Follow with us as we revisit a long list of classic effects for the electric guitar through our first app for iOS, Vintage Guitar. The history of rock n’ roll sound is at your fingertips.
First things first, effects were never meant to replace good tone. In fact starting with a great sounding amp is always the best way to get the most out of any pedal. So we decided to give you just that, great tone, for free. As soon as you launch the app you’ll be greeted by our Compressor and Amplifier models that can be used to instantly shape your sound. You might stop there if you want, as good tone can go a long way but we know your creative spirit is ceaseless and will lead you to more experimentation.
Head to the Pedal Shop
From the first batch of transistorized effects to the latest boutique pedals our goal is to experience classic fuzzes and distortions, phase shifters, chorus/flangers, and wahs with a fresh take. With such a long list of great sounds it was difficult to decide where to start, so why not right at the beginning. Starting with the very first transistorized fuzz effect released in 1962 we begin our journey, here’s a look at the current effects available in the Pedal Shop.
Save Your Sounds
When you first launch the app you’ll see the Floor Controller, the center of your operation. Here you can save, recall, reorder, edit, and delete presets, as well as route any of the knobs/switches or expression pedal to any (and multiple) physical controls modeled in any pedal in your signal chain including the Compressor and Amplifier. This all-in-one pedal is also a classic take on a piece of vintage gear but with much more capability.
With unlimited possibilities for realtime control, a growing list of vintage effects, and an awesome Compressor and Amplifier that you get for free, we think you’ll find that Vintage Guitar has endless variations of tone to satisfy guitar players in any genre of music. Check out our product page for more details and stay tuned for new pedals.
Welcome to the first installment of our Classic Sounds series. In this edition we are going to touch upon the history of products that first implemented the effect known as phase shifting and how you can achieve similar sounds with the Digital Filter.
Traditional phase shifting is accomplished by passing an input signal through a set of All-Pass filters in series and then summing the output with the original input. All-Pass filters do not attenuate the input but like Low- and High- Pass filters, they shift the phase of specific frequencies. Wherever the output is inverted or 180 degrees out of phase with the input signal, a notch will occur in the frequency spectrum. Modulating the corner frequency of these notches creates the effect we know as phase shifting. With two All-Pass filter stages in series, we expect one notch to be created at the corner frequency. As we increase the number of stages by 2*n, we can expect to add n more notches.
1968: Breaking New Ground
The first popular effect to make use of phase shifting was the UniVibe (Shin-ei). Released in 1968, this circuit design is the most unique of the products we considered. This effect has four filter stages but is not typical in that each stage is tuned differently. Furthermore, the signal used to modulate the filters is not a standard waveform. This was due to the use of light-dependent resistors (LDRs) and the associated limitations with turning the light source on and off.
Though three years later, Maestro is credited with releasing the first official phase shifter, the PS-1 (1971). This effect has six stages and uses field effect transistors for variable resistance to modulate the filters. Musitronics (Mu-Tron) was inspired by this design and created the Phasor (1972), built with Operational Transconductance Amplifiers (OTAs) which eliminate the need for FETs as they can be directly modulated via bias input.
1974: Year of the Phaser
The next most popular effect is the Phase 90 (MXR). Released in 1974 with just one knob, a product for musicians couldn’t get any simpler. This effect has four stages and later introduced an internal feedback resistor which added a mild distortion and increased filter resonance. MXR also released the Phase 45 (2-stage) and the Phase 100 (10-stage). The Phase 100 had a few additional features including applying modulation to a subset of the filter stages.
In the same year, Mu-Tron released the Bi-Phase (1974), a configurable series/parallel combination of two six-stage filter banks. Each modulation source is selectable between sine and square waveforms and can be synchronized.
Also in that year Electro-Harmonix released the Small Stone (1974). This effect has four stages and was technically the first to introduce feedback, controllable by a switch. Electro-Harmonix then released the Bad Stone (1975), revised from an earlier design. This effect has six stages, a dedicated feedback control, and a manual-mode with dedicated control of corner frequency.
