vibrato sounds gave my clean tones an organic shimmer that made my
amp sound more lush and, frankly, more expensive. And even with heavy
distortion, the Martini rang through with clarity and expansiveness.
On my own, I experimented with moving between some deeper textures
on the two channels—toying with Andy Summers-styled chorus sounds
and vibrato colors ranging from deep-sea sonics to gentle surf and spa-ghetti-Western throb. But the real payoff for the 2-channel setup came
during gigs, where I could dial in an understated chorus on Channel 1, set
the toggle to Stirred for my thick “Purple Rain” tone on Channel 2, then
flick the toggle up to Shaken and get a very drunken vibrato effect. The
Martini makes it possible to create dramatic tones that can really enhance
an arrangement onstage.
This is a very addictive pedal that will make an amp sound better, no
matter what style of music you play. The Martini’s space-lounge graphics
look super slick, and though it took me a few minutes to fully digest the
cocktail-themed control names, the pedal ultimately proved quite intuitive. It has a richness that eludes many chorus and vibrato devices, and
whether you prefer it shaken or stirred, the Martini can make your simplest, most restrained playing sound as luxurious as a Saville Row suit.
you’re seeking spacey modulation
effects ranging from subtle to deep.
you want your guitar tones to sound
GARAGETONE AXLE GREASE
By Gary C. Guzman
Nashville-based Visual Sound has made effects since 1994, when
founder Bob Weil introduced his Visual Volume pedal. The business has
expanded steadily since. And these days, pedals like the company’s
Route 66 overdrive and Jekyll & Hyde distortion can be found on
pedalboards belonging to all types of players.
190 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2010
In 2010, Visual Sound introduced its Garage Tone line of affordable
effects pedals, which combine high-quality construction and sounds
for players on a budget. The Axle Grease is the delay offering in the
Garage Tone line. But it differs from many affordable delays by using an
analog/digital hybrid circuit.
Simple and Effective
The Axle Grease’s hybrid circuit means the delay section itself is 100
percent analog, while the circuitry that controls the effect is digital. And
in theory, the hybrid setup helps the pedal serve up warmer analog
tones with precision digital control. The Time knob controls the number
of delay repeats per second, the Repeat knob controls feedback, and
the Level knob adjusts the mix between wet and dry signals. The sturdy
housing is made of folded dark grey metal, and includes an on/off switch,
a red LED indicator, and a single input and output.
Plugging my Strat into the Axle Grease and setting the delay for a
slapback effect sent me straight to the honky tonk and rockabilly zone.
And the Axle Grease actually achieves a cool reverb-like effect if set to
a really quick delay. The Axle Grease also works well if you want a fast
delay on short chord stops, quick melody lines, or faster rhythms à la
The Edge. On slower, longer melodies where the delay is timed so the
regenerated notes harmonize with your playing (think Brian May), it’s
sometimes hard to get a delay that’s long enough for really slow passages. If you tend to play faster, the limitation isn’t much of a concern.
But for players who really like to stretch out a given note using big
spaces between repeats, the Axle Grease may be a bit constraining.
Sonic tricks—like tweaking long repeats with quick Time knob adjustments to manually induce super-high squeals and low rumbles—were
fun and easy with the Axle Grease. However, if you’re inclined to tinker
with infinite echo effects, keep in mind the pedal is self-oscillating and
will often stay in infinite repeat mode after you’ve turned the pedal off