The little black box of distortion named
Ivy worked with the ’ 68 Bassman and the
Les Paul to bring on a monumental flex of
power. With the volume knob at 12 o’clock
I got a level that was equal to the clean
channel of the Bassman. And anything
more than made the Bassman sound like it
was going to leap right through the speakers
to kill. As I found with most of the Sister
series that have a hand in overdriving your
tone, rolling off guitar volume tames the
tone for rhythmic playing without sacrificing harmonic content.
Ivy’s overall character is fairly mid-centric, and you’ll hear small cuts in both
bass and treble when you engage the effect.
Dialing in the gain around 9 o’clock gave
guitars a little more treble bite and clarity
that’s ideal for percussive rhythm styles.
Pushing the gain past 12 o’clock gets you a
glassy lead tone that adds definition to your
grungy ’90s skatepark jams—especially with
an amp that’s already saturated and breaking up like the lower-wattage CEC Express.
With only two controls, Ivy does suffer
a little inflexibility in the tone department.
Unlike some of the other Sisters it does not
have an internal trim pot for a third adjustment. This certainly does not constitute a
major setback though. Almost all of her
configurations are highly usable, and only
those that need really piercing high-end
lead or a bloated rhythmic crunch will fail
to find a useful distortion tone in the Ivy.
Sometimes amps need a little help. Those
vintage million watt heads don’t always have
a master volume. And sometimes a distortion or fuzz pedal isn’t quite loud enough
for a lead. Here’s where the Lily boost
comes into play. Lily has two variable controls—the pre gain and the post gain. The
addition of a pre gain transforms this pedal
into a pre-gain stage in your effects loop.
Post gain sets the overall output volume.
What this allows you to do is use Lily one
of two ways: you can keep her pre low and
post high to give your signal an increase in
volume, or you can push the pre parameters
into overdrive territory to give a natural
break up feel.
Using the low gain channel on the
10-watt CEC Express, Lily kicked the little
amp into a sweet and robust overdrive zone
with a cranked pre and post set around 1
o’clock. Once the Express’s gain was set
high enough, Lily’s juiced pre almost makes
the pedal work like a fuzz.
Rolling down the pre and increasing the
post will act more like a volume boost for
leads and color your tone less dramatically.
The extra headroom of the Bassman showcases this aspect of Lily’s performance really
well. And you’ll appreciate the work done on
Red Witch’s part to retain a guitar’s natural
voice. It’s not stifled in the least and the Lily
adds a pleasant articulation to the notes.
Grace, the aquamarine compressor of the
Seven Sisters can deliver a subtle squish
to clean up a wandering passage or carry
a soaring lead. Much like Lily, Grace is
more versatile than she looks. Many players employ a compressor to equal out their
clean tone when switching from an overdrive or distortion. And with her volume
control set around 2 o’clock and comp at 1
o’clock, Grace gave my Stratocaster a beautiful sustained and clean chiming quality
that was a perfect match for the Bassman.
Increasing the volume past this setting
makes Grace effectively act as a boost. In
fact, pushing this parameter into further
extremes can works just as well to overdrive
an amp if you back off the comp setting.
Grace’s compression is brighter than
say, an MXR DynaComp. At her most
compressed Grace retains the guitar’s subtle
nuances while squeezing at a pronounced
level, though it won’t choke a signal quite
as aggressively as a DynaComp—a limitation that probably won’t estrange too many
players. Grace worked especially well with
single-coil pickups and added body to other
effects like the Eve Tremolo when placed
first in the effects chain.
The Seven Sisters pedals are a pioneering
innovation, and Fulton probably deserves
a Boy Scout medal for the work he’s done
here. The Sisters’ small size means they’ll
find homes on cluttered boards, and
they’re great for players who need an extra
flavor without taking up too much space.
Any gear freak can always find another
1 1/2" spot to jam in one of these gems,
especially if they’ll last two weeks on the
road before a recharge. Getting these pedals through the airport for a fly-in gig will
be a breeze—no more bulky ATA flight
cases for those one-off shows. And a retail
REVIEW > RED WITCH
price of $129 per unit isn’t all that bad
for an analog effect with true-bypass and
notably solid construction. With normal
upkeep and attention, it’s a fair bet these
Sisters will age well and remain active on
the pedalboards of gigging musicians for
many years to come.
sweet mid-range distortion in an
ultra-compact pedal spells liberation.
you need really aggressive high-end
from your distortion.
Ivy Boost Rating:
a versatile transparent boost
with a tiny footprint suits your
you prefer a more basic boost pedal.
you tend to use compression subtly
and could use a little extra space on
your board for pedals you use more.
you really need to squish
your signal hard.
to hear audio clips of the pedals at
PREMIER GUITAR JANUARY 2012 DR9