1979-Present: Coming Up To Date
Later, A/DA released the Final Phase (1979), with six stages and steeper notches for a more pronounced effect. The Final Phase had an additional feature that added a second low(er) frequency oscillator to create more complex modulation schemes similar in concept to the Bi-Phase.
Fast forward to modern times and the release of the Moogerfooger MF-103 (1999), a selectable 6/12-stage filter, and the Boss PH-3 (2000) a selectable 4/8/10/12-stage filter with additional features including rise/fall and step modulation, and that sums up the history of phase shifting as we know it.
Not so fast, with the growing interest in Eurorack Modular gear, it’s worth mentioning Pittsburgh Modular and the release of their Phase Shifter (2014). This effect has sixteen stages and brings the experimental nature of modular synthesis along with it, providing custom ins and outs, switchable changes in configuration, and multiple taps.
Though the Digital Filter is not a phase shifter by design, we were able to overcome these limitations by combining the output of both HP and LP filters. There was enough difference in phase to generate notches or cancellations at the appropriate locations in the frequency spectrum when summed with the original signal.
We built up a set of patches based on classic designs, including the unmistakable sound of the UniVibe, the dual configuration of the Bi-Phase, and the simple but effective Phase 90. The intent is that this is a starting point for experimentation. We hope you find something useful and inspiring.
We’ve been having lots of fun with the new Digital Filter and we thought we would share some of our findings with you. For those who are still championing the sub-genre affectionately known as Acid House, we have some good news for you. With a few simple elements from Reason plus the Digital Filter, you can create your very own TB-303. Let’s get started.
• First, instantiate an instance of the Subtractor Analog Synthesizer, this will act as our main voice. In fact, the very first preset “Bass Guitar” is just what we are looking for to achieve this simple but classic sound.
• Next, connect the Digital Filter and also add a Spider CV Merger & Splitter. Since the Digital Filter supports Note and Gate CV inputs, this will be able to accurately track the output of the Subtractor just like the TB-303.
• Next, instantiate the Matrix Pattern Sequencer and make sure that the Note and Gate CV Outputs are connected to both the Subtractor and Digital Filter (using the CV Splitter). Though this is not visually like the original sequencer, the Matrix is fully capable of generating both discrete and continuous note events. If you’re not that familiar with the Matrix, for instance you can hold down Shift while drawing Gate information to add continuous steps, release Shift to draw discrete steps. For more information about the Matrix, check out this awesome article from Sound On Sound.
• Lastly, you might notice that this sequence does not glide between notes. Though this feature was more configurable with the TB-303 you can achieve a similar sound by increasing the portamento control in Subtractor, we recommend a value of 90 as a starting point.
Here are some sound samples that demonstrate this approach:
And we have created a Combinator for you to explore. To start, try flipping the State (HP/LP) switch to HP and experiment with sounds not previously available from the TB-303. Also, we set the order at an 8-pole filter since that sounded best but you can find a more subtle sound with a 2- or 4-pole filter (as in the original) as well as reach beyond with a 12-pole filter, and everything in between.
We are excited to announce our next product for Propellerhead’s Reason: The Digital Filter is a device designed to cover a wide range of sonic possibility from subtle sweeps to screaming feedback. Use the Envelope Generator to create sharp shifts in timbre, apply a sidechain signal to the Envelope Follower to track movement in another part, wire the Note and Gate inputs to follow your custom sequence, and add copious amounts of CV to generate interesting rhythms. Check out our product page for more details.
We are excited to announce our first product for Propellerhead’s Reason: The Haas Mixer is a device designed to provide several different time-based effects that can be used simultaneously. Take your mix to a new level using binaural processing, add width to dry and isolated sound sources, and get creative with modulation to generate stereo sonic chaos from yet uncharted territory. Check out our product page for more details.