Geiger Counter BY MICHAEL ROSS
I love classic overdrive and distortion as just describe some of the cool effects I was able
much as the next guy. Eric Clapton’s tone to conjure from this little box.
on the Bluesbreakers record changed my
life. Robben Ford plays one note through his
Dumble amp and I’m a goner. Stevie Ray?
—Fuggedaboutit! Amp derived or pedal
driven, who doesn’t love the sweet, singing
sound of rich, even-order harmonics.
Lately though, I find myself drawn to rougher
sounds: the octave fuzz excursions of Oz Noy,
or the bit-crushed noise of Nine Inch Nails.
I am rediscovering my Fender Blender and
Ampeg Scrambler fuzz boxes, reveling in
their ragged, lo-fi quality. Apparently I am not
alone; an increasing number of guitarists are
eschewing the smooth sounds of the power
ballad solo in favor of tones that make you
fear for their amplifiers—and their sanity.
The first surprise was that with the sample rate
and bit depth up full, and the wave table set at
20 on the display, the Geiger Counter produced
a relatively normal, dynamic overdrive that
responded nicely to touch and changes in the
instrument volume level. You can hear this fat,
rock tone in Clip 1 on the website. Any crackling you hear is coming from the guitar, not the
pedal, which is comparatively quiet, given the
insane gain it can fabricate.
Thus, the time seems right for the WMD
Geiger Counter. Though it can serve up standard overdrives and distortions, this pedal’s
forte is a full menu of signal destroying,
twisted effects—not a fancy restaurant menu
with only four or five items, but a diner menu
that goes on for page after page.
Ground Based Interceptor
The Geiger Counter packs a high gain, modern preamp, driving an 8-bit computer into
a 4. 5” x 3. 5” box. Colored bright yellow,
with a radioactive insignia that warns of the
extreme effects within, this solid metal housing crams a multitude of controls into its
Of course, there are dozens of pedals that
can do a basic distortion; the fun began as I
increased the wave table numbers. The higher I
went within each number set (10s, 20s, 30s, etc.)
the wilder the tone got. The Geiger Counter let
me choose from 252 wave tables. When you
combine that with various bit settings—before
or after the wave table, and a sample rate
adjustable from over 58kHz down to 280Hz, you
approach an infinite number of ways to contort
and distort your guitar signal. The second surprise was how many of these sounds are usable.
The actual amount will depend on your level of
musical dementia. Many are exhilarating variations on filtered fuzz.
Those new to the world of more complex
signal processing should not be scared off
by the unit’s five knobs, three LEDs, Control
Voltage (CV) input, two toggle switches, and
HEX display. Operation is well covered in
the blissfully short manual.
Plugging an expression pedal into the CV
input let me command some of the crazier
effects even as I played. For Clip 2, I sustained
a chord, while sweeping the sample rate with
the pedal. I loved how the sound changed, as
the chord faded, from a full-throated scream
to a high banshee wail—all this from just rocking the pedal as the chord decayed. For Clip
3 I played a melodic line, and then swept the
pedal at the end of the lick. The WMD pedal
gave the line a character unlike any other distortion pedal out there: in some ways synth-like, but still retaining a guitar quality.
The rotary switch-selectable wave tables are
simply described by WMD as a stage that
“takes your signal and destroys it with math.”
The Gain and Tone Knobs are self-explanatory;
their adjacent toggle disables the Tone. Though
this increases the gain, I found that some wave
table settings sounded better with and some
without the tone engaged. Pressing the Wave
Table rotary switch can place the Bit reduction
control before or after the wave table for radically different effects. Rather than get into a
technical description of all the controls, let me
The Final Mojo
If you remain unconvinced about the pedal’s
musical potential, check out Clip 4, where I
threw the previous clips together for a track
that sounds like ZZ Top from Mars. All the
noises save for the bass and beat were made
with Geiger Counter and guitar through a clean
amp model using Overloud TH1 software. For
those who want to add the sounds of the future
to their arsenal of traditional tones, the WMD
Geiger Counter is a must-have.
you love extreme new sounds.
you are a tone traditionalist.
Click here to download
sound samples of the
pedal in action