.

This is called a launch pad. Next stop… greatness. Download/Listen

Music Reviews

16 Feb

Dan Dreifort is a musician, but he’s also a wannabe writer and critic. He still loves referring to himself in the third person, but restrained and refrained while he wrote a weekly music column back in the late nineties… for the Athens News. Three long, thankless years. Alas, he digresses in the third person too.

Dan Dreifort has again started writing weekly music for the Anews again as part of the new feature, Ear Buds. He’s compiling the amazing Dan Dreifort music reviews for you. Just follow that last link.

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